Monday, November 29, 2010

Dyed and Gone Vintage

A new friend, someone local, saw my rosary cross necklace that I've been wearing lately, and asked me to make one for them to give as a gift.

You might remember, I made mine using some vintage costume pearls that were permanently on the strand, by drilling holes through the end pearls so they could be added to a necklace using wire wrapping.

Now I had the problem of how to re-create that look, but without starting with the vintage pearl strand.

I had a zip-lock bag full of my hand-dyed costume pearls in a generous round size and just the right vintage coloring. 

But how to re-create the flowing, vintage strand look? 

It needed to be strung on something lightweight that would flow. The tiger tails and flexible steel strands just don't have the same bend and flow as a fiber cord does, they're too stiff.

I didn't want to spend the time to do pearl knotting between each pearl with silk thread.  Although it's a lovely look, it's very time consuming and slow to do. These necklaces are very long, they just slip over the head without a clasp, and it would take a very long time to hand knot each pearl in place.  

So here's what I decided to do, and I think it worked out wonderfully.

  • I took two strands of tencel cord and measured them two inches longer than the total length I wanted for the strand, like knitting or crochet cord. Mercerized cotton would probably also work, something sturdy but flexible.
  • I threaded the doubled cords through the costume pearls using a big-eye beading needle to make the strand almost the length I needed, with an inch of extra cording at each end of the strand.  
  • I took two large pearls, and held them tightly on the sides that already had a hole through -- gripping tightly using a hemostat, not my fingers.
  • I drilled them with a small drill bit on the side with no hole - they end up with a vertical hole and a horizontal hole in each costume pearl. 
  • HINT!    Holding them with the hemostat was much better than trying to hold a round thing in your fingers while you used a drill bit through it, believe me! Do not try that! No fingers should EVER be near spinning drill bits...
  • The two drilled pearls (with the double holes) were threaded on the double tencel cording as the last two on each side of the strand, at the very ends. 
  • I ran the big-eye needle with the double tencel strand through a crimp bead, went back through the crimp and the double-hole pearl leaving a loop at the very end of the strand, pushed the pearls snugly next to each other and crimped the crimp bead very tightly on the four-thread strand of tencel. 
  • I tested by tugging hard to make sure the crimp tube was holding tight, then I clipped the loop and cut the excess tencel cording off.
  • HINT!  Be sure to test and tug hard BEFORE cutting off the excess - if the crimp isn't tight enough, you need that length to try again with another crimp bead.
  • My wire slipped through the horizontal hole in the end pearl, the holes I had I drilled through the sides. 
  • After that, one end was wrapped to secure the wire and the other end was passed through some pretty silver bead caps to cover up the wire and the holes in the drilled costume pearls.

Just the tops of the drilled costume pearls show above the bead caps, and you can't tell they have an extra hole and some wire going through.

If your bead caps are very, very long, like some of the ornate filigree ones, you can follow the drilled large pearl with a smaller pearl at the end of the strand, to fill up the space in the bead caps so there's not so much wire unsupported inside the bead cap below the pearls.

I wire wrapped the ends coming through the bead caps onto the rosary connector, and made a nice finish to attach the two ends of the stranded costume pearls onto the three way connector bead.

I used a faceted glass bead and a large resin faceted crystalline drop to finish it off, with bead caps of different types on all of them for a polished, completed look.

I was pleased with the solution, and I will be doing it again, now that I've figured out how to do the strand of costume pearls this way. 

I have some lovely rose colored dyed pearls that I want to work with, to make a rosy colored strand. It's fairly quick, it flows beautifully and is lightweight.

 I had to get rid of all my dye solutions when we moved here, and I haven't remixed them yet. But if you want some to experiment, I have a few bags of dyed costume pearls left that I made before the move.
I can spare some if you want to try this trick yourself. 

If (WHEN) I get my dye solutions remixed, I can offer the dyed pearls again in the Etsy shop.

The friend who commissioned the necklace was very pleased with how it turned out, it's already been delivered for wrapping and gifting.

Do you think this is a viable solution? Do you like how it turned out?


Alice said...

Your're a genious! I think it turned out lovely. I've never heard of tencil strand but it sounds interesting (I probably didn't spell it correctly).

Beatnheart said...

whoa...that was deep and sounds like alot of work...Luckily you customer appreciated all you went through...I’m having a GIVEAWAY ...pop on by and drop your name in the hat. all the best, Cynthia

sandi m said...

I don't know...I got lost with the drilling part and couldn't visualize how this goes together. Knotting is so simple and really fast and would be easy to hide the end caps inside the decorative bead caps.
But glad this worked out for you and your customer!