This necklace was featured in Beading With Filigree. I originally made it without any beads and wrote up the project for the book but then was reminded that it needed to have beads to be included in Beading With Filigree.
Red lacquered round filigree, antique copper chain, vintage and new red beads in a bunch of shapes. The design is awkward unless worn longer, but it didn’t match my outfit if I wore it longer so I tied it up a bit. Yes, that’s right, I used the super-technical ‘knot’ to shorten the necklace.
This necklace is made of olive-green Tibetian turquoise, abalone-shell discs, Toho seed beads, wood and bone all strung on #6 knotting silk. I made it many years ago in an afternoon of beading with my younger sister. I started with a big, blown-glass focal but pulled it out and added more stones, wood, seed beads. She watched me put it together and at some point said something like ‘wow, if I made that it would look really bad.’ That’s one of those compliments that you think is maybe not so much of a compliment.
But she IS my sister, so I know what she is saying.
Weird, busy, odd, layered, asymmetrical. Those things all come easily to me.
What’s hard is order. Patterns. Matching.
Making a 16″ strand of graduated pearls would drive me nuts. I don’t know if it would be boredom or just impatience. I would go crazy.
However, hand me a bunch of probably-not-matchy beads and some thread and I’ll string ’em up. I’ll add dangles and maybe a tassel. I can’t help that. Now, in my current profession, that’s pretty good. It’s okay to not be matchy. Or pattern-ish.
There is, however, another side to that coin. I can’t follow recipes. I have trouble assembling items using any kind of written directions. I space out when I’m trying to make a dress from a pattern and start thinking ‘don’t I really want a skirt?’ Because I’m so frenetic it takes me a really long time to learn from my mistakes. I will try and try again but I’m more like a squirrel than a scientist. I don’t carefully adjust one variable at a time and see what happens. I adjust seventeen variables and then throw in a new color of seed bead and see what happens.
Luckily for me, sometimes I like the result.
Today’s necklace is complex, layered and asymmetrical. I created it about six years ago. It is strung on Mastex cording, with chain, shell beads, an Elaine Ray charm or two. The head on the lower right-hand side is a Bakelite Cracker Jack charm from the early part of the 20th century. When you pull the dog’s collar it’s eyes bug out and the tongue wags. That carved ivory elephant was given to me by a Chinese bead vendor I used to work with. He spoke next to no English and we communicated mostly through calculations on an HP calculator he kept in his back pocket. One time when I visited him I told him I was pregnant (with my daughter, Cleo, now eight) by pantomiming a baby and a big belly. He laughed and dug out that elephant for me. “Good luck’ he said. Of course, I bought a big, long strand of the elephants but I saved this one for the necklace.
This necklace is an example of an unfinished object. There are long, loose strings of Mastex cording hanging down the back. There is a button and a hook for a proper closure, but I never trimmed the Mastex. I intended to add counterweight strands on the back, but the necklace isn’t really that heavy. Somehow I still can’t bring myself to trim the strands. I don’t know why. They aren’t especially attractive; actually they cause people to say ‘you have a string on your back’ at least once every time I wear the necklace. I should cut the strands or string them with beads to make the counterweights.
This necklace is 34″ long and contains African green amber, some fiber-wrapped beads from the Phillipines and even a bit of chain. I think I made it around 6 years ago. I was on a trip to NYC for business and I kept seeing all these long necklaces. I hadn’t really worn anything longer than 20″ or so for a while. Of course, I travel with beads so I strung this up in the hotel room one night while watching cable tv. It ended up matching a dress I bought the next day at that huge H&M at 7th & 34th. That store always looks like it was just ravaged by zombies minutes before you entered. I rarely find anything there but the store is so big and full of promise I always try. That day I pulled a swirly, flowery brown dress off a rack and it fit and didn’t seem like it would fall apart the first time I wore it.
I think I wore this necklace for a month straight after I made it. I always wanted a black version but every one I made just seemed wrong.
I still have the dress, too.