Monday, July 6, 2009

Trial & Error

The Sunday before the July 4th weekend, we rode our bikes over the Manhattan Bridge into Dumbo, to see what was happening at the Brooklyn Flea. I am a thrifter, a flea, a swap meeter, a tagger, a rummage saler... what would be the proper term for someone like me?... Anyway, I like to spend weekends looking & collecting random old, unusual things at all of the above, where ever they may be.

This time, I got a rad vintage studded belt for 20 bucks that i rocked immediately. After my sister, Melissa, made a few more purchases, and we were headed for the exit, I spotted this old beaded costume applique. The vendor, who looked like she just cleaned out her house of all her own treasured antiques, noticed me eyeing her well organized merchandise. Along with the large beautifully hand strung patches were some extra hanks of the actual beads that were used in the applique. The lady, who obviously admired them, said they were 1920's Czechoslovakian beads. Wow, they were pretty awesome... Seed beads in a silver metal cut to sparkle...

So I bought the 5 hanks she had for another 20 bucks and the lady told me that I was the only person whom expressed interest in them all day! I always get excited when I discover old crafting supplies—yeah, the actual applique (wish I got a picture!) was stunning and amazing—but the idea of a craftsman anally stringing these tiny metal beads, hunched over their worktable, to a piece of fabric, creating an incredibly detailed, intricate labor of love (I hope), then finishing with a few bundles of beads leftover, only to wind up decades later in some other craftsman's hands, ready to create something different with them, just makes them more special—I felt like I scored!

Instantly, my mind started brewing up ideas!
When I get something new that I really like, I want to look at it... all the time. It's one of the reasons I like jewelry so much, I can wear it and admire it all day long, everyday.
So the obvious first project that I "thought" I could immediately whip up with the beads, was a simple bracelet. I wear many bracelets daily and thought it would blend nicely in the mix...

...and it does, but making it turned out to be not so simple!

Attempt #1
I knew I wanted it to be more than a single strand, so I strung it on a thin (.012"), 7 strand nylon coated stainless steel beading wire. I made it super long so that it wrapped around my wrist about 6 times. I had this really cute elephant clasp I have been dying to use for years and thought this could have been it, but...

no luck... the elephant clasp is too heavy and disproportionate to the beads...

Attempt #2
So I had to cut it, lose a wrap around, so I could redo the end crimp bead and add an ordinary clasp.
I wore it for a day and it drove me crazy, tangling with all my other bracelets. Back to the drawing boards.

Attempt #3
Maybe the wrap around is the wrong way, so instead I tried individual strands attached at each end with a crimp bead to the clasp ring and a jump ring. I got through 5 strands crimped to the jump ring and thought it looked awful!

Crimp beads, in this case, just looked sloppy and the strands just weren't laying right, so...snip, snip....

Attempt #4 (finally!)
I restrung the beads on a thicker (.019") beading wire (49 wires of flexible strength), made two 29" lengths and attached them to clasp and jump ring. The thicker wire is less likely to tangle with my other bracelets and has a lot more body and form—so instead of a super long wrap-around bracelet, doubling up with the two shorter strands gives the bracelet the look I wanted but not the annoying headache.
Here's a visual, a close up on the clasp so you understand what I am talking about...


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