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

June 24, 2017

Vintage-Inspired Multi-Strand Necklace


This necklace started out as an idea to use up leftover beads, and the design was inspired by a vintage necklace I saw a character wear in a Hallmark Channel mystery movie.

(Actress Sarah Strange in one of the Garage Sale Mystery movies from the
Hallmark Channel, wearing the inspiration necklace for the piece I created.)
My original plan had been to use up the many leftover silver and black beads I had from my New Years Eve necklace and earrings set, but of course as I laid out my design and things evolved I couldn't find just exactly the beads I wanted from my stash, so naturally I had to buy some new beads. So much for my plan to try and use up some of my overflowing bead collection!

I think the silver luster glass, antique brass and rhinestone spacers, and crystal bars really give this necklace a vintage feel, even if none of the beads are from a bygone era.

I created the crystal 'bars' by stinging together graduated sizes of icicle-shaped glass crystal beads and wire-wrapping them snugly together to hold their straight shape.

The silver luster glass beads add an elegant sparkle, and when paired with the antique brass and rhinestone spacers definitely have an old-world feel.

In the interest of not buying even more new supplies and trying to use up what I had on hand, I created a couple of simple wire connector elements for the sides. These look much too modern for the vintage vibe I wanted, so I tried to help them mesh with the design a little better by embellishing them with small silver luster glass rondelles.

The chain and toggle clasp are handmade as well, and I kept the decoration on the toggle simple to better tie in with the side connector elements. As usual I used German style wire for all of the findings, chain and wrapped components.

This necklace was difficult to photograph because of the contrast between the clear crystals, the shiny silver, and the opaque black beads. And I don't think any photograph can accurately capture the level of sparkle this necklace brings when the light hits it.

The design for this piece was meant to be simple and striking, rather than one of the crazy colorful and detailed mega-pieces I usually make, and it was nice to give my fingers a little break. I'm fairly happy with how it turned out--I think this necklace is simple enough for daytime work wear, and yet definitely fancy enough for an evening out. 

What do you think, do you get a vintage vibe from this necklace? How would you wear it? 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