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TECHNIQUE AND TECHNOLOGY IN JEWELRY DESIGN: Knowing What To Do

Posted by learntobead on May 22, 2020

TECHNIQUES AND TECHNOLOGIES:
Knowing What To Do

Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com


(Begin Top Left) Bead Stringing, Bead Weaving, Wire Working, Metalsmithing


Abstract:  Jewelry Making Techniques bring materials together within a composition.  Techniques construct the interrelationship among parts so that they preserve a shape, yet still allow the piece of jewelry to move with the person as the jewelry is worn.     And Techniques manipulate the essence of the whole of the piece so as to convey the artist’s intent and match it to the desires of wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, exhibitor, collector, student and teacher.   Technique is more than mechanics.   It is a philosophy.   Thoughts transformed into choices.   Part of this philosophy is understanding the role of technique to interrelate Space and Mass.  Space and Mass are the raw materials of jewelry forms.   Technique reduces the contrast between them in a controlled way and with significance for designer and client.   Techniques have special relationships to light, texture and ornamentation.    Technology enables us to expand our technical prowess with new materials, processes, styles and forms

TECHNIQUES AND TECHNOLOGIES:
Knowing What To Do

Technique is Knowledge, Value, Creation

Jewelry Making Techniques are more than mechanics.

Techniques are ways to implement ideas.   To transform thoughts and feelings into choices.

Techniques are knowledge, value and creation.

Jewelry Making Techniques bring materials together within a composition.  Techniques construct the interrelationship among parts so that they preserve a shape, yet still allow the piece of jewelry to move with the person as the jewelry is worn.     And Techniques manipulate the essence of the whole of the piece so as to convey the artist’s intent and match it to the desires of wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, exhibitor, collector, student and teacher.

There are many different kinds of jewelry making techniques, as well as strategies and variations for implementing them.  In fact, the jewelry designer has no proscriptions, no prescriptions, no expectations, no limits on how she or he decides to compose, construct and manipulate materials and structures and supports.    It can be a technique that is learned.   It can be one approximated.   It can be totally new, emergent and spontaneous.   It can be socially acceptable or not.   The designer can pull, tug, press, cut, carve, sculpt, emboss, embellish, embroider, sew, knit, weave, coil, bend, fold, twist, heat, cool, assemble, combine, dissolve, destruct, cast, wrap, solder, glue, wind, blow, or hammer.

In reality, it is impossible to discuss meaningfully the technique apart from the ideas, abilities and experiences of each jewelry designer, particularly in reference to knowing when a piece should be considered finished and successful.   There will be some variations in how any designer applies a technique.    This is called skill.  One might pull harder or hammer harder than another.    One might allow some more ease or looseness than another.    One might use easy solder where another might choose hard solder.   One might prefer a thinner thickness or gauge of stringing material, and another a thicker one.    One might leverage the structural properties of one material, while another might choose other materials with different properties towards the same end.   One might apply the technique, following Step XYZ before Step ABC, and another, apply the technique in reverse, altering the steps to be XYA and ABZ.

But our primary focus here is on technique apart from skill.  This lets us see why some designers are masterful at technique, while others are not.

While there are a lot of different methods and applications designers can choose from, all too often, however, when selecting techniques, jewelry designers fail themselves (and their clients).   They disappoint.  They do not understand how to select techniques.  They do not fully understand the basic mechanics.   They do not fully understand the expressive powers of techniques.

Because of this, they are unaware of the responsibilities, as artist and designer, which come with them.  In turn, they make inadequate choices.   They might choose the simple, the handy, the already learned.    They might choose what they see other designers using.    They might choose what they see in magazines and books and videos which get spelled out in Step1-Step2-Step3 fashion.

But often they are naïve in their choices.  They lack an understanding of technique and its philosophy.    They do not understand that there are lot of things more to any technique beyond its simple mechanics.   Techniques are not step-by-step.    They are a collection of knowledge, skill, understanding, choices, decisions, tradeoffs, intents with implication and consequence.    Techniques anticipate shared understandings between artist and audience about finish and success.

Moreover, jewelry designers often do not recognize that each and every technique can and should be varied, experimented and played with.    They do not understand that techniques do not work or accommodate every situation.    That is, jewelry designing is not a “Have-Technique-Will-Travel” type of professional endeavor.    Techniques need to be selected and adapted to the problems or contexts at hand.

They do not understand that there is more to techniques than securing an arrangement of elements.   They do not understand that techniques must find some balance or tradeoffs between maintaining shape(s) and managing support(s), that is movement, drape and flow.

They do not understand how their choice of technique, and the decisions they make about how to apply it, influence the response of others to jewelry materials and forms they create.    Technique, compounded by skill, can be very determinative of outcome.

SPACE AND MASS AND A PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNIQUE

Space and Mass are the raw materials of jewelry form.   Space is void.   Mass is something.    Some jewelry depends more on the expression of Space; others more on the expression of Mass.     Whatever the designer’s goals and intents, Technique permits a reduction of the contrast between space and mass.  Towards this end, Technique communicates the significance of a mass within a space by controlling it.   Publicly demonstrating this control communicates intent, meaning and expressiveness.

The jewelry artist begins by confronting a void.    There is space, but there is nothing in it.    Space.

Into this space or void, the artist introduces mass.    This may begin with a point or a line or a plane or a specific shape or color or texture or pattern.    More mass is added.     Mass.

The designer sets boundaries, places and distributes things, brings things together, determines the scale, signifies directions and dimensions.    The designer begins to co-relate the mass to the space around, within, or through it.    Mass on Space.

The designer regulates the relationship and relative importance of the surface of the mass to the entirety of the mass itself.  Sometimes the mass (or its surface) is expected to be static.   Sometimes it is expected to move.   Occasionally ornamentation is added.     In the context of jewelry, some of this mass should be able to hold a shape; other of this mass should be able to move, drape and flow when worn.     Mass on Mass.

Technique makes something out of nothingness.    It is designed.    It is constructed.   The act of implementing a technique – that is, revealing a pattern of choice behaviors — is communicative.    It has intent.    Mass, Space, Intent.

Eventually, the designer applies Technique to this mass, and in so doing, creates composition.   Things are assembled.   They are pulled together.  The mass suddenly has order.   It has organization.   It is communicative.     It interacts with the desires others place on it.   It evokes an emotional response.     It references a context or situation in which it is to be worn.   Mass, Space, Intent, Content.

Thus, things placed within the space are pulled together, juxtaposed, connected, inter-related in some way.   We call this composition.     Composition might mean how the jewelry designer

–         Treats the surface

–         Emphasizes dimension

–         Joins units

–         Impresses into things, onto things or through things

–         Pulls or Stretches or Twists things

–         Covers, embellishes, frames or exposes things

–         Asserts or changes the scale

–         Determines sizes, shapes and volumes

–         Arranges, Places, Distributes things

–         Relates positive to negative space

–         Creates a rhythm, form or theme

–         Expects things to move or be static

–         Anticipates who might wear it, how it might be worn, and where it might be worn

A piece of jewelry becomes a wholly finite environment within what otherwise would have been nothingness.     But filling this space with form is not enough.   It is not the end of the designer’s role and responsibility.

With order, organization and communication come significance, meaning, implication, connectedness and consequence for everyone around it.    Expression occurs.   An explanation or story emerges.

The designer must give this mass-in-space a quality other than emptiness.    It must have content, meaning, purpose.  The designer must allow this mass-in-space to be enjoyed.   Again, expressed.   Much of this comes down to materials and techniques.

That means the designer must impose upon this space some personal Philosophy of Technique—hopefully employing artistic and design knowledge, skill and understanding.     This philosophy is how this designer thinks-like-a-designer.   It becomes a key part of the designer’s fluency, adaptability, and originality as a professional.    It is how the designer touches things and brings things together.    This is a philosophy of selection, implementation and management of mass-in-space which

–         Balances, equalizes, meditates

–         Restricts

–         Releases

–         Senses and newly senses

–         Becomes a standpoint, a flashpoint, or a jumping off point

–         Sees new possibilities, forecasts, anticipates or expects

–         Creates and re-creates feelings

–         Plays with tolerances, stresses and strains

–         Makes things parsimonious where enough is enough

–         Results in things which are finished, successful and resonant

The mass has form and arrangement within space.    It begins to convey sensation and feelings and content and meaning.    But the designer still has not completed the job.     Jewelry cannot be fully experienced in anticipation.    It must be worn.   It must be inhabited.    It must communicate, interact, connect.     Any philosophy of technique must account for all of this.    Mass, Space, Intent, Content, Dialectic.

The elemental parts and their pleasing arrangement into a whole must allow it to be enjoyed by others.    Be influenced by it.   Persuaded.   A desire to touch it.   See it.   Wear it.   Buy it.   Display it.   Show it to others.   Others, on some level, must accept the designer’s Philosophy of Technique, that is, the designer’s definition with intent for manipulating mass within space, in order to

–         Recognize how to look at it and react to it

–         Understand how to wear it

–         Be inspired as the artist was inspired

–         Feel the balance, harmony, variety, cacophony, continuity, interdependence among spaces and masses

–         Anticipate the effects of movement, drape and flow

–         Get a sense of psycho-socio-cultural release

–         Get a sense of psycho-socio-cultural restriction

–         Know when the piece is finished and successful

–         Judge the piece in terms of value and worth

–         Assess the risk within some context of wearing or purchasing it

–         Assess the risk within some context of sharing it with others

Designers over time gain fluency in their philosophies of several techniques.    Such fluency is recognized and comes to the fore when Techniques serve the desires, understandings and values of both designer and client.    Techniques and the philosophies (ways of thinking) which underly them must fully communicate the particular intent, concepts and experiences expressed by the jewelry designer.   They must anticipate, as well, the particular shared understandings others have about whether the piece will be judged finished and successful.

Designer and client have a special relationship which comes to light within the composed, constructed and manipulated piece of jewelry as it is introduced and expressed publicly.

Through Technique.   Through Skill.    And a Philosophy.

 

 

TECHNIQUES INVOLVE RELATIONSHIPS

Techniques, and the relative skill in applying them, are used to resolve the relational tensions underlying the craftmanship, artistry and design of any piece of jewelry.     How these relationships are implemented and managed affect how the finished jewelry will be perceived sensorially, sensually, and symbolically.     These will affect how the wearer/viewer recognizes the artist’s intent.    These will affect how the wearer/viewer sees their desires reflected within the piece, thus the value and worth of the piece to them.

In design terms, this is called Expression.    Expression in design is the communication of quality and meaning.     The designer expresses quality and meaning through the selection, implementation and application of technique.    We sometimes refer to this as skill.    A technique will have a function.      It will have a set of mechanics and processes.    It will have purpose.    There will be variations in how the mechanics and processes will be put into effect.    Sometimes it will require a stiffening up; othertimes a loosening up.    A pressing or pulling harder or softer.   A curving or straightening.   A transformation from 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions.  Repositioning.   Altering texture.

The technique, its function and application will further get interpreted and transformed, that is, expressed, into wearable art.    Similar to how sounds are made into music.    And how words are made into literature.     There is an underlying vocabulary and grammar to jewelry design, from decoding to comprehension to fluency.

Some aspects of expression are universal, but perhaps most are very subjective, reflective of the interpretations and intents (philosophies) of the artist, the wearer/viewer, and the general culture.    Because of this, each and every expression of design through technique will have to resolve some underlying tensions.     Of special concern are these tensions and relationships:

  1. Aesthetic (beauty) vs. Architectural (function)
  2. Should Parts Be Considered Center Stage or Supplemental
  3. Special Relationship to Light and Shadow
  4. Special Relationship to Texture
  5. Special Relationship to Color and Ornamentation
  1. Aesthetic vs.Architectural

Jewelry Design all too often is viewed apart from the human body, as if we were creating sculptures, rather than wearable art.     Yet its successful creation and implementation is not independent of the body, but moreso dependent upon it.    It must feel good, move with the body, minimize the stresses and strains on the components and materials.    And look good at the same time.

This sets up a tension in the relationship between the Aesthetic and the Architectural.    The problems of jewelry design extend beyond the organizing of space and mass(es) within it.   The designer must plan for and create a harmonious and expressive relationship between object and body and between object and person as the object is worn.    This often means compromising.    Trading off some of the aesthetics for more functionality.

Before you choose and implement any technique…

STOP
ASK YOURSELF:
What about this technique and the steps involved in implementing this technique will help my piece maintain its shape (structure)?

Before you choose and implement any technique…

STOP
ASK YOURSELF:

What about this technique and the steps involved in implementing this technique will help my piece move, drape and low (support)?

 

  1. Should Parts Be Considered Center Stage or Supplemental

The question becomes how the various parts or segments of the jewelry should relate to one another.    We might have strap, a yoke, a centerpiece or focal point, a bail, and a clasp assembly.    The tension here becomes whether the jewelry as a whole should be judged critically as an expression of art and design, or only the centerpiece or focal point should be so judged.

With the latter, the non-center/focus parts of the jewelry are seen merely as supplemental.     This is similar to how a frame functions for painting or a pedestal for a sculpture.

With the former, each segment or component part cannot exist or be expressive apart from any other.     The piece must be judged as a whole.   The whole must be more resonant or evocative than the sum of its parts.

Here we begin to question what exactly technique is.    Is it only that set of mechanics and processes applied to only a section of the whole piece of jewelry?    Or is it how the designer makes choices about construction and manipulation from getting from one end of the piece of jewelry to the other?

 

  1. Special RelationshipTo Light And Shadow 

Light and shadow are both critical design elements to be manipulated as a part of the jewelry designer’s active decision making process.   Yet, light and shadow affect the experience of any piece of jewelry in ways which are outside that designer’s scope and control, as well.

Light and shadow are necessary for the expression of the artist’s intent and inspiration in jewelry.    Because light and shadow move, change character, and come and go with their source, light and shadow have the power to give that mass of component parts a living quality.     This effect is compounded (or foiled) as the wearer moves, changes position, travels from room to room or inside to outside.

The designer cannot control all this, but should be able to predict a lot of this behavior, and make appropriate design choices accordingly.

The designer can channel light through the selection of materials and their reflective, absorptive and refractive properties.   The designer can play with color, pattern and texture.    The designer can be strategic about the placement of positive and negative spaces.   The designer can arrange or embellish surfaces in anticipation of all this.   The designer can diffuse light or transform or distort colors.    The designer can add movement or dimensionality to enliven their forms.   The designer can even use light or shadow to hide things which might negatively affect the overall aesthetic.

The points, lines, planes and shapes incorporated into any piece of jewelry become receptacles of light and shadow which can change in character or form as time progresses, people move and contexts change.    An important part in the success of jewelry designs is played by the quality and intensity of light (and shadow) within context.

 

  1. Special RelationshipTo Texture

Jewelry is experienced both tactilely and visually.

Sometimes these complement each other; othertimes, they compete or conflict.   Texture plays a major role here.    On the one hand, it expresses something about the quality of the materials used.   On the other, it gives a particular quality to light and shadow, and their interplay with the piece as worn.

Designers often select materials partly based on their tactile textures.    They might also alter these textures to expand on the variety of expressive qualities that might be offered.    The stone might be used as is.   It might be smoothed and polished.   It might be roughed up, carved or chiseled.   The material might end up expressing something about the natural state or about refinement and sophistication.

Visually, the designer makes many choices about how to employ the materials.      They may emphasize verticality over horizontality.    Projecting over recession.    Slow or fast rhythm.    Opacity may be altered.   The designer produces differing visual expressions based on patterns and how lighting of the surface conveys the sensory experience of these patterns.

A single texture, whether the goal is tactile or visual, is rarely employed alone in jewelry design.      The actual variety of materials and treatments produces a complex of textures that must be composed and harmonized and resonant into the jewelry’s expressive and consistent whole.

 

  1. Special Relationship To Color and Ornament

Color is a characteristic of all jewelry making materials.     It is a constant feature of any piece of jewelry.    Materials might be selected for their color and visual appeal.   Techniques might be selected for their ability to enhance or play with color and its visual appeal.

Yet, on the other hand, other jewelry making materials and techniques might be selected primarily for their structural properties – that is, their ability to be used to  create, maintain, and retain shape or silhouette.   They might be used as mere armature or to create that armature.   The colors of these materials or the effects resulting from how techniques manipulated them may not be suited to the expressive goals of the designer.    Because of the nature of jewelry making techniques and components, there also may be an unintended or unwanted absence of color, such as gaps of light between beads.

Thus, because of these kinds of things, materials with more suitable expressive colors, either as is or as manipulated, are added to the surface as embellishment and ornamentation.   Sometimes these materials are dyes or coatings or fired-on chemicals.    Sometimes these materials are more substantive materials like glass, gemstone, wood or shell.

