Make two necklaces with one custom bead mix

Each container of our bead mix yields enough glass beads to create a collarbone length necklace and a long necklace. Your kit includes the following items: five feet of 49-strand, .015 bead cable; two clasp sets; crimps and a pendant array with three pair of leaf beads. Glass bead mix color shown: Tourmaline.

Before you start, have the following items on hand: wash cloth on which to place beads or work; needle-nose pliers for crimping; scissors; tape measure; light source; sight aids as needed; small shallow bowl for bead mix. Skill needed: ability to finish a strung necklace with crimps. If you need a refresher course on crimping, search for and review an online tutorial before undertaking this project.

Begin choosing and stringing beads from the mix bowl
Pendant and pairs of leaves in necklace front

First, make a short necklace

Pour your mix into a small shallow bowl. We’ll begin by making a short necklace with a central pendant and leaf elements. For a 17″ to 18″ long necklace, cut a cable length of 24 inches — that’s the necklace length plus 3 inches on both sides for finishing. Start by threading the central pendant by its jumpring, then, on either side, add beads of equal size, smallest leaves, equal size beads, large leaves, equal size beads, medium leaves. Check carefully that each side of this central arrangement is of equal length and that the leaves face the same way on both sides. (I confess that when I was preparing this demo I placed some elements wrong and had to unstring and restring the array correctly. You really don’t want to do that, so check your work!).

Pick the largest beads from the bowl, and place a small “E” size (4mm or so) bead between each of the larger beads as you go. Beads decrease in size as you add them to the ends. For best results, the colors don’t have to match on either side but the parallel strands of beads you are creating should have plenty of contrast and a good balance of elements.

Strands should have contrasting beads and good balance between sides. With a bead mix, they don’t have to ‘match’, just look good.

Get out your measuring tape. When you have about 8 inches on each side of the pendant, string only the small “E” beads to 8-1/2 inches on each side, for a 17 inch necklace. Secure one end, thread a crimp onto the other, add one end of clasp through the jumpring, thread back through crimp, crimp and trim. Hold necklace by other end, make sure there are no gaps, thread on other part of clasp though its jumpring, crimp and trim. Congratulations, you’ve completed a nice short necklace.

Now, make a long necklace with remaining beads in mix

The leftover beads in your mix will go into a long 28 to 30 inch necklace. This necklace won’t have a pendant, start with the largest beads, with “E” beads between them and go from largest to smallest.

Pick out the remaining larger beads from the bowl and lay them on a washcloth. Start the long necklace by choosing the largest bead, adding smaller beads on each side and using up the large beads, always with an “E” bead between them. When you run out of the larger beads, keep stringing the smaller beads on each side, selecting the smaller beads to contrast with each other until you have about 3 to 4 inches left on either side. Finally, finish with a series of three “E” beads on each side, check that both sides are equal in length, and crimp with clasps as for the first necklace.

Place small beads from bowl between all the larger beads.
Start with big beads
End with smaller beads
Now you have a smaller necklace and a larger necklace, to wear together or separately.


With your kit, you may choose to make a longer necklace with the pendant array (instead of the shorter one), a shorter necklace with no pendant array, or two necklaces without pendant arrays. If you have your own favorite center focal bead for the middle, start your necklace with it.

Notice that the pendant and the clasp set all have jumprings to thread onto the cable. The jumprings may be opened with two needle nose pliers to substitute another clasp or pendant if, after you make the necklace, you find a prettier clasp or pendant to replace the ones on the necklace. Jumprings make everything work better.

Bejeweled Treasures bead mixes are available in a wide assortment of colors at Bowerbirds’ bead shows and online at my Etsy store, click here to see our bead mixes.

Treason of clerks

Treason of clerks

Czech opaline glass bead stack

More massive than these, even.

In each year’s September ritual, standing in line at the supermarket, five years ago, I hoisted a copy of the big Vogue Fashion Week issue.

The customer in line in front of me wore a ethereal lilac cotton tiered skirt paired with a top in a hard blue, black and white geometric pattern.

The first pages I flipped to were a four-page layout promoting the concept of football motifs as fashion assets. Just, no.  Expensively produced ad urging women to spend top dollar on outfits with big numbers and sullen team colors. Maybe it was seeing the ad just after that brutal blouse/ floaty skirt combination, whose colors weren’t on speaking terms. I went into a spiral of eye grief. As an art jewelry merchant, I was dismayed to see that most of the models in the editorial section of the magazine wore no necklaces, not even ugly ones, — not even with V-neck or deep decolletage necklines that could have used the visual break.

One spread showed an annoyed-looking young woman with duellist’s eyes, posing in a series of expensive-looking locations, wearing graceless clothing and large shoes, her hair raked back into an upright ponytail. Rather than being glorified, her youth and beauty were put into the service of an inexplicable vision of ugliness.

I have weathered sparse fashion eras before–which I define as a dearth of good-looking, easily available art jewelry and clothing– but I really thought in 2014 we had hit rock bottom. Five years past my eye grief moment, experience shows me that curiosity about why things happen make things endurable.

The world moves on. It is possible that for various lifestyle, political, and economic reasons, fashionable women have no wish to wear jewelry which suggests sumptuousness, art, art history, or the richness and colors of nature. The Belle Epoque rested on a solid financial cushion produced by a backdrop of colonial oppression and colonialism. The 1950’s made even thin women wear girdles, and all women wear high heeled shoes so it wasn’t an unmitigated paradise of costume jewelry.

Also, it’s impossible to want what you don’t see. The internet places a visual treasury in our hands, but if you don’t know what to ask for, names such as Miriam Haskell (fl. 1930’s -1960’s) or Stephen Dweck (ca. 1990) mean nothing.

Yes I’m writing this essay on a screen. The visual and physical world, human presence, is ignored almost to an anchoritic degree. If something beautiful is not on a screen,  it is deemed worthless, whether it be sunlight on healthy living beings, or an opaline glass bead, or a flower, or a bead shaped like a flower,  or so it seems in my more paranoid moments.

The unrivalled ability of search engines to answer questions and find beauty is useless without having any idea what to ask for. Many students these days are denied standard-issue education in the visual arts, for some reason I cannot fathom, so how can they ask for names and images they never heard of?

A desert is forming: self-reinforcing visual sterility, ignorance of ignorance.

Jittery, patterned fabrics in harsh colors unkind to all complexions suggest the formation of an esthetic based on digital imagery rather than the older standard of beauty based on nature as inspiration. The women’s football clothing ad may have been a fluke but it suggests an ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ resignation. Or maybe the NFL was trying to shore up business that year, spent big bucks on advertising, who cares how anything looks?

When colors are quantified into approved yearly color groups (which to my eyes always look like the same set of colors under different names, but it could just be my screen) set by a company I used to know as a color ink matching service for offset printing, a vacancy at the top is suggested.

There is an old term for the acts of literate thinkers who failed to provide help to their illiterate brethren when it was in their power: trahison des clercs, or treason of clerks. (‘Clerk’ was the going term for the literate in general, when they were in the minority.) I believe that humans have a thirst for beauty and personal presence during their brief lives which is being denied for various spurious reasons such as ‘edginess’ by designers who have the potential to do better.

I would love to be proved wrong, or to prove myself wrong.

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Announcing the Czech bead final four face-off!

group shot of beads

Welcome to the jungle, baby.

Mid-Summer for me is the perfect time for idle Internet contests and quizzes of the “Which apex predator am I the most like?” variety. Here’s my bid for your summertime clicks, with a cause we can all support: four major types of Czech glass beads vying for dominance, paired as follows: Continue reading