Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fearful Asymmetry

Disclaimer:  this entry uses lots of technical detail.  If you're not into that, feel free to skip ahead to the pictures.  Enjoy, no matter what you decide.

So last week I set out to make some things that were slightly out of my comfort zone.  I wanted to make some asymmetrical stringing pieces.  For those of you who don't know (which is all of you!), I love making perfectly symmetrical pieces, or pieces that have just 1-2 random elements to mix it up.  It's just the way my mind works.  I have a system for most things, even though it doesn't seem that way to others.  My book collection and my closet may not make sense to you, but I know exactly where to find my 3 quarter sleeve grey sweater, or my copy of Wuthering Heights, right away.  My point is, when I put something in a particular place, I like to have a reason or rationale.  I am pretty much unable to place things in a random manner.  Thus, the seemingly effortless random order of beads you see is actually the product of much agonizing, painstaking rearrangement.  Is the whole piece balanced?  Do I have enough groupings?  Enough colors?  Too many colors?  Aargh.  The mind reels. 

Also, I have a great fondness for wirework pieces.  For those of you who don't make jewelry, these are pieces in which wire is manipulated into various shapes like spirals and circles.  (See below for an example.) 

Wire pieces just seem so sturdy and long lasting.  When I string beads, I am constantly thinking, what if the string breaks?  That tiny little string seems so delicate, and can picture it breaking and spilling beads all over a sidewalk somewhere.  True, you can buy ultra-strong beading wires and threads, but your piece is only as strong as your closure.  And the closures can be so unattractive!  If you are using thread, you have to close with an ugly knot.  If you use beading wire, you have to use a metal crimp.  After much searching through beading books (I am entirely self-taught, or I probably would have learned this sooner) I finally found an attractive, albeit labor intensive solution.  I place a wire crimp and use a special little crimping tool which squeezes it in the middle and then bends it in half, making it small and unobtrusive.  After that, I place a tiny metal bead called a crimp cover over it, completely hiding the closure.  I also use a device called a wire guard, which keeps the end of the wire from breaking with wear.  This sounds complex, right?  Well, try actually doing it.  The tiny metal pieces bend and warp the wrong way with the slightest provocation.  I have just now gotten good at manipulating them. 

I spent my free time last week working on two asymmetrical (well, relatively) beaded pieces.  A dark red bracelet using some gorgeous Chinese lampwork beads as focal points, and Czech glass, crystal, and freshwater pearls as accents.  And a lovely freshwater pearl and silver bead necklace, with moonstone rondelle beads.  It has a decorative clasp and an angel wing charm at the back, so that you can wear it in the normal way for a delicate, formal necklace, or wear the clasp in the side or front for something a bit more funky.  The red bracelet has garnered so many compliments this week that I will probably reproduce it for my Etsy shop.  The necklace is about to make its debut, so we'll see. 

And what did I work on this week?  Why, a perfectly symmetrical wirework and bead piece, of course.  And I loved every minute of it.  Stay tuned for pics of it!

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