Experimentation

Bee beadwoven earrings in green and gold
Figure 1. Originally photographed in October 2015.

Today has shown me that experimentation may be the only way to figure out if a certain design will work, or not. I’ve been working again on a certain earring design that I refer to as “Bee” earrings, due to the charm I used as a dangle on the originals (which date back to 2015).

At this time, I’m uncertain that the charms are being produced anymore, so I’m using Fire-Polished drop beads and Fire-Polished rounds (Figure 2), instead of what appear to be lightweight brass/gold-plated stampings (Figure 1).

You’ll probably also notice that I’ve traded the jump-ring connections of the original for wrapped wire components or head pins. Particularly, the most recent two versions (only one of which is viable, see “5”) use head pins for the dangles, instead of weaving them in outright. I was having problems with kinking (see 2a, and “3”).

Updated trial versions of the Bee earrings
Figure 2. Originally noted on January 26, 2021 (in hard copy)

This pattern works out best with a base of either a smallish 5mm bead (on Figure 2, see “1,” “2” and 2a, and “4”), or a 4mm bead bordered by two 15/0 seed beads (see “3” and “5”, ibid.). Originally, I used a 3mm x 5mm rondelle bordered with tiny faux pearls (2mm — see Figure 1)…the thing is, manufacturers don’t necessarily produce beads in consistent sizes over several years. I had purchased more 3mm x 5mm rondelles to try and duplicate the pattern, to find that my new two-hole lentil beads were of different relevant dimensions than the ones I had used for the 2015 version.

Yeah. So I had to figure out how to work the pattern again — if I could work it again — using the newer beads. It looks like I’ve hit upon a solution. At least one, that is. And no, I didn’t expect it to take me this long. On the eighth of February 2021, I just decided to toy with the central bead length until I actually knew what would work best. Of course, that doesn’t help all too much when the different bead colors themselves are different sizes…

But who wants life uniform, right?

The thing is, the more I work on and experiment with the designs, the better the designs get. Then that makes me not want to use the earlier versions.

Or, perhaps, keep them for myself? Cut them apart to reuse them? Keep them as evidence of work? Gah.

I should note that the space between the piercings in the two-hole lentils is best filled with 3 size 11/0 beads if I’m using Miyuki, and 2 size 11/0 beads if I’m using Toho. Of course, they don’t have to be that large: but it makes things easier. I’ve had to use a fine needle to get through these, but I can’t tell if it’s a size 12 or 13, or 15, without reference.

What I’m also figuring out is that I need to have wire available to work with just to figure out models of jewelry, not necessarily to use for finished jewelry. And I have…like, none of that, in silvertone (though enough, in red brass and copper). This is mostly for the reason that silver-plated wire tends to blacken and ruin beads (the oxidation rubs off on their insides — a fairly horrible fate for transparent beads, though they can be cleaned), and I’m allergic to nickel silver.

Because of this whole allergy thing, I’ve been reluctant to use base-metal earwires, with the exception of pure copper, or niobium — both of which are free of nickel. (I’ll also wear surgical steel, but those earrings usually only come in gauged sizes: the smallest I’ve used were probably 18g.)

The thing is, to produce these in quantity, it’s best to actually make gold-filled earwires. Pre-fabricated, they aren’t cheap, and it’s easy enough to make them. It’s just so darn convenient…but not cost-effective, and definitely not as customizable, to buy them.

Unless, that is, it takes one forever to make them. I just happen to find it not-difficult. Some of the jewelers in my Metalsmithing class were jealous, though…I mean, seriously. I think someone told me they hated me. 😉 No. Really.

As a note, the earwires in the above photos were bought ready-made. I didn’t get the appropriate wire to work on fabrication, until today.

Man. I’ve been awake since 6 AM this morning. I believe I was writing in my journals between 6 and 9, when I ran out of things to write about. Sometime around 9:30 AM, I finished breakfast and got to work. I stopped work at around 2 PM for lunch. Before 3 PM, I began this entry. I’ve spent the time between 3 PM and 4:30 PM taking and optimizing pictures. At the time I began to write this, it was because I didn’t feel like taking pictures…but then I realized how incredibly lucky I was to have sunlight at all, and this resulted.

Right now, it’s about 5 PM. I’ve been having fairly consistent trouble with waking in the very early morning. Like, around 4:30 in the morning. I’m not entirely sure why, or if I should go to bed early again, tonight. But what qualifies as, “early,” these days? 10 PM? 9? 7?

I should probably plan for another early morning tomorrow, eh? I can take the time to work on some of those earwires…

And, it’s 5:30 PM. Time for dinner.

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). Currently, they are trying to figure out whether to place their energies more into language and language arts, or producing handcrafted jewelry and face coverings, for the interim...

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