Friday, April 17, 2009

From Beads to Jewelry

For these several years of beadmaking, whenever I wore one of my own beads, it was typically a simple focal bead on a plain sterling chain of some type. I even bought sterling "change a bead" findings that work for a wide variety of beads. I focused on the glass and thought of the rest of the necklace as background.

Occasionally, I ventured on to a slightly more detailed neckpiece, such as this simple stringing of my all time favorite bird vessel, Cactus Wren, since shattered by an unfortunate kiss with the floor. Last summer, as a last minute effort to make my new electroformed lovebird wearable, I hammered copper wire and beads into a simple chain.

Selling loose beads for others to string or just collect is the norm in the lampworking community, but that is limiting. The Pismo Bead Invitational requires finished jewelry, so that has gotten my focus recently.

Over the years, I've collected massive quantities of commercial beads, originally to embellish quilts, now to accent glass. I keep it in tackle boxes, sorted by color. In the last few years, I've been collecting larger beads, stone beads, many copper beads and findings, and anything in general that calls to me.

Today they are scattered into a blinding mess of color and texture, as I've been madly stringing and then restringing. As with any skill, practice is required for improvement. I've been practicing a lot! Doing the same pieces again and again because of some dissatisfaction. I've about got them to a place that I'm happy.

Here's the first of the finished pieces, the turquoise lovebird strung with hand-formed copper links, African turquoise, and magnesite.

Can you see how much my photography has improved?