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Beading Blog - August 2008

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One woman's adventures in the wide, wonderful world of beading.
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I also blog here

posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 22, 2008 at 9:49 PM (Pacific)

Ah...what have I been doing lately. Not much, nothing new. More testing than development. :D

In that sense though, testing is as important as development. It's less spectacular, but testing is what determines whether something will last.

Here is a tutorial I stumbled upon: ES Designs >> how to make sterling silver hand-forged hoop earrings - tutorial. What intrigued me were not the earrings, but, rather, the methodology. That's how I want to make jewelry. Not in the manner of, bang together this and that.

Many of my pieces turned out to be surprisingly wearable. Some, I've become sentimentally attached to, as markers in time, showing where I was when I made them. Take these for example:

silver and blue apatite hoop earrings

Beyond the appalling photography, there is everything wrong with these earrings. I don't wear large hoop earrings. They're made of regular sterling silver wire; I've long switched to argentium. I didn't know how to close them, so I made up the idea of wrapping the wire onto the top bit of the hoop. Even the top loops are badly formed.

I've since reversed them (yes, I made them identical rather than symmetrical). I don't use that type of stone anymore: low grade blue apatite tumbled nuggets (though the stones are much prettier in real life than in the pic).

But once, on casual Friday, I saw them in the box and decided to show them some love. I put them together with a very casual outfit, and got compliments on them, which rather shocked me.

What I recall when I see them, is how I made them. Blogged on April 30, 2007 as follows:

I would rather have made these with lapis stones, but recall I'm still on my "bead cold turkey," so I used some blue apatite stones instead. Pretty pleased how they came out, would like to try making more hoop earrings.

Bead cold turkey? That brings a smile. I remember trying to "fix" the stones on the hoop by hammering the wire either side. Surely a few good whacks would do it, right? Not so. The beads kept sliding no matter how flat I made the wire. I ended up pressing the tiny silver spacer beads with my chain-nose pliers. (Note to future beaders: buy the seamless spacer beads.)

Eventually I got the thing to work. And so, more than a year later, I had these rather crude-looking earrings on, and they looked--not like something I would wear every day--but quite pretty, nevertheless.

Then there's something like these:

madeira citrine and silver earrings

These are pretty much all wrong too. The obvious factor is a waste of Madeira citrine, a beautiful stone. Each stone has a red glow, like a glass of red wine, inside its clear golden brown. Here, the stones are all heaped together. You get a glimpse of color, but can't really distinguish it.

These, I'd like to redo, but the essential materials and idea must remain the same. Why? Because these were based on a tree full of red-breasted birds my daughter spotted, one dreary grey day. She was very excited. We don't get red-breasted birds around here...and this ain't Virginia, we have no cardinals. (How I miss those bright red cardinals in winter! Everything completely colorless, snow and ice, bare trees and dead grass, but then you spy a lone cardinal in his vivid red coat.)

She had the notion of taking a picture, and I tried to snap it:

tree full of red-breasted birds

It didn't come out well, but imagine five to six times as many birds, all with red and orange chests, on naked grey trees.

So that's the theme and I'm sticking with it! I'll want something better-made though, more delicate-looking.

What's been frustrating is a sheer lack of time and energy. Yet I try to see it positively too. Sometimes you get stuck in a rut, where you feel you need to keep going, you pour a lot of work into it. If you take a break from the rut, you can step back and plan better, and work more slowly, but produce much better work.

Perhaps some of what you did before was a draft. Then other pieces will be too sentimental to you to rework. You shouldn't redo them all. Always keep a piece as is, as a snapshot of where you were when you made it. (However bitterly ashamed you may be of the crudeness of the early work.) Some day you may like to take it out again, and wear it.


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