I started taking jewelry making classes a number of years ago. Bead stringing, wire-wrapping, pearl knotting, fusing, soldering and basic metal-smithing. I also took certain specialty classes for specific types of projects.
I learned how to use Tools! Techniques!
I never felt that I was particularly creative, so this was an outlet for me to stack a bead or two on a headpin, use the properly made loop to attach it to an earwire, and voila! I was able to make a simple pair of earrings. I actually liked making them because of the instant gratification of getting something to completion in just a few minutes.
Early on, I made a couple of beautiful necklaces and sold them through consignment at a friend’s shop up on Whidbey Island. Unfortunately, I never took any photographs of them.
What I truly enjoy making is the chain-style rosary. Though I am not Roman Catholic, I find it meditative to make each wire connector, loop-by-loop. The repetitive motion makes it difficult to sit down and work on it all in one sitting.
The very first rosary that I ever made was for my sister, Erika. I used Czech glass, lampwork beads and made every single loop of the chain myself. Since that time, I have made three other rosaries, which I’ve given as gifts.
I have learned that the Anglican and Lutheran churches also use rosaries in prayer. Many other religions, as well, have prayer beads. I’m looking for more books on the subject, as I would like to learn more and offer them.
Using the simple loop (as pictured with this rosary) is the quicker way of making beaded chain. I typically use 20-gauge wire. Even so, it takes me about six hours of actual labor to make this style of rosary.
I have recently been commissioned to custom-make a rosary for a special gift.
I also enjoy making rosary-style necklaces using the same technique. Sometimes, I will use a wrapped-loop technique to make beaded chain, depending on the type and size of the beads. Natural stones typically have smaller holes and require a finer gauge of wire.
GIFTS FROM THE HEART
The “Energy of Friendship” necklace is one I made for my friend, Susan. I used a cast-pewter focal piece as the pendant and a variety of Chinese crystal beads, which surprisingly looked like natural stones, but without the cost. This wrapped-loop technique takes nearly twice as long in labor as the simple loop.
This particular piece used 22-gauge wire, so still had a heftiness to the piece. When using 26-, 28- and 30-gauge wire, the chain becomes much more delicate. (The larger the number for the gauge, the finer the wire.)
REPAIR, RECONNECTION, and REDUX
What I have found that I truly enjoy is repair, refurbishing and reconnection. When jewelry is broken, unworn, outdated and discarded, I like to give it new life.
My friend, for whom I made the necklace, gave me a bag of jewelry she didn’t like or wear anymore. I suggested that we go to one of my favorite bead stores and take a look around and that she allow me to rework them for her, rather than just give them to me.
Working collaboratively, I was able to get a feel for what she would like, incorporate elements from the old pieces that were still lovely, and give them new life. (My only regret is that I didn’t take “before” pictures. The original pieces were, indeed, pretty “sad.”)
What I like best about working together on projects such as these is that I am able to understand what it is that drew the person to the piece in the first place, what does not work for them any more, and how their style has changed since originally buying it.
One of the things that I have noticed in my jewelry interests is that I am as passionate about the redux, the re-creation, and the re-connection as I am when I work with people in a coaching environment.
Whether one is in a process of reconnecting with others and learning to communicate needs more effectively, figuring out a transition from one career to another rather than staying stuck for decades more, or trying to figure out how to make a piece of jewelry something they will wear again, I appreciate the collaboration to a place of discovery and reconnection to the original with a new perspective. I have recently started my own transition to building business in all three of these ways.
More importantly, I’ve learned how to use tools and techniques and I can see how using these to make and repair jewelry has been beneficial to me in discovery and reconnection to myself.
Once we have knowledge in how to use the proper tools and resources to reinvent oneself, one’s career, or repair relationships, there is no stopping us from creating something beautiful that will give us joy, hope and love.