These ornamental materials may cover parts of the surface or hide the entire surface of the piece.    They may disguise it.   They may be used to alter how color is perceived and experienced.    They may completely change the experience.      But without technique, and a philosophy of technique, these ornamental options may make it impossible to achieve the sensory, visual or structural powers the ornamentation is meant to provide.

The tension arises when the designer makes choices whether the ornamentation is to be used to enhance the expressiveness of the piece as originally designed (applied ornamentation), or, whether the ornamentation is to be used to create a completely different meaning, decorative motif, or symbolic expression, regardless of appropriateness to that original design (mimetic ornamentation).

Applied ornamentation enhances the designer’s power and control to assert intent and inspiration within the jewelry.   Often applied ornamentation makes some reference to the underlying structures behind it.  But the designer needs to be careful that this doesn’t turn into merely applied decoration.    As ornament, whatever is done is integral to the piece.   As decoration, it is not.

Mimetic ornamentation is often used to make a piece more familiar, more accepting, more reassuring to various audiences.   It might be used to disguise something.  It might have symbolic value.   Here, too, the designer needs to be careful that this doesn’t turn into merely applied decoration.

A third consideration is whether the ornamentation is critical to the jewelry’s functioning or materials (inherent ornamentation).     It is important that it be organic to the piece.    That is, it should derive directly from and be a function of the nature of the jewelry and the materials used.     It may allow size adjustment.    Its placement may reinforce to overcome vulnerabilities.    It may redistribute stresses and strains.    It may aid in movement.   It may assist in maintaining a shape.    It may rationalize color, texture and/or pattern within and throughout the piece.

 

SURVEY OF JEWELRY MAKING TECHNIQUES

There are many, many different types of techniques used in jewelry making.    Each encompasses basic mechanics.    Each is implemented within a procedure or process.    Each is a form of expression.

These techniques or forms of expression differ from each other in terms of the choices the designer makes about how mass should get related to space for creating composition.  They differ in how structure (shape) is created and preserved, and in how support (movement, drape and flow) is built in, achieved and maintained.   They differ in how pattern and texture is created or added.    These techniques differ, apart from the materials used, in how people interact with them, aesthetically, functionally, sensorially and sensually.

These techniques are not mutually exclusive, and are often combined.   It is up to the designer to select the technique or techniques to be used, maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of each.    Usually, the designer, when combining techniques, will want one technique to predominate.    The designer does not want the underlying philosophies of two or more techniques to conflict, compete, or not coordinate.

 

Stringing, Bead Weaving

Beads and other components are assembled together into a composition and silhouette.    The stringing materials range from the very narrow, like beading thread, cable thread and cable wire, to thicker, like bead cord, leather, waxed cotton, ribbon, satin cord, and braided leather.     The stringing materials are often hidden, and typically play a supplemental role to the beads and other components within any composition.

Philosophy of Technique:    Objects are placed and assembled together within a space in relationship to the direction and linearity of some type of stringing material or canvas.    There is great attention to the use of points and lines, usually within a singular plane.    Shapes are basic, often only in reference to a silhouette.    Minimal attention is paid to dimensionality.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the stringing material or canvas.  The stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

Often, designers place too much reliance on the clasp assembly to provide support (movement, drape and flow), instead of embedding support elements (rings, loops, unglued-knots, hinges, springs, coils, rivets, rotators) throughout the piece.    In a similar way, often designers place too much reliance on the placement of objects on the canvas (that is, stringing material) for maintaining structure (shape), instead of other elements that could be used to maintain shape, while mitigating against stress and strain.

Each stringing and bead weaving technique and its procedures and processes for implementation rely on part of the implementation to maintain a shape, and on part of the implementation to allow for movement, drape and flow.      The particular technique used to assemble the beads (and related components) sets the tone in pattern, shape, form and texture.   Some stringing and bead weaving techniques are great at maintaining shapes.   Other techniques are good at allowing for movement.    The better techniques are good at accommodating both structure and support.

 

Knotting, Braiding, Knitting, Crocheting

The stringing materials take center stage, either in combination with other elements, or alone.    The composition may or may not include beads and other components.     Occasionally glue is used, but its use should be minimized.

Philosophy of Technique:  Within a space, the artist places and intertwines various types of stringing materials.    The artist varies tightness and looseness, placement and distribution of sizes, volumes and mass to achieve the dual goals of structure and support.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the intertwining (knotting, chaining, braiding) of the stringing material or canvas.  The intertwined stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

Each strategy for knotting or braiding attempts to simultaneously achieve structure and support.  The technique might vary the placement of fixed points with the use of chaining to create lines, forms and planes within the composition.   Considerable attention is paid to the positioning of positive and negative spaces.

There is a lot of attention to the use of line.     These techniques allow for incorporation of various strategies for achieving a sense of dimensionality.    The shapes may be allowed to stretch or contract, allowing easy response to issues resulting from stress or strain.    Texture is a major emphasis.

 

Embroidery, Embellishment, Fringing

Elements are attached to the surface of the canvas.   This surface is often referred to as the foundation or base.    These elements may be glued or sewn or woven on.    The canvas typically plays a diminished or supplemental role, though this is not a requirement.

Philosophy of Technique:   The space available has been defined by a particular canvas.    This might be a string.    This might be a flat surface.    Elements are placed on and secured to this surface; the mechanics here relate to structural goals.    The pliability, manipulability, and/or maneuverability  of the canvas relate to support goals.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the stringing material or canvas.  The stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

The embellishment may be used to create a particular image, or pattern, or texture.    Often it is used to add a sense of dimensionality and/or movement to a piece.    It invites people to want to touch the composition because it adds a very sensual quality to a piece beyond the characteristics of the materials or colors used.

 

Stamping, Engraving, Etching


 

Elements are embedded on or worked into the surface of the canvas.    The canvas may be comprised of any material.

Philosophy of Technique:   The space available has been defined by a particular canvas.    This is typically a flat surface of some kind, but not limited to any one material.    Structural, as well as support, goals depend on the physical, functional and chemical properties of the canvas.    Sometimes these properties are altered through the application of the techniques.    Texture and pattern are major focuses.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity and material strength of the canvas coupled with that canvas’s ability to maintain its integrity after it has been physically or chemically altered.  The resulting canvas is able to with stand tension and compression.

 

Wire Working, Wire Wrapping, Wire Weaving

Hard Wire is manipulated into forms which hold their shape, serve as structural supports, or create pleasing patterns and textures.

Philosophy of Technique:    The designer places wires into a space.    The wires may be bent to form lines, planes, shapes and forms.    The wires may be interwoven, bundled together, coiled, or otherwise anchored or tied together to create a canvas and form the basic foundation of a piece of jewelry.

During the process of applying a wire technique and creating a piece of jewelry, the physical properties of the wire must be changed.   The designer takes wire, applies a technique to it, and continues to apply the technique until the wire is stiff enough to hold a shape.    Each time you manipulate wire, it gets harder and harder and harder.    If you manipulate it too much, it will become brittle and break.    The wire can be pulled, coiled, bent, twisted, or hammered.

A piece is made stable by the stiffness or hardness of the canvas and its material strength, where it is stiff enough to hold a shape, but not so stiff as to become brittle and break.   The resulting canvas is able towithstand tension and compression.

Considerable attention must be paid to strategies of support, that is, how things get joined and jointed.    That is, whatever the piece of jewelry, it must be able to move freely, and withstand all sources of stress or strain.

For example, hard wire would not be used as a stringing material.   If you put beads on the hard wire to create a bracelet or necklace, the wire would distort in shape when the piece is worn, but not return to its original shape.    In this case, you would have to create several segments or components using the wire, and then make some kind of chain to create that jointedness and support.     Picture a rosary which is a bead chain made of wire.

 

Metalsmithing, Fabrication, Cold Connections

Here metal is shaped and formed into a broad, layered canvas or a series of canvases we call components.    Layers of sheet, wire and granules, or a series of components may be combined in some way, either to create a more complex composition, increase a sense of dimensionality or movement, or allow for jointedness, connectivity and support.    The designer might use heat and solder – fabrication.    Or the designer might use rivets, hinges, loops, rings, rotators – cold connections.      The layers  or the series of components may be textured or not.

Philosophy of Technique:   Into a space, the designer places pieces of metal.     These pieces of metal may sit side-by-side, on top of each other, overlap, sit perpendicular or at an angle.   The components are attached together, using heat and solder, glue, or cold connections.    Each layered canvas or component is a composition unto itself.

Canvases and components are rigid shapes and are constructed to withstand stress and strain.   When constructing a piece of jewelry, typically the designer interconnects various components in a way which allows movement, drape and flow.

Interconnected components may be thematic or tell a story.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity and material strength of the canvas after it has been successfully altered through shaping, heat, soldered connection, glue or cold connection.    The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression, up until the point it bends or dents.    Usually, if that happens, the piece can be unbent or undented.     Considerable attention must be paid to strategies of support, that is, how things get joined and jointed.

 

Casting, Modeling, Molding, Carving, Shaping

Here a material is reconfigured and altered into some kind of shape or form.    The material may be rigid, like wood or stone.    It may be malleable like clay or casting material.    The material, once altered, may or may not be subject to additional actions to change its physical, functional or chemical properties, such as the application of heat or cold or a chemical bath.

Philosophy of Technique:  The material is positioned within a space.    As it is manipulated, it most likely will alter its relationship to that space.    It will be able to play many roles from point to line to plane, and from shape to form to theme.      The designer must be critically aware of how the technique will alter this relationship between space and mass, and light and shadow, and how these in turn, will affect form and composition.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the canvas after it has been shaped.    Cast pieces have difficulty responding to strong forces.   The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression only to that point before it crumbles and breaks.

Structure and support considerations can either be built into the resulting component, or components may be treated in similar ways as in metalsmithing.

 

Lampworking, Wound Glass, Encasing

Rods and stringers of glass are heated by a torch and wound around a steel rod called a mandrel.   Sometimes shards of glass, sometimes with abstract patterns, sometimes representative of realistic images, are laid on the hot glass, and covered (encased) by a transparent glass wound over them.    The result is a bead or pendant or a small sculpture.

Philosophy of Technique:  The material slowly enters and occupies a defined space.    The artist plays with different types of glass, glass colors and transparencies, rods of glass, pieces of glass, ground up glass, and metallic foils.    Things are placed and layered and spiraled.   Surfaces can be altered by tools.   Once begun, the artist must take the technique to completion.    Thus, the artist’s ideas, focus, and intent are very concentrated and intense.      Glass as a material requires the manipulation of the interpenetration of mass with space.

A piece is made stable by the properties of the glass.  The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression to the extent the properties of the glass will allow.

 

Glass Blowing

Air is forced through a steel straw.     At the end of this straw is a blob of molten glass.    The air forces it to hollow out.     As this happens, the artist rolls it, hammers it, textures it, domes it, otherwise shapes it until it is a finished piece.    The artist may roll the glass over other pieces of glass, to melt them into the piece.    As the glass cools, the result might be a bead or a pendant or a small sculpture.

Philosophy of Technique:  The material expands within a space.   This space may be very narrow and defined, or very expansive, perhaps ill-defined.    The resulting object has surface and interior and exterior spaces.    The qualities of the surface create a play between mass and space, and their interpenetration.

A piece is made stable by the properties of the glass.  The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression to the extent the properties of the glass walls will allow.

 

Computer Aided Design (CAD), 3-D Printing

Here the artist uses computers to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.   The output is typically in the form of electronic files or technical drawings for 3-D printing, machining or other manufacturing operation.    3-D printing takes a CAD model and builds it, material layer by layer in an additive manufacturing fashion.     Frequently, the 3-D printed object is a casting mold, rather than the finished piece.

Philosophy of Technique:   CAD can place points, lines and curves within a 2-dimensional space, or curves, surfaces and solids within a 3-dimensional space.    CAD can simulate motion and its impact on any object.   It can take into account other parameters and constraints.   The final technical output must convey more than information about shape.   It must convey information about the extents to which various materials may be used in the design, their dimensions and tolerances.   It must convey information about the pros and cons of processes the artist might use in the design.

One pay-off for the artist is that the computer can detail many more ways, and many more unexpected ways, to relate mass to space than typically thought of without it.

 

 

HOW TO LEARN TECHNIQUE

A good design, poorly executed, is not worth all that much.

So, how do we learn techniques is ways which help us develop ourselves as designers and be fluent in how we select, implement and apply them?

We need to be very aware of what influences us in our

o Selection of Technique

o Implementation of Technique

o Application of Technique

Selection: Anticipating What Will Happen If And When

We begin to develop our fluency in technique at the point of selection.      To select a technique is to anticipate what will happen to the piece of jewelry after it is designed, constructed and worn.    This involves all our senses from thought to touch to sight.

When we touch a piece constructed using a particular technique, how will it feel?   Will it curve or bend?   Will it curve or bend in the direction we need it to?    Will it drape nicely on the body?   Move easily with the body?  Feel comfortable when worn?    Will it hold its shape?

When we see a piece constructed using a particular technique, what will be the resulting pattern and texture?   What will be the interplay of light and shadow?    Will it look good from all sides when sitting on an easel?   Will it look good from all sides when someone is wearing it?    When that person is moving?   Will all color issues be resolved?

We play a What-If game.    What-If we used a variation on the technique?   What-If we used another technique?   What-If we combined techniques or sequenced them or staggered them?  What-if we settled for a little less beauty to achieve better movement, drape and flow?

We might do some research.    Has the technique been used by another artist or in another project you were attracted to?    Was it used successfully?   Did it work well in terms of structure and support?    Did it contribute to (or at least not detract from) the visual appearance of the piece?

We might do some pre-testing.    Will the technique hold up to our expectations?   Will it still work with some variation?    Will it work under differing circumstances?

We are honest with ourselves about our biases.     Will we pick something only because we have done it before?   Or we are very familiar with it?   Or it is the easiest or path of least resistance?

 

Implementation: Basic Mechanics and Processes     

We want to learn the basic mechanics of each technique in a way which highlights their philosophies – that is, how we think them through.    We think about managing:

–         Structure and Support

–         How To Hold The Piece To Work It

–         How To Distribute Stresses and Points of Vulnerability

–         How To Create A Clasp Assembly

–         How To Finish Off The Piece

 

 

Structure and Support.   To begin, we know that each and every technique has as part of its mechanics and processes some aspects which help us create and maintain structures (shape).     And each and everytechnique has some aspects which help us create and maintain support (movement, drape and flow).     We want to be able to break down any technique so that we can recognize what results in what.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding The Piece To Work It   Next, the basic mechanics also includes strategies for how to hold the piece while you work it.

Picture yourself as an artist.    An artist has an easel and something to use as a clamp to hold things in place.

A bead weaver would use their forefinger on one hand as an easel, pressing the developing bead work project against it, and then take their thumb on that same hand, and clamp down over the work to keep it in place.

A silversmith might use a steel bench block as an easel, and a vice as a clamp.

Someone doing braiding or knotting might use a clipboard as an easel and a bulldog clip as a clamp.

Your challenge is to hold the piece in such a way that you maximize your ability to implement a technique all the while maximizing the strengths of that technique and minimizing its weaknesses.    This is called leveraging.    You use whatever it is that is equivalent to the artist’s easel and clamp in such a way that you can successfully leverage the technique for your purposes.

Holding your piece correctly also sends signals to your hands telling you when each individual step is completed, and when you are finished.

 

 

Distribute Stresses and Points of Vulnerability.   

In any piece of jewelry, it can be expected that the stress-bearing and strain-bearing strengths and weaknesses of each component will be unevenly distributed throughout the pieces.   That is, there will be some areas or points in the piece of jewelry which will be vulnerable to stresses and strains.   This may cause the piece to break or lose its shape or otherwise disrupt its integrity.

The jewelry designer needs to be able to easily look at a piece or its sketch or design plan and identify all the points of vulnerability.     After identifying these, the designer will need to figure out ways to compensate for these weaknesses in design.

Usually points of vulnerability occur in these places or situations:

  • Where the clasp assembly is attached to the piece
  • At the beginning and the end of the piece
  • Along the edges
  • Corners and inside corners
  • Where components have very sharp holes or edges
  • When using materials which degrade, deteriorate, bleed, rub off, distort, are too soft
  • Where there is not an exact fit between two pieces or elements
  • Where there is insufficient support or jointedness

These points of vulnerability may need reinforcement.    More support or structural elements may need to be added.    Things may need to be re-located or positioned within the design.    They may need to be eliminated from the design.

