Monday, June 28, 2010

Design and Problem Solving

Sometimes, design is mostly a matter of problem solving. In my case - the problem is: "I made this really cool bead - how do I show it off?"

In this situation, it was a large bead - ok - that's not news, and I wanted to do something other than stick it on a chain. That is my usual approach - just to hang the bead on a chain.

I found a strand of beads that I bought a few years ago that I thought went well with the focal bead - the dark blue of the beads picks up the dark blue undercolour of the focal bead. I had been looking for a way to use these beads - as I think they are very handsome in their own right.

So - the obvious solution is to string the bead, hang the focal and bingo!

Except - the strand of beads was not long enough by itself. So - I needed to supplement the length.

One good way to do this is to add spacers or smaller beads in between the beads, and I added a few at the center - but I just really like the unbroken stretch of blue, and wanted to keep that look. So I opted instead for sterling rounds at the back to extend the length.

The other issue was how to hang the focal bead - which is definitely vertically oriented.

I searched through my stash of bails, and found one I liked - but my first attempt at stringing this reveals that the large hole in the bail made it hang very low, relative to the surrounding beads. I found some sterling round beads to string inside the bail so that it would sit centred relative to the beads on either side.

(By the way, if I am problem-solving like this, I start stringing from the centre of the necklace - not the ends.)

Now, I need a clasp. The clasp can make or break the piece. It has to look integrated, like it belongs there. The only one I could find that I really wanted to use was already in use - but on a necklace that I had earmarked to take apart and re-cycle the components of - it's a little bland for my taste.
Oh, and yes - this is typical of the sort of chaos that I work in. 65 different ideas on the go at once. See how the big bead at the bottom right really goes with the Chrysocolla and Lapis that has just been dumped next to it? Those of you who want to know where to get inspiration from - stop cleaning up.

Next design discovery was that the larger sterling rounds were tall enough to make it difficult to get a finger in to depress the lever on this clasp in order to open it.

So I wound up taking out one large bead and replacing it with two smaller ones to make up the same length. The end result looks fine - possibly better, and highlights that you have to make sure everything works before you finalize it!

I wired up the pendant - and then decided I didn't like the way that looked ...

... and cut the wire off and tried again - this time finding an actual headpin that was long and strong enough to do the job - a rare thing with my beads.

And the final step was that there is a little bit of play in the necklace - the tension can't be extremely tight or the beads won't drape nicely and sit beside each other, but it is enough for bail to move and sit at a bit of an angle relative to the beads on each side of it - I want the bail and the two blue beads beside it to remain level. I was going to slide a piece of wire through the assembly - but of course - it won't fit - should have wired them up as one piece first.

So I put some glue into the holes instead - so they won't slide around. Seems to be working fine.

Problem solved.


sola said...


Catherine said...

Wow - look at those breasts! A great bead, to be sure, but I wouldn't have the courage to wear it in public!