And thus a monster was born.
Yeah, I kinda went a little overboard working on this so I'm just warning you now that this is a LONG post. You might want to take your bathroom break and get your beverage/snacks of choice now LOL!
Because this is a new area for me, I didn't focus much on coming up with dazzling designs, but more on experimenting with techniques, mastering certain knots/patterns and playing with color combos. I started out with bracelets and made quite a few of them - most of which I'm not totally happy with, but I did learn a little something along the way with each one of them.
I started out with this set of ceramic beads from Gaea, a few additional ceramic beads from my stash to create enough length, 4 ply waxed linen cord in a "natural" color, a pewter seahorse button from Green Girl Studios, and a few size 8 seed beads for accents. There are two pieces of cord running through the center of all the beads and then two more that run outside and then knot around the center cords in between each bead. I then tied overhand knots all around the loop section to strengthen it and left the tails dangling as accents with some seed beads tied on for color. Things I learned: these beads have large enough holes that this might have worked better with 7 ply cord (I didn't have any on hand - my stash is all 2 ply and 4 ply), the knotting on the loop started off a little wonky until I figured out what I was doing (should've practiced on scrap cord first!), and I'm not sure the cord will hold up over time with wear and tear. However, I wore this bracelet out running errands last weekend and got compliments on it so it can't be too terrible.
This bracelet uses 4 ply chocolate brown cord, a ceramic bead in shades of brown and blue, matte denim blue seed beads and a pewter button from Mamacita Beadworks. I'd be totally happy with this except that the beaded loop that goes around the button came out a smidgen too small. It was perfect when I initially tied it, but as I added the half-hitch/bead treatment around the loop, it stiffened up and got a bit smaller. It still works as a closure...it's just a little bit too tight for real ease of use.
So, I decided to try again and this time I left plenty of room with the loop. A little too much, in fact. This loop is too big. ARRGH! Materials are a ceramic handpainted bead with two cute owls on it, gold 4 ply linen cord, deep blue seed beads and a copper button from Second Surf. I like the copper button and the way the frayed cord ends look against it...just need a smaller loop and...hmmm...maybe that cord color wasn't the best choice (although it matches the gold owl color in the ceramic beads in real life - not so much in the photo)
Then, I decided enough with the fancy knot techniques - let's just use some simple overhand knots and play around with color. I really wanted to see how colored cord worked with clear beads so I used some lavender 2 ply cord with the clear wing beads and then added some other Czech glass beads to this. Part of my frustration with this design stems from really wanting to use 4 ply, but not having very many beads with holes that will accommodate it. Even in the 2 ply, I was still a bit limited which is why this bracelet has weird shapes and, now that I look at it through the camera's eye, strange colors. I do like the clear beads with the colored cord, though, so that's worth more exploration. I feel like I am on the verge of something good...if I can just get the right elements to pull together.
This is getting closer to what I wanted. I used the gold cord with some clear, pink, purple and lavender/pink swirl beads. The swirl beads are ceramic, the large purple is vintage Lucite, the small purple is dyed jade, the frosted pink are vintage German glass and the clear beads are glass that has a crackled center so it gives off a bit of a rainbow look (hard to see in the photos). I did have to add some copper daisy spacers as, for once, the holes in the clear beads are TOO BIG (this whole hole size thing is wearing me down!)
Ah ha! Now we are talking! Everything is working together - cute wood flower beads, large vintage Lucite blue floral focal, and YES! I finally found a use for these tri-color (yellow, green, blue) glass nuggets that are one of the first bead purchases I ever made back in 19mumblewhatever during my first trip to a bead store. I've had a whole bag of them sitting in my stash ever since then waiting for the perfect project. It just goes to show that if you hold onto the beads long enough, inspiration will eventually find a home for them. They have more blue in them (to match the focal) than shows in the photo. 4 ply gold cord and a copper rope toggle finish things off perfectly.
So, enough with the bracelets. I decided to start focusing on earrings, because how badly could I mess that up? They had to be easier than bracelets, right? Yeah...here's where the insanity really took over.
I started with just some simple lark's head knots to attach 4 ply cord to white shell rings and then I used overhand knots to add some shell leaves.
I thought this would make a nice, light, swingy summer earring design.
Then, as long as I was playing with rings and knotting, I decided to try square knots in between size 6 seed beads as a dangle.
I had these orange tagua nut rings and bright green ceramic rounds and they made a lovely tropical combo with the gold cord and turquoise seed beads.
Then, I got kind of obsessed with that half-hitch/bead around a loop idea from the bracelet closures and thought that maybe what was needed was a solid ring that would hold its shape. I happened to have some brass rings sitting on my work station so I started with those.
In this first attempt (sorry for the blurry photo - I took this with my cell phone camera), I started and ended with overhand knots before and after doing the half-hitches and...I wasn't crazy about the idea. Just didn't seem secure (and in fact, one of them fell apart even after I glued it!) So, I put on my thinking cap and tried to figure out a way around this. I thought if I created a loop of thread at the top (to hook the earing finding on) and then ended up at center bottom and did some kind of fringe/tail thing, it might work. You can see one of my early attempts here that was kinda sorta only okay. Things got better after that.
I used 4 ply dark chocolate cord, brass rings, size 8 teal seed beads and the accent beads are apple green dyed howlite rondelles and orange/white striped lampwork rondelles.
There are three half-hitch knots between each seed bead on the ring and I tied some seed beads on the tails as accents.
This version uses the same cord, but some frosted olive green druk glass beads and rose Chinese crystals. I also experimented with the number of half-hitches between beads - using 2 instead of 3 to put more beads around the edges and let the brass rings show a bit more.
Then, it occurred to me (see what I mean about "obsessed") that I could go the other way...start with a seed bead at center bottom and end up at the top with an accent bead and a cute fringed knot to hold the earring hook on. I used the same brass rings, 4 ply gold cord, pink gilt size 8 seed beads and some olive green resin disks. I only did one half-hitch between seed beads on this pair.
This might be my favorite pair out of all of them - gold cord again (I'm surprised how much I liked this color!) with royal blue size 8 seed beads and carved coral flowers. One half-hitch between beads.
Then again, these might be my favorites. I bought these wonderful ceramic stick dangles from our hostess, tied on salmon 4 ply cord with lark's head knots and then did two half-hitches around the brass ring using frosted yellow AB Japanese drop beads until I reached the top where I tied a knot with both ends, strung a frosted pink vintage German glass bead and a lime green seed bead for an additional pop of color and then tied off the ends, trimmed and frayed them.
And then I went out and bought more colors of cord and am looking for a wider selection of beads with larger holes to accommodate it.
It's a sickness.
Here's the list to the rest of the participants:
Lori Bowring Michaud