Most often, places of vulnerability occur where the structures or supports in place take on the shapes of either HLT, or U.    Think of these shapes as hazards.  These shapes tend to split when confronted with external or internal forces.   They tend to split because each leg is often confronted with different levels or directions of force.   The legs are not braced.     These hazardous shapes cry out for additional reinforcements or support or structural systems.

 

 

The Clasp Assembly.    The “CLASP ASSEMBLY” usually consists of several parts.  It includes everything it takes to attach the clasp to your beadwork.    Besides the Clasp itself, there are probably jump rings and connectors, crimp beads, clamps, cones, end caps or other jewelry findings.

Visually, the Clasp Assembly is part of the vernacular of the piece.     Ideally, it should seem organically related to the piece or at least a logical inclusion.

Structurally, the Clasp Assembly should hold the piece together as the piece is worn.     It may have some impact on maintaining the shape of the silhouette.

Most importantly, the Clasp Assembly should be put together as a support system. It is the most important support system in any piece of jewelry.  Support systems used in a necklace or bracelet are similar tothe joints in your body.   They aid in movement.   They prevent any one piece from being adversely affected by the forces this movement brings to the piece.   They keep the piece from being stiff.   They make the piece look and feel better, when worn.

The Clasp Assembly of any piece of jewelry should be designed first before the rest of the piece is designed, or designed currently with the rest of the piece.   Too often, jewelry designers select the clasp after they have finished the rest of the piece.    They do not seem to understand how the clasp assembly is an integral part of the implementation of any technique.    In this case, not only does the clasp assembly look like it was the last choice, but it usually falls short of meeting its visual, structural and support roles.

 

 

Finishing Off The Piece.    We always need to step back and reflect whether the piece as designed and implemented will be judged as finished and successful by each of the myriad audiences we hope to please.      Will their judgments confirm or reject our philosophy of the particular technique(s) we used?

It is the challenge for the designer not to make the piece under-done or over-done.   Each and every material and component part should be integral to the piece as a whole.

 

 

Application:   Achieving Expressiveness 

Expressiveness refers to the power of the piece of jewelry to fit with both the designer’s as well as all other’s expectations about desire, connectedness, power, value and worth.    This is one and the same thing as measuring the extent to which both materials and techniques can be seen to have been leveraged, to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

A technique has been applied in the most expressive way at that point where the design elements and the materials  selected have been composed, manipulated and constructed in the most optimum way.   We can judge the degree of expressiveness by honing in on two concepts:   Parsimony and Resonance.

 

Parsimony (maximum applied impact):    Parsimony is when you know enough is enough.  When the finished and successful piece is parsimonious, the relationship of all the Design Elements and their expressed attributes will be so strong, that to add or remove any one thing would diminish, not just the design, but rather the significance of the design.

Parsimony is sometimes referred to in art and design as Economy, but the idea of economy is reserved for the visual effects.  For jewelry designers, we want that economy or parsimony to apply to functional and situational effects, as well.   The designer needs to be able to decide when enough is enough.

Parsimony…
– forces explanation; its forced-choice nature is most revealing about the artist’s understandings and intentions

– relies on evidence moreso than assumptions to get at criticality

– focuses examination of the few elements that make a difference

 

Resonance  (coherency of applied impact):  Resonance is some level of felt energy that is a little more than an emotional response.    The difference between saying that piece of jewelry is “beautiful” vs. saying that piece of jewelry “makes me want to wear it”.   Or that “I want to touch it”.   Or “My friends need to see this.”

Resonance is something more than emotion.   It is some kind of additional energy we see, feel and otherwise experience.   Emotion is very reactive.   Resonance is intuitive, involving, identifying.    Resonance is an empathetic response where artist and audience realize a shared (or contradictory) understanding without losing sight of whose views and feelings belong to whom.

Resonance results from how the artist applies technique to control light, shadow, and their characteristics of warmth and cold, receding and approaching, bright and dull, light and dark.   Resonance results from how the artist leverages the strengths of materials and techniques and minimizes their weaknesses.   Resonance results from social, cultural and situational cues.   Resonance results from how the artist takes us to the edge of universal, objective understandings, and pushes us every so slightly, but not too, too far, beyond that edge.

 

Jewelry which resonates…
– is communicative and authentic

– shows the artist’s hand as intention, not instinct

– evokes both an emotional as well as energetic response from wearer and viewer

– shows both degrees of control, as well as moments of the unexpected

– makes something noteworthy from something ordinary

– finds the whole greater than the sum of the parts

 

– lets the materials and techniques speak

– anticipates shared understandings of many different audiences about design elements and principles, and some obvious inclusion, exclusion or intentional violation of them

– results from a design process that appears to have been more systemic (e.g., ingrained within an integrated process) than systematic (e.g., a step-by-step approach)

– both appeals and functions at the boundary where jewelry meets person

 

 

TECHNOLOGY AND JEWELRY DESIGN

The potential of technology merged with craft is infinite.

Technology includes things like,

–         New methods, processes and materials

–         New ways to implement ideas

–         Ability to generate new styles

–         Opportunity to create meaningful forms

–         Unseen contributions to aesthetic structure and composition

–         Less costly and/or more production-friendly methods for creating pieces, especially for projects which might not otherwise get implemented

New materials and composites are created and enter the marketplace every year.

New ways of extracting, shaping, finishing, stabilizing materials come on line each year.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3-D printing provide the tools to jewelry designers to create things beyond their imaginations.

Electroforming  enables the creation of lightweight pieces from various metals.

Lasers are used to weld, cut and decorate.

Laser-Sintering melts powdered metal, layer by layer, into a finished piece.

Jewelry makers and beaders frequently come up with new techniques, mechanics and processes for creating jewelry.     Technology provides creatives with original ways of expression.

“Smart” elements are getting introduced into some designs, transforming your jewelry into a smart device.    These might measure health and fitness; might change color and appearance to suit different environments or clothing; might warm or cool the body.

 

 

TO WHAT EXTENT SHOULD JEWELRY DESIGNERS
RESPOND TO TECHNOLOGY?

Technology is a very powerful tool.    Combined with craftmanship, it can create a new language of shape, object, and sensation.    We have to be careful, however, that we use technology to support jewelry which is hand-made, and not supplant it.

The use of technology allows the designer to create new forms and materials that otherwise would not exist.   Technology often translates into convenience and more rapid production.   In today’s globalized world, this might offer a competitive edge.     Technology also enables more customization, and faster customization.    Again, in a globalized world, this would offer a competitive advantage.     Technology encourages us to look forward, rather than back, for our inspirations and insights.

Again, it is important to emphasize that we do not want all this technological efficiency to diminish the act of “creativity”.    We don’t want to standardize everything and reduce everything into a set of how-to instructions.     We want to expand our creative abilities.   We want to increase the power of the designer to produce pieces reflective of the artist’s hand.     We want our jewelry to be as expressive as possible of the needs, wants and desires of our various clientele.

 

The impact of jewelry on our professional practice.   Whether we use new technologies in our professional practice, or not, we cannot escape them.   We must be up-to-date and aware of technological impacts on what we do and how we do it.

The impact of technology on work and jobs was the focus of an opinion piece in the New York Times by David H. Autor and David Dorn.

As jewelry designers, we are living through and with all the positives and negatives that arise through this technological change.

  • How has technology affected what we do as designers?
  • How has it affected what we do to survive and thrive as designers?
  • Have we mechanized and computerized the jewelry design business into obsolescence?
  • How have you had to organize your jewelry designer lives differently?
    given the rise of

-The internet,
-Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.com
-Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram
-New technologies and materials like precious metal clay, polymer clay, crystal clay, 3-D printing

  • What has happened to your local bead stores? Jewelry stores? Boutiques?
  • What has happened to bead and jewelry making magazines?
  • If you teach classes for pay, or sell kits and instructions, how do you compete against the literally millions of online tutorials, classes, instructions and kits offered for free?    How does this affect what you teach or design to sell as kits?
  • If you sell jewelry, how do you compete against the 60,000,000 other people who sell jewelry online?   How does this affect your marketing, your pricing, your designs?
  • If you make part of your living doing the arts and crafts show circuit, will there still be a need for this in the future?

 

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Autor, David H. and Dorn, David.   “How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class”, New York Times, August 24, 2013.

          As reference in:
https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/how-technology-wrecks-the-middle-class/

 

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HOW TO CRIMP THE WAY BETTER DESIGNERS DO: Using Crimp Beads, a Crimp Pliers and Flex Wire

Posted by learntobead on April 25, 2020

How to Crimp Using Crimp Beads, a Crimp Pliers and Flex Wire

Crimping is a technique for securing a clasp to beads strung on cable wires. Here crimp beads are used instead of tying knots.

Mechanically, crimping does three things:
 
 In the first steps in crimping, you need to separate two wires that lead to the clasp component. One wire is your spine — what your beads are strung on. The other wire is your tail — extra wire you will need to cut off.
 
 Second, you need to create a lock to literally lock the two wires in place.

Last, you need to make it pretty. The crushed crimp is ugly, and you need to make it look more like a bead again.

So with your pliers and your crimp bead, you separate the wires and create a lock and make things pretty again. The process is relatively simple and requires only a little practice.

If using a traditional crimping pliers, you would follow the 4-Steps listed below.

However, you can also use what is called a One-Step Crimper. This crimping pliers does all four steps in one step. If crimping is a technique that you will be doing often, then I suggest investing in a One-Step Crimper.

My warnings to you:

(a)Usually the instructions on the package that comes with your crimping pliers is inadequate to the task. Better designers know this from experience. Less experienced designers, however, rely on these inadequate instructions.

(b) There are over 55 different crimping pliers on the market. The only ones that truly work are the original and the more recent One-Step Crimper. The originals are made in China. I’ve noticed that the major craft stores now sell copies of the original ones. These are made in India. Total disaster. They don’t do the job at all because they have a poor configuration of the jaws.

(c ) When students and customers say they are having trouble crimping, they usually blame themselves or the pliers. What I have found is that have bought cheap crimp beads, usually from one of the craft stores. With crimp beads, you get what you pay for. The plated aluminum ones sold in craft stores break when you crush them. The cheap sterling ones have nickel in the alloy (sterling is 92.5% silver and 7.5% something else we call an alloy), which makes the sterling brittle. Sterling is supposed to have copper in the alloy, which makes it malleable, but many manufacturers substitute nickel to keep the cost of sterling down.

Successful crimping requires that you understand the following:

1 . Which cable wires are best for which projects

2 . How the materials you use affect your success

3. The mechanical process itself, how it works, why it works, and why we do each step

CABLE WIRES

Cable wires are nylon coated, braided wires and are very flexible. These are made for stringing.

[What is called Hard Wire — wire that is not braided and is not encased in nylon — in contrast, is not meant for stringing.]

Cable Wires come in 3 quality grades.

Tiger Tail.The low end is called Tiger Tail. Tiger Tail was the original cable wire product. Today it is the low end of the cable wire line. Most spools of Tiger Tail do not have the words “tiger tail” on their labels. You know it is Tiger Tail because of the price — typically $5.99 or less for a 30ft spool you would find in a bead or craft store.

Tiger Tail wire breaks very easily in and of itself. It kinks easily, and even with the beads on the wire, the kink often shows. The way you attach Tiger Tail to a clasp is that you take the wire through the loop on the clasp, and tie an over-hand knot. You can tie a single knot or a double knot. This actually gives you a very secure connection to the clasp. This is one positive of Tiger Tail.

Unfortunately, when you use crimp beads with Tiger Tail, they too easily cut into the Tiger Tail and make it break. So that is why we suggest tying knots. If you do not like the look of the knotted cable wire here, you can either use beads on each end and which have larger holes so that they swallow the knots. Or, you can slide a crimp cover over the knots, press the two ends on the cover together, and you have something that looks a like a bead to hide your knots.

Flex Wire. The middle quality level — what I suggest people start with, if they want to use cable wire as their stringing material — is called Flex Wire. This wire does not break easily. It does not kink easily. However, it is difficult to tie into a knot. So, we use a crimp bead to secure the wire in place.

The price on this is considerably more than the Tiger Tail. It will start between $10.00 and $20.00 for that 30-foot spool.

Professional or Artistic Wire. The top of the line is referred to as Professional or Artistic Wire. Most of these wires are very expensive, and we don’t suggest this level as the place to start.

There are many brands of cable wire. I am particularly fond of two brands — Soft Flex and Flexrite. I find the wire of other brands too stiff, and sometimes not strong enough.

Cable Wires come in different diameters or widths, usually stated in inches.

We recommend the following:

.014″ — .015″ for necklaces: here you want the best drape you can get, and still have a durable piece

.018″ — .019″ for bracelets: here you want the most durability, yet your piece still feels good when worn

.019″ — .024″ for eyeglass leashes: here durability is you primary factor

About Selecting Cable Wires

There is a lot of information on the labels of cable wires. However, while most of this information is necessary, it is not sufficient for determining which wire is best.

The only true measure of cable wire strength is called Tensile Strength, and you will not find this information on the labels. The strength of a cable wire will come from what the wire is made of, what the nylon sheathing is made of, and how thick that nylon sheathing is. You cannot assume that a 49-strand product is stronger than a 21-strand product, without knowing more about the wire composition and the sheathing. That 49-strand product may actually be weaker.

Nor can you assume that a product, the label of which indicates 20-pound strength is necessarily stronger than a product that indicates 10-pound strength. “Pound Strength” is very unreliable as a measure. In most cases, these pound strength numbers on the label are somewhat made up.

Governments provide two definitions for pound strength — what it takes to hold up a fish of a certain weight, and what it takes to reel in a fish of a certain weight. But they leave it up to the factory to determine exactly how to measure and report pound strength. So you are at the mercy of some factory worker in a place like Taiwan, high on Toluene, having the motivation to maintain a pound strength standard.

On most cable wire products, measures of pound strength are not included. Many years ago, pound strength was listed on all cable wires. The people at the factories responsible for the labels, however, could never get the same pound strength listed from batch to batch. One time it might list 20 pounds; another 2 pounds; another 6 pounds; then back to 20 pounds. So the manufacturers told them to leave this information off.

It is very difficult to compare cable wires across brands. Each company organizes its line, from low end to high end, differently. Some companies, like Beadalon, use 7-strands for Tiger Tail, 19-strands for Flex wire, and 49-strands for their Professional wire. But other companies do not use this ordered arrangement of number of strands to quality. In the Soft Flex line, their top-of-the-line 7-strand product is stronger than their 49-strand middle-range product. And don’t assume one brand’s 49-strand wire is equivalent to another’s. They are not. The Soft Flex 49-strand middle range produce is stronger and more subtle than Beadalon’s top of the line 49-strand product.

I actually only recommend 2 brands — Soft Flex and Flex Rite. These are considerably stronger and more subtle than other brands.

Know this: What makes cable wire strong is the nylon sheathing’s ability to maintain the twist in the cable wire. As soon as the integrity of the nylon sheathing is violated, the wires inside immediately untwist and break. I find that the nylon sheathing on most brands is very thin, sometimes porous, and weak chemically.

CRIMP BEADS, CRIMP COVERS, and HORSESHOE WIRE PROTECTORS

Crimp Beads

Crimp beads come in many styles, sizes and finishes. These are used to secure cable wires to clasps. You take your cable wire up through the crimp bead, through the loop on the clasp, and back down through the crimp, forming a loop. The crimping process involves crushing the crimp onto the cable wire loop, first, separating the tail and spine wires, then, locking them in place, and finally, re-shaping the crushed crimp so it looks like a bead again.

Sterling silver crimps are usually made the best, especially ones you buy in places other than the big craft stores. For plated crimps, if they are plated over brass (and years ago, they all were plated over brass), than they were very good. Brass is your best jewelry metal. The major issue was that the plating would wear off and you would have a black crimp (basically, tarnished brass). Now, most plated crimps are over aluminum. These break easily when crimped.

I tend to use sterling silver crimps for every piece, though my crimp covers and horseshoes may or may not be sterling, based on the value of the piece, and the finish colors I want to end up with.

Crimp Covers

These are U-shaped parts that slip over the crushed crimp. You can slide crimp covers over your crushed crimps. You can also use these to slide over any knots, to hide the knots. Crimp covers come in different sizes, finishes, and texturing. Crimp covers are optional pieces. They act as lamp-shades to hide something ugly, but they serve no structural role, per se.

Closing a crimp cover is done in 2-steps, not one.

(1) Using the tips of your crimping pliers, you push the two sides of the U together, so you have a pretty bead. These are made of a soft metal, so you don’t want to push too hard, or you will crush them. After you get the two sides to meet, you’ll find that the lip on either side doesn’t meet up perfectly, line up perfectly or close perfectly.

