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Monday, June 17, 2013

Bead Swap with my Fellow Michaels Instructors

At the end of May a group of Michaels Craft Store jewelry instructors decided to do a bead swap.  We paired off and gathered up supplies to ship off to our swap partners.  The rules were simple:  1. raid your bead stash for a focal bead or pendant, coordinating accent beads and a clasp. 2. Ship in a timely manner the collection to your partner.  3. Only pick and send out things that you would love to receive and work with.

Actual reveal day is set of June 28th.  But since I was done, I decided to post it and walk you through my design process for this project.

Let's start with the amazing items I received.
I received some wooden beads, gorgeous pearls, a handmade Bird's Nest, white Turquoise, copper chain, Rose Gold plated copper ear wires and ball head pins, a beautiful copper clasp, a large enameled copper filigree flower, and some lovely little wire spirals (not pictured), plus a assortment of just goodies not necessarily part of the project (also not pictured).

I started by forming the filigree piece into a slight bowl using a wooden dapping block.  I wire wrapped the Bird's Nest to the filigree.  And that's when I drew a blank.  It has taken me nearly a month to come up with a design that I actually liked (mainly because I was being lazy).

Since I had the natural beads, I decided to throw in some leather, but I didn't know what I was going to do with it or how to incorporate it.  Then I thought that the pearls would look rather cool on the leather cording.  I reamed out seven of the larger pearls with my flex shaft (Dremel) so they would slide easily onto 2mm round leather lacing.  I don't recommend this if you can purchase some pearls with larger holes.  I have burns on my fingers from the pearls overheating during the drilling process.

I cut two long strands of the cording and did a hitch knot to attach the leather to one of the holes in the filigree.  On each strand I began to tie single overhand knots and slide on the pearls.  After each pearl, I tied an additional knot.  I did this in no particular pattern.  I tied all the leather strands together at the end and slide on one of the wire spirals.  I pinched the ends of the spiral to keep it in place on the leather and glued the knot using BeadFix jewelry adhesive.  I attached a gold plated cord end from my own supplies, trimmed the excess leather and added some more glue.

For the other side, I attached the copper link chain from my swap supplies with a handmade copper jump ring..  I attached flexible beading wire to another copper jump ring and then hooked that ring onto the chain.  I threaded a few wooden beads, white pearls and a few of my personal stash of colored pearls that looked like patinated copper.  I laced the strand of beads through the chain and crimped the end off and attached it to a jump ring at the end of the chain.

Now what?  I took another piece of flexible beading wire and strung on one of the white turquoise beads, wood beads and more of the colored copper pearls.  I attached that to the lovely copper toggle clasp.  On the other side, I took more of the leather cording and did a four strand braid attaching it with more of the gold plated cord ends.  It was a bit plain so I took some flexible beading wire and ran it through the braids adding in a two pearls and one of the wire spirals.  This end was attached to the second half of the toggle.

Something still was missing.  I added three dangles to the bottom of the filigree.  Two of which were white turquoise and the middle one was two wood beads and two white pearls.  I attached these with handmade jump rings.   And yet, something was missing.  I had one left over turquoise bead, and I wanted to use it some how.  I was going to make a chain out of copper washers, but didn't have any jump rings that size, and I really didn't want to make any more.  I looked at the jump rings I had on hand and decided to create a bit of chainmaille pieces and attach them to either side of the turquoise.  The piece wasn't quite as long as I would have liked, so I made to pearl connectors.  I attached this piece with jump rings on either side of the necklace.  Worked like a charm.  I love how it turned out.

This was a very fun and challenging experience.  I know I will participate again.  I can't wait to see everyone's pieces. Each of Michaels' instructor was so creative.