September 26, 2017

Boho Tribal Collar Necklace: September Pretty Palette Challenge

When I saw the inspiration photo and color palette for Halcraft's September Pretty Palette Challenge I immediately fell in love. The inspiration for the month was this beautiful 'fade' of yarn (photo below), and the color palette was right up my alley.

Click here to visit the Pretty Palette Challenge page on the Halcraft Blog.
The inspiration this month was a bit different in that it was textile rather than a design style, theme or visual inspiration. So, I decided that in order to incorporate the inspiration in more than just the color palette I wanted to use some sort of textile or fibers. I chose to work with rope and embroidery thread, as well as beads, to keep a textile feel to my project. This took me down a route quite different than my usual wire jewelry and I ended up with a very bohemian, tribal style collar necklace that I'm totally in love with!

(Side note: I've worked with thread in my jewelry on a couple of previous projects, but not on this sort of scale. To see some other projects incorporating embroidery thread click here and here.)

To create this necklace I pretty much just made things up as I went. I foolishly thought it should be an easy project...I mean, wrapping thread around rope sounds simple, right? Well, let me tell you. It takes quite a bit of planning and measuring and forethought and inventiveness to create all those wrapped pieces and layers without knots and hanging threads and no glue whatsoever.

Then, after finishing all the thread-wrapping and sewing all the rope strands together I thought I'd finished the hard part and adding beads would be easy. Let's just say I have some tender fingers from pushing a needle through layers of rope to firmly secure each bead.

I definitely learned a lot during this process and I have so many ideas of variations on this design and new color schemes that I'm itching to try...but at the same time sort of dreading because this project was actually kind of stressful. Ha!

A quick run down of materials used include cotton embroidery floss, cotton/poly blend piping rope, plated silver findings including bead caps, chain, and a toggle clasp (yes, I admit it...I didn't make my own findings/chain/toggle for this necklace), nylon beading thread, 22- and 24-gauge german style wire for the dangles and end caps, and beads in an assortment of howlite, agate, labradorite, aventurine, amethyst, and silver plate. All of the beads and bead caps except the labradorite rondelles and the faceted amethyst rounds are Halcraft beads from Michaels (the labradorite and amethyst beads are from Hobby Lobby).

Above you can see the necklace on for scale, and I'll leave you with a few more detail shots.

Don't forget to check out the Halcraft blog to see all of the other yarn-inspired jewelry projects on the Pretty Palette link up! You can find the link up here.

Have you ever incorporated fibers or textiles in your jewelry? What do you think of the boho tribal jewelry trend? I'd love to know.

Possibly linking up with:

Fabulous Party at Lou Lou Girls
Show and Tell Link Party at Flamingo Toes
Your Whims Wednesday at My Girlish Whims
Link Party Palooza at Tatertots and Jello

July 18, 2017

Marimekko-Inspired Necklace: July Pretty Palette Challenge

I confess: when I saw the inspiration for Halcraft's July Pretty Palette Challenge, I was a little unsure where to go with it. The inspiration for the challenge was this fabric designed by Marimekko, and the coordinating color palette is shown below.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time then you probably know that I LOVE COLOR. Bold colors do not scare me at all. However, this bold palette was not a group of colors that I would generally gravitate toward, nor think to put together in one one piece (at least not in these particular hues). And to be honest, I'm not a huge Marimekko fan. Don't get me wrong, as a former design student and art historian I can certainly appreciate the hallmarks of the Marimekko design house: bold colors, simple lines, repeating patterns, and two-dimensionality. But when it comes down to it, sometimes I just prefer a little more depth to the design.

That said, I relish assignments like these: to translate a concept or design style into a physical piece of jewelry (blame it on my architecture/art history nerd brain), so I knew I still wanted to give it a shot. And I'm so glad I did! I ended up creating a piece that I never would have dreamed up before, and I really love how it came together.

When the July challenge was posted I had already begun work on another idea, and coincidentally it involved flowers. I had been wanting to create some dimensional flowers as earrings, then decided instead to make a necklace, and already had all of the wires cut to create the flower frames. I hemmed and hawed about how I could rework the design and eventually came up with something that somewhat fit the Marimekko inspiration.

Now I know that these 'flowers', being 3-D and having scroll-y, ornate edges, are pretty much the opposite of what I just listed above as being typical of Marimekko. But hey, I did have the 'bold color scheme' going on. So I figured I would also try to focus on the 'flatness' and 'simplicity of design' qualities instead and refrained from any of my usual ombre or plethora-of-colors within each flower, and the only sparkle in the entire piece is from the crystal beads in the centers of the flowers.

[Note: you can click on the 'Tutorials' tab above for links to how I create my wire frames and embellish them with beads.]