(2) At this point, you return the crimp cover to your crimping pliers, this time resting it between the top notch in each jaw. Gently push the jaws to force the lips to meet more perfectly. Sometimes you have to position the pliers in an awkward or odd position, in order to push in the desired direction. The two half-cup shaped ditches in the top position on each jaw helps to keep your crimp cover rounded while you apply pressure to it and shift the relative positioning of each open side.

Horseshoe Wire Protectors

This part is basically a bent tube, with the top of the tube at the arch cut out. These come in many finishes and metals. There is some variation in size relative to how wide an opening the tube has.

Using these serve several purposes.

It forces you to leave the correct size loop in the cable wire, so that you have the appropriate support system or jointedness. Without the loop, you would be pushing the crimp all the way to the clasp. This is a No-No. You never push the crimp all the way to the clasp — this creates stiffness with metal parts, and general movement would cause these to break.

The horseshoe also makes the loop more finished looking — better than a bare-wire loop. Your eye/brain wants you to push the crimp all the way to the clasp. It hates a bare, exposed loop. The horseshoe fools the eye/brain here, making it think that the loop is finished and more organically a part of the whole composition.

The horseshoe prevents the cable wire from folding into a “V-shape” over a period of time and wear. If the wire were to change from an arched loop to a V-loop, the wire then would more easily bend back and forth and eventually break.

You will find that the legs of some horseshoes you will buy have too-narrow openings and won’t fit your cablewire. Also, the thickness of the cablewire along its length will vary somewhat. And sometimes where you cut your cablewire, it sometimes broadens or flattens out the end, making it too big to shove up into the leg. The morals here: have extra horseshoes on hand, and be prepared to cut off some more of the cablewire to get to that area on the wire that has the perfect width.

There are many choices to make when selecting crimp beads:

– Do you want to use a tube shape or a round shape

A crimp is a crimp. There is no difference in “holdability” between the tube and the round, but most people prefer the tubes. They sense that the tube covers more area, so it will be more secure.

A round bead actually starts as a tube. They blow air into the tube to puff it up and make it look round.

– If you want to maintain a silver color, how do you do that?

You have several choices here, each with pros and cons. You can use a sterling silver crimp. Sterling silver softens at body temperature. If your sterling crimp rests on the wrist or the neck, there is some risk that it will soften and release its hold. From experience, this risk, if you have crimped correctly, is very small, but the risk exists.

Another option is to use a silver-plated crimp. Silver plated crimps are plated usually over brass. Brass is your best jewelry design metal. Once you crush that brass, you never have to lose any sleep over it. Unfortunately, the plating wears away somewhat quickly, and you are left with a black crimp — basically tarnished brass.

Some people use silver plated crimps and slide sterling crimp covers over them. This adds about $0.90 per piece.

Another option: Use an argentium silver crimp. Both argentium silver and sterling silver are 92.5% silver. It’s the alloy that is different. Argentium is more expensive. There is no risk of argentium silver softening at body temperature.

– How do you achieve a satisfactorily re-rounded bead?

In the traditional crimping processing, you flatten the crimp and then you re-round it so that it looks like a bead again. You do not end up with a great look. Some people can live with this; for others, they are bothered by not seeing a perfectly round bead again.

There is a crimping pliers, which I do not recommend, called the Magical Crimping Pliers. This re-rounds that bead perfectly, but I find, in doing so, it weakens the hold.

You can always crush your crimp bead, and then slide a crimp cover over it, to get that pretty look.

– How many crimp beads should you use on each end — 1 crimp or more than one?

If you have crimped correctly, using 1 crimp on each end of your piece is more than sufficient, even if your beads are very heavy.

Using more than 1 crimp on each end is too risky. Sometimes your mind, or your best friend, thinks that if 1 is good, 2 or more would be better. No! When you crush your crimp onto the wire, it becomes like a little razor blade. All jewelry moves, so your crimp is constantly trying to saw through the cable. Using more than one crimp on each end increases the chances that one will saw through. All you are doing is adding razor blades.

– Should you use a plain tube or a twisted tube?

The twisted tubes (sometimes called Tornado or Cyclone crimps) are a little more expensive than the plain ones. When you crush the twisted tubes, they look decorative enough that you don’t have to re-round them. You definitely need to re-round the plain ones.

– Should you use regular and long tubes or short and half tubes?

Short tubes or half tubes are primarily used in pieces like illusion necklaces, where you have a cluster of beads, and the cord shows, another cluster of beads, the cord shows, etc. Half tubes are used on either side of the clusters to keep the beads in place. When you crush the half tube, the volume of space it takes up is not noticeable. When you crush the regular sized tube, its volume of space is too noticeable and detracts from the general look of the piece.

One mistake people make with the short or half tubes, is that, when they use them to finish off the ends of jewelry, their mind tells them, since these are shorter than usual, to use 2 or 3 of them so that they will “hold better.” A crimp is a crimp, and if you crimped correctly, there is no difference in holdability between the short and longer tubes. Each crushed crimp you add becomes like a little razor blade. All jewelry moves, so you’re increasing the chances one of these crimps will cut through the cable wire. One crimp on either end is enough.

– Are there differences or variations on quality/grade of crimp beads?

The short answer is Yes! Basically, you get what you pay for!

Here’s how crimp beads are made: You start with a sheet of metal. You roll the metal into a tube. You buff along the seam where the two sides meet, so that it looks like it’s been soldered together. However, there’s really a seam there.

So often, people come into our shop and tell sad tales of failed crimps and broken bracelets and necklaces. They blame themselves. They blame the pliers. But they never blame the crimp beads. In most cases, the crimp is at fault.

Cheap crimps, usually bought in small packages, usually at craft stores, are not made well. When you crush these, they tend to split along the seam. Sometimes you can see the split. Othertimes, you can’t quite see that the two sides of the tube have started to separate. Your cable wires pull out. Or your crimp edges have cut into the cable wire.

An A- grade crimp, usually costing about 3 times what the cheap crimps cost, can hold up to your initial crushing, as well as another 8 or so clamping down on it during the re-rounding process.

There are heavy-duty or A+ grade crimps. These run about 6–8 times what the cheap crimps do. You don’t have to worry about any splitting, no matter how much you work the crimp bead with your pliers.

– How do you know what size of crimp bead to buy?

Manufacturers are inconsistent in how they label the sizes of crimp beads. In general, although you may not know exactly what their measurement refers to, when they list:

2mm, this is the average size For .014, .015, .018, .019 cable wires

1.5mm, this is small For .010 and .012 cable wires

2.5mm, this is slightly more than average For .019 and .024 cable wires

3.0mm and 4.0mm, these are large for .024 cable wires, or thicker cords, or bringing more than 1 strand through at a time

LET’S PRACTICE OUR CRIMPING

How to Crimp Using Crimp Beads, a Crimp Pliers and Flex Wire

Supplies:
 2mm sterling silver crimp tubes
 silver plated crimp cover
 silver-plated horseshoe wire protectors
 .019” soft flex cable wire
 toggle clasp
 enough beads to make a bracelet
 
 Chain Nose Pliers
 Crimping Pliers
 Flush Cutters or Cable Wire Cutters

Work Surface
 Bracelet Sizing Cone
 Bead Board
 Bead Stoppers or Hemostats

Before we get started on our bracelet, we are going to practice crimping.

The Traditional Crimping “Pliers”

The traditional crimping pliers works with all sizes of crimp beads. In fact, I find it works better than most other types of crimping pliers, whether the micro-crimpers, macro-crimpers or magical crimpers.

If you look closely at the jaws, you will see that each jaw has two notches or ditches on it. The bottom notch or ditch in each jaw (those closest to your hand) is a full ditch on one side, and a ditch with a pyramid or triangle in it on the other side. It is important that you be able to see that pyramid. This is critical to the crimping process. Sometimes when you buy these, and other times when you use these awhile, the pyramid isn’t there or wears away.

The top notch in each jaw (furthest from your hand) has a full ditch on either side.

There are four steps in the crimping process. Basically, you use the crimping pliers first to separate the two wires (spine and tail), then second, to lock them in place. The last step is to make things pretty again.

We do the first two steps using the bottom notch in each jaw. We do the last two steps using the top notch in each jaw.

Hold your pliers parallel to the table, with curved part of jaws facing you.

[NOTE: There is also a new 1-step crimping pliers which works very well.]

The “Loop”

Position the crimp and the wires, so you leave an adequate “loop” (joint).

The clasp should be able to move freely.

You never push the crimp bead all the way up to the clasp.

Your eye/brain cognition wants you to push the crimp all the way up to the clasp; it sees the bare loop as ugly. You must fight your inner self on this, in order to build in appropriate level of support or jointedness. You are going to have to sacrifice some beauty in order to build in more durability and adaptability to movement.

When crimp/wire/clasp are too tight, and can’t move, then you basically have stiff metal bending back and forth against itself, and it breaks. If the bare loop bothers you, you can always cover the loop with 15/0 or 11/0 seed beads, or 13/0 charlottes.

Or you can use a horseshoe wire protector to cover the loop. What I like about the horseshoe wire protector is that it forces you to leave an ideal sized loop, and also makes what was a bare loop look very finished and appealing.

The “Tail”

You need to leave about a 3–4” tail on either side. You want to hold the tail so that it runs parallel to the spine, though not touching.

When you crimp by closing and letting go of your pliers, don’t let go of the tail. This is a mistake many people make. When they let go of the pliers, they let go of the tail. Don’t do this. If you let go of the tail at the same time, the tail will either bend over far to one side, creating a “V” with it and the spine. Or, it will cross over the spine.

When we trim our tails, we do not cut them off at the crimp. Instead, we feed back the tail through at least the first (or last) bead, and preferably several other beads, and then cut the tail as close to the hole of the bead it is exiting as possible. You want to be sure that at least your first bead and your last bead have large enough holes, so that they can slip over both the spine and the tail.

Tail sticking out too far and tail crossing over wire:

Finishing Your Piece Off and TrimmingThe Tails

On the first side of your bracelet or necklace, you secure your clasp component with your crimped wire. You then string on your beads. You want at least the first bead, and preferably several beads to slip over both the spine and the tail wires. When you get to the other side, you will add your crimp bead and horseshoe wire protector, slide your remaining clasp component over the tail up into the horseshoe. You need to have a 3–4″ tail remaining. Grab your tail, and bring it back through (top to bottom) of your crimp bead, and through at least your last bead, and preferably several beads.

Now you want to pull things tight, but not too tight, before you crimp that second crimp bead. Hold onto your clasp (or your horseshoe wire protector ) with one hand, and pull the wire with the other, to get everything tight, but not too tight. You do not want your bracelet to have poor “ease” and be too stiff. You should test the length of the bracelet one more time, using a sizing cone or someone’s wrist. Make any necessary adjustments to ease and length.

If your tail is showing on your first side of the bracelet, then trim it off now. Flush cutters or cable wire cutters work well here. If you pull your tail away from the bead, this creates a bit of tension, and when you cut the wire, the wire coming out your bead will pull back a bit into the hole of the bead.

If you haven’t been able to cut the wire flush enough with the bead, and some wire is poking out, work it with your fingers into the hole of the next bead on the string.

Re-check your length and ease.

Now crimp your ending side. Trim the remaining tail as close to the hole of your bead as possible.

NOTE: If you can’t work the tail back through the first bead, then cut it off as close to the crimp as possible. There will be two sharp edges. One will be the crushed crimp itself. The other will be the cable wire. You can’t really cut the wire totally flush with the crimp, so a little bit of a nipple will be protruding. Use an emery board or nail file or metal file and smooth out the rough edges of the crimp, and sharp point of the cable wire. Feel with your finger, until it is smooth. This is not your best option. Your piece will look less finished and be less secure.

Camouflaging the Crimp Bead

You can always make your crimp beads the second and next to last beads, instead of the first and last. In this case, the crimp will look like it is part of a pattern. The ends will look very finished.

Let’s Crimp: A Practice Exercise

Cut a 15″ length of cable wire.

Horseshoe on first. Take your horseshoe wire protector, holding it so that the arch is toward the ceiling and the legs are to the floor. Take your wire from floor to ceiling, up into the leg, over the arch, and back down through the over leg. Give yourself a 3–4″ tail past the horseshoe.

Slide on clasp component. Take your tail wire through the loop on the ring end of your Toggle clasp, and slide that ring’s loop right up into the horseshoe.

Add Crimp Bead. Slide a crimp bead onto the spine of your cable wire, and bring it all the way up to the legs of the horseshoe. As you get close to the tail, you want your crimp to slide over both the spine and the tail.

Pinch the legs of the horseshoe closer together, and get your crimp as close to the legs as possible. You can use your fingers or the tips of your crimping pliers to pinch the horseshoe legs.

Be sure your have left yourself as 3–4″ tail. Make any adjustments.

Crimp. Now grab your crimping pliers, holding them parallel to your table, curved part of the jaws bending towards you.

Pinch the tail and spine near to your crimp bead with your thumb and forefinger, making sure that your tail is parallel, but not touching, the spine.

In Bottom Notches (closet to your hand): 
ditch on one side, and pyramid on the other

STEPS 1 and 2: Your goal is to separate the wires. The pyramid in your pliers jaw pushes the wires apart, and makes a scoring line down the middle of your crimp, turning it into a double-tube, one wire in each channel.

Step 1: Crush

Sit your crimp bead between the bottom notches in each side. The loop/horseshoe should be laying horizontally, parallel to the table.

Crush the pliers all the way down onto the crimp bead, and let go of the pliers (but not the tail).

Step 2: Turn over 180 degrees, and crush again

When we crushed the first time, the part of the crimp closest to our hand crushed down, but the part furthest from our hand actually flared out a bit. In Step 2, we crush down the part that had flared up.

You end up with a flat pancake. If you look at this flat pancake, you will see a scoring line down the middle. This line was made by our pyramid.

So we turn the crimp over to its other side, and crush again.

In Top Notches (furthest from your hand): Ditch on either side

STEP 3: The goal is to create a lock.

Step 3: Fold flat pancake to make half-a-flat pancake

Sit your crimp bead between the top pair of notches. Hold so that your loop/horseshoe is vertical, thus perpendicular to the table.

Hold the crushed crimp vertically, and crush, to fold this flat pancake in half along the scoring line. You end up with half a flat pancake.

STEP 4: Your goal here is to make things pretty.

Step 4: Re-Round

Use the top notches to gently force and push the flat crimp back into a rounded tube shape again. If you look at either end of the crimp — from the loop end and from the tail end — you want to see a circular shape again, rather than a rectangular slit. It’s best to keep your pliers steady in one place, and turn your wire/crimp bead as you work the pliers. You do not CRUSH; you PUSH on the metal with your pliers to re-round.

Now, your crimp bead is wider than the width of the jaws the pliers. So, you will have to work the top and bottom of the crimp a little bit independently, so that both ends are round again.

NOTE: Instead of Step 4, you can use a crimp cover, and slide this over the crushed crimp to hide it.

But if using a crimp cover, be sure to do Steps 1 thru 3.

Putting The Beads On.

If you were creating a piece from scratch, and not following a pattern, you would probably use something like clamps, hemostats or bead stoppers. You would cut a length of cable wire — about 12″ more than the bracelet or necklace length you want to end up with. You lay out all your beads and the parts of the clasp assembly on a bead board or other work surface. Then you would clamp one end of your cable wire, slide beads on, and clamp the other end. This would let you add and subtract beads, or change your mind about the patterning, before you finished off the ends with the clasp assembly.

Otherwise, if you are following a particular pattern, you would start by securing one end with a crimp bead, and stringing the rest of the beads on. You would cut your cable wire — about 12″ more than the bracelet length you want to end up with.

Lay out all your beads and the clasp assembly parts on the bead board or some other work surface, in the order they are to be used.

You would attach the largest part of your clasp first — with Toggles, this is the ring — on one end, crimping it in place, and leaving a 3–4″ tail.

Slide on your beads, following the pattern. At least your first bead should slide over both the spine and the tail.

Determine the fit — both length and ease — by clamping or holding with your fingers the open end, and encircling a sizing cone or someone’s wrist with your bracelet. Remember here that the other end of the clasp will add another 1/2″ to this length.

“Ease” — You do not want to pull the cable wire too tight, making it stiff, thus uncomfortable to wear. And you do not want to pull the cable not tight enough, thus allowing the cable wire to show between the beads and the beads and the clasp.

Adjust the number of beads, if necessary.

Add your crimp bead, horseshoe wire protector, the other end of the clasp — in our case, the bar.

Don’t actually crimp things on this side, or trim your tail yet.

Slide the tail back through some beads. Pull tight enough to get an acceptable ease. Test the length and ease again.

POOR EASE
GOOD EASE

When satisfactory, do your final crimping. Slide the tail through some more beads, if possible. Trim the tails on both ends.

