Monday, January 18, 2010

Multi-strand necklaces and a few thoughts on photography

What IS it with the fruit flies? It's the middle of winter and I have a dancing cloud of drosophila melanogaster in my kitchen. (See - that high school biology class was good for something - 30+ years later and I can remember the scientific name for the fruit fly. Can't remember where I put my car keys, but I can rememer drosophila melanogaster. Go figure.)

These fruit flies seem to have become immune to my tempting traps of fruit juice and Grand Marnier, (selective breeding - see last comment about 30 year old biology class) - and are starting to annoy me. I've taken to vacuuming them out of the air periodically, into the central vac. I hope they are dying in there, and not mutating into giant, angry fruit flies that will attack me when I next open the canister. "Mutant Fruit Flies Attack and Kill Home Owner - film at eleven. "

What has this got to do with anything? Absolutely rock all, but hey - pain shared is pain diminished.

Not much new to say about photography this week, except! - I've started to see things differently - started to think about taking pictures for pictures sake, instead of illustrative purposes. I actually spotted a big rusty door in a factory wall and thought - that would make a cool picture. Didn't have the camera with me - but it's a change in the way I think - so that is cool. Mental note - take the camera more places. The accompanying photo is of the Dude - after rooting about in the snow. I freely admit to being biased, but I think he's a very handsome boy.

Anyhoo - I thought I'd reprint this article on multi-strand necklaces, as it is now buried in an older part of our website that you can't really find any more - but the information is still useful. This details how to collect up multiple strands in a necklace and neatly secure them.

Oh, and by the way, if you are a lampworker and want to make the focal bead that is shown here, I have an upcoming class on foil beads. Some lampworking experience required, but not a whole lot.

Multi-strand Necklaces

There are multiple ways to make multi-strand necklaces, but here is one very simple technique.

The basic idea is to:

  1. string all the strands separately,

  2. tie them in a knot over a loop of wire,

  3. and hide the knot in a decorative cone.

Here's how.

I start with a little planning - what are the elements that I am going to use, am I going for a random look, ethnic, sophisticated, etc. I might string a few test beads to ensure that they look good strung together. My approach for this project will be to string from one side to the other, but choosing to string from the centre to the ends, first one side, then the other, is valid too.

In this case, I have decided to string the focal bead right onto the strands. I have choosen to use very light (fine) Softflex cable, so that I can knot it, but it is strong enough for the weight of the lampworked focal bead.

Where ever you are going to have multiple strands come into close contact with each other, either at the clasp, or at an element such as this focal bead, you want to reduce the size of the strands. Do this by selecting smaller beads for this place in the strand. You can see here that I have put 3 size 6/0 seedbeads next to the focal bead. I will do the same for all the strands as they go into and come out of the focal bead, and again, at the ends where the clasp goes.

I am securing the focal bead by adding a top-drilled bicone and then threading back through the focal bead.

Now, string the other side. Notice I have LOTS of extra beading wire - I cut it long. Not having enough as you get to the end of the project is very frustrating. At this point - I am approximating on the length of the strands, as the pattern is random. I will refine it later.

Now, add more strands. Continue to select small beads around the focal bead.

Keep 'em small.

Keep 'em small at the clasp end too.

When I got to three strands - I was starting to run out of beads, and three strands of these bigger beads looked pretty good, so I chose a length, and started adjusting the strands. I am going to go for 8 inches on either side. (Adding the cones and clasp after will make this about 20 inches, which is a flattering length for me.)

I even up the ends

and have the sides matching.

Make a wrapped loop in your wire and thread your strands through it.

Knot them all together around the loop.

I tie another knot (square knot) over it, and add a third if the bulk is not too bad.

(To hide the ends, string them back down a strand for several beads and cut them off carefully, ensuring you don't cut the main wire. A dab of glue on the knot will prevent it from undoing as well.)

Using tweezers to pull the strands through as you tie the knot can make your life easier.

Now, slide on your decorative cone …

… to conceal your knot and the looped wire.

And put another wrapped loop directly above the cone. If you are adding an extender chain, you can add it before making your wrapped loop.

The secured cone and extender.

Do the same for the other side, ensuring that you have slid all the beads down as far as they will go to the other side before securing the knot. They do not have to be super tight (the necklace has to curve and move), but you don't want a gap appearing at the top of the necklace after you've worn it a couple of times.

Add a split ring and your clasp, or attach the clasp directly to the loop as you did with the extender.


Wear and enjoy the compliments!

Things to remember:

  • smaller beads at "bottlenecks" such as claps, focals, etc. make the strands more managable.

  • knotting all the strands together around the finished wrapped loop is way easier than one at a time around the wire and then wrapping the loop. Trust me on this one.

  • larger beads string fast - this project makes up very quickly



Heather Houck said...

Lovely necklace. Very well explained & some excellent points. I would love to take your lampwork course but too far away. Keep up the great work.

Lady Di said...

I understand "securing the focal bead by adding a top-drilled bicone and then threading back through the focal bead" but do you do this with each of the other wires?

dragonjools said...

In this case, there was enough room for the additional strands to also thread down through the focal bead, and through the top-drill and back up.

If there was not enough room, you could also just carry on across the top of the focal bead, perhaps just threading into a bead on a previous strand, just before the focal bead, to keep the strands together, or just have multiple loose strands - your choice.