Tuesday, July 8, 2014

'Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it's found.' James Russell Lowell

 I have had a life-long habit of collecting 'stuff'. Some would call it trash or junk but I think they're treasures. I have been collecting seashells for as long as I can remember. I also collect other bits of 'stuff' at the beach, like driftwood, rocks, coral, sometimes I've even brought home seaweed and broken bits of palm trees. I find beauty in these offerings from nature. I also collect bird's nests, leaves, acorns, seed pods, etc. But those items will have to wait. Today's post is about my love of beachy related items.

I bought a beautiful white howlite donut at Bead & Button last month. I didn't really have a plan when I bought it but I loved it's crackled look and it has a very matte finish which really appealed to me.

As luck would have it, I was cleaning up my jewelry workspace a few weeks ago and inspiration struck. The howlite donut would look great with some coral I picked up in Grand Cayman and the little bitty white rocks, beach glass and shells that run from white to off-white to light tan. Perfect for the white howlite. Then I sorted through my driftwood stash and found the perfect piece to hang the whole thing from.  I wasn't sure about leaving the donut hole open or using something to cover the hole then I searched my shells and found the PERFECT limpet shell to attach over the center with a bead. The limpet is white with tan and charcoal markings.
I sorted through my beads as well to look for white, off-white, tan, brown and black. As usual I always choose a ton of different beads when working a project so I can have lots of choices. I end up using about a third or half of the ones I choose but still I like to have them all out 'just in case'.
I chose black ultra suede as the base and glued the donut down and also the piece of coral as seen below. (You can really see the beautiful markings in the howlite in this photo)

Once, the glue dried it was time to start beading.
I did a simple peyote stitched bezel for the donut in tan and matte white seed beads. Using a couple small beads I stitched through the top of the limpet shell (it already had a hole in the top)and through the donut hole to the ultrasuede backing. Then I wrapped some tan beads around the coral just to make sure it stays put since the back of the coral wasn't flat.
When I was satisfied with the beading I cut the shape I wanted around the beaded donut and coral. I also cut a piece of thin cardboard the same shape to sandwich between the beaded front and a backing of plain black ultrasuede. This gives it a bit more stability.
Once the glue dried from layering the ultrasuede/cardboard it was time to bead around the edges of the pendant. I chose to only bead from the bottom edges of the donut and around the coral. I liked the larger beads that were the base of the bezel. I let them be at the edges, which means I clipped the ultra suede very closely around the donut being careful NOT to get so close that you clip any threads.
Then it was time to 'freak out'!!!! I have never beaded a bail to attach the pendant to a necklace. NEVER. So I searched through all my beading books trying to figure out what would look best around the driftwood. I decided on a square stitch making it just barely long enough to wrap all the way around the driftwood. Tricky, since the driftwood wasn't perfectly round or symmetrical. To make up for one side not quite fitting I just added a few beads to that side and then stitched the bail with driftwood intact to the top of the donut. I used more of the size 8 beads that surround the donut to attach from the bail.
Once the bail and driftwood were attached it was time for a little fringe. Since it's such a large pendant I didn't want to have too many dangley shells, beach glass and stones. Originally I had planned to load it up but decided less is more. So I chose one little white beach stone, 2 little pieces of white beach glass and 2 little shells which appear to be minute snail shells.
After the fringe came the actual necklace to hang it from. I went with the same tan beads size 11 to wrap around the driftwood and then added the larger 8 tan beads and a single white howlite bead on each side. These attach to black braided leather with bronze end caps and then I created a wire clasp.
And VOILA! My new necklace. Love all the little bits of things I collected making this necklace truly a one-of-a-kind piece.
Every time I go to the beach I tell myself I don't NEED to pick up any more 'stuff'. Thank goodness I don't listen to myself. I have an almost endless supply of goodies to choose from. 

Since I never finished cleaning my studio 2 weeks ago when I stumbled onto the inspiration for this necklace I MUST go NOW to finish cleaning. Who knows-I may just come up with the inspiration for several more necklaces or perhaps other beaded items.

Live your life creatively~

cathy