Using a Crimp Cover

Use your pointer finger as an easel and your thumb as a clamp.

Sit your crimp cover on the top of the pad on your pointer finger, as if the cover were a cradle (open side up).

Set your crushed crimp on your cable wire right inside the crimp cover.

Immediately, clamp down over the loop/clasp part with your thumb. Your thumb is pushing down on the wire loop/clasp, so that the crimp cover can’t move.

We close the crimp cover in 2 steps.

Take your crimping pliers, and use the tips of each jaw. With these tips, push the opening of the crimp cover closed as best as you can. Press firm but gently. It is easy to crush these crimp covers. The two lips on each side will not meet perfectly, will not be aligned, and there may be a gap.

The second step is to put the crimp cover between the two top ditches on your crimp pliers (both ditches are open), and gently push to get things in place.

You may have to orient your pliers in some weird angles to get the two halves of your crimp covered lined up correctly.

Give It The Once Over…

Once your bracelet is done, look it over carefully. Be sure your cable wire isn’t showing. Be sure that it has sufficient ease.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started Story

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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Mini-Lesson: Crimping

Posted by learntobead on April 24, 2020

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started Story

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mini-Lesson: ATTACHING END CAPS, CONES, CRIMP ENDS

Posted by learntobead on April 24, 2020

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started Story

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mini-Lesson: HOW TO CRIMP

Posted by learntobead on April 23, 2020

CRIMPING

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started Story

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mini-Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Posted by learntobead on April 23, 2020

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Beading Calisthenics: Aren’t You Glad You Used Orange?

Posted by learntobead on April 21, 2020

Beading Calisthenics

Beading requires a lot of mind-body coordination. That takes work. It is work.

Calisthenics are exercises you can do to improve and tone your mind-body coordination when bead weaving.

You have to be able to get from your fingers to the needle to the beads, back along the thread to the needle to the fingers, hands, arms, eyes, mind. And then again. And again. Over and over, one more time. You need to get into a rhythm. All these working parts need to be working. No time for cramping. No time to get tired. No time to lose concentration.

A rhythm. Needle, pick up bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead….

I noticed that different instructors had various techniques and strategies for maintaining this rhythm. Yes, music was involved sometimes. Othertimes simple meditation or creative reading and discourse. Some people had some stretching exercises that they did. Others tested themselves before proceeding with their big project. Still others did small things to reconfirm their learning.

Throughout this Series, I introduce some of the beading calisthenics that I experienced along the way. If you want to gather materials up so that you can follow along with these calisthenics, here’s the list.

MATERIALS NEEDED FOR
ALL THE CALISTHENIC EXERCISES
(SUPPLY LIST):

notebook, pencil
1 tube each of Japanese 11/0 seed beads in gray, 3 different colors of orange, black, white, any other 4 colors
1 tube each of Japanese 8/0 seed beads in gray or silver, black, white, orange, any other 4 colors
1 tube each of Japanese 6/0 seed beads in gray or silver, black, white, orange, any other 4 colors
5 gray-scale colors of delicas or 11/0 seed beads
Nymo D or C-Lon D thread in black
Nymo D or C-Lon D thread in yellow
two toggle clasps
.018” or .019” flexible cable wire
assorted 4mm, 6mm and 8mm beads in various coordinating colors, including grays and oranges in your mix, as well
big bowl and a bowl-full of assorted beads
Size 10 English beading needles
Bees wax
scissors
beading dishes or trays
any kind of graph paper
work surface or pad
colored pencils
a few clasps, (toggles are easy to work with)
some crimp beads
crimping pliers

BEADING CALISTHENICS #6:
 Aren’t You Glad You Used Orange

Orange is a difficult color for most people to work with. So this challenge is a simple bead stringing one.

Create an appealing, satisfying necklace, using at least 30 or more 4–6mm beads in orange, and 30 or more 4–6mm beads in each of two other colors.

Stand back from your piece and examine it. If you added or subtracted any one color, could you make the necklace more satisfying?

What makes the particular combination that you ended up with the best combination?

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

When Your Cord Doesn’t Come With A Needle…What You Can Do

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.
Of special interest: My video tutorial THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

Add your name to my email list.

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Beading Calisthenics: Head Turning / Turning Beads

Posted by learntobead on April 21, 2020

Beading Calisthenics

Beading requires a lot of mind-body coordination. That takes work. It is work.

Calisthenics are exercises you can do to improve and tone your mind-body coordination when bead weaving.

You have to be able to get from your fingers to the needle to the beads, back along the thread to the needle to the fingers, hands, arms, eyes, mind. And then again. And again. Over and over, one more time. You need to get into a rhythm. All these working parts need to be working. No time for cramping. No time to get tired. No time to lose concentration.

A rhythm. Needle, pick up bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead….

I noticed that different instructors had various techniques and strategies for maintaining this rhythm. Yes, music was involved sometimes. Othertimes simple meditation or creative reading and discourse. Some people had some stretching exercises that they did. Others tested themselves before proceeding with their big project. Still others did small things to reconfirm their learning.

Throughout this Series, I introduce some of the beading calisthenics that I experienced along the way. If you want to gather materials up so that you can follow along with these calisthenics, here’s the list.

MATERIALS NEEDED FOR
ALL THE CALISTHENIC EXERCISES
(SUPPLY LIST):

notebook, pencil
1 tube each of Japanese 11/0 seed beads in gray, 3 different colors of orange, black, white, any other 4 colors
1 tube each of Japanese 8/0 seed beads in gray or silver, black, white, orange, any other 4 colors
1 tube each of Japanese 6/0 seed beads in gray or silver, black, white, orange, any other 4 colors
5 gray-scale colors of delicas or 11/0 seed beads
Nymo D or C-Lon D thread in black
Nymo D or C-Lon D thread in yellow
two toggle clasps
.018” or .019” flexible cable wire
assorted 4mm, 6mm and 8mm beads in various coordinating colors, including grays and oranges in your mix, as well
big bowl and a bowl-full of assorted beads
Size 10 English beading needles
Bees wax
scissors
beading dishes or trays
any kind of graph paper
work surface or pad
colored pencils
a few clasps, (toggles are easy to work with)
some crimp beads
crimping pliers

BEADING CALISTHENICS #3: 
Head Turning / Turning Beads

Enough 4mm-8mm beads to make an 18” necklace
 Nymo D or C-Lon D thread
 .019” or .018” thick flexible cable wire, such as Soft Flex or Flexrite
 2 toggle clasps

Using any sized and color beads, string an 18” necklace using Nymo D or C-Lon D thread and a toggle clasp.

Using the same number, size and color beads, string an 18” necklace using .018” or .019” flexible cable wire, crimp beads and a toggle clasp.

Put on the necklace strung on the thread. Bend over as if you were picking up something off the ground. Stand straight, then twist your body to the left. Note the positioning of the clasp. Note how the necklace feels on, and feels when you move. Take the necklace off.

Put on the necklace strung on the cable wire. Again, bend down as if you were picking up something off the ground. Stand straight, then twist your body to the left. Note the positioning of the clasp. Note how the necklace feels on, and feels when you move. Take the necklace off.

Typically, when you use needle and thread in stringing, the piece conforms to the body and moves in the same direction as the body.

Typically, when you use cable wire, the piece does not conform to the body, and will move in the opposite direction the body moves in.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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JEWELRY MAKING TIPS: Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Posted by learntobead on April 19, 2020

Beading Threads
Bead Cord

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cords

People often confuse BEAD CORDS and THREADS.

Beading Threads are very thin ribbons, and are meant to be fully covered with beads, thus hidden within your pieces. They are typically waxed with beeswax to keep them from fraying. Threads, once waxed, are actually stronger and more durable than bead cords, but they are unsightly.

Threads are used in both bead weaving and bead stringing projects.

Beading Cords are threads that are braided together, to make them visually attractive. But you don’t wax bead cords — this would make them ugly. So Bead Cords will have problems of fraying and stretching that waxed Threads will not. When Bead Cord is waxed, the exposed waxed cord also picks up dirt and body oils, making it dirty and unsightly, and furthering weakening the cord.

Bead Cords are used for projects where you want the cord to show, like putting knots between beads, or tin cup necklaces where you have a cluster of beads, then a length of cord showing, and then another cluster of beads, then the cord, and so forth.

If you do not want your cord to show, then you would use a waxed Bead Thread or Cable Wire, which are much more durable than Bead Cords.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

When Your Cord Doesn’t Come With A Needle…What You Can Do

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

JEWELRY DESIGN TIPS: Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Posted by learntobead on April 19, 2020

CHOOSING STRINGING MATERIALS

There are many types of stringing materials to choose from. Each has its own pros and cons. These types include,
 
 o Beading Thread
 o Flexible Nylon Coated Cable Wires
o Cable Threads (a hybrid between the cable wires and the beading threads, such as FireLine)
 o Bead Cord
 o Elastic String
 o Hard Wire

The primary choice is between needle and thread vs. cable wire.

You always get your best design or functional outcome with needle and beading thread. Projects strung on thread always take the shape of your body, so they move with the body, drape the best, feel the best. Needle and thread, however, is very involved — you have to use a needle, you have to wax the thread, you typically go through each bead at least 3 times. If you are trying to sell your pieces, it is almost impossible to get your labor out of a needle and thread project.

Flexible, nylon coated Cable Wires are much simpler and quicker to use. But the outcomes tend to be stiff, not move as well, or drape as well. However, by adding support systems, such as rings and loops, within your piece — ways to increase jointedness — you can make your cable wire project function a little more closely to that of needle and thread.

In terms of other stringing materials, cable threads (such as FireLine) often offer a good compromise between the functional qualities and marketing concerns of needle/thread and cable wire projects.

Bead Cords are threads braided together so they look pretty. Bead Cord is used when you want your stringing materials to show, such as when putting knots between beads, or doing something like a Tin-Cup necklace, where you have a cluster of beads, and the cord shows, another cluster of beads, the cord, and so forth. Bead Cord trades off durability for visual appearance. If you were covering the whole string with beads, you would not want to use bead cord.

Elastic String is very popular, and avoids the issues of attaching clasps; however, it is not a durable product and loses its “memory” over time.

A last choice is hard wire. Hard wire is not a stringing wire. You can’t put a strand of beads on hard wire and attach a clasp; the metal wire will bend, kink and break from bending back and forth. Hard wire is used to create structural components, chains or shapes, which you can begin to link up, that is, build in support systems, in order to construct a bracelet or necklace.

Basic Steps: Using Needle and Thread to String Beads

Needle/Thread Bead stringing is a technique for securing a clasp to beads strung on beading thread or cable thread. Here you tie knots to secure your beadwork to your clasp. The process is relatively simple and requires only a little practice.

Successful Needle/Thread Bead Stringing requires that you understand the following:
 1. Which threads or cable threads are best for which projects
 2. Which needles work best
 3. How to wax your thread
 4 . How the materials you use affect your success
 5 . The mechanical process itself, how it works, why it works, and why we do each step

THE BASIC STEPS:

With needle and thread, you always go through your beads 3 times. In a bead strung piece,that means you are going to take your needle and thread back and forth 3 times.

In fact, we are going to do everything in 3’s. We are going to go back and forth 3 times. As we get to each end,we are going to tie 3 knots.

  1. Create your pattern.

2. You would cut your thread — about 6′ (a wingspan).

3. Lay out all your beads and the clasp assembly parts on the bead board or some other work surface, in the order they are to be used.

4. Thread your needle.

5. Wax your thread.

6. You would attach the largest part of your clasp — with Toggles, this is the ring — on one end, tying three overhand knots, and leaving a 8–10″ tail.

7. Slide on your beads, following the pattern.

NOTE: We only slide the beads over the thread spine, not the tail. With needle/thread work, we deal with the tails at the very end. They will be annoyingly in the way until then.

8. Determine the fit — both length and ease — by clamping or holding with your fingers the open end, and encircling a sizing cone or someone’s wrist with your bracelet. Remember here that the other end of the clasp will add another 1/2″ to this length.
 
 Adjust the number or patterning of beads, if necessary.

NOTE: You need to make all your size and patterning adjustments BEFORE you attach the 2nd part of the clasp.

9. Tie off the other clasp-component — with the Toggle, this is the bar — making three knots.

10. Bring your needle/thread back to the ring side, and tie three more knots.

11. Bring your needle/thread one more time back to the bar side.

12. Tie three more knots.

13. Bring your needle/thread back through towards the ring about 1 1/2″ to 2″.

14. Tie 3 more knots.

15. Finishing off the tail. We want to see if we can pop any excess threads or knots which are showing back into the hole of that first bead.

Pinch the beads under the clasp and pull away from you while you grasp your thread and pull this towards you. Sometimes you will feel or see a pop.

Trim the tail.

16. Thread the tail on the other side of the bracelet onto a needle, and repeat these last two steps.

HOW TO USE NEEDLE AND THREAD
 To String a Bracelet, Including How to Wax Your Thread

There are many different types of stringing materials. The best outcomes are achieved using needle and thread. Beading threads are nylon. Most are shaped like a thin ribbon, rather than round, like sewing thread. Most are bonded, rather than twisted, fibers, which adds a lot of what is called “abrasion resistance.”

With beading threads, your stringing will be the strongest, it will last a long time, it will feel supple and soft, and it will drape and wear the best. It will take the shape of the body, and move the best with the body. These jewelry qualities are referred to as “ease.” Needle/Thread projects have a natural ease to them. Achieving good ease is much more problematic with other stringing materials.

With needle and thread, you tie knots to secure your clasps. Prominent beading threads including Nymo, C-Lon and One-G. One thread, Silamide is a pre-waxed thread and it is twisted, rather than bonded, which means it has no abrasion resistance. Although it is pre-waxed and little easier to manipulate through your beads, I don’t recommend it. I’m not big on anything that breaks easily.

Using needle and thread does add a lot of time to the creation of a piece. You have to use a needle, which can be awkward. You need to wax your thread, which takes more time. You need to go through your piece THREE times. If you are selling your pieces, very often it is difficult to recoup your labor costs, when using needle and thread. In this case, people often revert to using a cable wire as their stringing material.

Bead Stringing with cable wires goes very quickly and is easy to do. The cable wire is stiff enough to be its own needle. You don’t wax. You only have to go through your piece ONE time. The better cable wires are very strong. There is a stiffness to them that makes the pieces not feel as good when worn, in comparison to thread. You also have to use a crimp bead to hold the cable wires in place, and this is a weaker and somewhat riskier design element than tying a knot in the Clasp Assembly. Cable wire brands that I like include Soft Flex and Flexrite.

Pieces done on cable wire move in the opposite direction that your body moves. If I wear a needle/thread bracelet on my wrist, and move my wrist to the left, the bracelet will move with me. If I wear a cable wire bracelet on my wrist, and move my wrist to the left, the bracelet will actually move in the opposite direction to the right. The cable wire bracelet does not conform to and take the shape of your wrist, when worn. This becomes a major design problem not always dealt with easily.

Another alternative to beading thread is to use a hybrid cable thread, such as FireLine or PowerPro or Spiderwire. Cable threads are threads braided together and encased in nylon. Originally these were used as fishing line and adapted by craftspersons for stringing and weaving. You use needles with these cable threads, but you only have to go through your piece one time, instead of 3 times, as you do with thread. You can go through your piece more than once to make your piece stiffer, but you don’t have to. You do not have to wax these cable threads. You can wax them, however, if you want, to increase your thread tension, and add more security against the sharp bead-holes cutting the cable thread.

The cable thread pieces are stiffer than the regular beading threads, but drape better than the cable wires. You tie knots with the cable threads, like with regular beading threads, to secure your clasp. Since you still rely on a needle, using the cable threads goes more slowly than using the cable wires. The PowerPro is a little awkward to use. I really like the FireLine and Spiderwire.

Threads (nylon beading thread)

There are many types and brands of beading threads, each with some pros and each with some cons.

The original nylon beading thread is Nymo. Nymo was first developed by the shoe industry to attach the bottom of your shoe to the top of your shoe. It is widely used in upholstery. In the 1980s and earlier, if you wanted to buy Nymo, you bought it on a gigantic wheel — a five lifetime’s supply for us. As beading got more popular, Nymo packaged their thread on smaller and smaller entities, starting with a cone (a little bigger than a fist), then a spool (a little bigger than a thumb), and then a small bobbin. More recently the spool has been replaced by a large bobbin.

It turns out that the company could not get the same product onto a small bobbin. So, the thread on the small bobbin is weaker than the thread on the large bobbin, spool and cone. However, usually only white and black colors are available on the entities larger than the small bobbin.

Nymo is very strong. I suggest, if you have never worked with Nymo, to cut off about a 3 foot length, and try to pull on it and break it between your hands. It will break, but you’ll feel how tough it is. And in bead stringing, we typically go through each bead at least 3 times, so you have 3 thicknesses of this thread inside your piece.

