In a past iteration of my life, I used to make jewelry. In the current version, I make art. Well, ok, that’s not exactly it: some of my jewelry was art and some of my current art is jewelry. Still, the two existences haven’t overlapped really.
Even so, when the adorable itty bitty Bijou tiles came out together with just-right Bijou frame (here) and the question came up among CZTs “can I turn this into a necklace”, my reaction was that it was no big deal. I could see about 3-4 ways to do it quickly and easily and several more complicated options. Of course, I’d spent several years learning to make jewelry. Other people, though, had invested their time far more wisely (trust me, if you need to pay the mortgage, generally being a small time jewelry artist won’t get you anywhere particularly if you are a rotten marketer, which I, unfortunately, am). So, I thought I’d put some info together on how to make a simple string (hee hee) of beads.
As I mentioned, there are many, many ways to do this, but the idea for this is probably the simplest and means you can create different sets of beaded strings to change out as the mood strikes. I’ve put links to the various items to you can see what I’m talking about but you can get all these at your local craft store, I’ll bet. (In fact, in picking what size lobster claw clasp you’ll need, it would be good to do that in person as I don’t have a frame here to measure a clasp against!)
1. Decide where you want the pendant/frame to sit on you. (When you decide this, remember that the frame contains lead and lead is toxic. You’ll want to make sure that there is a layer of clothing between the frame and your skin.) Now, measure from one upper corner of the frame around your neck to the opposite upper corner. Write that number down. No, trust me, write it down. I can’t tell me how many times I have had to remeasure things because I thought “of course I’ll remember!”. We’ll call this #E. So what do you do with #E?
a. Add 8″ to #E. This is the equivalent of your seam allowance. You can get by with less but, honestly, you’ll have an easier time if you give yourself 4″ per side when you’re learning to do this. Cut a strand of beading wire this long (main number plus “seam allowance”). Set carefully to the side.
b. Subtract 1″-ish from #E. This is the number of inches of beads you will need total. (We subtract about an inch to allow for the lengths of the two clasps.) We’ll call this #B. (If you have particularly large lobster claw clasps, you might need to allow more than an inch for clasps.)
2. If you have a beadboard, great, now’s the time to get it out. If you don’t, just lay out a towel on your workspace. The towel keeps the beads from rolling around.
3. Now comes the fun part, picking which beads to put where. Lay a lobster claw clasp at either end and shuffle your beads around until you have about #B inches worth of beads and you’re happy with their arrangement.
4. Put either the bead stopper or the binder clip firmly on one end (this keeps the beads from running off) of the beading wire at about 4″ in. (your seam allowance) and string the beads on in the order you’ve chosen. Once they’re all on (and you’re happy with the arrangement because I always seem to want to rearrange them once they’re on the string – oy!), measure the length of the all the beads on the string again because it always seems to be shorter than I measured on the towel and you get to pay for my sins.
5. Ok, now it can get a bit tricky. We’re going to put on the first clasp. Take one of your crimp beads and string it onto the open end of the strand of beads. Then run the wire through the ring of the clasp, then back through the crimp.
6. Now you have to mash the crimp. (If you have crimping pliers, they do an awesome job but, of course, if you have crimping pliers, you probably already know all this.) Here’s a lovely clear video tutorial on how to do that as well as how to add the crimp covers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j-ZfVMjG0Y
7. Once you’ve done that, you (CAREFULLY!) take the bead stopper or binder clip off the other end and repeat the process.
8. Clip one lobster claw clasp to one top corner of the frame and the second to the other top corner!
Bingo! A Bijou necklace that you can change out as often as you like!
I tried to approach this as if I knew nothing about jewelry making but I’ve probably missed something obvious. Please let me know!! I hope this is helpful and you have fun with it!