Jewelry making

I admit to being spoiled when it comes to jewelry. My Aunt Regina was a goldsmith; her friend was a precious stone setter. Yes, stone setting is a separate profession requiring specialized training in Germany.  I often enjoyed receiving exquisite handmade jewelry as gifts.

Until recently, I have not felt compelled to try my hand at jewelry making. In metals and precious stones, I just could never compete with a trained professional. I had looked at some of the amateur jewelry, but frankly the design principles looked a jumbled mystery to me. But, in the course of looking for weaving books, I found books on bead weaving. Horace R. Goodhue’s small 80-page volume on indian bead-weaving patterns, and Legendary Beads in Santa Rosa, opened my eyes to new possibilities.

Indian bead weaving has always fascinated me in museums. It is very structured. I love patterns (which is why I studied nuclear physics). It connects me to the local history of the places I have adapted as my new home. The materials are cheap and don’t require a whole lot of storage space. So, I got a dozen magnetic clasps, half a dozen needles, three different color threads, and a dozen vials with size 11 japanese seed beads in colors reflecting natural greens, browns and blues. Then I set to work.

My first necklace was a spider-weave pattern choker.

Next, I learned how to make Apache leaves:

For mother’s day, I made a variation of the spider weave choker for my stepmom. Black seed beads and silver highlight beads. Instead of the drop-shaped pattern, I used sweet-water pearls. It was quite fun to make while listening to audiobooks, and only take a few hours.

Next, I made a flat 1/2 inch size strip (one armband, one necklace) with a wave pattern in blue shades zig-zagging on a sandy background. Making it felt like lifting a petroglyph or pictograph off a rock and pouring it into colors.

Next , I have  started a 7-bead Peyote tube in green and white. The beads shape a 1/4 inch tube with two  white and two green spirals. Depending on the color pattern and the bead count chosen, one can create different number and thickness spirals encircling each other. Using several bead sizes creates a relief for the spirals.

While on a conference in San Diego, I found a book on making larger beads out of small beads, which opens a whole new world. I love it. Who would have thought there is so much fun to be had with such a simple material! It is such an enjoyable combination of color, texture, sowing, weaving, patterns, structure and shapes.

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