When they make Nymo thread, it is a beige color. To make black, they dye the thread. The black dye tightens the thread, and makes it stronger. To make white, they bleach the thread. The bleach weakens the thread, so white is weaker than black. To make a color thread, they first bleach the thread white and then add a color dye. These color dyes further weaken the thread. So colors are weaker than white, and thus weaker than black. The colors of the thread, however, are consistent from batch to batch.

Nymo comes in many sizes. From smallest to largest, these include: OO, O, A, B, D, F, and G. The most popular and most often used size is D.

C-Lon is a newer thread. When they make C-Lon, whatever color it is, that is the color the thread starts as. So, all the colors AND the white AND the black are equally as strong. However, the color from batch to batch will vary, sometimes widely. Overall, we like C-Lon better, particularly for the white and the colors. Black C-Lon is equivalent in strength to the Black Nymo. For everything else, it is stronger. One drawback to C-Lon is that the ends of the thread fray easily, making it more difficult to get your thread into the eye-hole of the needle, than with Nymo. C-Lon only comes in two sizes — AA (smallest) and D (thickest).

ONE-G is a premium beading thread and is similar in strength to C-Lon. I think its best attribute is that it has a spring-i-ness to it, that makes it much less tiring to use, than Nymo or C-Lon. ONE-G only comes in size D and only in about 12 colors.

Silamide is a pre-waxed thread. The pre-waxing allows the thread to get less tangled up when you use it. However, Silamide breaks very easily, so I don’t recommend it. Why put in all that time into a project if there is a good chance your thread will break?

Beading thread is shaped flat like a ribbon. Sewing thread is shaped round. Sewing threads are not strong enough to use in beadwork.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

When Your Cord Doesn’t Come With A Needle…What You Can Do

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pearl Knotting — Warren’s Way

Posted by learntobead on April 19, 2020

Classic Elegance! Timeless! Architectural Perfection!
 Learn a simple Pearl Knotting technique anyone can do. 
 No special tools. Beautiful. Durable. Wearable. Easy.

“Over the years, I have found it very difficult for most students (and even my instructors) to get good knots and good hand-knotted construction using a traditional hand-knotting technique with tools. It is difficult to maneuver the knot close to the bead, and it is difficult to keep sufficient tension on your bead cords, as you make the knot. After much trial and experimentation, I developed this set of non-traditional steps. My students usually master this approach on their very first try!” — Warren

Pearl Knotting

Pearl knotting is a relatively easy technique. There are many variations in how to implement the technique. Here I present the steps for a non-traditional approach to pearl knotting. I feel that, for most people, the traditional approach, without a lot of practice, can be a bit awkward, and result in a less-than-desired functional outcome. The non-traditional approach I present here is easier to achieve a better outcome.

There are 4 different ways for starting and finishing off your pearl-knotted piece.

  1. Attaching the cord directly to the clasp
  2. Using French wire bullion
  3. Using a clam-shell bead tip
  4. Making a continuous necklace without a clasp

In this article, I am focusing on the first option — attaching the cord directly to the clasp. You can purchase my kit and a full set of instructions on the Land of Odds website.

In this non traditional approach, we do NOT use any tools — like tweezers, awls, or tri-cord knotters — to make our knots. We do, however, pull two thicknesses of bead cord through each bead, as does the classical version of the traditional methodology. We minimize the use of glue.

Supplies:

16″ strand of pearls, faux pearls or other beads, approximately 8mm in size, (44–45 beads)

Silk or nylon bead cord with needle attached to one end, matching color, (one 2-meter card). With 8mm Swarovski crystal pearls, you would need a bead cord between .65mm and .70mm in diameter, which, in the Griffin line, is a size 5 or 6.

Twist wire needles (also called Collapsible Eye Needles), size Fine, (2–3 on hand)

Pearl clasp, single strand, approximately 18–20mm long, (1 clasp)

T-pins (or U-pins)

A pad into which you can stick the T-pin (or U-pin)

Scissors.

G-S hypo fabric cement (if your cord is silk)

Either a bic lighter or Beacon 527 glue (if your cord is nylon)

An awl

Chain nose pliers

Ruler

Necklace sizing cone

PEARL KNOTTED NECKLACE

ABOUT PEARLS IN HISTORY

I live in Tennessee, which has a special connection to freshwater pearls. Four and five hundred years ago, when French explorers came down through Canada and down the Mississippi River, they discovered that the Mississippi Indians in Tennessee collected pearls embedded in the local mussels which lived along the banks of the Tennessee River. The explorers traded for these pearls, and shipped them back to Europe, where they were reserved for royalty only, and were called “Royal Pearls”.

Tennessee River Pearls

Before the creation of cultured pearls in the early 1900s, natural pearls were rare and expensive. A jewelry item that today might be taken for granted, say, a 16-inch strand of perhaps 50 pearls, often cost between $500 and $5,000 at the time. Pearls are found in jewelry and mosaics as far back as Egypt, 4200 B.C. At the height of the Roman Empire, when pearl fever reached its peak, the historian Suetonius wrote that the Roman general Vitellius financed an entire military campaign by selling just one of his mother’s pearl earrings.

While Tennessee freshwater pearls are available to anyone today, many royal families in Europe continue to import these pearls. It is the custom, among many royals, and dating back to the time of these French explorers, to have a freshwater pearl sewn into their undergarments. The belief is, if the pearl touches your skin, you will continue to be prosperous and wealthy.

Pearls are harvested in both fresh water (from mussels) and sea water (from oysters). The pearls created by both types of mollusks are made of the same substance, nacre. Nacre is secreted by the mantle tissues of the mollusk. This secretion hardens. When the hardened nacre coats the inside of the shell, we call this Mother of Pearl. When the nacre forms around some irritant, forming a ball-like structure, these become Pearls. Saltwater pearls typically have some kind of bead nucleus around which the nacre forms and hardens. Freshwater pearls typically do not. Besides Tennessee, other major sources of pearls are Japan and China.

Nacre

Cultured pearls are real pearls produced by inserting a piece of mussel shell (or some other irritant) into the tissue of a mollusk. The mollusk coats this with nacre, creating the pearl. The more coats of nacre the mollusk produces, the more lustrous and pricey the pearl becomes. Mikimoto developed this process in Japan in the early 1900’s.

Pearls are soft and they absorb, as well as, reflect light.

NON-TRADITIONAL vs. TRADITIONAL PEARL KNOTTING TECHNIQUES

Hand-Knotting. We put knots between pearls for many reasons. Some reasons have to do with visual aesthetics; others, with structural and architectural concerns.

The knots protect the pearls, should the necklace break. When it breaks, you would lose only one pearl, not all the pearls on the piece.

Pearls are soft, and the surface can easily chip and scratch. Pearls are particularly vulnerable at the hole, where the forces from movement, when the jewelry is worn, force the stringing material to push against the vulnerable edges of the nacre, exposed around the hole of the pearl. Silk cord is very soft, and does not pose a major threat. All other stringing materials — such as nylon bead cord, nylon beading thread, and cable wires — do pose a threat. The knots provide some protection.

Without knots, the pearl’s integrity is threatened, not only by the stringing material, but by the next bead it bumps up against. Other adjacent pearl beads can cause scratches and chips. Metal beads and glass beads will work like hammers against the pearl, as the jewelry moves, when worn.

Knots, when done correctly, are visually attractive. We want our knots to be big enough so that they will not slip into the holes of our beads. We want our knots small enough so that they do not compete with the look of our pearls. The pearls, at all times, should attract the viewer’s focus. The pearls are the star of the piece. Nothing should distract. We want our knots to appear centered over the holes of our beads.

Visually, knots also set off each pearl, as if bracketing them or framing them. For the viewer, this heightens the visually attractiveness of each pearl, moreso, than had the necklace not been knotted.

Structurally, having a knot on either side of the bead, tied tightly in place, so that the bead cannot move freely. Bead cord frays easily,especially if it is silk. We want to restrict the ability of the pearl to move back and forth because of any slack between two knots. We want to restrict the pearl from rotating around the bead cord.

* First, the knots, plus the fact that we will be bringing two cords through each pearl, rather than one, keep the pearl from moving both up and down the cord, as well as around and around the cord, as the jewelry is worn. Pearl holes are very sharp. Picture a broken sea shell, and how sharp it feels as you move your finger along the edge. This is what the hole looks like. If the bead is allowed to move freely, the hole will quickly fray the cord, even cutting it.

Broken mussel shell

* Second, it forces the necklace, as it is subjected to punishing forces resulting from movement, to channel those forces towards the un-glued knots. These un-glued knots easily absorb this force, allowing the necklace to more easily conform to the body, and move with the body. Thus, the force is re-directed around the stringing material, that is, around the knot, instead of directly into it, forcing it against the sharp hole of the pearl. Again, the knots help preserve the integrity of your piece.

NOTE: When using karat gold beads, we do NOT knot on either side of these beads. The knots often force the karat gold beads to dent and squish, when the jewelry is worn. This is also true of many thinner-walled sterling silver beads.

NOTE: When using French wire bullion, we do NOT place a knot between the pearl and the bullion. Instead, we try to anchor the ends of the bullion into the opening of the hole in the pearl.

A Comparison of Traditional and Non-Traditional Techniques.

There are many, many variations on Pearl Knotting techniques.

The major difference between traditional and non-traditional methods is in how the knots are made. Traditional methods use tools, like tri-cord knotters, tweezers or awls, to guide the knots into place. Non-traditional methods do not.

Over the years, I have found it very difficult for most students to get good knots and good hand-knotted construction using tools. It is difficult to maneuver the knot close to the bead, and it is difficult to keep sufficient tension on your bead cords, as you make the knot. This is why I prefer the non-traditional method, which students master much more readily.

If using a traditional technique, I would suggest using a tri-cord knotter, and not a tweezers or awl.

Other Types of Variations Among Techniques:

(1) How many cords are pulled through the bead

I pull two cords through each bead. Some techniques pull only one.

I found that, with only one cord, you don’t get enough resistance to the bead spinning around the cord, when worn. This makes it more likely for the bead’s sharp hole to fray and cut into the cord.

Two cord approaches work best when the hole size from pearl to pearl are relatively consistent. One cord approaches work best when there is noticeable variation in hole size from pearl to pearl.

(2) How many cord thicknesses make up the knot

I pull two cords through the bead, and use one of the cords to tie an overhand knot over the other cord. So, my knot is two cords thick around the core. Some techniques tie a knot using both cords at once, and resulting in a 4-cord thickness knot around the core.

I find that 4-cord-thick knot to be too big, visually competing with the pearls, instead of complementing them. The size of the knot, however, does not impact its structural functionality. Best functionality is achieved with a non-glued knot, and with simpler knots like larks head or overhand knots.

(3) How knots are tied

I use an overhand (half hitch) knot for the knots between beads, but a Larks Head knot to connect the piece to either side of the clasp. Some people use a Larks Head knot for all the knots.

I find that the Larks Head knot, when used between beads, often gets off-center. When the knots are too off-centered, not only can this be visually annoying, but it can force the pearls to sit crookedly all along the necklace line.

My final knot is a square knot, which secures both cords which I have pulled through my beads, and centers this knot between the last two pearls.

(4) How knots are tightened

After you make each knot, you need to be sure to bring the knot as close and as tightly against the pearl as you can.

Visualize: I have two cords exiting the hole of my pearl. First, I take each of my two cords, and I pull them tightly away from each other. This pushes the pearl against the knot below it. Second, I tie an overhand knot and pull tight. Last, I grab each cord and tightly pull them away from each other one more time to be sure the knot is tight and abuts the top of the pearl.

Some techniques have you take your thumbnail, or the tip of your tweezers or awl, and push the knot towards the pearl’s hole. Traditionalists worry that by pulling the two cords apart, you will force the knot into the hole of the bead. However, by selecting the appropriate thickness of cord, and bringing two cords up through the hole of the bead, you will not have this problem.

I find that the thumbnail push doesn’t get close or tight enough. The use of the tools can fray and break the fibers in the cord. It’s one thing to use the tools to guide the knot into place. It’s another thing to use the tools to push and tighten the knots into place.

(5) Whether the piece begins and ends at the clasp, or with French wire bullion between the necklace and the clasp, or with bead tips between the necklace and the clasp, or with no clasp at all.

How you start and end your piece will vary a little bit, depending on whether you are attaching the piece directly to a clasp, using bullion or beads tips intervening between the piece and clasp, or using no clasp at all.

You connect the clasp differently in each case. You make your beginning and final knots differently in each case.

This is a personal choice.

Attaching the cord directly to the clasp is the most difficult. It uses the most technique, so, when I teach this class, this is the approach I use.

Using French wire bullion is a little easier. It looks very finished and pretty when your necklace is completed. But the bullion doesn’t age well. It gets black and dirty.

Using clam-shell bead tips is very easy and the most versatile. It extends the length of the clasp assembly, so there is some visual competition which might be annoying in some cases.

Making a continuous necklace is not that difficult, and allows you to make a long rope that does not need a clasp.

Whatever you do, you want to be sure that your resulting clasp assembly — that is, the clasp and all it takes to attach your beadwork to it — does not visually compete with the beauty of your pearls.

(6) How and where that last knot or last two knots are made

You can attach your last knot directly to the clasp, or bring your cord back through one or two beads, and then tie a knot.

You can run through steps for that last knot, which have you tying one cord off in one place, and tying the second cord off in another place.

You will find other instructions for tying off your cords in one place together.

When you make your last knot, you can tie a single knot, a double knot or a triple knot.

I approach this in a few different ways, depending on whether using a clasp only, or bullion, or bead tip, or no clasp.

If the final knot is going to show, I prefer NOT to end directly to the clasp, but to bring it back through one bead and tie it off between the last two beads.

My final knot is a square knot. This is the only knot in my pieces where I apply glue.

(7) Which Glue and How the Glue is Applied to the Knots

I prefer a “cement” over a regular “glue”. Cements bond immediately with the materials they are applied to. The bonds of most other types of glues are formed as the solvent in the glue evaporates into the air.

With silk, I prefer a fabric cement. I would never use super glue.

With nylon, I prefer to use a jeweler’s glue called Beacon 527 or hold it near a flame to melt the ends.

I prefer to place a very small drop of glue on the inside of the knot. I pull the knot tight, and put another drop of glue on the outside of the knot. This coats the bottom and the top of the knot. I let the glue set for 20–30 minutes. Then, I trim the tails very close to, but NOT right at the knot. Put another drop of glue on each tail, and tamp down on the tails with a tweezers or awl, so the tail-ends appear as part of that final knot, and make the knot pretty.

I try to minimize my use of glue, since glue will considerably diminish some of the structural support properties of the knot. I prefer to apply glue to only one knot in my piece — the very last knot made.

NOTE: With nylon bead cord, you can use a thread zapper or bic lighter to melt the ends of the cords. Where glue is to be used at the ends of the cords to keep them from unraveling, with nylon bead cord, you can melt the ends instead.

(8) Whether you use a flexible metal wire (steel or brass) needle, or make a self needle from the cord itself, using gum arabic.

Here we are using the wire needle that comes attached to the cord, plus a second twist wire (collapsible eye) needle.

What some pearl-knotters worry about is the metal needle snagging the bead cord, during the pearl knotting process. This weakens the cord.

To make a thread-needle, you would take a paring knife and shave the threads at the first 1 1/2″ at the end of your cord. Gently guide the paring knife over the cord until the nubs have been removed from the silk, and the thread has thinned. The more you shave, the thinner your needle will be. With an awl or tweezers, dab a small drop of gum arabic on the ends, and twist the threads between your fingers to make the needle. Cut off any stray fibers. Let dry for a few minutes until stiff.

I prefer the wire needle, because I find it easier to use, and longer lasting. Be aware, that should your wire needle begin to catch on the silk cord running through your bead, pull it out a bit, and then push it back through. It is not that difficult to minimize this problem. It is a lot easier to use the wire needle than your own home-made self-needle.

CHOOSING BEADS

Pearls come in different sizes and shapes, and a myriad of colors.

Some pearls are from nature. These include freshwater pearls (from mussels) and saltwater pearls (from oysters). Pearls can be naturally occurring, or cultured, where people have intervened in the process by introducing an irritant inside the mollusk shell.

Other pearls are “faux” or imitation. These are some kind of core bead with a pearlized finish around it. These are typically described by what makes up the core of the bead. The core could be plastic, glass, shell, or crystal. These are made in different countries around the world and vary in quality.

