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Friday, November 4, 2011

Why Did My Necklace Break?

To understand what actually happened, you also must understand how necklaces are made and what extended wear will do to them.

It probably is not a stretch to say that if you're talking about chains, the thinner the chain - the easier it breaks. That should be a given law of wearing jewelry, and I bet you understand that very easily.

An entirely different thing alltogether is a pearl necklace or a beaded piece of jewelry. They look so strong, so enormously sturdy, made for generations to wear, right?

Let me explain.

When we string beads, we always try to make it as durable as possible. So many factors are contributing to their premature breakage though.

Consider this: every time a pearl (or bead) necklace is strung, we are using the thickest cord possible that will fit through the bead. That said, you can look at your beads and figure out how much weight such a relatively thin string can bear.
For good reason: Centuries ago, pearls were traded by weight (actually "grains"). So it's pretty much a given that the holes are drilled relatively small to conserve weight and therefore achieve a higher price.

You can see where this is going, right?

The smaller the hole, the thinner the string. Plus, you don't really want a very heavy cord running through them. as you are having knots in between the pearls, it just doesn't look as nice to have a big blob of cord between each pearl.

The same is true with South Seas or Tahitian pearls. Big, heavy pearls with thin, weak string = disaster!

Not so fast...

It actually takes quite a bit of abuse to break a pearl cord. Typically, when you use silk (or Nylon), these will stand up quite well to chemicals such as make-up, perfume & Co.

Now it's a different ball game when you have stone or metal beads. Often they have rough edges on their holes and that will abrade your bead cord. Add to that a hefty weight plus constant movement on your body, and you can imagine that "forever" is just not in the vocabulary of your beaded necklace.

So it pays to be vigilant: observe your pearls/beads. If they look frail, have them restrung. If they have stretched, have them restrung. If the cord/silk is soiled, have them restrung.

Keeping an eye on your favorite adornments makes it worthwhile to enjoy them for years to come.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coming Soon: Fine Jewelry With Beads - the Lessons

After so many years of teaching, repairing, manufacturing, selling and buying pearl jewelry, I feel that there is a lot of knowledge that I'd like to share.

As I'm not getting younger, I would like to make sure that there is some type of record about all the secrets in fine pearl jewelry repair, and hopefully you can pick up advice or inspiration from it.

The lessons wil start right at the beginner level and work up all the way to what you need to know to be a successful pearl stringer.

Sounds funny, doesn't it? After all, there is not much to stuffing strings into little holes.

And you're right: it's as easy as pie. However. The difference between making craft jewelry and fine jewelry is huge. Not in cost of material, although that is the common definition, but rather by the attitude with which you string and finish a "fine" pearl necklace.

It takes more effort to do it right, but the result is overwhelmingly different.

So, if you do not intend to put all your pride into these projects, don't bother reading my blogs that contain the instructions. These are for pearl stringing superstars only!

Looking forward to meet you here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Mercy for America's Most Unwanted

Beads and components, that is.
Since the beginning of the Neverending Necklace in July 1998, people from everywhere have donated beads for this project. And very often, these beads sat in drawers all but forgotten.

Until a gentle soul remembered their lingering fate and had the good idea to give them new life within this novel project. You can see the names of those who have contributed here >>

Not that all donated beads were surplus: many gifted bead makers and bead dealers have donated brand new and fantastic beads because they cared enough to participate.

Take for example Inez Ancell, who painstakingly makes beaded beads using tiny beads and gigantic skill. Inez had donated beads very early on, and her beads have a very special place on the necklace. See some of them here >>

Of course there are others who donated: the late Shannon Hill, Jeri Ann and Roger Golba, Laurie Smith, Jeff Ursillo, Donna Jostiak, Jack Stamper, Cynthia Tanney, Melinda Schwartz, Terre Beasley, Wolfgang Eccarius, Audrey Quetier, Rick Baldwin, Suzie Moncada, Barbara Barry, Maria Richmond, Sara Harary, Carol Robertson, Courtney Tavares, Chris Noel, Dru Ackerman, Harriett Flashenburg and many other kind individuals.

And all those beads that are yet unstrung are already part of a design for their new section.
Without these donations, it would be very difficult to keep building on this project and it certainly would not be nearly as spectacular.

What makes it even better is the recycling aspect: great care is being taken to give all beads a meaningful new life on the Neverending Necklace.

Next in line is a section named "Grandma's Box" - which is literally what these components came from. See the picture below.

"Grandma's Box" donated by Donna Jostiak

This box is a conglomerate of parts, buttons, beads and components that came from the estate of Donna's "Grandmother-In-Law".

