Thursday, October 6, 2011

Semi Precious = Fully Awesome

Lately I've been really into combining semi precious stones like turquoise, agate, and amethyst with various chainmaille weaves. I love the juxtaposition of the natural stones with the more industrial look of the wire weaves. It's a good way to feminize a more masculine chain pattern and the silver wire really shines next to the stones. One of my first experiments was with black banded agate. I found a strand of them in stick form and was very intrigued. The color and shape of were quite beautiful and exotic. I snatched up a strand not sure what I would do with them, but confident that I would figure something out.

I knew I wanted all the beads strung together and hanging in the center of the necklace as the focal point. I would attach a chain on either side to complete the necklace. I began by stringing them onto sturdy bead string. I prefer nylon filament. Attaching a strand of beads to a chain can be kind of tricky. I wanted to hide the actual connection because I hate hate hate it when you can see crimper beads on a piece. It just looks unfinished and unprofessional. My solution to this was bead cones. Little silver cone shaped beads. What I did was attach a wire eye pin (make them yourselves with a pair of round nose pliers and some extra wire. Save your money people!) to the strand of beads using a crimper bead. Then I slid the bead cone over the other end of the eye pin, trimmed the wire, and made a loop with round nose pliers. That way the loops of the chain can easily connect to the loop over the bead cone.

Now that the bead strand was completed, it was time to fabricate the chains. I decided a wider weave would be necessary to balance out the size of the beads. One of my favorites is a weave called dragon scale and it can be made as wide as you like so it was perfect for this piece. Instead of my usual silver, I went with the gold wire for this one. It was more elegant and combined with these exotic looking stones it looked fantastic. I created two tiered chains and connected them to either side of the bead strand. A toggle clasp finished it off. I really love this necklace and I currently making another one with tigereye and silver wire.

Here are some of the other necklaces I've made using similar techniques and semi precious stones.

Amethyst chips with Full Persian Chain

Turquoise stones with Byzantine Chain