Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rhapsody in Teal

Here is the finished necklace that I showed in progress on the kumihimo disk two posts ago. I am absolutely ecstatic over how it turned at, as immodest as that sounds. (You like it? If you live in the D.C. area, you can bid on it at the Blair High School silent auction Friday evening.)

It is actually a necklace in two parts. The first part is a spiral rope necklace about 22 inches long. It was woven on the disk using matte-finish size 8 teal beads on six of the threads (C-Lon Bead Cord) and two threads loaded with super-sparkly silver-lined teal beads.

When I started the necklace, I knew I would have to do something to jazz up the simple rope, but I wasn't sure what. I had some freshwater pearls died peacock blue that coordinated with the teal beads beautifully. At first I tried to make a beaded bead using the pearls, but that didn't come out well. I was flipping through my beading books for inspiration and came upon a crocheted rope by Rona Loomis in Creative Beading vol. 3. She had accented her necklace with 7-inch beaded ropes that had various fringe and dangle treatments on the end, and tied the way you see illustrated on my piece. I knew immediately that I wanted to borrow the technique.

Problem No. 1: I wasn't sure if I had enough beads left for another 7 inches of cord. I had plenty of the shiny beads, since the main rope was made up of mostly matte ones. I thought an all-shiny-bead rope would look garish, so I came upon this grandiose idea to change the proportions as I wove the braid. It required a great deal of math and counting, winding and unwinding the bobbins to switch the proportions of beads, measuring every inch, and more than a little angst as to whether I would have enough matte beads, but I wove it so that the first inch on both ends was all shiny beads, followed by another inch of half shiny, half matte, then the middle three inches was the same ratio as the main necklace--three parts matte and one part shiny.

It was a cool hombre effect, but frankly, I don't know that you'd ever notice it unless you stuck your nose right up to it. (Here, go ahead. Stick your nose right up to it:

Problem No. 2: how to embellish the ends? I envisioned using those peacock beads that didn't get turned into a beaded bead. I knew that pearls have tiny holes, so before I began weaving, I made sure that the C-Lon cord would fit through the bead holes. Hah! This is where I outsmarted myself. When I finished the seed bead part and tried to string on the pearls, they wouldn't fit. I had stiffened the cord ends with Fray-chek to string on the seed beads, but the pearls just wouldn't go. I struggled for more than an hour and managed to get only about three pearls on. Forcing the cord through the holes caused it to lose all its stiffness, so I would have had to re-dip every cord in Fray-Chek and let it dry after every bead.

Time for a plan B. I rummaged through my supplies. Luckily, teal and aqua are among my favorite colors, so I had options. I found these glass chips that coordinated nicely. I was a little afraid that they might make the fringe too heavy, but they don't at all. Success!

I also used glass chips to make coordinating post earrings: I like their simplicity.

(Ironically, I wound up having matte beads left over. I had been reluctant to use them all up in the braid because I figured I'd need some to stitch up into tubes for earrings.)

So yes, it was hours and hours of work for a necklace I'm giving away, but I hope its eventual owner will feel the good karma it's imbued with--it was a happy process to make it, and I'm happy to show it off as an example of my best work.


  1. This is an amazing piece of art! I am really thrilled for you.

  2. WOW!!! I like it very much, brava!!!!


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