Saturday, April 2, 2011

From One Thing to Another

In February I wrote about frantically making a last-minute necklace-bracelet-earrings set for my about-to-be sister-in-law here. (That was a whole lotta hyphenates in one sentence, wasn't it?) At the time, the set was considered a loan and I promised to put photos here when I got the pieces back, since they came out rather nicely, especially considering how little time I had to do them. The bride decided, however, that she couldn't stand the thought of my selling and then someone else's wearing her wedding jewelry (understandable), so my brother (her new husband) came and cut out (and cut up) a broken limb from high up in my maple tree and trimmed my cedar tree, which I considered a fair trade for the pieces. Bartering at its best.

Surprisingly, he remembered to bring all three pieces so I could photograph them, though I decided that only the pix of the bracelet were worth sharing, especially since it went on to inspire several more pieces, as I'll show you in a second.

Rows of three small button freshwater pears were threaded onto
two strands of fine oxidized sterling chain. I used a vintage MOP
button for the clasp and dangled two pearls from the chain ends
as a pretty little "special event" detail.
The other side of the clasp was a length of the doubled chain I left
"unpearled." I thought of this as I was doing it. It was a first for me.
After filing the inside of the button hasp a bit, I fed the chain ends
through it and affixed "holder" pearls to the chain as for the
rest of the bracelet. Another first that just happened to work great.

So that was the bracelet. Simple, pretty, modern with a vintage touch. I think it was my favorite of the three pieces and my sister-in-law's too. I considered making more to sell, but with very few exceptions I'm a one-off jewelry maker, plus I don't have anything like a bridal collection and I'm not really interested in starting one. I prefer to get orders 5 days before the wedding rather than keep appropriate stock, I guess. Who doesn't?

But keeping the bracelet in mind, I looked around my wreck of a jewelry table and saw a few things that made me think they might work for an adaptation of this piece to less formal wear: suede laces. (I know they're called thongs, but when I think "suede thongs," mega-wedgies come to mind, so let's go with "laces.") So I swapped suede laces for silver chain and larger, round, colored pearls for the small, button-shaped, white ones, and I alternated the number of pearls in a row, but I kept the same basic structure of the overall piece and of the clasp. And here's what I ended up with.


The tedious part was measuring and poking the holes for the wire. The learning part involved how far to space the holes (in fact, they might be a bit too far in the gold one shown above by itself; it's a little floppy). The surprising part was that I was able to find a vintage MOP or shell button in my fairly limited collection to match each bracelet. The fun part, as always for me, was watching the materials become a piece of jewelry that I had not been able to fully envision when I started. (While I'm pretty good at getting ideas, largely material driven, I have limited ability to picture how a piece based on those notions might look when it's done.) It's practically unheard of for me that I make five of virtually the same thing in a row, but this was a concept I was enjoying and I kept at it until I got it largely out of my system. It felt good to get an idea and go with it. And go. And go.

I will admit now that another thing that kept me from my jewelry table in March (besides my sciatica and the blues) was overload from the Bead Soup Blog Party. Looking at the designs of so many bead and jewelry artists -- not something I typically do, particularly in such glutinous fashion -- somehow took me away from my own work. While I enjoyed it while I was blog hopping, my head became clogged with the things other people were doing, and when I sat down and picked up my pliers, I had no ideas that weren't something I'd seen on someone else's blog. The party was too much inspiration for me, it seems. I needed some time to clear that out, and repeatedly adapting the bridal bracelet has helped considerably with that.

So, tell me, please: was I the only one who got a hangover from the Bead Soup Party, fun as it was, and ended up a bit blocked?