Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dear Ms Bead-It-All: a quick gift emergency!

Dear Ms. Bead-It-All,

I have an unexpected holiday party to go to in an hour and I need to make something for the hostess! Yes, I know I need to confront my procrastination issue, but first I need a quick gift with lots of heart. I have a great collection of art beads, and some finished chains, but I have very little time or ideas. Can you help?

Thanks, Panic Filled Party Beader

Dear Ms. Party Beader,

First, breathe and relax. Ms. Bead-It-All certainly knows how stressful the holidays are, but beads are not the thing that should push you over the edge! Anyway, you have the beads and the chain, you are halfway there. Here are a few easy peasy ideas for using various styles of art beads with commercially finished chains. All of these examples have been made using the same 18" gunmetal chain available at Rings & Things, mixed with art beads and basic findings and beads we had hanging around our bead studios:

Above: Heather from Humblebeads came up with this example with one of her polymer lentil beads, a couple of silver Bali style spacers and a bit of coppery wire (or you can use an eye pin). Simply cut the chain in half in the center, string the beads on the wire, loop both ends, and assemble onto the chain. And that quickly, its done!

Above: Here is another use of an eye pin and art bead solution, this time with a vertical direction. This bead is one of Cindy Gimbrone's Small Spiral beads, mixed with a tiny pewter star charm and bail, some spacers, and a red crystal bead. I was so inspired by Cindy's Spiral Tree Ornament this week, I thought a tiny wearable one would be a great holiday hostess gift.

Above: Another variation on the linked eye pin idea, is this one using lime bead drops and links from Tari at Creative Impressions in Clay. The pewter bird is by Mamacita Beadworks, upon which I used a piece of black copper wire to form a loop on top and bottom. The loops on the lime pieces opened, so I was able to just link everything together, attach to a chunky fancy bail, and the pendant was done! Since this piece felt a little bit heavy, I linked two chains together for more volume for the necklace to balance it.

Above: This example is even wire work... you just need jump rings! I just cut the chain in the center and linked each side to an Earthenwood Studio Message Stick Link. Then I used another bit of chain to link down and across from the bottom of the link, stringing on a little sparkly CZ drop to slide back and forth playfully. I used a whole chain for the necklace part, and cut up a piece of an extra chain for the drop, but you might be able to do this with one chain if you desire a shorter necklace.

Above: So maybe wire and jump rings are not your thing. In this example, I used a scrap of beading wire to string a beaded segment of stoneware shapes by Elaine Ray and a pendant made from a pewter bezel by Green Girl Studios set with a face stone by Earthenwood Studio. Again, I cut the chain in half but this time I used the beading wire and crimps to link the beads and the chain together. For a really finished look, I used a crimping tool on the crimp tubes and covered them with crimp covers, so they look just like beads!

Above: Finally, I wanted a necklace with a little more texture in it, so I took this unusual shaped bird pendant by Virginia Miska and used some faux suede cord and cord crimps to form the center piece. I tied a simple larks head knot onto the pendant (which could easily be done with any large holed, front drilled pendant, like a donut) , then strung pewter leaf charms onto the cord, knotted, and attached the cord crimps. I cut the chain in half, attached with jump rings, and added a mother of pear leaf drop to each side for a little extra shimmer.

I hope these ideas helped you through your holiday gift crisis! I think all of these options are quick, simple, and versatile, but nobody will know that your elegant, hand crafted necklace took just minutes to whip together. Now put that necklace in a gift box, tie on a ribbon, and put on your party shoes!

Ms. Bead-It-All and the rest of the Art Bead Scene Crew wish you a safe and happy holiday!

Ms. Bead-It-All is the sassy alter ego of Melanie Brooks Lukacs, who is the ceramic beadmaker of Earthenwood Studio, who blogs from her Metro Detroit, Michigan home.

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