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Friday, February 22, 2019

Icicles for the Neck!

I designed "A Hazy Shade of Winter" originally for an Etsy Beadweavers Challenge, many years ago, and sold the resulting work promptly.  I have always wanted to replicate that piece.  I wanted it for myself!   In the process, I have written a tutorial and assembled kits for you too.

The glorious stick pearls that make this necklace look so lush and wintery are sadly becoming harder to find than they used to be.  Most pearls are grown in China, and according to one supplier, the Chinese government is taking increasing control of the pearl industry, deciding what will be grown, and in what quantity.  I tell you this because I do not know how many more of these kits I will be able to assemble.  I have worked through my own stash, and managed to produce 32 kits.

Let me tell you about the Midnight version first, because the Dusk and Dawn colorways both employ the same design ideas.

 The piece was inspired by the Paul Simon song, but the elegant poetry of the title was most exciting thing in my mind as I worked.  The fact that where I live has experienced a freezing Polar Vortex and set an all-time record for the most snow ever in any Minnesota February has helped and encouraged the imagery along.

I worked to make all components take a supporting visual backseat to the pearls and the focal piece, a button cut from the mussel shell that grows these pearls.  As you can see below, they have fantastic nacre, and beautiful rainbow effects and shine.  Each one is unique and I have really hunted to find the best of what is available.  I have the buttons in two sizes, 7/8" and 1".  I am planning to pack 7/8" buttons with the Dawn and Dusk kits and the 1" buttons in the Midnight kits.

I LOVE the big 6/0 beads in the Midnight yoke.  They are a Miyuki Jet Matte with a rainbow finish that has a HUGE color range.  There are teals, blues, purples, hints of green, and a little bronzy brown too.  I wore this necklace yesterday with a coral sweater, and it worked beautifully,  I think the possibilities are endless.
Partnering with the matte beads in both the yoke and bezel are shiny transparent Black Diamond AB finish beads used as thread covers in the yoke and in the fringe.  The transparency provides a hint of the dripping snowmelt that creates icicles in eaves and branches, along with the drop beads I have hunted down for each color way.  In the Midnight, the drops are Black Diamond AB.  You can either position the AB finish mostly up where it will be a bold part of the whole, or down, so it behaves more subtly.  The tut tells you how to get either result.   I also adore the drops I found for the Dusk version.  The supplier calls them "Moonlight" and although they are Czech pressed glass, I think they have a lovely feel of Moonstone or Opalite. Some are translucent and a few, milky opaque. 
 And then, there are the stick pearls themselves.  I have organized and strung them all into sets for you,  gradated in length, and matched in pairs for drill hole depth.  Each set contains 7 sticks strung together for the focal fringe, and two sets of 6 sticks for each side of the yoke.  I worked hard to make the best possible sets out of the materials in my hands, and I hope you'll love them!

A bit more about the Dusk colorway. I try to design jewelry that can be work by normal people in their daily lives.  I realize that this is a little more statement necklace than I usually design, but for me, Dusk is the demin version of the piece.  Not to say it could not be worn for a dressy occasion!

But it pairs quite nicely with my stone wash jeggings and a soft blue sweater, and looked good earlier on a grey knit dress.  There is lots of this beautiful soft blue in the stores right now.

Which brings me to the Dawn colorway. Because OMG, there is so much of this glorious orchid color in the mall windows that I am having a really hard time walking there without drooling. This sweater was a closeout at Nordstrom a couple weeks ago, but honestly, there is something of this color in every store, including Gap, and menswear shops.  And it truly is the color of many beautiful winter dawns.

And while I think the piece looks great on white and cream, it is really just perfect on this glorious orchid.  There are some deeper richer blue-pinks around in the stores too, and I think they might be equally delicious. I am having a really hard time taking a good photo of this color because of the drop beads. They are Alexandrite Czech drops.  Their particular magic is color-changing in different lighting situations.  In daylight and incandescent, they are dreamy orchid.  In flourescent light, (and in my light tent, which has new, fancy "balanced fluorescent lighting") they are lavender.  In fact, my camera just does not want to see them another way, no matter how I set my white balance.   They end up looking like this:

The lavender look is not bad, but it's also not what my eye sees, and I want to make that clear. So please, do not judge harshly because of my incompetent camera work.  This color is my personal favorite.  Like the Midnight version and the Dusk version, the yoke and bezel are matte rainbow beads and the fringes are transparent orchid, with the same focus placed on the beauty of the pearls accomplished.  There are enough different soft blue pinks in the necklace to make it wearable with quite a range of those colors.

I hope you'll love this design and these kits.  As I have said, I don't know how many more of these I I'll be able to create.  I do want to mention that I have one strand of bright gold sticks, and I am planning to make a few, maybe 5? kits from those this fall.  They look like honey or amber to me, and I might pair them with some purple for autumn.  I also have just a few pale pink sticks and a pale gold, and MAYBE enough grey sticks for a couple necklaces, but I may have to switch for keshi pearls to make that all work.  But my point here is, don't wait, these may not last very long!

Happy Winter!  It's been a fun one here, with crazy cold and tons of beautiful sparkly snow, and all that really made creating this tutorial and these kits special for me.