Friday, November 25, 2011

New Beads: Baby Blue

Picasso Chips and Chinese Seed Beads

When I started my buy-some-neat-new-beads-every-month challenge at the beginning of this year, I didn’t anticipate any major changes in my bead budget, and I had hoped to discover lots of unique and interesting beads, particularly handmade lampwork. I have found some great glass artists along the way, but October’s budget was too small for anything quite so special.

I don’t like to give up on a good challenge, especially one that helps inspire new ideas and ways to use beads. In order to keep the New Beads challenge going, I had to break a few of my own rules. The upside is that it allowed me to make use of some beads that have been rattling around in my stash for a long time.

Years ago, I purchased a vial of mixed Czech glass beads, and sorted them out by shape and color. All of those beads have long since been used, except for a handful of rough cut Picasso tubes in black and red. When I first gathered them up, I was inspired to pair them with pale blue or turquoise, possibly in a multi-strand necklace. I saw them nestled randomly along strands of Czech seed beads - the slightly irregular shapes would pair up well with these speckled little oddities. I’ve been carrying around the image of this necklace ever since, and whenever I pass by the bead section at my neighborhood dollar store, I think of it. The big packets of delightfully wonky* Chinese seed beads call out to me, saying “Wouldn’t we look great in a multi-strand necklace?”.

Since my budget was so small, I decided to grab some of these quirky seed beads in baby blue, and finally create the necklace that my little Picasso beads were meant for. I was excited about finally tackling the project, but because I wasn’t going to be selling a piece made with something from my taboo list, I have to admit that I wasn’t eager to spend a lot of time making beaded caps and metal-free ends to hold a lot of strands woven in and out. I had to come up with something new - an easy way to put lots of beads together in one place.

Picasso Blue Multistrand Necklace

I decided to put my one spool of neglected Nymo to good use, and strung almost the entire packet of seed beads with the Picasso chips and a few black 8/o’s for texture. I wanted to use up as much of the beads as I could, so I left the thread on the spool and watched the strand get longer and longer. When I was running out of ‘good’ beads, I tied the ends together and wove the tails in to get an enormous connected loop of pretty beads.

After that, all I had to do was wrap the strands together into a suitable length, and lashed them with short spiral ropes stitched to a beaded clasp. The necklace has the look and feel of a traditional eye pin multi-strand project, and even twists up nicely. Although I appreciate the softness and drape that the Nymo provides, I think I’ll switch to my Fireline if I ever decide to recreate this piece with better beads. It turned out so nice, I think it’s very likely that I will do it again!

Metal-free Multistrand Necklace Technique

*Wonky is a widely excepted technical term for beads that aren’t quite right.

Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading
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  1. It's really pretty and the wonky beads don't even look wonky when they're all in there together. Very, very nice!

  2. Fun piece! The shade of blue is so beautiful.

  3. What a totally clever idea! And I love the color combination. Great job!

  4. Thanks, ladies! It's been so long since I intentionally made a piece just for me. It was a nice treat!

  5. what a clever construction technique--lashing your strands of beads together the way you did. Very ingenious.

  6. It's a lovely necklace, and a great way to use those beads. I have some beautifully colored beads that are totally wonky. You've inspired me to find a way to use them.

  7. I agree, clever idea. Pretty too! Truly is inspiring. Thank you. :)


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