Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Special Necklace with Special Beads

I've been the very fortunate recipient of some amazing beads as gifts, and I want to share with you a necklace I made (and then re-made) from a set I got recently from a dear friend. Since I'm hosting a Bead Hoarders Blog Hop on July 20th, I thought between now and then I'd share some of my favorite pieces and hoarded bead sets.

This necklace is made with a set of lampwork glass beads by Firelily.  I've bought (and hoarded) a lot of her beads and encourage anyone who loves boro to buy from her.  OMG but these beads I got were amazingly beautiful on their own:

A lot of times, when faced with a rainbow of colors like this, I just add a few Bali sterling silver beads and one color of coordinating Swarovski crystal and call it a day.  When beads are this beautiful, designing can REALLY be problematic.  Too much fiddling around and you can lose the integrity of the bead.   Well, I fiddled like CRAZY with these beads and went WAY overboard with my design, but in the end, I think it worked.  A rarity, but the nice thing is, I can always take it apart.

In fact, I started out with a necklace design I was happy with -- and then kept going.  First, I made a single strand necklace with no pendant.  I don't often wear a necklace without a pendant because I are round.  I'm not happy about that, but it is what it is.   A single strand can sometimes accentuate exactly how round I are!  :-)

This is what I came up with first:

You can see that with boro, what color (and what transparency) you choose as an accent can change the way the bead looks.  Then I went nuts.  There are 24 dangles between each bead, sized from 2mm to 5mm -- citrine, butter jade, peridot, and garnet, all on 26 gauge head pins to keep the bulk down.  I used some really exquisite (and expensive) sterling silver beads I'd been hoarding, and even though I didn't have a drop pendant, I DID have a central sterling silver bead to balance things.  I was pleased that even though I chose to pull out three different colors from the beads, I don't think I detracted from the glass beads themselves.

But then I decided to overdo it.

I tried on the necklace, and while I loved it, I felt weird without a pendant.  I absolutely did NOT want to restring, because if you did the math, there are 384 dangles I'd have to restring (and yes, there was a color pattern to follow with each cluster, too).  Holy crap. Just typing 384 makes my hands hurt, but that shows you how much I puffy-heart loved these beads.

To solve the restringing problem, I cut a short length of chain and using two jump rings, connected the chain on either side of the central silver bead. I added a filigree bead component (that is actually the middle bead of a HUGE three-bead pendant I got from Singaraja Imports (click here to see the entire thing).  

Then, to make it just completely over the top and to the moon, I added a spendy faceted Blue London Topaz dangle and even MORE garnet, citrine, butter jade, and peridot, with a sprinkling of some teeny tiny kyanite to coordinate with that Blue London.

When I bought that enormous, expensive tassel, (when silver was $50/gram, eek) I rationalized that either a) I'd use it to make something for me, or b) I'd take it apart so I could recoup some of the cost -- and I did just that by using part of it in the "Ginger Peach Soup" necklace in my book (and oh hey, I used Firelily Beads in that one, too!).

The nice thing about this design is because the pendant is a separate component, I can take it on or off just by opening and closing two jump rings.  I'm not sure this is where I want to end with this piece -- I still have other ideas floating around -- but I thought it was interesting to watch the process.

Just realized that last photo isn't the best, which is another lesson learned.  With boro beads, try to take all your photos at the same time, as time of day really can make a huge difference in how the colors present themselves.

Curious what your thoughts are!  I'm quite tempted to make this a longer necklace by adding more of the small garnets at the end, since I've been grooving on longer pieces lately.  Oh no.  That would involve restringing 384 dangles.  Nope, nope, not going to do that.  What to do instead?  Jump rings to the rescue again, by either connecting another strung length of garnets, or wire-wrapping garnets in rosary fashion, or skipping the garnets and adding decorative chain to reduce the weight (since it's going to be largely behind my neck anyway).

Lesson learned -- the best laid plans may hit a snag, but there's always, always a way to salvage something beautiful.

Stay tuned for more Tales from the Bead Hoard.

(powered by pie)

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. I agree with Gail. WOW. I really like how it turned out...kinda elegant goth....and those boro beads, will have to check them out.

  2. I absolutely adore that necklace! If you're going to make it longer, use some chain. Like you said, it's going to be behind your neck anyways... :) And I think it would accent that necklace beautifully.

    I also LOVE those beads from Firelily. They are amazing!


  3. I like your necklace with and without the pendant.I also love the use of clusters in between the beads.

  4. That Necklace Is Amazing!!! I don't think I would want the cost involved but it is worth every penny from this view point!!! I love the way put it together and yes 384 dangles would make your hands hurt... a lot!!! Really Love it Lori!!! Have a Blessed Day!!!

  5. Make a bracelet that could be added to the neck to lengthen the necklace if you chose. I've done it several times and love the effect, and awing people at lunch when I take the bracelet and put it on my arm. ;)

  6. Awesome necklace, love those boro beads and you certainly complimented them well.

  7. WOWZA! That is some necklace. I love it!

  8. Phenomenal! Stunning! I'm speechless! Those beads are incredibly beautiful on their own, truly, and with all the added dangly, colorful goodness, afreakinmazing! I 'puffy-heart' love it, too! Beyond gorgeousness! Made of win and covered in awesome sauce! Where can I get me some talent like that?! Peace, Love, & Sunshine! <3

  9. What a gorgeous showcase for some very special beads, your necklace is amazing!

  10. Stunning! I actually like necklaces without pendants - but I'm round too.....something to think about next time I'm trying a necklace on.....!

    The necklace is totally stunning at every stage.....and boy, what a lot of work you've put into it!!

  11. I definitely like it with the added pendant. Like always your work is beautiful and unique.

  12. Lori, I just love that necklace, it is incredibly stunning! I do like the idea of adding some chain for length. You are a very talented artist with all you do and endure, you give me inspiration!

  13. love them both...just gorgeous

  14. Beach girl5:15 PM

    Mad about it. Incredible piece of work!


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