There is no substitution for practice…

…though at the moment, I’m not practicing. Not beading, at least. Writing, that’s another story.

I still have to work on an Xmas present for someone, though this person wouldn’t mind it being late. I think one of my greatest issues…at this point, at least, is that I’m more skilled with color combinations, than I necessarily am with how to assemble those combinations. I took some photos of what I’ve gotten together, but unfortunately, they’re really bad photos.

Of course, though, I can relate that to the fact that it’s dark and raining, and I was using overhead lighting. The beads are all in plastic bags or tubes or vials, causing glare; the background is the (ugly but functional) table and carpet. Anyhow, the photo doesn’t reflect on the things I’d laid out. My brain can pick out and focus in on the raw elements. The camera, not necessarily; which may be a reason why good photography is an art form.

In any case, I’m working with a palette of greens and various shades of, “Topaz,” the latter of which is basically a trade name for a brownish-gold (though it moves into yellow-gold in the lighter tints). I’ve also added a splash of purple for contrast, which allowed me to bridge out of the blue-greens and into greenish-yellows. It’s an intentionally broad set of colors; the difficulty now is narrowing in on the set I’ll use. For that, I’ll need to consider technique, form, and structure.

Well. The potential structure of this piece relates very much to the technique used…though it will, of necessity, have a structure, it’s difficult to suss out what it will be, before making it. So let’s not concentrate on that, right now.

There are three techniques I’ve been considering: beaded micro-macrame, bead embroidery, and beadweaving. Nothing says I can’t combine any two of these (or all three), but it took a while for me to realize that I could bead embroider the piece; and until a day or so ago, I hadn’t even considered weaving it. The last option came about when I realized I was considering looming this to use all the colors, and realized I could also just make it in square stitch (which gives a look similar to looming, but without needing to weave in all the warp threads, or necessarily have all the beads the exact same size. However, each bead needs to be sewn in individually, as versus being laid in as one of a row).

The form is pretty straightforward: as a circlet, it will need to be able to rest on the head without sliding down. I haven’t done too many concept sketches (which I should do), though it’s fairly evident to me that there are many ways to make a circlet — or, in the case of one of my designs, it (unintentionally) looks like Maleficent’s headgear had a child with Magneto’s helmet.

Yeah, well. I’m uncertain how that one will work, because it quite literally needs to be sculpted, and have underlying shaping that will depend on wire and sewing. It’s probably a bit of an overextension for me, as regards my skill level right now — plus, it will be very difficult to clean. Not to mention that I’m not sure I have enough interfacing or backing, to complete it. Because of the design, it should be adjustable, but still: that also means it can fall down. Probably not the greatest design for a non-costume piece.

If I were willing to tweak my color scheme, I can see a fairly cool use of the Light Topaz beads I got back when I was 17 or whatever (if I can find them), which I have to use in stringing because of their unpredictable proportions. The issue with using these, in stringing combined with beadweaving, is that they may grab onto hair. There are just a lot of little places where hair can get caught between beads, or between a bead and a thread, and any kind of motion would seem to magnify the effect. For some reason, maybe the lack of motion and the fact that the beads are larger, I’m seeing this as less of a threat with macrame.

Beaded micro-macrame is what I initially assumed I’d do, because I have the beads to do it, at this time. I actually intentionally bought them so that I could remake a successful design I visioned up some time ago. It just seems a little…uncreative (?) to depend on that pattern, and in reality, I don’t even know how long I’ll need to make the cords to complete one side of the thing. I had envisioned using a soldered gold ring at the front of the piece to anchor the cords, and then have dangles falling from it. The thing is, these rings can be very expensive — and the ones I’ve found are too large.

I’ve found some that are not expensive per-piece (about 25x less expensive than the ones I mention above), but I have to buy them in lots of 100, and I’m not sure if they’ll tarnish. About the same price: get 100 instead of 4. I’ve found less expensive ones from a quality metal supplier, but they’re bronze and thus will, without question, tarnish. I’ve read that clear nail polish is superior to lacquer to seal these, in some instances…though, do I really want to go there? Nail polish eventually yellows, at a minimum…and apparently, varnish can flake.

If I had the equipment to mass-finish soldered jump rings, this might not be as big an issue (although I’d still be working with brass, which is not ideal next to skin). A jewelry tumbler would not be a welcome addition to the household, because of the noise. As well: I don’t, at this point, know how to safely solder gold-filled wire (if that’s even a possibility), or if the ring has to be plated after soldering. I don’t want to use plating solution either (for pretty much anything other than copper-plate), so…I’m pretty much stuck with ready-made rings.

The “out” that I can see, is in utilizing the ring of a gold-plated or gold-filled toggle clasp for the front of the circlet. I have these. They’re a bit small, but the diameter needed really mostly depends on the width and number of cords used. It’s also questionable, how much of it will actually be seen. If I use the pattern I’ve built beforehand (as versus attempting to do something else), I can get away with using this, or something like it.

The benefit is that I can get these in smaller numbers than packs of 100. The drawback is that some of the materials which the outlet which sells these, stocks, are not worth buying. It would be to my benefit to make sure that I’m not getting one particular brand that has recently burned me (with tarnished “rose gold” jump rings, which were darker than the copper I bought with them). Said brand, I’ve seen before in “craft stores” and fabric stores…they aren’t quality. If my memory is correct, I’ve bought sterling from them, that tarnished.

Hmm. I’m seeing a possibility, here. I can at least try it this way…then I can try something different, if it doesn’t work out. The good thing is that skulls don’t really change sizes, so I can build this to fit. Do I want to use my standard closure, though?

Hmm. I might have to…I can adjust the length by altering the number of beads in the clasp complex…

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, for the interim...

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