In similar fashion I tried to keep the side connectors and toggle clasp as simple as I could (but you know I couldn't leave them completely devoid of color, so there are some tiny agate and bamboo coral beads). All of the wire focal elements, side connectors, chain, and toggle clasp are completely handmade using German style wire.

The flowers feature aventurine, bamboo coral, quartzite, jade, and crystal beads. The color palette we were given didn't include white, but the original inspiration fabric had sprays of white dotted flowers scattered throughout and I really wanted to include that detail, so I created the fringes made of glass pearls and more quartzite. For the blue of the color palette I used some beautiful (reconstituted) lapis beads around the sides of the necklace. All of the beads except the agate beads on the toggle, the tiny green crystals (around the outer edges of the green flower), and the glass pearls are Halcraft beads from Michaels.


This necklace may not embody the whole spirit of Marimekko, but I'd like to think it's a nice tribute to the inspiration fabric if nothing else. I also think it would be really fabulous recreated as a bridal necklace with pearls and fancy crystals (and maybe some pyrite for the slightly edgier bride? Or a few colorful accents in the bride's wedding colors...?). Hmmm, maybe my next project?

What do you like about Marimekko designs? Would you pair these colors all together in one piece of jewelry? Any interest in seeing a bridal version? I'd love to know.

Possibly linking up with:

Fabulous Party at Lou Lou Girls
Show and Tell Link Party at Flamingo Toes
Your Whims Wednesday at My Girlish Whims
Link Party Palooza at Tatertots and Jello

June 25, 2017

Squash Blossom Necklace and Earrings: June Pretty Palette Challenge

THIS WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE JEWELRY PROJECTS EVER. Seriously, I SO LOVED this entire process. I've wanted to make a squash blossom necklace for a longgggg time, but was unsure if I could convert what is normally a metalsmith project into a wire jewelry design and actually do it justice. When this month's Halcraft Pretty Palette Challenge theme was announced, I knew it was the perfect excuse to finally get my bum in gear and just try it.

For June's challenge the inspiration was a photo featuring the colors red, white, and turquoise and with distinctive tribal patterns against a background of earthy browns and taupish-gray. I knew a squash blossom necklace would be the perfect fit for the colors and tribal design!

This month's Pretty Palette inspiration photo. Check out the challenge here.
The color palette for this month's challenge.

To correspond with the given color palette I chose faceted white quartzite beads and a couple of varieties of red bamboo coral Halcraft beads from Michaels, turquoise howlite beads from Hobby Lobby, and for the taupe/gray and brown colors I chose silver-tone German style wire and small copper accent beads (I was probably pushing the color palette matching a little there, but I figure the earth-tone colors/metal elements all convey the same idea).

As squash blossom necklaces generally all have a similar layout, I knew ahead of time exactly how many components I wanted to make and how I wanted everything to fit together. (If you're unfamiliar with the squash blossom necklace, click here to see some images.) I made these components a little differently than I usually do, using my wire jig for only the main body shape and then my looping pliers (with multiple graduated sizes) to create all of the loops along the sides of the components.


I also embellished these frames a little differently than I have before. I wanted the turquoise beads to sit upside down (with their drilled top points facing downward), and I ended up going with a fishtail-style wrap to keep them secure and standing up straight. I think I'm happy with how they turned out, although it wasn't the aesthetic I'd originally had in mind. I'm a neat-and-tidy sort and sometimes struggle to appreciate wraps that look messy or random.


I used the faceted white quartzite beads to connect each of the wire components and the crescent pendant, and used some red bamboo coral beads around the neck to add a bit more visual interest (and because I really wanted more red in the necklace to pop against the turquoise). I kept the connector elements between the quarzite and coral beads small and simple, as I wanted the main focus to be on the fringed components and crescent pendant.

Similarly with the toggle clasp I kept the embellishment simple with only a few copper beads. All of the wire components, findings, fringe, and chain links are entirely handmade with German style wire, which makes this necklace (and the earrings) incredibly lightweight.

For the earrings I mimicked the design of the components along the sides of the necklace to create a matched set.

Here are few more photos just because I can't pick a favorite angle!

 And so you can get a better idea of their actual size:

Overall, I am so pleased with how this set turned out. It was one of those rare events where I think the final product turned out better than what I had originally envisioned.

What do you think, are you a fan of the squash blossom necklaces that are so popular right now? Do you like tribal-style jewelry trend and would you wear a piece of this size? I'd love know!

Possibly linking up with:

Fabulous Party at Lou Lou Girls
Show and Tell Link Party at Flamingo Toes
Your Whims Wednesday at My Girlish Whims
Link Party Palooza at Tatertots and Jello