Friday, November 09, 2012

Cup of Bead Soup with Bead Happily Ever After

Some people may turn up their nose at vintage acrylic and Lucite beads, but you don't know what you're missing!!!!

First, the difference between Lucite and acrylic.  Lucite is carved from a rod of Lucite and has no seams.  Acrylic is pressed in a mold like some glasses and therefore DOES have a seam.  Both are lightweight and often come in creative finishes and styles you can't get in glass.  So many people think vintage is all about rhinestones and things like that.  Don't get me wrong, I love that, but these beads are accessible and wearable and COOL.

I'm thrilled to bring to you a new Cup of Bead Soup with Bead Happily Ever After.    Crystal graciously donated five identical kits, one for me and the others for four other jewelry designers, and today we show you what we did!

First, I'll show you my finished piece -- a long necklace that features a bit of all of the beads provided, and then I'll break down WHY I did what I did.

And another shot.  Here you can see how I made a loop with a bead accent and a bead dangle in the large black and gold ring.  My original plan was for that fancy lobster claw to hook directly into the black ring but it wouldn't fit.  I'm actually glad it worked out this way, because I think the balance of large/small/large at the clasp looks good.

The finish on nearly all of the beads was bright gold, so I decided to use jeweler's bronze and not patina it.   Almost all of the beads had some sort of pattern on them but some of the turquoise beads didn't.   Therefore, I took that as an opportunity to wrap 14ga bronze around the bead.  Let me tell you -- 14ga bronze is STIFF.  Wear eye protection.  Just sayin'. 

To add even more texture to the necklace (as well as length) I folded a 16" piece of fringy chain from AD/Adornments.  I doubled the chain because when you look at the necklace as a whole, it needed that width and size.  A single strand would have looked out-of-balance.  Next time you're working with a design like this, practice with various strands of chain and see what you think.

Above, you can see the black/turquoise/black bead unit I made.  The turquoise bead had large holes, and I wasn't satisfied with how it looked sitting directly on the black and gold beads.  I took three gold jump rings and made a love knot.  To make one, close one jump ring.  Open a jump ring and thread it through the closed jump ring and close it.  Then take the third open jump ring and string it through BOTH the closed jump rings.  If you did it right, you won't have a 3-ring piece of chain, but a little knot spacer.

Want a free eBook on making some simple chain maille pieces, including this knot?  Click here to get your copy from Jewelry Making Daily!

The photo above shows how I dealt with the beads with the largest holes.  Whenever I string lampwork or ceramic beads, I fill the holes with seed beads so the larger beads won't wobble on the wire or thread.  I have several tubes of various sizes so something is bound to work.  No seed beads?  Wrap thin-gauge craft wire around the base wire the bead sits upon to make it thicker.

For the purple beads, I wrapped 14ga bronze around the end of bail making pliers.  Why those pliers? So the coils would all be the same size and not start looking like a cone as the wire headed towards the end of regular round nose pliers.  Doing this gave visual interest but it also effectively blocked the large hole.

This piece is a perfect example of using Bead Soup.  I made all the bead units first, and then started moving them around so I didn't end up with all the large beads on one side or all of one color stacked in the same way.  And using a decorative clasp makes the necklace versatile, as it's an integral part of the piece and can be worn in any orientation.

And a big thank you 
to Crystal of Bead Happily Ever After!

This is the last Cup of Bead Soup for 2012.
BIG things in store for 2013 with all new designers!


Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack.  Visit her shops by clicking here.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party®   and author of the book Bead Soup.


  1. Oh very cool! I love your pictures they look so good! I like that you gave the free link too! . I'm off to see the other creations now :)

  2. Gorgeous Lori! Thanks for taking us all through it too, really interesting.

  3. Anonymous4:58 AM

    Lucite is great to wear everyday, very light and nobody can spot the difference! Love that fringing, such a great detail and the colours are rich and deep.

  4. This looks great and I like how you explained all you did on the necklace. Thanks for the tips!

  5. This is a great necklace. I love vintage beads and use them occasionally. What a wonderful post. The information you shared was great. Thanks.

  6. Lovely! I especially like how you used that black and gold ring. And I love how you've detailed how to make this piece. Those techniques are gems all by them selves. Thank you!

  7. YUMMY! I love this soup and I WANT that turquoise patterned bead!!!! I could design a whole Native American theme around that one - gorgeous! Brilliant to create a love knot for the big hole beads - what a great idea.

  8. Great hints, great design, great designer. As usual. Super soup Lori!

  9. Oh, yes - I used to be one of those people 'turning their nose' - until I got a lovely bracelet from my mom: vintage acrylic, in the most gorgeous chocolate shimmery finish. Since then I completely changed my mind: used properly almost any bead is beautiful! :)
    Your 'cup' was filled with beauty and the necklace is stunning. As always I love your process 'story' :)
    Thanks for sharing - and looking forward to hearing more about the New Year plans!

  10. What a lovely soup and your necklace is awesome! Love how you broke down the process and explained the differences and value in Lucite and acrylic in design. Now off to see what the others have come up with. :)

  11. Just fabulous, Lori!
    What an honor for me to have you showcase my beads. Your design, presentation, and helpful tips (LOVE those little knot spacers!) are all top notch!!!

    Thank you SO much! :-) xo

  12. Anonymous5:54 PM

    Thank you so much for the explanation on lucite and acrylic. I love what you did with your beads. Your necklace is stunning! I love it! Totally cool that we both made long necklaces that are completely different. I love the folded chain that you included.

  13. Super job Lori. The love knots are kool & the purple bead looks awesome. Thanx for all your tips. I didn't know the differwnce between lucite & acrylic.

  14. I hate to repeat on the comments, but I love how you explained your process here! Not just "what you did", but "why"! This is so pretty! I especially like the brass wrapped around the turquoise pretty!

  15. Good call on the black ring and lobster clasp. Everything is so well balanced. Beautiful. What gauge wire did you use for most of the necklace?

  16. Anonymous11:46 PM

    I do love long necklaces! They are perfect for using different stles of beads. This one IS a "pretty thing". Hey, thanks for that tip about the larger holes. I am mystified when I get those larger hole beads. AND thanks for the link. I love that fringy chain!

  17. Anonymous4:19 AM

    My favourite design of yours yet. Thanks for sharing xx

  18. Terrific necklace and thanks for all the wonderful tips for large beads along the way!

  19. Anonymous12:04 PM

    The chain you used is wonderful! At first, I thought that you put all the little round plates on a normale chain. I think that I will do something like that, because the effect is superb!

    And I agree with you, vintage lucite/acrylic beads can be gorgeous! They are perfect for a everyday outfit.


  20. Love this! Thanks for those helpful hints, too! I'm a huge fan of vintage acrylic & lucite! They're so unique and fun! Peace, Love, & Sunshine!

  21. Wow. I really am behind. Guess that the surgery was needed so that I would be forced to slow down and catch up with my favorite peoples.

    I just love this necklace. It's causing me to look at lucite in a whole new way


I appreciate comments! Thank you for contributing to the conversation.