One woman's adventures in the land of hand made jewellery

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Jewellery Design - the process?

I picked up some lovely shells on the beach at the yacht club recently. They seemed quite exotic to my British eye all swirly and spiky so I wanted to make some jewellery with them. But how, with what? There were no convenient holes to add a jump ring to or thread some chord through. For a week or so all the shells I'd gathered sat on my kitchen worktop and I simply admired them each time I put the kettle on. Some were shiney orange as if varnished others rough with barnacles but my favourite of all remained the white spikey ones. From a brief trawl of the web I believe they are some kind of "Murex" but shell indentification is not my forte. They are pretty however and I wanted to wear them. What could I do that would serve as a permanent reminder of my time in Bahrain (which is rapidly coming to an end) and which would compliment my wardrobe?

Earrings? There wasn't a matched pair of shells and my favourite ones were anyway far too spiney to be comfortable suspended under my ears, close to the neck. Bracelet? Too fragile. Pendent on a necklace... that seems right but what would show them off best? The design process is a funny one. Part inspiration and part perspiration.

First I needed to suspend my shell and was reminded of a email from one of the beading magazine publishers I received a month or so ago where an awkward shaped stone was wrapped in wire to make a pendant. I looked it up decided it wasn't really what I wanted and instead made a gentle spiral of thin 1mm gauge brass wire round a fat marker pen leaving plenty of spare wire at either end. This fitted over my shell with a bit of easing and teasing to fit the wire round and over the spikes. The soft wire opened up too much though and the fragile shell nearly landed on the tiled floor. for security I fashioned a U in one end of the wire and slipped it into the tight curl at the bottom of the shell, a few minutes of further fiddling and the rest of the wire curled round and up following the swirls of the shell and cumulating in a neat twisted loop. I had my pendant.

Inspired by my sucess with the pendant I dug through my stash of beads and ended up making two other necklaces with beads I uncovered before I hit on the right combination of colours and textures to suit my shell! I left the shell and various selections of potential beady companions on a tray over night, pored over it again whilst eating my breakfast and eventually in the afternoon made my choice. Pale round wooden beads interspersed with darker rice shaped beads also in wood. All threaded on tiger tail with a pale brown ribbon fastening, hinting at driftwood but so much smoother. Just right for a beach find but I'm still not sure I understand the thought processes that result in a pleasing design.

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