Monday, May 31, 2010

One Set of Beads, Two Different Looks

Remember a while back, before the Tucson show, when I was complaining about how hard it was for me to make sets of beads? Well, I'm over that now, but I tell you, training myself to do that has helped my jewelry making in several ways.

First of all, and most obviously, it has forced me to think more like a jewelry designer when making beads. You might think, "duh", she's a bead maker AND a jewelry designer, so what's so hard about that? I actually keep these two parts of my creative brain separate, and it requires conscious effort for me to think about one when doing the other. I have to admit that sometimes I just make beads in a certain style because that's where the creative stream took me that day. But making sets has forced me to think about numbers, types and colors of beads in a set from the perspective of one who would like to buy and use them. There's no way I claim to now know the answers to these questions, but I'm starting to get a feel for it.

Second, and this is the fun part, now that I've made multiple iterations of some sets, I can play as a designer to create very different looks using the same beads. Many bead makers are doing this lately through blog & magazine challenges, with many designers taking the same set of beads and putting their own spins on them to making quite diverse things.

Wild Ones bead set. See more like this in my Etsy shop.

Here's an example using my "Wild Ones" animal print themed bead set, which I've been offering in my Etsy shop since December. These are reminiscent of some kind of fantastical safari, and include earthy colors, ivory and black stripes, and a little touch of goldstone stringer decoration here and there. The beads are a 3/4" nugget shape, versatile (and comfortable) for earrings and bracelets. Each set is slightly different than the rest, but very similar in composition.

The first piece I did with these beads was just a simple bracelet using sterling silver Bali style disc shaped beads in between the nuggets, and (as usual), my own fine silver handmade clasp. Fun, not too fussy, and easy to wear. Here it is:

Safari style bracelet.

Yesterday I had fun making an entirely different kind of bracelet with these same beads. I started with my own handmade fine silver chain. Leonardo da Vinci's historic sketches document this interlocking folded loop style chain, which is described by Leslee Frumin in detail in Art Jewelry's Complete Guide to Making Wire Jewelry. I fused some fine silver jump rings, stretched them into ovals, pinched them in the middle, bent them in half, and then locked them all together. It's a very elegant chain that sends me into a mathematical stupor with its elegance and simplicity. It's stronger than many unsoldered jump ring chains, and I just think it's cool to look at. To this I added one of my larger fine silver clasps with some killer texture on it.

I wire wrapped each of the nuggets with some simple sterling silver daisy spacers, and added additional charms of dalmation jasper, citrine nuggets with sterling Bali style beads, and some great Hill Tribe fine silver elephant beads. The glass and the silver elephants make the coolest jingly sound when you wear it.

Safari Charm Bracelet with lampwork, Hill Tribe Silver, handmade fine silver chain and clasp, and citrine nuggets.

I'm always thrilled to see what kinds of jewelry other designers make with my beads - it's so much fun to see how we each envision different things. But making duplicate sets of beads like I did to get ready for a big show enabled me to do the same thing with my own beads and jewelry, and I had fun.


Bobbie Pene said...

What you have said about bead making and jewellery making hits the nail right on the head. I get in front of the torch some days and just make random beads because that is where my creative mind takes me. I find though that it takes time for inspiration to turn those beads into jewellery. I also struggle with sitting behind my torch and making beads for a specific piece of jewellery - they just don't turn out the way I want. Maybe I need to do some brain training too.

mairedodd said...

i loove the bracelet!! and that chain is incredible - i have a book that illustrates that chain as well - it's on my list of 'to try's... am a bit addicted to the enamel and shibuichi and rings at the moment, but it will die down! :0) seriously patty, don't you just love when you stretch and do different? this is wonderful.. and naturally, the beads are gorgeous! congrats!

Patty said...

Thanks MJ! I'm really hooked on that chain. It's so easy, and so cool. Plus you get to play with fire to make it!

I'm loving the enameling and shibuichi work (now that I know that's what it's called) that you've shared with us on your blog. Sheet metal scares me just a little bit right now, but you're right - a little stretching is good for the soul.

mywifesstudio said...

Loving the beads! The bracelet is incredible.

Jennifer Cameron said...

It is very difficult to think like a jewelry designer when lulled by the flame ;o)

I adore both versions of the bracelets and the addition of silver elephants is perfect for the 2nd one.

Kate said...

I love how diverse the bracelets are even though they are based on the same set of beads! Fantastic!!


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