Thursday, February 07, 2013

Bead That As It May...

I love long necklaces.  Think loop-twice-over-your-head long.  Reaching below the belt long.  Right now they're very fashionable, and they're SUPER easy to make.  My most worn are the super-long ropes of 'pearls' that I made a few years ago and have added to over time.  They are as versatile as you can get.  I wear them with sweater sets.  With the cream wide-leg trouser and bright colored blouse.  I can wrap them multiple times and wear them as a choker or as a bracelet.  You can leave them long, wear only one or as many as you feel like, or just wear a single one tied in a loose knot about halfway down your chest.  (always liked that look) One string I even made so it can be worn as a belt.  Wear them alone or pair them with simple long gold chains for that classic Chanel look that we're all familiar with and mostly can't afford!

The ropes are smallish pearls, and one that has large, over-sided pearls about the size of a quarter, with a silver clasp that is a great statement piece all on its own.  I got creative and made some stretch bracelets to go with them, along with a cute pair of dangle earrings.  If you haven't considered doing this yourself, I plan on talking you into it here.  Now.

I have three ropes.  I purchased everything with which to make them at Hobby Lobby, though you'll be able to find everything at pretty much any hobby store (i.e. Michael's or Joanne's) in the Jewelry aisles.

Start with a tub of 'pearls'.  You'll find these in the jewelry section of your local hobby store.  They look something like this and cost about $9 for the entire tub.  Believe me: you'll get your use out of these!  This particular tub pictured is the exact tub that I purchased myself and has a nice selection of varying sizes and colors of the typical pearl-colored pearls that will make a nice mix when strung.

In that same section of the store, you'll find the stringing cord.  I like the one pictured at center in this particular shot, the 'Slick Cord', as it's easy to string, is very durable, and makes a nice tight knot when you're done.

If you want to do something a little fancier, there are tons of beads available that you can mix in to the pearl string for some additional visual appeal.  I like this particular strand to be pearls only as I use them for a specific look.  But this is the fun part of doing this yourself: you'll get exactly the look you want without having to shop around.

The only remaining tool you need is a pair of sharp scissors, and you're ready to go!
  • Cut off a nice long length of cord.  You can always add to or make shorter as you go, but make sure it's good and long to start with.  
  • Tie a knot at one end and start stringing those beads!
  • When it gets the length you'd like, tie both loose ends in a nice, tight knot.  Make sure that you've double or triple knotted this and pulled on it good to make sure it's nice and tight.  You don't want that whole pathetic-movie-scene where you're about to have a romantic moment and the string breaks and your almost-beloved breaks his neck on the ensuing mess!  Once the knot is secure, trim the ends nice a short.
Gay Boyer Pearl  Coil Bracelet
For the bracelets, do the same thing.  But for these you'll use a cord very similar to the one you purchased for the necklace, but with some elasticity to it.  Find one that is thick enough to hold up to the repeated stretching of regular use, but thin enough to fit through the drilled hole in each bead.  I have about 8 of these that I've made to wear altogether, or one (or just a few) at a time (pictured left).

If you're feeling particularly daring, there are a number of really good tutorials on the web for making simple earrings.  A really good one that I've found is at that gives you a great step-by-step tutorial on the basics of jewelry making.  Earrings are a good place to start as they're quite simple and don't require a lot of experience or training to perfect.  The tools you'll learn in making earrings will apply to pretty much any item of jewelry you decide to make in the future and are a fun way to practice.  The earrings I made to go with my long necklaces and bracelets look exactly like the ones pictured below.
Once you get the hang of this, it's very easy to make something like this necklace below, a gorgeous cluster of pearls -- or beads of any kind that happen to strike your fancy! -- that will garner you compliments every time you wear it, and save you about $20!  I've seen similar at places like Kohl's for $32!

Honestly though, if I can do this, anyone can.  Take an afternoon when you're going to be sitting on the couch anyway catching up on your Real Housewives of (Any City) episodes or that cooking show you Tivo but never get the time to watch, and string some beads.  This way you'll have exactly what you want to go with that new outfit, in exactly the colors you weren't able to find at the department store, and you'll have an entire set: necklace, bracelets, and earrings, to match!  And you'll do it at a fraction of the cost.

If you decide to try this, I'd love to see what you make!  Upload a picture to our Facebook page and share your creativity with the world!