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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Serendipity for my Sister

Two years ago, my sister gave me three cabochons for Christmas.  She told me that my mother loved one of them, and she loved another.  I made my mother's favorite into a necklace for her 87th birthday.

Last summer, my sister told me that what she most wanted for her December birthday and Christmas gift was "her" cabochon, transformed into a piece of jewelry.  I got it out and was not particularly inspired, but decided I would make a start and see what happened as I went along.

It's a Payne's gray and creamy white stone, maybe something like Dalmation Jasper but the domed surface was pitted and I was having a hard time with that.  I tightened the bezel on the front side and flipped it over to work the back.  EUREKA!  The back of the cabochon is a nearly perfect image of the mountain that my sister and I grew up on in Helena, Montana.  Had she seen this?  I had certainly not. It's the view from my parent's house front yard, on the North slope of Mount Helena.

 It has the right shape and proportions, the tree line is nearly visible in the markings, and the color placement makes it look just like the real mountain does about this time of year, with a beautiful frosting of snow.
Flat side of the cabochon, the Mt. Helena image!
I decided that the piece could be reversible, in case it was the front of the cab Cara was loving, and so designed a woven bail that would allow for "reversability."  Then I decided to add some branch fringe, again, in a reversible way, so that it might look as though you were viewing the mountain through frost or snow covered trees and shrubs.

As I worked the fringe, I have another EUREKA moment.  The fringe looked like the branches I was hoping for, and it also resembled ROOTS.  MY roots.  My SISTER'S roots.  Simply amazing to me how a duty can become beauty, and touch your heart with a little effort, confidence, and faith.
The "right" side of the cabochon, with the pendant on the twisted 8- strand neck strap.
I first strung an 8-strand necklace for the pendant to live on.  Well, no.  FIRST I tried to make a bead crocheted rope.  For a couple of days, and many online tutorials, and many different sized and colored beads, and with tremendous frustration, I tried to make a bead crochet rope.  Apparently, being able to crochet has little to do with bead crocheted rope.  This is the first thing I have tried to do with beads at which I have achieved a complete and total FAIL.  I will not allow this to remain something I cannot do, but with a deadline looming, I strung an 8-strand necklace for the pendant to live on.

Because of the breadth of the bail, the strands had to be twisted to look nice and I didn't love that.  SO, I looked up Heather Collin's brilliant and easily comprehensible tutorial for cubic right angle weave, and made a second strap, which I liked much better!
On the CRAW rope, Mt. Helena side visible..
I'll send both necklaces, since either could be worn by itself, or with the pendant.

I know Cara does not read my blog, so I think it's safe to publish this post at this point, but please don't spoil the surprise.  Don't share this post with Cara until December 24th!

Merry Christmas to you and your family.


  1. Marsha, your necklace for your sister is just beautiful - both in itself and in its meaning for both of you! Thank you for sharing your design insights on creating this; I do think those pieces we make from the heart for those we love have a life their own. (And PS: you're right about rope crochet; it's one of the hardest things to do with beads!)

  2. Thanks Callie. I always appreciate your taking the eimt to look and comment. Also, I'm glad I am not alone with the crochet, but I have not given up yet! :o)

  3. It's beautiful! As I work a lot with cabs and my husband does cabbing, we have found that the backs of the cabs can sometimes be very different from the front and take a life of their own. The open back bezel does wonders for these types and bring an extra feature and mystery to them. I think you captured it beautifully.

  4. Thanks so much Rosita! I appreciate the lapidarist's perspective and experience!

  5. It is stunning! So meaningful!~ Ileana

  6. Gosh! I love the way you create such beauties with seemingly simple ideas! It is stunning!!

  7. Thanks to you both Ileana and Naan! Happy holidays to you.

  8. Lovely piece...that should knock your sister's socks off!

  9. Just happened on your site and have to tell you how much I enjoyed my visit. Your jewelry pieces are absolutely gorgeous! I imagine your sister is going to love the piece you made for her.