Monday, February 22, 2010

Design Insight: The Necklace That "Changed It All", Thanks To BeadStyle

I had recently unleashed all the jewelry I had made and plastered these pieces all over bulletin boards of assorted shapes and sizes.  Boy, I've made a lot over the past few years!  Some pieces had been 'recycled' into new pieces, some have been tossed in a box for a future project in mind.  Looking at all of these pieces and how I've matured over the years as a jewelry designer and maker, I'm quite certain I know the moment where I found my maturing point and my 'signature', in the pages of BeadStyle Magazine, November 2008.

The cover piece struck my eye.  I've always loved asymmetry in my designs; you can see it in some of my earrings!  I thought this was a beautiful incorporation of this idea and sent my imagination racing!  I purchased the issue, raced home and poured over the pages and sketched out some ideas.  I can honestly tell you this was the first time I had sketched anything!  I'd always found myself inspired by the beads that I see, and when I actually touch them, I have a better idea of how I would want them to be presented in the piece.

Of course, I can't find the sketches now!  The inspiration naturally came from the presentation of the necklace on the cover of the magazine, since I am biased about my love of amber.  Being cost efficient, the dollar store beside my work sells stone chip beads for a dollar a package, as supposed to local bead and craft stores selling amber chip strands for anywhere from $6 to $10.  Certain splurges were necessary, all in the name of 'art' and 'vision'.  Some things just can't be compromised, you know.

Here's where it all turned around - with this set!

Molokai necklace, no. 3

I hung onto this necklace for the longest time, wore it every second day this past summer (it looked incredibly cute with a pale yellow eyelet tee I own!) and finally listed it on Etsy for someone else to enjoy as much as I do. 

Here's what I used:
  • calcite chips
  • tourmaline coins
  • Mexican turquoise cut slab, drilled lengthwise
  • brass mask pendant and bells
As mentioned before, the calcite chips were purchased at a local dollar store.  (I didn't actually know they were calcite until I had presented the finished piece to a friend educated in precious and semi-precious stones.)  The tourmaline coins, a personal favourite stone of mine, were selected to bring out the blush in the calcite.  And since we're on the design element of 'asymmetry' - a game of 'One Of These Things Just Doesn't Belong Here', so to speak - why not flip the colour element?  Pick something on the 'cool' side of things, much like the lapis lazuli diamond-shaped bead did with the amber chips.  If the calcite were the tropical sands, and the tourmaline the glow of the sunset - what about the turquoise waters of the lagoon?  This large Mexican turquoise slab was not only the perfect colour to compliment the rosy-pink tones of the calcite and tourmaline, but was perfect for an exotic look, transporting you to faraway, ancient jungles full of mystery and discovery!  The brass bells bordering the turquoise slab are a great addition of rustic detail, and actually work!  I had also purchased a magnetic clasp, which has proven to be more than sturdy, especially with the weight of the turquoise stone and mask pendant.  Easy to put on, easy to remove!   The pendant was purchased last, and I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like.  I found it in this menacing mask of what seems to be an ancient warrior or god-like figure.  A strong symbol of the strength you receive when you wear something as beautiful as this!  Seeing that I've made this last November, I've almost forcasted the trend two years into the future!

I had some beads left over (and also bought a few more), and took to work on some matching pieces to make a set!

Molokai bracelet

Some Memory Wire, round turquoise beads and a few antiqued brass beads, the bracelet is a beauty as a one-size-fits-all, especially for those like me who are extremely petite and like the look of stacked bangles.  (Argh!)  This bracelet is also currently available on my Etsy shop! 

Molokai earrings

I didn't want the earrings to overpower the necklace if they were worn together, or even with all three pieces together.  This is blue jasper, a great alternative to turquoise, especially because I couldn't find any in the shape that I wanted!  The colour is also quite beautiful, and stone agate around the blue crystal mirrored a similar effect to the turquoise slab and its natural black veins.  Carefully selected calcite chips and tourmaline coins were added, then with a brass bell dangling on the bottom of each.  I love these earrings.  I never wore them, but I certainly admired them.  These are also on sale in my Etsy shop! 

What this magazine did for me - this specific magazine issue - was nothing more than serendipitous.  I've never thought that 'judging a book by its cover' would get me anywhere - and it has!  While flipping through this issue, I had come across my second design, what was to become a 'signature'.  BeadStyle Magazine calls this pattern 'Dynamic Duo', focusing on the contrasting shapes of the beads.  I love the dangliness of it all!  I had so many seed beads around (the bane of a beader's existence at times) it was great to see an alternative of how I could use them.

I had always been a collector of charms and unique beads, but was always hesitant on how to showcase them in a unique way.  This setting is incredibly versatile - imagine replacing a few of those headpins with a favourite charm, buttons, or a large pendant?  Take a look at some of the latest designs featuring this element:

Specimen necklace

This is the most recent necklace I've made using the seed beads and long glass beads using this setting.  The pendant came from a recycled keychain I picked up from Value Village.  I had used calcite, tigers eye and agate chips, as well as beads of lava rock beads from Earthworks.  (They reminded me of wood eaten away by insects, fitting for the pendant.)  The chips and the lava rock's character give an organic sense to the piece, and the oval chain, black glass cubes and the pendant itself, give a sense of microscopic inspection and discovery. 

The dangling setting was necessary for this piece because I wanted an organic movement as supposed to making a strand.  The black glass tubes are nice and sleek, almost like the scope of a magnifier, and the stone chips create a rugged landscape.  I've held onto this one for a little while, but not nearly as long as I held onto the Molokai necklace, no. 3.  This one's in the Etsy shop, as well!

Oh, I almost forgot - matching earrings!

Specimen earrings

The moral of the story?  If something strikes you, and the voice inside your brain won't shut up about what you just saw, jump at it - you just had an inspiration.  I passed by that magazine a few times before I decided to bring it to the cash register.  These are two designs that I enjoy incorporating into my pieces, even together at times!  I'm also a sold fan of BeadStyle Magazine, and look forward to more opportunities of inspiration!

Photography credit: Cassandra Watsham

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