It's all too easy sometimes to just pop nice beads onto a hand crafted headpin and make them into simple earrings, so I've been trying to think lately about different approaches to beaded earrings and other jewellery items.
Sometimes with a design the metalwork is the main feature, accented with beads to add colour or interest, sometimes a gorgeous bead needs little to detract from it and is best left simple and sometimes, a bit of fancy metalwork can lift otherwise fairly ordinary beads into something a bit more special, where both bead and metalwork compliment each other in an equal balance.
That was how it was this last week. In a recent move round of my materials (a.k.a. a vain and largely hopeless attempt to be more organised and tidy), I rediscovered all sorts of materials I hadn't seen in a while. They had perhaps slipped my mind because they weren't that exciting - but they certainly had potential (and seemed all the more exciting for not seeing them for a while) and I wanted to try them in a recent design that featured more metal, where a modest looking bead works best. If you have something detailed or gorgeous, you don't want it competing too heavily with its supporting metalwork.
I made three pairs of copper earrings to the same design, one each featuring Green Jasper beads, Brown Swirl Jasper and Red Flower Marble. The earrings feature a hammered paddle pin and spiral wrapping around the bead and terminating in a wrap around the paddle. I was really happy at how they turned out, the beads worked ideally with that treatment and the oxidised Brown Swirl pair are already winging their way off to sunny California.
During my re-acquaintance with these past treasures, I also found some large oval beads in Mustard Jasper that I was never quite sure what to do with. I started thinking about shapes and different types of potential 'headpin' or mounting for the stones and decided to try a design that I use with smaller ovals for earrings - using a hammered leaf spiral bent over the face of the stone to keep it in place.
I did almost come unstuck, as I wanted a chunky feature spiral on the front, but didn't initially check that the gauge of wire that I wanted to use would actually go through the holes in the beads. Thankfully, one stone in the batch did have a large enough hole, so my efforts to make the initial spiral weren't actually in vain. I'd like to make some more like this, so will need to ream the holes a little larger first. This is an especially robustly patterned stone, which I think looks like splodges of paint in a modern abstract painting.