To differentiate between natural and faux pearls, try these things:

A) Always when buying pearls, check the hole. Most natural pearls have very small holes. The holes usually appear relatively smooth, but not perfectly smooth, round and centered as the holes in faux pearls do. The finishes on many faux pearls are not well applied, particularly at the hole. You often can see the finish chipping off or peeling away from the hole.

B) Rub the pearls against your front teeth. Faux pearls have very smooth surfaces. Natural pearls will have bumps and slightly uneven surfaces. You can feel the differences, when rubbed against your front teeth.

Pearls are typically described in terms of :

Luster: the way pearls seem to glow from within. It’s based on the depth of reflection due to the layering of the aragonite crystal.

Overtone: the translucent “coating” of color that some pearls have. A silver pearl may have a blue overtone or a green overtone, for example.

Orient (sometimes called iridescent orient): the variable play of colors across the surface of the pearl like a rainbow.

Shapes

Thanks to some new nucleating techniques, freshwater pearls can be found in a nearly endless variety of shapes, but the more traditional shapes include:

Round — Perfectly spherical, or very nearly so. These are primarily saltwater pearls. 
 Stick — Long and thin with many irregularities. 
 Rice — Small ovals drilled lengthwise. 
 Potato — Often lumpy, these are typically rounder than rice pearls and may be drilled either lengthwise or widthwise. 
 Nugget — Usually a little more square or pebble shaped than rice or potato pearls and almost always having a flat side. 
 Coin — Large, circular and flat, often about the size of a dime, with the hole drilled end-to-end. Coin shapes include hearts, squares, ovals and large pears and drops. 
 Keishi — Sometimes called “cornflake”, these are flat and highly irregular. 
 Drop — Teardrop, pear or even peanut shapes, drilled either lengthwise, or widthwise at the narrowest end. 
 Button — Rondelle shaped, often with a flatter side, and drilled through the “hub” of the wheel. 
 Blister pearls — pearls that are still attached to the shell of the mollusk.

Colors

Most pearls are color enhanced to become a specific color. First they are bleached, then dyed.

Sizes

Pearl bead sizes are given in millimeters There are 25mm in an inch. Rulers are marked in inches on one side and millimeters on the other.

Hole Sizes

Hole sizes on pearls usually run smaller than on most other beads. The size of the hole is NOT in proportion to the size of the bead. Therefore, when selecting bead cord, you need to have one of your pearls handy, so that you can match the hole size to the cord.

CHOOSING CLASPS AND CLASP ASSEMBLIES

You can use any type of clasp that you prefer.

However, pearl knotted jewelry is very strongly associated with what are called pearl clasps or safety clasps. These are often marquis-shaped clasps, with a hook like tongue that pushes inside them. If the tongue should somehow come undone and slip out, it would catch on a bar in the clasp, saving you from losing your string of pearls.

In terms of that vintage-type look, other widely used clasps are filigree or other box clasps. These are pretty, but not as secure as safety clasps.

Usually, you will want your clasp to compliment and not compete visually with your pearl knotted piece. If you decide to use a very show’y clasp, it should blend organically with the rest of your piece.

You will be attaching your bead cord, either to the loop(s) on the clasp itself, or to soldered rings attached to these loops. You want both these loops, as well as any rings attached to them, to be closed, that is soldered — thus have no gaps in them. If there are attached rings, and they are open, you will want to remove these, and attach the cord to the closed loops on the clasp.

If you are making pearl knotted pieces for re-sale, you would be hard pressed Not to use a pearl or safety clasp, or some similar looking clasp.

The woman who originally owned the American Pearl Company in Tennessee was always looking for a clasp that would be durable, but attractive to her customers. The American Pearl Company made a lot of its money by selling finished jewelry. Safety clasps, particularly those made of 14KT gold, break easily. The tongue bends and breaks, and no longer can wedge into its marquis shaped home. Her biggest frustration was that the clasps on the necklaces and bracelets she sold broke too easily, and the pieces came back for repair. It’s a big effort to re-string pearl knotted pieces, since you have to cut off each pearl individually.

At first she tried switching to other types of clasps, like toggle clasps and lobster claws. But these pieces did not sell. People wanted pearl/safety clasps.

Next, she tried switching from 14KT gold to gold-filled clasps. These did not sell either. People wanted 14KT.

Finally, she gave in somewhat. She returned to the 14KT gold pearl/safety clasps. But she doubled her prices, to build in the cost of one re-stringing.

CHOOSING STRINGING MATERIALS

We recommend, if your project is all pearls, or mostly pearls, that you use silk beading cord.

If your project is very few pearls, or no pearls, say using glass, faux pearls or gemstones, that you use nylon beading cord.

Unfortunately, while nylon bead cord is much, much more durable than silk, nylon ruins pearls. Nylon cuts into the pearl at the bead hole, making the nacre start to chip and flake off. Silk does not do this.

Beading cords are threads which are braided together to make them look pretty. Beading cords are used in projects where you want your stringing material to show. Beading cords are less durable than waxed threads or flexible cable wires. We do not wax beading cord, because this would make the cord look ugly. Waxed beading threads and cable wires can cut into the pearls at the hole, and ruin them. By using beading cords, you are trading off visual appearance for durability.

Silk and nylon bead cord can be purchased in 2-meter (6 feet) lengths on cards with a needle attached, as well as on larger spools without a needle attached. Usually the silk or nylon on spools is a higher quality cord than that on cards. However, most people use the cards because of the convenience of having a needle attached.

At the same quality level, silk beading cord and nylon beading cord have the same pros and cons. They stretch the same, fray the same, get dirty the same — only the silk deteriorates, and the nylon does not.

You can pick a bead cord which matches the color of your beads, or which contrasts or otherwise highlights the color of your beads. In either case, the color should visually compliment, not compete, with the pearls themselves.

A NOTE ABOUT KNOTS AND THEIR FUNCTION

When we knot between beads, the un-glued knot becomes what is called a “support system”. Support systems in jewelry allow what is called “jointedness.” Un-glued knots are support systems, as are loops and rings, hinges and rivets. In this project, the pearls can rotate around the knots, and the knots can contract and expand in response to stresses and strains placed on the necklace when worn.

Support systems allow the piece, as worn, to move freely. When jewelry moves when worn, this puts a tremendous amount of force on each of the components. Support systems allow this force to be absorbed and dissipated, before anything bad happens.

If the piece is too stiff, such as when the knot has been glued, and cannot move freely, the components will break — the cord will break, the clasp will break, the beads will chip, crack and break.

A NOTE ABOUT GLUES AND GLUE-ING

Glue is usually the enemy of good design. We want to minimize its use.

Unfortunately, with hand-knotting, we need to secure the last knot, and, in some cases, the last two knots, with glue. When we finally trim the cord where we have tied that last knot, we use the glue for two reasons, (1) to keep the end of the cut cord from unraveling, and (2) to keep the knot from loosening up and coming un-done.

With silk beading cord, we suggest using a fabric cement. “Cement” is a type of glue which bonds instantly with the cord, when applied. With cement, the bond adheres to all the microfibers that make up the bead cord. “Glue” without the label cement on the package, usually bonds over a period of time while the solvent in the glue evaporates into the air and the bond dries. With glue, the bond tightens like a collar. In this project we suggest G-S Hypo Fabric Cement, because it has a very narrow applicator tip. But any fabric cement will do. You can purchase these at most craft stores and some bead stores.

With nylon beading cord, we suggest a jeweler’s glue like Beacon 527. This glue dries like rubber, and the bond acts like a shock absorber when confronted with excess force. This glue does not come with that great narrow tip, so we suggest applying the glue with a pin or toothpick. This glue dries quickly. Another widely used glue is G-S Hypo Cement which does come with that great tip, but doesn’t dry quickly enough, and I find the fully set bond too stiff. I would never use super glue for this purpose.

In selecting a glue, you want it to
 — dry quickly
 — dry clear
 — not harm the pearls (or other types of beads you are using)
 — be washable

While some glues dry quickly, most take about 24 hours to set and dry hard. You would not wear your pieces for 24 hours after gluing.

WHAT TOOLS DO I NEED?

In traditional pearl knotting, you use a tool to help you make and secure your knots. This tool would either be a tri-cord knotter, which works well. Or it might be a very pointed tweezers or awl, which are awkward for most people to use, without a lot of practice.

In our non-traditional approach, we do not use tools for knotting. Occasionally, we might use a chain nose pliers or a tweezers, to give us some more leverage, when pulling a cord through a bead. We use scissors to cut the cord. If using French wire bullion, we use a flush cutters to cut this. But we use only our hands to make our knots, position the knots, and tighten the knots.

Over the many, many years I have been in the beading and jewelry making business, I have seen few students able to get the knots done satisfactorily, using the tools, and following the traditional methods. A few students have practiced over and over again to master the technique. But most students give up long before they get to that point. The non-traditional method is mastered in one or two tries. That is one of the reasons we advocate for the non-traditional approach.

Also note, if you squeeze the cord too tightly with tools, you can damage the cord.

RE-STRINGING PEARLS

Know when to restring your pearls.

There are 5 tell-tale signs:

DIRT
 CHIPPING
 STRETCH
 DETERIORATION
 CLASP FAILURE

Re-string if the knots between your pearls are looking soiled or discolored. Silk, in particular, absorbs body oils and grime. Pearls are porous. They can absorb dirt and become permanently discolored. Sometimes, if there are no knots between beads, your pearls might adversely be affected by the beads next to them. For example, gold beads can blacken pearls, at the point they come in contact.

Re-string if your pearls become chipped, scratched or broken. Pearls are soft and can easily scratch, chip and break. Some of your pearls may need to be replaced, before re-stringing.

Re-string if your pearls are moving around too freely between the knots. Silk stretches over time. Cord which shows, thus is uncovered, increases the chances it will break. Your necklace also may get longer over time, and that extra length may no longer meet your fashion needs.

Re-string if your stringing material breaks.

Re-string if your clasp breaks.

How often do pearls need to be re-strung? This depends on how often you wear them, what they were strung on, and how they were stored and cared for.

In general, pearls need to be re-strung every 3–5 years. If you wear your pearls every day, you will need to re-string them annually. If they were strung on silk bead cord, which is our preference, then silk naturally deteriorates in 3–5 years, and you want to re-string them before the silk starts turning to dust. If they were strung on nylon bead cord or flexible cable wires, these materials do not easily break down, and you might wait 10 years before re-stringing.

If you store your pearls in an air-tight bag, and out of the air and sunlight, you may only have to re-string them every 10–15 years, even when strung on silk beading cord. The bag should be made of a natural material like silk or cotton. Plastic bags chemically interact with the pearl, and will ruin your pearls.

Before you re-string your pearls, you would need to clean them.

First, you should gently wash your pearls while they are still on the old string, with mild soap and warm water. Remove any dirt and hardened oils around the pearls, particularly near the holes. Rinse extremely well so that there is no soapy residue. While you are cleaning your pearls, you want to anticipate what might happen, should the string break. Be sure the drain is covered. You might want to wash the pearls by working inside a colander in your sink.

Next, you must carefully cut the pearls off the old string. To start, place your scissors on the knot between two pearls and cut through the middle of the knot. You don’t want to start on either side of the first knot because the knot could slip inside a pearl and be quite difficult to remove. For the rest of the pearls, snip each knot off by placing the scissors behind each knot and in front of the pearl. Again, work over a surface, where, if you dropped a pearl, you would not lose it.

If there is a pattern to the arrangement of the pearls on your necklace, you might want to lay them out in this pattern, as you cut each one off the string, say on a bead board.

A NOTE ABOUT BUYING PEARLS

When buying pearls, you want to examine:

Shape — Consistency of shape along your strand. Either very round, or a very interesting shape is considered better.
 — Size — Consistency of size — either similarity of size or consistency of gradations in size — along your strand. Usually, the larger the pearl, the more valuable it is.
 — Color — A pleasing blending of color all around the bead, from every angle. Consistency of color along your strand. Rose or silver/white pearls tend to look best on fair skin tones, while cream and gold tones look better on darker complexions. 
 — Luster — High luster and translucency is better than dull or chalky
 — Surface quality — Few blemishes is better than one with many irregularities. Absence of disfiguring spots, bumps or cracks.
 — Hole quality — If you see chips around the hole, this is a bad sign and indicative of other problems. Some hole sizes may be so small, that they would be extremely difficult to work with.
 — Nacre thickness — Thicker is better

A NOTE ABOUT CARING FOR PEARLS

Pearls will last a lifetime and beyond, if cared for properly.

Exposure to heat (such as the top of a TV set or near a stove or fire place), sunlight, and chemicals (such as those in hair spray, cosmetics and perfumes) can damage the nacre of pearls.

How do I safely clean pearls? Use a gentle detergent soap or mild shampoo without dyes and warm water. Be sure to clean around the hole of each pearl. Rinse thoroughly and let dry on a damp cloth overnight. Hot water can permanently damage your pearls. Do not let your pearls soak in the water. Let the pearls and string dry out for 24 hours before wearing.

Never wear your pearls when the string is still wet . Never hang the strand when wet.

Pearls are softer than other gemstones. Always wipe them with a soft cloth after wearing. Perfume oils, makeup, hair sprays and perfumes can spot and weaken their surfaces, as well as the cords they are strung on.

Pearls should be put on after the application of cosmetics, perfume or hair spray. They should be the LAST THINGS PUT ON and the FIRST THINGS TAKEN OFF.

Pearls should be kept away from hard or sharp jewelry that could scratch them.

Pearls are best stored in a soft cloth pouch, or in a separately lined segment of a jewelry box, and out of the air and sunlight. Do not store in a plastic bag. The plastic emits a chemical which makes the pearl surface deteriorate.

Do not shower or swim in your pearl jewelry.

Ammonia and alcohol will ruin pearls. They both draw out the oils in the pearls which give them their luster. Keep pearls away from metal cleaners and tarnish removers.

The more you wear your pearls, the more beautiful they become. Pearls’ luster is maximized when worn often because the oils from the skin react with the surface of the pearl. However, you want your pearls to glow, not yourself; perspiration can be slightly acidic, and eat away at the pearl.

The air in many safes and security deposit boxes is very dry, and can cause pearls to crack or discolor.

A NOTE ABOUT DRILLING PEARL HOLES TO MAKE THEM LARGER

Pearls typically have very small holes. The holes are small because it is too easy to chip and crack the nacre around the holes, when drilling them.

You can, however, make the holes a little larger. You would use a hand-held or battery-operated bead reamer to make the holes in your pearls larger. You want your drill beads to be diamond coated.

You want to work slowly but steadily.

Wear safety goggles. Pearl dust can adversely affect your eye-sight.

Until the 1970s, pearl holes were typically drilled by hand. Pearl companies from Japan would often have boys in India drill holes in pearls. They would hire and train boys who were 9 years old. By the time the boys were 14, many had lost their eye-sight. Thankfully, with the advent of mechanized ways to drill pearls, this practice no longer continues today.

STYLES AND LENGTHS OF PEARL NECKLACES

Because the history of pearls has been very much a part of the history of nobility, there have been many customs and social expectations that have arisen around pearls. One of these has to do with styles and lengths.

Graduated: Beads are graduated in size, with the largest in the center, and decreasing in size on either side towards the clasp.

Uniform: All the pearls are within .5mm of each other in size.

Choker: One or more strands worn just above the collarbone, typically 15 1/2″ to 16 1/2″.

Princess: 18″ length

Matinee: 22–24″ length

Opera: 30–32″ length

Continuous Strand: A necklace without a clasp, typically over 26″ in length so that it can slip over someone’s head.

Bib: A necklace with many strands, each one longer than the one above it.

Rope: 45″ or longer, sometimes referred to as a lariat.

A necklace enhancer, sometimes referred to as a “necklace shortener”, is like a ring with a latch on one side and a hinge on the other, which lets you open and securely close it. These are most often used with ropes, where you circle the rope over your head 2 or 3 times, to wear like a multi-strand choker. The necklace enhancer clips over the knots in the encircling strands, to secure them together and in place. If you cannot find a necklace enhancer, you might be able to use an S-clasp to achieve the same end.

Odd vs. Even number of strands: This is a personal choice. Traditionally, it was believed that an even number of strands was inappropriate and bad luck. It would be very unusual to see any royalty wear an even number of strands.

SELLING YOUR PEARL KNOTTING SKILLS

Selling your pearl knotting skills is a great way to make some money.

Most jewelry stores charge their customers to re-string their pearls between $4.00 and $6.00 per inch.

Most independent jewelry designers charge between $2.50 and $3.50 per inch. These designers re-string pearls on their own, or sub-contract with jewelry stores.

I have also found, when doing craft shows, that I can quickly hand-knot strands of attractive-looking beads, not necessarily pearls, and use these knotted pieces to fill out my inventory. These pieces sell very well, and are very profitable.

