Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bracelet for a Mermaid

The legendary sea creatures known as merfolk have been a part of many cultures for centuries. The half human, half fish beings are known for their beauty and mischievous antics. In fact, before being softened by popular media, mermaids in particular were considered somewhat villainous. They were thought to be dangerous, killing sailors and swimmers either by accident or for spite.

Whether mermaids and mermen are vicious or not, they are often considered to be protectors of the sea, defending other creatures from the dangers of fishermen and the like. In many stories and legends, these rangers of the ocean live in beautiful underwater cities, far from the eyes and influences of humans.

Ochre Sea Star, North Nanaimo Beach - Martin Smart Wildlife Photography

The Inspiration:

When I decided to rethink my entry for the Etsy BeadWeavers Ocean Challenge, I thought of what the theme really meant to me on a personal level. What came to mind were the plump, colorful starfish that dwell all around the Nanaimo Waterfront. The resilient little things seem to flourish, even though the environment is less than ideal. On any given day, one can see pink, orange, and purple starfish ranging in size from tiny coins to enormous dinner plates.

With the amount of oil, garbage and other detritus that ends up in this little stretch of seashore, it’s amazing that anything can live there at all. It was with this thought in mind that I started designing a bracelet for the EBW Challenge. I wanted to create an ocean scene that was fit for all aquatic dwellers, including something as fantastic as a mermaid.

Ocean Bead Palette

The Beads:

I started with the starfish, using orange and purple 6mm cat eye rounds, and matching 15/0 seed beads. For additional accents, I also grabbed some green cat eyes, white CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Pearls, and Czech glass scallop shells in blue and yellow. For the beadwork, I selected an assortment of blue 11/0 seed beads, and added a touch of gray lined crystal to help blend them together.

The Beadwork:

After deciding on embellished herringbone for the base of the bracelet, I spent a lot of time working on a pattern for the accent beads. I had considered placing them along the beadwork at random, but I wanted to make sure that each bead was evenly spaced and well represented. Using graph paper, I sketched out a pattern of diagonal rows for the assorted sea beads.

The Mermaid Path Bracelet - The Sage's Cupboard

Once I had started stitching, it occurred to me that the larger shell beads might cause the beadwork to appear crooked if they weren’t all together in the same row. I had to modify my pattern, but what happened was even better than my original design. The layout of the accent beads moves symmetrically in all directions, including on the diagonal.

The waves created by the bridges between herringbone rows really brings the ocean theme to life. I looks so much like tide swept sand that it’s almost possible to hear the waves themselves. Incredibly, if I hadn’t been so dissatisfied with my original challenge piece, this bracelet might never have been made. Sometimes failure is a great thing.

Voting for the Etsy BeadWeavers Ocean challenge opens on February 9th. Stop by to see all of the amazing team creations and vote for your favorite!

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


  1. Lovely! I'm a total fan of beach themed beading...

  2. Hi again Mortira...I just saw you're in Nanaimo. Used to live there, but now am in Tofino. So cool to meet another beadaddict, er, beader, lol.
    Great following you now...check out mine and look for my giveaway when you scroll down a bit

  3. Congrats on the sale of your bracelet. It is so gorgeous and fun.

  4. It's a very unique bracelet- well worth all the redesigning effort. Congratulations on the sale!

  5. Wonderful imagery and a great bracelet. Congrats on your sale! :o)

  6. Thanks ladies! Adding the gray beads was a last minute whim, and I'm so glad I did it. This piece was definitely made up for my first design.

  7. Wow. I absolutely love how it turned out! Your very talented - and congrats on it's immediate sale! I'm not surprised :)

  8. Thank you for the photo credit! I have some merms posted too at if u want to check them out.

  9. Thank you for the photo credit! I have some merms posted too at if u want to check them out.

  10. I was just browsing through your blog (BTW, did I ever tell you that I love browsing your blog? :), when I came across this, which I had bookmarked some time ago.
    I have to say I was surprised all over again at the beauty of this piece. I didn't even see the diagonal until I read about it in your post -- which in my mind is a good thing, because it looks more like things scattered along an ocean floor -- yet you were still able to create structure with the diagonal. It's just beautiful and probably the most perfect "ocean-y" piece of handmade work that I've seen yet.
    So, just a "shout-out". (Do people still say that? I don't think so. I am getting old I suppose!)

  11. Thanks, Allie! I was very proud of this piece, and I still enjoy the design, though I haven't used it in a long time. Perhaps it's time to revisit it?


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