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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?

Friday, October 28, 2011

About being not irreplaceable... contraire: I do believe that there are many individuals that are more qualified in certain areas of expertise than I am.

Yesterday I was inadvertently made aware of that. Being somewhat active in online social networks, I had posted my most recent section of the Neverending Necklace on facebook.
Shortly thereafter, I had gotten a comment which described that section as being "cutesy".

Not that it crushed me (only very few things can do that, if any), but that word is dreaded in my vocabulary when speaking of the necklace.

But I have to admit that the person posting it is right. And I am VERY happy for that, because he is a respected artist and ranks high in my personal scale for having a secure style.

It was a catalyst for pushing ahead and relaxing the restraining reigns of "Ingy Control". (I'll explain shortly)

The Neverending Necklace was never meant to be an archaically serious project, but rather fun and light-spirited. It also never was supposed to be my monopoly to determine its appearance. It just worked out that way over the years and it became settled comfortably in that groove.

The comment on facebook ignited a spark inside my very core that kept eating its way out. On a hunch, I had asked the commentor whether he'd like to design a section himself, and it looks like he's taking me up on the offer. (I do hope that)

A proverbial bucket of worms got opened and I can't seem to rein them back in and reseal it.

That's good.

A fresh wind to blow out the halls of stuffiness is very welcome.

And so I am asking (publicly and openly) for assistance from creative people. If you would like to actually design a panel for the Neverending Necklace, just drop me a line.

I believe that you will represent a beautiful addition to the Neverending Necklace!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I have conquered Burj Khalifa!

For a long time, surpassing the height of this magnificent tower was a big and very motivating goal.
Just yesterday I accomplished making a necklace longer than this building's height.
Once you look at this skyscraper, you realize just how far it reaches into the atmosphere.
Visit it here

However, now that this first challenge has been met, I am looking for something else to be able to use as a measuring stick.

Of course, there still is the "First Mile" and that is a great goal for sure. But I'm wanting an object to compare the necklace to, something tangible. And don't you dare responding with "The Great Wall of China", because that is somewhat premature...

How about the combined fleet of a cruise line? A race track? The circumference of a city?

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In the Mood...

While I'm working on several sections at the same time, let me show you some of my favorite completed ones in the meantime.

The name for this section was really a no-brainer. Made with various second generation mood beads, "In the Mood" has an overall blue theme. However, the blue is not dark: it is a lively Turquoise-blue with a much happier undertone.

While the beads do shift color depending on temperature, they create an ever changing image because of their property.

You can see more about this section here, and it is still up for grabs for a lifetime sponsorship.

I'll try to introduce a section a day on this blog, so if you'd like to know what's going on in my world, just follow me...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's Half-time!

It's been a while since I've made that big announcement hoping to complete a full mile by the end of the year. I promise that it was not made out of a whim. However, I also have realized that merely stringing a mile of beads does not suffice.

I mean, who would WANT to look at a mile of beads. Nothing special, right?

Thus, I have decided to rather deliver something entertaining, whimsical, humorous or even thought provoking. And it reflects in the various sections that make up the Neverending Necklace. My personal race is on for finding, handsome and clever sections of beads that will intrigue those who are looking at them.

Piece of cake, you say? Not so.

First, there is that self-imposed iron rule that each dedicateable bead must be separated from the next one by twelve connector beads. And no two dedicated beads should overlap, so you can see each and every bead any time.

Then, there is a time limit. Not by choice, but by default: a day only has 24 hours, no matter how you look at it.

And to make things worse, there is a monetary restriction ;-)
Believe me, folks, it is costly to create and maintain the Neverending Necklace, despite the many donated beads and the support I have been receiving from you over the years.

Specialty panels such as the "Japan" panel require me to purchase huge quantities of matching beads, and they can't be sourced from my existing stockpile for the lack of the right type of beads required in its design.

So there you have it: more obstacles than smooth sailing.

Not to worry, though: there are people working behind the scenes aiming to remedy these "growing pains". Just remember that it takes time. Miracles always take a bit longer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vindicated. For once. (A victory for the good guys)

This really has very little to do with the Neverending Necklace itself, but everything with my position as its webmaster (giggle).
I never had training on how to create and maintain a website, but I can be taught by trial and error. Over the years, I had the pleasures to explore the many possibilities as well as limitations within my software.

Really, I'm enjoying all the tools that are available and I make use of them where I find it applicable. But I don't like captchas in particular, so I leave them out of all my websites and hope for the best.

One of the more frustrating issues of course are the constant spammers who try to direct you to their questionable sites via form submissions. I promise I don't need any Viagra, male enhancement or the company of exotic girls. And I don't gamble, either.
But these spammers just don't get it.

On one of my sites is a form ("form A") that they particularly like to use, and a bulk of the submissions came from the same email address over and over, several times each and every day.

So here is what I did.

Suspecting that this one prolific spammer just bookmarks the pages with forms on them, I copied that page and linked that new version ("form B") to my site under a different file name and title, so visitors could still submit their legitimate info and never knew the difference.

It would have stopped the spam, but I wanted more.

I took the original version ("form A") off all the links from the site but kept it published. (That way, it still was a valid link in their bookmarks and could be used for their devious little attempt to get me to buy their crap.)

On "form A", I entered the email recipient using their own email. Now they not only got their own spam back but all the others as well.

