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

Friday, 18 February 2011

A Good Idea But...

Sometimes what seems a good idea doesn't exactly translate into a wearable item. It happened to me this week. Inspired by some pretty pale blue crackle beads and a desire to make something chunky I spent an afternoon constructing an intricate 3D piece (picture left). The end result looked great on my worktable where it curved beatifully on the flat surface but oh dear, round the neck it failed to take up curves in additional directions. The three strand effect made it too stiff and it lost its fluidity the instant it was worn. The piece looks awkward, uneven and ungainly, the prettiness of the glass beads lost in the stiffness of the form.

Undetered I tried again with three parallel strands creating a choker in pink and smoke coloured crackles. This time the stiffness worked in my favour and it stands up beautifully round the neck when worn making me very pleased with the end result. An added bonus was discovering my smoky choker with its chain connecter works equally as well as a bracelet doubling my opportunities to wear it!

Not being an engineer I'm still trying to figure out what makes a structure rigid and what makes it fluid, hence what makes a good necklace shape and what doesn't. I think the answer lies in the shape of the bead and the stringing method used.  My guess is that the three continuous strands in my first piece were working a bit like the steel cables of a suspension bridge. By introducing some additional links in the piece it would have gained some articulation so it could lie over the shoulders as well as curving round the neck. For now I've dismantled it and will experiment with some alternatives.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

New Year, New Necklaces

A belated Happy New Year to all!

I've been away in the UK renewing my passport as since my last post we've relocated to Dubai and with less than 6 months to run on said passport they wouldn't issue my residency. Anyway I'm back, completed the unpacking as well as finding time to make some necklaces.

This black and white one (left) was inspired by something pretty I spotted in Bentalls, Kingston (who have a lovely selection of vintage pieces by the way) made with crystal rondals and antique copper wire. I loved the way beaded headpins were threaded through parallel necklace chains to fan out round the wearer's neck. My version is slightly simpler as there is only one chain but reminds me of ancient Greek designs with the monchrome beads and the spirals. 

This choker (right) is made from recycled glass beads and copper rings combined with some aqua coloured twizzle wire and a few mock antique-copper beads (they are actually plastic!). Twizzle wire is funky spiral wire mesh that is hollow to you can thread lengths on tiger tail to make interesting "chains". The copper rings are part of a stash of various coloured metal rings I now have, purchased as a sales bargain necklace from Tie Rack (also in Kingston upon Thames, UK). A few pounds bought me three necklaces made from lots of metal components; chains, rings and more in various colours. There will be more recycled metal I'm sure shortly as amongst my purchases were a collection of dark, almost black textured metal rings.

Whilst in the UK I drove down to Devon to visit some family and on the way home made a detour to the Craft4Crafters event in Exeter. It was my first such show and I was amazed how crowded it was - are all the women in the SW making cards, knitting, quilting, embroidering, making jewellery? It was good to see that home crafts are not dead! Anyway I made a few purchases (shhh don't tell my husband) and came away with a selection of twizzle wire from the Crazy Wire Company plus a few texture plates and a book. The latter two items related to a new interest - silver clay - more in a later post.

The blue chain necklace pictured left is another bit of fakery - all the blue beads are plastic "turquoise"! The chains were recovered from one of my sales bargain necklaces (see above) and I was able to crimp the thinest one to keep the small beads arranged around it using some interesting heavier duty textured crimps. It all goes to show that pretty baubles need not be expensive.

I recently read an article about Lina Baretti, a Corsican jewellery maker who made stunning pieces for top fashion designers like Chanel and Schiaparelli (World of Interiors, Feb 2011). Her elegant pieces often used cork, ribbon, feathers and simple glass beads.  You can see some pictures of her work in Maia Adams blog on the same article here.
And finally a birthday present for my sister, made just before I left for the UK. Glass lampies and flower charms from South Africa, some silver plated chain, glass leaves and a pretty dragon fly charm make for a sparkling spring-like necklace to cheer up winters gloom.