My date for this event was Jenni C of Jenni's Beads, and she sent me the most amazing collection of beads all the way from Australia. I know many readers and Flickr viewers were envious. I surely would have been if they had gone to someone else. (Hop over to her blog and leave a comment begging her to sell her glass beads. She doesn't now, so the only way to get them is how I did -- from the goodness of her very big heart!)
I will admit up front that I kept those glowing pinky-purple glass beads and the chunky mookaite in the back for myself. They are not part of my Bead Soup set, which I've already donated to a charity auction for this group. Nearly all the other beads that Jenni provided went into the two pieces that follow, however -- (1) a long, long funky necklace with lots of moving parts that can be worn at various lengths or even doubled, and (2) a chunky bracelet, also with motion, composed of many of the same beads but a regular pattern. To Jenni's fabulous selection, I added only a few lampwork rondelles from Beadabundant and Firelily on Etsy, some tiny faceted tundra sapphires that I wired into some of the links, and dull plum and cranberry freshwater pearls, since I've hardly made any jewelry in the past 10 years that didn't have a pearl somewhere or other.
I loved what Jenni sent me because they were the sort of muted palette that I'm most comfortable with, plus some of my favorite stones (citrine and smoky quartz), PLUS that focal was just killer. I'm not one of those enviable people who sees a great bead and knows exactly what they're going to do with it; never have been. I tend to play around and see what happens. But as soon as I held that focal tab -- a perfect mix of colorful foreground and crackled background, of modern and old-looking -- I knew that I wanted it to slide on some chain. It needed to be something you could play with as you were wearing the piece. I took four pieces of one of my favorite chains -- which is very fine and loves to tangle, so you have to use multiple strands for presence but only short lengths -- and placed them through the focal and then added one free-swinging freshwater pearl to each chain. Both the pearls and the focal move up and down the chain, and the focal can get stopped mid-slide when it "runs over" a pearl. You can see this best in the second photo below, but I'd need a video to really show you.
I made an unusual clasping system by wire wrapping a longish thin but strong piece of chain to the handmade clasp and feeding the chain through a ring to act as a sort of pulley, so that the hook could be doubled back and attached to any of a number of large rings to vary the length of the piece. The necklace could even be worn as a single strand at several very long lengths or doubled at several more different lengths using this system (and not change lengths itself), which becomes obvious when you play with it but is hard to explain.
I had a devil of a time getting a decent picture of the necklace, but here are some individual shots and then a collage-style collection, showing some details and the piece clasped at various lengths.
|Some of the variety of beads used in the piece.|
|Handmade clasp and two of the several possible closure points (rings).|
|Sliding focal "caught" on sliding pearl.|
|Tundra sapphires wired into chain links.|
|The large bronze pearls are static, the smaller purplish pearls move.|
|Some of the various lengths that are possible.|
It's a fun and funky piece with lots of movement and doodads to fiddle with (a few other pieces beside Jenni's beautiful spotty focal tab slide along a short length of chain), but I think the focal lost its "focality" (?) because of all the other stuff going on. That's a drawback and something I'd do differently if I were starting over.
Here's the bracelet, which features the fantastic sterling box clasp Jenni sent and which is considerably more straightforward.
I had to provide values and minimum opening bids for both pieces for the charity auction. I valued the necklace at $240 with a minimum bid of $50, and the bracelet at $80 with a minimum bid of $20. Given the value of the semiprecious stones, pearls, wire, and chain, the work that Jenni put into the glass beads, and the work I put into construction, I figure even if they auction off at full retail value, the buyers are getting a pretty good deal and can feel like it's money well spent.
Meeting Jenni and participating in the Bead Soup Blog Party was my absolute pleasure. Thanks again, Lori Anderson, for all you do for the beading community. And thanks, Jenni, for a soup that will be very hard to follow!