originally posted February 22, 2010
I’ve been making jewelry for around 20 years, and in that 20 years I’ve accumulated a moderate-sized collection of hideously made pieces just screaming to be redesigned into something better. I keep said hideous jewelry in a bag hidden from public view. Well, not too long ago I was rooting through that bag and came upon this little gem…
I would guess that I made this around 15 years ago, and it’s sat in a Ziploc bag for about that long, too. Among the several flaws in this necklace, two stood out the most to me – the shoddy workmanship and the fact that the gold-colored seed beads had tarnished into an ugly blackish-brown color. I did, however, like the combination of purple, gold, and brown-tone beads in this necklace and thought I could do a lot better redesigning this into a much nicer piece of jewelry. I decided on which beads I wanted to reuse in the new design. The only new beads used were gold seed beads to replace the original tarnished beads. Check out the new and improved necklace using the components of the old, ugly piece:
I’m pretty happy with the end result, in fact, I think it’s pretty darn snazzy (don’t mind me as I toot my own horn). Go through your old stash and see what you have that needs to be remade into something new and fresh. Garage sales, your grandmother’s jewelry box, and thrift shops are great places to find inexpensive beaded jewelry that can easily be taken apart and remade, and a cheap way to add to your bead collection.
Instructions for the “After” necklace design:
Size 11/0 glass seed beads
A variety of glass beads (mine range in size from 4 mm to 8 mm)
8 – size 5.5 mm jump rings
12 – size 4 mm jump rings
Glue or clear nail polish
Pliers – chain nose, bent nose
1. The best way to start is first determine how you want to lay out your center strands. You can do this by laying your beads out on a bead board.
2. Once you’ve decided on a layout, start stringing your bead strands. Each strand is strung on double-stranded beading thread. Cut the following lengths of beading thread:
a. For the side strands – cut 27 inches of beading thread for each side strand (you’ll have 2 strands that are 27 inches).
b. For the inner center strand – cut 16 inches of beading thread.
c. For the outer center strand – cut 17 inches of beading thread.
d. Note: If you’re necklace is going to be a different length than mine, figure out the length of each strand, double the length of each strand, and add about 5 to 6 inches to allow for knot tying. In other words, if the finished length of your side strands are going to be 6 inches, you’ll want cut each strand of beading thread at least 18 inches for each side strand. Same goes for the center strands.
3. You should have a total of 4 strands of thread. Take each strand, fold it in half, and tie a knot at one end of each strand. Now, you’ll have 4 double-stranded lengths of thread.
4. At the end of each double-stranded length of thread, string one seed bead to sit flush at the knot. If the knot slips through the hole in the seed bead, tie a bigger knot. The seed bead acts as an anchor for the knot and keeps it from slipping through the hole in the bead tip. Next, string a bead tip, open side facing down so that the seed bead sits inside the bead tip.
5. Start stringing the side strands by first threading on 10 seed beads. Then, add decorative accent beads. In the case of my example, I used 4 mm round gold balls separated by seed beads that were a different color than the main seed beads (in this case, purple). Once you finish stringing your accent beads, finish stringing the seed beads until you’ve reached the desired length of your strand. Once you get to the end, string on a bead tip facing up then string on a seed bead so it’s sitting inside the bead tip. Pull the threads taut but not so tight that the strand buckles. You want a smooth strand of beads. Tie a double knot, making sure the knot is large enough not to slip through the seed bead hole. String your center strands of beads as well. Put a dot of glue or clear nail polish on all knots and set the bead strands aside to let dry.
6. The next thing to do is make the jump ring links. Take two 5.5 mm jump rings and connect them in the center with three 4 mm jump rings, using your pliers to open the jump rings. Attach another 5.5 mm jump ring to the bottom 5.5 mm jump ring with three more 4 mm jump rings. In addition to trying to explain this step, I also wanted to see how many times I could get away with saying jump rings. I think I overdid it. Anyhoo, make two of these links. And in case I’ve confused the hell out of you in my attempted explanation of this step, each one should look like this:
7. Once the glue has dried on the knots, cut any excess thread flush with the knot, being careful not to cut the knots. With your pliers, close each bead tip.
8. Attach 4 mm jump rings to each bead tip. Then, join the outer and inner center strands to one end of each jump ring link. On the opposite ends of the jump ring links, attach the side strands.
9. At the top of each side strand, attach a jump ring and your clasp components, and finally you’re done!
Check out the before and after side by side. I think the “after” is huge improvement.
If you have pieces of jewelry in your collection that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing, wouldn’t give as a gift to your worst enemy, or even try to sell, then it’s time for a redo.