I always try to keep lots together, but sometimes I will break them up, depending on the design.

Hold onto your seat, because this collection is eclectic, to say the least, and I have plans to make their section as stunning as possible.

I promise it'll be very nice!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Before you accuse me of being a celebrity stalker...

...judge by seeing for yourself how "Tribute to Johnny Depp" got created.

"Tribute to Johnny Depp"

You may wonder how I'm coming up with ideas for various panels. Actually, I'm coming not up with anything - THEY are. That's right: the panels pretty much design themselves.

All it takes is a bag o' beads and **pop** the lightbulb goes on in my head via remote switch from the holey little balls.

Take for example the Johnny Depp panel.

I had the gray Faux Pearls for several years, and they just sat there, waiting to be recognized for their beauty and meaning. Of course I could have made a panel incorporating these pearls, but it would just not have made the cut in the creativity department.

So when "Pirates of the Caribbean" was at its popular pinnacle, the connection between black pearls and the movies were more of a superconductor reaction than a trailer hitch hook-up.

Throw in a frequent color theme from the series, and you can easily see how gray-on-gray with some turquoise-blue and weathered wood could be just what this theme was screaming for. Consider it the best match in order to capture the overall impression of the flick.

But what would be a movie without a star? Off I went to the toy store, and the best available choice was this newer version of Capt. Jack Sparrow, complete with a "magic" black light ring that would show his skeleton when activated. Awesome!

And as in many good movies, you should throw in a little romance: in the upper left quarter is a black pearlized heart that is there for the discerning viewer for a little humor and good measure.

Curious how a panel is made? See it here >>

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Are You an Overachiever?

Congratulations - that's admirable! You're probably very disciplined in what you do and you work hard, either by choice or by default. We respect you.

If you're not a part of this elite group: you don't need to be.

In fact, the majority of humans that have ever trotted the earth are regular, run-of-the-mill guys, just like you and I. And that is by mathemathical law, as the Gauss' Bell Curve demonstrates.

So forgive yourself already for all the things you haven't accomplished - it wasn't meant to be (in a good way). Can you imagine if every single person would be a type A genius striving to win a Nobel Prize or become the next Head of a Country or perhaps a Megastar?

It wouldn't be possible, because a society of superhumans would lack their support base, seriously. They would be nothing without us self-proclaimed poor saps to join forces in order to lay the foundation for their success.

Just as you can easily observe in nature:
what would a beach be without every single grain of sand?

Or in society:
what would a democratic government be without the individuals who cast their votes?

What would life be without each atom that forms the necessary molecules?

Does the atom ask for recognition of its position? Not really (unless you're a Chemist...)

YOU, dear and cherished reader, have built yourself a life that does not feed on constant worship, recognition and adoration. You are as important as any matter that ever existed, and you are indelibly ingrained in the communal history of mankind.

But that does not mean that you shouldn't strive to be your best. Life should be a continuous desire for learning, improving, honing, re-inventing, adjusting.

Without being terribly famous, you should - nay: YOU MUST fulfill this personal obligation to yourself to become the very best that you were meant to be.

Of course you can't be good in all aspects - nobody can. Pick one or two areas that you feel passionate enough to pursue until you're bursting with pride. Whether that is your job, a hobby, a sport, parenting or helping others.

It doesn't matter. Condition yourself to bring out peak performance.

One or two areas of your life.

If you are a janitor, make sure you deliver the cleanest premises for your client. If you are a nurse, rethink the relationship with your patients and their needs. If you are a painter, take pride in attaining the neatest, most accurate finish that can be had. If you tend to gardens, don't quit until your project looks flawless. If you are a waitress, remember that your patrons don't come simply for the meal: they deserve your friendliest demeanor with considerate and pristine service.

That, and only that, will make you an overachiever of the best kind. And you can capture the joy as your accomplishments swell inside your soul.

Cherish that feeling!

And remember: every climber starts on the base of the mountain. Nobody starts mountaineering by being helicoptered to the top!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A glimpse of a beader's work space

So this is what it looks like. It's where I sit every day. It's my "grindstone', if you will. But I LOVE it: it's familiar, it's comfy, it's home. And it lets me be productive as well as creative.

There is something to be said about stringing beads. Often, people ask me where I get the patience. Well: it takes NONE! Actually, beading is a very quick, satisfying accomplishment, with the knowledge that it only takes about 1/2 to 2 hours to create a magnificent piece of jewelry.

And it's quiet, peaceful. It bothers no-one, and every time a client gets a finished piece they're happy.

During downtime, I string beads as a hobby: the Neverending Necklace.

How much better can it get?