Autumn Shades Necklace – The Making of – Part one


Its what I strive for in my designs. But its more than physical balance, which in itself is a tricky line to tread when working with drastically assymmetric pieces like these, coupled with using my handmade beads, which by their nature are heavy, I don’t really do small, and they are glass! I also dislike putting them in the middle, that would be like, too easy?!

In addition to the physical balance, there is colour balance, and visual balance. oh and a balance of ingredients, of handmade components, gemstones and glass, sterling silver, bronze! it will be different for each piece of course.

But theres still more, theres another balance I strive for

That between the jewellery and the beads. By which I mean, I want people to notice the necklace as a necklace, but I also want them to see the pretty amazing bead I made it around. For the necklace to be as good as the bead, and vice versa.

I really do not like to make things easy for myself do I?

Guess what though? I love it! this bit, the challenge!  Yeah you knew that already.

So, how does one of these necklaces begin?

as you might expect, it starts with a bead, the feature bead.

Flower Goddess
Flower Goddess – front
Flower Goddess lampwork bead by Madeline Bunyan
Flower Goddess – Back

I’ve chosen a Goddess.
She’s been photographed in the same light as I’ll be working in, rather than the usual daylight I photograph my beads in, this is so the colours look the same throughout.
I’ve been meaning to make a goddess into a necklace for a while, such a complex bead I feel must be designed around in one of two ways,
1) keep it simple, perhaps as a pendant on a nice silver chain. nothing too fancy, shes fancy already.
or 2) this is a really fancy bead, lets go to town on this and give it loads of lovely quality ingredients and shiny things, like she deserves!

so, into the stash I go…

this is so not the easiest of colours to work with! red…are you kidding me? and with pink? and gold? and deep amber?
the wrong red will clash, the right red risks blending in, the pink is kind of there in flashes, not a flat pink, so I can’t use too much, the gold is both peachy and yellowy, tricky!

first, I’ll pull out anything I think might go. some of these things once offered up, will go straight back, and some of them did, when I forgot I was meant to be photographing as I went along!

you can probably see some things glaringly wrong already, I can!

Ingredients - round one
Ingredients – round one
Ingredients - round one
Ingredients – round one, alternate view

so next I do some thinning out, and we get down to something a bit more managable

Ingredients - round two
Ingredients – round two

some things still might, go, and others might get added, but I think this is looking good.

next, some planning where some of the key ingredients might go, I’m going for a multi strand necklace here, to keep some visual and physical bulk at the centre front to counter all that weight  (shh! shes sensitive!) on the right hand side.

Initial planning
Initial planning

so heres the 2nd row being roughed in. you’ll notice that for this, I’m not working with paper, I sketch in beads, I often keep my phone handy to snap pictures of different layouts as I go along, in case I want to go back, or compare.

Planning stage two
Planning stage two

Next I need to start threading some things up, seeing how they actually sit when strung together, some things don’t behave, and may need spacers or something to keep them where I want, and some just don’t look right. At the back there, I’ve threaded up sections of the smaller glass beads, as quite often they’ll look very different strung than in a heap!

I tend to work at little sections at a time, and move around the whole necklace trying out and refining here and there, getting closer and closer to a point where I can hold it up and see how it hangs.

See how this flower on top of the goddess starts looking like a head? but somehow that’s just…wrong! so that will have to go.

Goddess and Flower combo fail
Goddess and Flower combo fail

This little combination I feel is working nicely

Pink, bronze and pyrite combination
Pink, bronze and pyrite combination

This one is not, the carnelian is too dark either side of the bigger bead, and I’m not entirley convinced about the gold altogether, it does overall lighten the piece, but I’m not sure thats neccessary. also the drape of my temporary thread there is poor, so I’ll switch to something more like what I’ll use for the final threading. I’m sure you’re starting to see that theres a lot of threading and rethreading that goes into one of these!

Gold beads
Gold beads
the gold threaded up
another view of the gold threaded up (and roughly where that little pink combination will be)

so either the gold or the carnelian has to go, lets try these…


Though the sterling silver beads are way too bright, they do sit nicely into the lampwork beads, so those will be getting oxidised.

Next I need to thread up a little more, so I can start to see how it hangs, and I’ve added in that little pink combo

getting somewhere!
getting somewhere!
close up
close up – with the smaller of the two leaf clasps.

still not quite sure about that carnelian, or is it the little gold bead? I think the gold needs to go.

moving on, to the part above the clasp, I decided on the larger one.

Clasp section
Clasp section

I’ll leave it there for now, so as not to make this post even longer!
More coming up soon in Part two

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