It went on for about half a year. Today I got a notice as webmaster, that their email account was cancelled.

I'm ready to change the next form whenever they find it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Let the "Hope" Section Begin!

It was only yesterday that I had posted the idea of the beaded section for Japan, and already the first dedications came in since early this morning.

Keep the dedications coming, because it encourages me on the long and winding path to create this panel for Japan's disaster victims.

And today was when we heard the first good news: first about the heroes who sacrifice their own health and perhaps even their lives by staying with the damaged nuclear power plant. They made this decision in order to hopefully avert the worst case scenario of a meltdown, while putting themselves in harm's way so other people were spared.

Then, there was the miraculous discovery of the surviving baby and the older woman, who could be reunited with their families.

In every tragedy, there are glimpses of hope, bright shining slivers of light that defy the darkness of the past.
Let's hope there will be more good news and let's hope that people will never give up in the face of despair.

Today I started picking out the many beads that are necessary to create this special section.

A design is already in place, and this panel will be very unique. It will be the first panel that actually has the appearance of an image made entirely from beads.
Wait until it's ready - you'll like it.

But as I had mentioned, that technique requires careful planning and it is extremely time consuming.
In a careful estimate, I anticipate this section to be finished by the end of next month. (April 30th)

And I NEED your support. Dedicate beads to give this work its meaning, without your input it is only a fragment of the messenger it can be.

Dedicate your beads now, it's easy and free:

I promise I will keep you posted on all the progress!

Monday, March 14, 2011

There are events that can throw you off your schedule... say the least.

On last Friday was to appear a continuation of the Neverending Necklace story, but something infinitively bigger had taken precedence.
(I will continue that story in just a few days)

Japan needs us right now. Expert emergency personnel, funds, prayers, goods, services and moral support.

The Japanese need to know that the world is pulling together to help them any way possible.

And they need to know that we care. I am as sad over this catastrophe as anybody, and I would like to offer a message of encouragement and hope to those people who have lost so much.

"Dear Japanese, please be strong, keep faith in life and the earth and know that you are thought of."

We are their family now, and together we can allay their fears and soothe their emotional wounds.

There will be a long time of grieving, of cleaning up, of burying, of despair and endless tears. But Japan will rebuild the part that was taken by the earth and the sea.There will be a new beginning amid hope for a new future.

Please help me make a special panel with dedications as encouragement to those stricken by sadness and grief.

Dedicate beads to the people of Japan. It's easy and free.
Once all beads o the special panel are dedicated, I will send a list of the dedications to the Japanese Ambassador in the US.

Spread a little kindness and help comfort the victims of this tragic disaster.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Making the World's Longest Necklace. How crazy is that?

As if we didn't have already enough world record attempts floating around the atmosphere, cluttering people's sense of aesthetics.

Well, the Neverending Necklace wasn't really designed to dilute the pool of 5-minute-fame-holders. Notoriety is not what I was after when I incepted the idea of raising money and awareness for a local Veteran's charity.

It all started out with a very well written and researched article in our local paper, the Palm Beach Post. It talked about Chris Noel and her wonderful charity that made it its mission to help Veterans who are disabled and/or homeless.

It left an impact on me, as my memories brought me back to my own teenage years, back in time and far away.

I grew up in a part of Germany that had US troops stationed all around us. The American soldiers and their families were a part of my upbringing, and when I was in High School, some classmates and I had befriended a few GIs.

The emotional recollections about their time in Vietnam were detached to a sheltered German teenage girl, but we all felt the dark clouds that shrouded these men's pain in hazy attempts to camouflage their experience.

Not to forget that Germany's own war-torn past was something our parents and grandparents had lived through.

War was not pretty. Not heroic. And very undesirable to say the least.

In other words: I grew up hating a monster that I had never encountered, but that was described to me vividly by those who I loved and trusted.

War would forever become a permanent resident on my shit list.

So - a cause helping Veterans was personal. I decided I would help.

That was almost 13 years ago and I have learned a lot.

For one: don't attempt to "help" without a concise plan. And, above all, try to be financially stable when you decide to implement a novel fund raising idea.

But, the Neverending Necklace was born, and with it the commitment to make it a messenger of peace. And love. Love & Peace.

At the time I owned a nature store selling rocks, fossils, birding supplies, tea, incense, books, gifts, gem stones and beads.

The idea was simple:
choose beads and dedicate them to people you love. Each dedication was $1.00 and that money went to the Veteran's Charity.

I could raise a little money and the new project was quite popular in my store. However my dreamy bubble burst when I had to close shop for the lack of traffic. Rent was high and sales low, and somehow this equation just didn't work.

The necklace, at the time about seven feet long, went into hibernation...

Read more in tomorrow's blog

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

So, What Do You Do With a Blog?

Not that I don't know that already, but it's a question I asked myself after I sat staring at the white and very virgin text box.

And because you don't want to read about me and my humble life (which is just like Millions of other regular lives), I hope to give you something of value.

Something that will keep you intrigued or at least entertained for a couple of fleeting moments.

I'd like to share my knowledge about pearls and beads and, of course, the Neverending Necklace.

While I have been working on making the World's longest and most endearing string of beads, I have also accumulated a wealth of information and some wisdom to boot. 

"Pearls of Wisdom" and "Beads of Knowledge", so to speak.

Grab a cup of tea, hold on tight and follow this blog. You just might find some gems along the way...