I was recently asked by ArtBeads.com to choose some items from their inventory of over 5,000 Swarovski components and review them. What a delight to browse through and fill up a basket with sparkly goodies! I'm one of those jewelry designers who sees a bead and immediately knows what I'm going to do with it, so as soon as the package arrived in the mail, I set to work.
First, I chose a Diamond Leaf sew-on component in one of the newer colors, Mocca (which reminds me of Coca Cola). These little gems are perfect for adorning pageant gowns and dresses like you see on "Dancing With the Stars", but I knew they'd make perfect earrings. I also chose 6mm Helix in Crystal Golden Shadow and 4mm bicones in Topaz and linked them all together in gold-filled wire. Here's the result ....
Next, I chose some bright red cubes. A couple of years ago, I made a line of jewelry that used 6mm cubes and crystal squaredelles and they sold like mad, but I'd never made them in larger sizes. These larger cubes definitely made a difference in impact, and I think I'm going to have to play around some more with them.
I then chose some little flower pendants in light rose, and paired them with handmade lampwork glass for an unexpected kick.
These next earrings incorporate a bead I've wanted to try out for a while, the new Graphic Cube. I absolutely love it and can't wait to order more in every color. It reminds me of the 5309/1 Round Bicone, but with more squatness. The hole is larger than the normal Swarovski crystal bead, so for wire wraps, I recommend using a 2mm or 3mm bead to stop the hole and not have your wrap drop into the hole. The faceting is awesome, and the 8mm size I used gives you the best opportunity to really see the uniqueness.
The earrings are for Diabetes Awareness -- gray is the awareness color.
I love snowflakes, so it was a cinch that I would choose a snowflake pendant. I made a necklace with this one, creating a waterfall cluster of dyed cultured pearls in blue and 6mm clear AB Swarovski crystals. The snowflake is also Crystal AB for optimum glitter and shine.
The next two pairs of earrings are my favorites, and also took the longest and were the most difficult to make.
The first pair incorporated two 24mm pendant drops in Bermuda Blue, one of my favorite coatings. (I'm a big fan of Swarovski's custom coatings and try to collect every cut and color that I can.) I then wired tons of 4mm bicones to the top of the earring, using fine-nose pliers to make the tiniest loops possible and to get as many crystals in there as possible. I'm pretty pleased with the result, but don't want to make too many of these at one sitting!Lastly, I wanted to take something that wasn't meant to be used for beading and turn it into a beading component. In this instance, I chose Swarovski crystal buttons and turned them into earrings. These also were not the easiest things to make, and it took several tries to figure out the right gauge of wire (22ga) and the right type of armature in the back of the button to make everything connect. With only two holes, I had to make one piece of wire hold all the chain AND make the loop that would hold the ear wire, all while not accidentally cracking the crystal. It takes some practice to get them to hold straight and not drop to one side or the other, but when they're right -- oh my. The result is amazing.
One of the other tricks I learned was how to make sure the chain was the same length for both earrings. I held a piece of wire and using a continuous length of chain, caught the loops over and over and over again on the wire until I had twice what I needed. I then twisted the ends of the wire so the chain wouldn't fall off (VERY IMPORTANT -- and don't ask me why I know that.....) and cut the chain just where the two sections join. When it's time to transfer the chain to your earring loop, carefully snip the twisted end of your holding wire and CAREFULLY slide it to the earring wire. Emphasis on carefully. Again, don't ask me why I know it should be carefully. (Sighs again.)
I hope you've enjoyed this review of some of the many Swarovski crystals that ArtBeads.com offers! You can go directly to their huge selection of crystal by clicking http://www.artbeads.com/swarovski-crystal-beads.html .
Lori Anderson makes jewelry when she's not writing or catching up on sleep. You can see her work at www.lorianderson.net.