A while back, I wrote about these gorgeous CZ drops and a necklace I made using four of them.  Well, I started out with six CZ teardrops and had two left – one red and the other amber.  I didn’t want to use them together again since I had already done that.  I also thought one of them might look a little sad alone, so I looked for a companion and found this little black glass piece with a red splash.  He said he wanted to play so I said OK.

I love the pairing and I call the piece dash dot.  I realize that technically it’s maybe more of an exclamation point and dot, but at this point the dash dot name has stuck.

I used black beads with white spots and black glass for the main body of the necklace and for some reason, brown crystals seemed right for the front.  A few tiny shell squares and two silver crescent roll beads complete the design.

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I love the simple sweetness of this bracelet.  There are three red white heart Venetian trail beads at the center.  “White heart” beads are ones where a color – red in this case – is layered over a white core (heart).  In the days when these beads were made, colored glass was harder to make and more expensive so this was a technique used to keep the beads more affordable.  I find the white heart also gives the beads a touch of luminosity.  I kept the design simple – jet crystal, black glass, aquamarine teardrops and darkened sterling silver chain.

Sometimes when I make very simple jewelry, I question whether I’ve done enough.  At times, I will ask my boyfriend what he thinks.  He always says the same thing – more notes don’t make a better song.  And he’s right – there can be just as much artistry in a simple, clean design as in one with a lot of complexity.

Gray is a favorite color of mine.  I love it whether it’s soft gray sweaters, furry gray kittens, or beautiful gray beads.  Gray is a sophisticated neutral that makes a statement in a quiet way.  The idea for this necklace came when I saw the gray agate tubes sitting next to the gray fresh water pearls.  It was one of those happy accidents that occur from time to time.  I loved the light and dark gray pearls with the agate tubes and made all the dangle segments, not really sure at the time where I would head with the necklace.  All of the links were made with sterling silver wire that I darkened to a matte finish that I think shows the beads off better than shiny silver would.

When I went to bring the necklace together, I remembered I had these matte finish hematite beads and felt they were just perfect.  They brought another aspect of gray into the design and look wonderful with shiny dark gray pearls interspersed in short intervals.  Given that the necklace was made using a single color – shades of that color, shape, texture, and finish had to bring the visual interest and artistry that I seek to create in each piece of jewelry.

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This is a photo of my work table yesterday.  I was having one of those days when ideas were just flowing – multiple ideas for multiple pieces of jewelry, all in a rush and tumble, almost all at once.  Some are captured as sketches, others have enough beads pulled together to give me the main idea of the piece.  Do I have way too much going on?  Probably.  Should I reign it in and work on one piece at a time?  Yes.  And I will.

But when the ideas are flowing like this I let them flow, even if it means temporary chaos.  I do what I can to capture each idea and then begin to focus on the actual development of each piece, evaluating each idea for soundness as I go along.  I’m excited, I did get some soldering done yesterday.  I need to get on my jeweler’s bench and get some sawing, drilling, and filing done today.  I can’t wait to see the ideas become reality.

I’m still working hard on setting things – gemstone, glass, shell, rocks, you name it.  And, I’m branching out with the settings.  This necklace is one of my newer designs and I just loved putting it together.  I started with the white glass cabochon and wanted to accent the designs in it – they brought to mind twigs and leaves.  So, I cut tiny twigs and leaves out of silver, soldered then onto a silver base, and then soldered on the bezel ring that is holding the glass.  I further embellished the setting with a leaf stamp and random markings also meant to repeat the design reflecting twigs and leaves.

I tend to make beaded necklaces for most of my pendants but this one wanted just a few beads and mostly chain.  I used three dark fresh water pearls on one side and a faceted rhodonite bead and dark ruby crystal on the other and completed the necklace with darkened silver chain.  I even darkened the clasp and added one pearl and one crystal right at the clasp.  Learning to do more with metal has been a gratifying journey for me and I have so much yet to learn.  I care so much about each piece I make and am very involved with each while I am making it – carefully considering each element and its placement, editing and refining as needed.

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My inspiration for making this bracelet was the gorgeous cobalt and white handmade glass center bead.  Cobalt blue is a strong color and very often when I use strong colors, I use them with other strong colors capable of holding their own in the situation.  This time, I choose a little differently.  I did select one other vividly colored bead – the little blue/green/white African Trade millefiori bead and then began softening the colors a bit by adding turquoise.

As you move further towards the back of the bracelet, the colors soften even more – creamy coral beads, a bit of shell, a striped bead in soft turquoise, red and green, two labradorite beads.  Tiny bits of black and a single crystal add punctuation.

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I had never worked with Cubic Zirconia Beads or components prior to making this piece.  I knew CZ was a less expensive alternative to diamonds and was often seen in settings similar to those you would find for diamonds and precious stones but did not really consider them as something I would use in my jewelry.  So when Artbeads.com asked if I would try designing something with them, I was excited by the challenge.  I quickly realized that CZ beads come in a number of shapes and colors and as soon as I saw these long teardrops, I knew this was what I wanted to use.

They are absolutely gorgeous, sparkly with rich colors and facets that play with the light.  I laid them on a blank piece of paper, took my pencil in hand and started sketching.  I came up with the idea to create squiggles out of wire to separate the CZ teardrops.  After considering silver and copper, I decided on brass and I knew I wanted to darken it to accentuate the golden and red tones of the CZ’s.  I also added crystals in warm colors with the exception of the tiny olive crystals that cool down the heat of so many warm, fiery colors.  Black spacer beads and two lengths of handmade brass chain complete the design.

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