BEGINNING YOUR PROJECT

Pearl Knotting Basic Steps

  1. Selecting and Testing Bead Cord
     2. Variation #1: Attaching Clasp to Beginning of Necklace
     3. Bringing Up The First Pearl and Tying the Knot
     4. Continue Pearl Knotting To Get the Length You Want, But Stringing Last Two Beads Without Knotting Between Them
     5. Attaching the Other Part of Your Clasp to the End of the Necklace, and Making the Final Knots
  2. Selecting and Testing Bead Cord

We are going to pull two thicknesses of cord through our beads. The bead will be strung on one cord, and we will be pulling a second cord through the hole. We want noticeable resistance to this. Resistance to the point where we feel we need to direct our hand to pull a little harder than we first thought. You might need a chain nose pliers to help you pull the needle through.

You might want to prepare a sample Cord-Size Tester, like I have. Here I have attached cords between sizes 00 and 08. Each cord is doubled. One leg of each cord has a needle attached, and the other leg does not. This lets me test out both cord thickness, as well as knot size.

Most freshwater and saltwater pearls have very small holes. The sizes most used here are between 00 (.3mm) and 03 (.5mm), with 02 (.45mm) the most common.

Most glass beads and gemstone beads require cords between 04 (.6mm) and 08 (.8mm), with the most common 06 (.7mm).

When The Beads Have Different Size Holes…

You always want to start with beads that have very similarly sized holes.

If you buy a strand of real pearls, there is a good chance that the hole sizes might vary. You might need to work from 2 strands of beads to cull enough beads with similar size holes, to pearl-knot.

Another thing you might do, especially if there is a big variation in hole sizes, say when mixing both pearls, glass, metal and/or gemstone beads. You do not necessarily have to put knots between all your beads. You can separate the beads in terms of hole sizes, create a patterned layout, where you plan to knot between beads with similar hole sizes, and not knot between the rest.

It is also very typical that the hole on one side of the bead will be slightly larger than on the other. Picture a drill press. The drill bit pushes down into the bead to make this hole, with the thinner tip end of the bit coming out the other end. It’s risky to drill pearls, so they don’t take bit all the way through.

Another thing you might try: Match the cord size to the smallest hole size. Make double-knots between each bead instead of single knots.

What Length of Cord Will You Need…

The actual length of cord will depend on the size of your beads, thus how many knots you need to make along the length of your cord, as well as your specific hand-knotting technique.

In the traditional rule of thumb, you multiply the length of the necklace you want to make and multiply that by 4 and add 15″. This will give you enough cord to make the necklace, as well as about 15″ or so of cord to hold onto.

For example, using this traditional rule, a 16 1/2″ necklace would need about 81″ of cord. On the cord-on-cards, you get 2 meters or about 79″.

In our non-traditional method, we use about 12″ less of cord, so multiplying your length by 4 and adding 3″ would be the math. So, in our example, for a 16 1/2″ necklace, we would need about 69″ of cord.

With the non-traditional technique instructions below, you can get a 22″ necklace made up of 8mm beads from this 2-meter card.

NOTE: With your silk cord in particular, the last several inches near the attached needle get too frayed during the pearl knotting process, to be useful for your finished piece.

2. VARIATION #1: Attaching Clasp to Beginning of Necklace

Attaching The Clasp To The Beginning Of The Necklace

  1. Open up your bead cord on the card, and unravel the cord off the card.
  2. The cord will be kinky. Pinch the cord between your thumb and forefinger. Run your 2 fingers up and down the length of the cord a few times, pull the cord a bit as you do this, to smooth the kinks out. You do not have to get this perfectly smooth.
  3. You can also run the cord over the edge of a table.
  4. [For a project like a tin cup necklace, where a lot of the cord will show, you can steam iron the cord. Put a towel over the cord before you steam it.]

Test The Length

Let’s test the size of our necklace out, to be sure we have it long enough.

Use a necklace sizing cone or someone’s neck.

Hold the necklace around the cone or neck. Don’t forget to account for any additional length the final part of your clasp will add to your piece. One part of this clasp is already attached to the beginning of the necklace. The other part of the clasp may or may not add additional length.

You will also be making additional knots — at least 2 — and this will add 1/16″ per knot in length.

Necklace Sizing Cone

If you need to add additional beads, you can slide these onto cord B. Review the measurement table at the start of our instructions to determine how many more beads you might need to add.

Maneuver Cord A back down through that last bead, so you can tie a knot where you skipped a bead. Tie additional knots until you get to your last 2 beads.

Attaching the Other Part of Your Clasp to the End of the Necklace, 
and Making the Final Knots

The Process:

o We will slide the last bead off of Cord B, and re-string it onto Cord A.

o Begin to tie Cord A off to the clasp using a Larks Head knot. Fold Cord A in half about midway between the last bead and the end of the cord. Slip that folded spot through the ring on the clasp, and pull it through, to begin forming your loop.

o Un-anchor your pearl knotted strand.

o Make a “pile: your Cord B, the pearl knotted strand, and Cord A several inches below the clasp and Larks Head knot.

o Pull this “pile” through your Larks Head loop.

o Get everything orderly again: Cord B off to the side, re-anchored pearl knotting strand, clasp with beginnings of Larks Head knot with a big loop that will need to be closed above your pearl knotted strand, and your Cord A off to the other side.

THE CHEAT WAY: Instead of bringing this whole pile through the loop, just take the clasp itself through the loop.

o Bring Cord A back down through that last bead towards the next to last bead. Slip an awl or a tweezers through the loop on your Larks Head knot, preventing that loop from closing all the way onto the clasp. You are now positioned to begin to tighten that Larks Head knot.

o Carefully pull everything more and more tightly — all the beads abutting each other and the clasp.

You cannot do this in one step.

THIS IS HOW I LIKE TO DO THIS:

  1. POSITION THE LAST BEAD SO IT SITS SNUGLY AGAINST THE NEXT-TO-LAST-BEAD
  2. PULL ON THE LOOP, SO THAT YOU FORCE THE CLASP DOWN, SO THAT THE LOOP WITH THE CORD THROUGH IT SITS SNUGLY AGAINST THE LAST BEAD.
  3. HOLD and push down on THE LAST 2 BEADS AND THE CLASP TIGHTLY IN PLACE, SO THEY CAN’T MOVE.
  4. PULL TIGHTLY AND STEADILY ON CORD A, TO PULL OUT THE LOOP OF THE LARKS HEAD KNOT
  5. REMOVE THE AWL
  6. PULL AGAIN, TIGHTLY AND QUICKLY ON CORD A, TO TIGHTEN EVERYTHING UP.

o Double check that everything is tight, especially the clasp relative to the last bead, and the last bead relative to the bead before it.

o Tie a square knot with Cord A and Cord B between the last bead and next to last bead, and glue.

— First take Cord A over B, glue the inside of the knot, pull tight, glue the outside of the knot

— Second, flip the beads over to the other side (180 degrees) so our square knots ends up centered, rather than off to one side.

— Third take Cord B over A, glue the inside of the knot, pull tight, glue the outside of the knot

o Let the glue set, usually within 20–30 minutes.

o At about 10 minutes, and before the glue sets, rub off any excess glue that may have gotten onto the pearls, on either side of the knot.

o Trim off Cord B and Cord A as close to the knot as you can. You can add drop of glue to end of the cords to prevent fraying.

Then, tamp down the trimmed tails, with the awl or chain nose pliers or tweezers or your finger nails, if necessary, into the knot to camouflage them.

o At about 10 minutes, and before the glue sets, rub off any excess glue that may have gotten onto the pearls, on either side of the knot.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started Story

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

You may also purchase a Pearl Knotting kit plus a more extensive intructions guide on the Land of Odds website.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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It’s not too late to VOTE! for the UGLIEST NECKLACE of 2014

Posted by learntobead on December 4, 2014

OnLine Voting Ends 12/15/2015!
10th International 2014 The Ugly Necklace Contest
A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist

Your expert opinion counts!

It ain’t easy doing Ugly!

Five Jewelry Artists from around the world have been selected as Semi-Finalists of The 10th International 2014 The Ugly Necklace Contest –  A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist, by a panel of judges from Be Dazzled Beads, The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts and Land of Odds.

Vote Online for your favorites, and help determine who will win the Grand Prize – a $992.93 shopping spree on the Land of Odds web-site (http://www.landofodds.com).  Runner Up Prize:  $399.07 shopping spree.   Voting Ends December 15, 2014

Help the world determine which necklace is the absolutely ugliest necklace in 2014!

More details and images on-line at:
http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugly10contest.htm

 

2014 Semi-Finalists Announced:

Patricia Parker, Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Joan Veress, Norwood New York

Cecilia Wells, Brentwood, Tennessee

Lynn Davy, Wimborne, Dorset, United Kingdom

Pamela Orians, Zanesville, Ohio

 

 

 

Synopsis:

It’s not easy to do Ugly!

So the many jewelry designers from across America and around the Globe who entered our 10th International 2014 The Ugly Necklace Contest — A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist, found this contest especially challenging.   After all, your brain is pre-wired to avoid and reject things which are ugly.   Think of snakes and spiders.   And even if you start your necklace with a bunch of ugly pieces, once you organize them into a circle, the very nature of an ordered round form makes it difficult to achieve Ugly.   Yes, “Ugly” is easier said than done.

Who will win?   We need your help to influence our panel of judges.

Our respected judges evaluated these creatively-designed pieces in terms of hideousness, use of materials and clasp, the number of jewelry design principles violated, and the designer’s artistic control.   Extra points were awarded for artists’ use of smaller beads, because it’s much more difficult to do Ugly with these.

Now it’s time for America and the World to help finalize the decision about which of these 8 semi-finalists’ Ugly Necklaces to vote for.   The winner will truly be an exceptional jewelry designer.   The losers….well….this isn’t a contest where you really can “lose”.

Come see these and the other semi-finalists’ pieces at www.landofodds.com, and vote your choice for the Ugliest Necklace,  2014.

And if you are in the Nashville, Tennessee area, please stop by The Open Windows Gallery (fine art jewelry) at Be Dazzled Beads, where the 8 semi-finalists’ Ugly Necklaces are on display through March 15, 2014.

 

LAND OF ODDS-BE DAZZLED BEADS
Attention: Warren Feld
www.landofodds.com
718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123, Nashville, TN 37204
Phone: 615-292-0610; Fax: 615-460-7001
Email: warren@landofodds.com

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HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING CLASPS?

Posted by learntobead on May 28, 2013

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING CLASPS?

clasp7strand

The Jewelry Designer makes many choices when creating a piece of jewelry. Lots of things to manage and accomplish.

Probably the two most important choices, right up front, in creating a wearable art-piece that will be around for future generations are your:
(1) Stringing Material, and
(2) Clasp

 

When you work with so many customers in a store, and so many students in classes, you begin to see that people are not necessarily that great in selecting clasps. Many are in a clasps-rut — they use the same clasp over and over again. Others pick out clasps they find appealing, whether or not they would visually or functionally work with the piece they have made. Few people anticipate how they are going to attach the clasp to their beadwork, often resulting in an overly long, awkwardly connected clasp assembly. So, how to you go about choosing clasps?

 

From an article I had written…

 

Clasps always seem like they’ve been someone’s last thought. They should be the first thought. But many people get so excited creating their beadwork, that they forget about the clasp – until the last moment. You can tell when the jewelry maker hasn’t put much thought into their choice of clasp in many ways. Often, the clasp doesn’t look like it was meant to go with the bead work or general design. It might be out of proportion. It might be a different texture or sensibility. Its function – how you open and close it, while wearing your jewelry — might seem odd, perhaps unnatural. And not only does the choice of clasp seem as an after-thought, but how to attach to the bead work to that clasp seems un-thought out, as well.

So it’s not surprising, that when we were repairing jewelry on a regular basis, about 80% of the pieces to be fixed had broken at the clasp.

It is best to, in part, build your design around your clasp. If your piece has a centerpiece or focal point, then how does this link up to or coordinate with the clasp. At the least, when visualizing your beadwork, include an image of the clasp and how it is attached at both ends. The world is full of clasps. Not every clasp is a jeweler’s best friend. But it depends.

The clasp needs to visually fit with the beadwork. It needs to function as the artist intended. It needs to function in a way the wearer can relate to, use and handle. It needs to be appropriate for the piece and the context in which it is too be worn. It should not compete with the beadwork. It should complement it. Ideally, at least from a design perspective, your clasp should look and feel as if it were an integral part of the entire piece.

In a Gallery setting, if you are selling your jewelry there, you usually want a very functional, but not overwhelming, clasp. You are selling your beadwork, and you don’t want your clasp to compete with this.

In a Department Store, setting, however, often the clasp sells the piece. In this setting, choosing a clasp requires a different kind of logic, thinking and anticipation. Some clasp-types are “expected” to be a part of the piece – even if the particular choice of type would not be the best choice in the world.

The former owner of a local Tennessee pearl company was very frustrated with clasps. She sold a lot of finished pearl jewelry at very high prices, and had been using 14KT gold pearl and safety clasps. Her customers sent a lot of their pearl necklaces and bracelets back for repairs, because their clasps broke. And this company felt, because the prices of these pieces were very high, that they were obligated to replace the clasps and re-string these pearl-knotted pieces at no additional charge. 14KT clasps – particularly the pearl, safety and filigree box clasps — do not hold up well, because gold is a very soft metal.

Replacing clasps on a pearl-knotted piece is quite some job. You have to cut up the piece to free up each bead, and then you begin the knotting and finishing off processes again. It turns out, the 14KT clasps were not the only expensive part of the bracelets – making the knots between each pearl was the time-consuming and costly part. She desperately wanted to reduce the number of repairs. Her first idea was to replace the pearl and safety clasps with other styles which were sturdier. However, these pieces didn’t sell. People wanted the pearl and filigree clasps. The designs of these clasps were so traditional and so locked into their expectations for what pearl-knotted jewelry should look like, that they would not compromise.

Her second effort, she tried replacing the 14KT pearl and filigree clasps with gold-filled ones which were stronger, but this made her customers very angry – they wanted 14KT gold.

So, her final strategy, she returned to using 14KT gold, and doubled her prices. She built in the cost of one repair into the prices she charged. And only then could she present her happy face to her customers, and her somewhat-happy face to herself when she was in private.

 

 

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Join Warren in On-Line Discussion Seminar

Posted by learntobead on October 9, 2011

JOIN WARREN IN ON-LINE DISCUSSION SEMINAR

Warren will be leading this discussion on Bead Chat/Facebook next Tuesday, 10/11, 10:00am central time (11:00am eastern time). Please join us.

EMPOWERING THE JEWELRY ARTIST:
5 Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For!

Time
Tuesday, October 11 · 10:00am-11:00am Central Timel (11:00am -12:00pm Eastern Time)
Location
Bead Chat Room
http://www.facebook.com/groups/261514230535263/
Created By
Auntie’s Beads
For Bead Chat (hosted by Auntie’s Beads)

Warren Feld discusses these questions in the context of art vs. craft, passion and inspiration, materials and components, techniques vs. skills, and when is enough enough. There is not one best answer. These are the kinds of things each jewelry designer must define for themselves, in a way satisfying to them, but anticipating their audience’s needs, as well. Join us for live chat with Warren!

About Auntie’s Beads Bead Chat on Facebook
Ask to join if you are interested in group chat discussions about beading and jewelry making topics. Chat is ongoing and informal, but we also post event notices and host these online events via chat…

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GO VOTE! — The Ugly Necklace Contest 2010

Posted by learntobead on May 29, 2010

VOTING HAS BEGUN –
8th International 2010
The Ugly Necklace Contest
— A Jewelry Design Competition with a Twist

Click:   GO VOTE!

 One of our semi-finalists will win an almost $1,000 shopping spree on the Land of Odds website!

Who will it be?

2010 Semi-Finalists Announced
OnLine Voting ends July 15, 2010
Jane West, Pelham, Alabama
Alesia DiFederico, Southbury, Connecticut
Lynn Margaret Davy, Dorset, United Kingdom
Deborah Rubin, Rockville, Maryland
Sandy Borglum, Chicago, Illinois
Sharon Wagner, Sterling Heights, Michigan
Bonnie Scherer, Palmer, Alaska
Kimberly Allison, Escondido, California

 

Read the rules for The Ugly Necklace 2012 contest at:
www.landofodds.com/store/uglynecklace.htm
Entries due 3/15/12. Top Prize: $992.93 shopping spree on the Land of Odds website. 2012 Special Rule: Necklaces must consist 75% of beads – however, you define “beads” – and not be longer than 32”; the theme:  “From My Garden Of….” .

Posted in Contests, jewelry design, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »