Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sacred River Necklace

Designing a necklace can be a long and wandering process. I had a necklace lying around that I had made several years ago, in the days before I began making most necklaces adjustable. This particular necklace, I finally decided after wearing it for a year or two, was too short, so I hung it up in my studio and basically forgot about it, even though it was hanging in plain view. One day, a visitor to my studio saw it, and liked it, and asked if it were for sale. Why yes, I said, with some surprise, as I had forgotten all about it, but it was too short for me and it will be too short for you. I'll have to restring it and make it longer, I told her. So, I moved the forgotten necklace to my jewelry table...and completely forgot about it once again.

I realized one day when I couldn't ignore it anymore as it was right there, constantly getting in the way, that I was not happy with the design. I couldn't quite put my finger on the reason. All the components of the necklace were quite lovely: flat ovals and cubes of chrysocolla; beautiful faceted lapis lazuli beads and smaller heishe beads; gorgeous rounds of Peruvian opal that I had bought in Lima; and silver pumpkin beads from Burma. They were all lovely components, but they no longer excited each other. Or is it that, in the years since I had made that necklace, I had progressed in terms of my own ability to create an exciting and beautiful composition in a jewelry design?

Whatever the reason, I felt dreadful that I hadn't restrung the necklace for my visitor, so I decided to bite the bullet and sit down and work on it and see what happened. As I began playing with the beads, I realized that I had overlooked an important element: the beautiful faceted lapis beads looked like a midnight sky with golden stars twinkling down. Oho! Not silver, I thought to myself: that was one of the problems with the necklace. I was going for my gold findings, when my eye fell upon a large chrysocolla bead in my stash, and the design immediately fell into place in my mind's eye. It was perfect: it provided a focus; it tied together the green and turquoise and blue of the chrysocolla and lapis; and, what was best, it introduced a contrasting color that made the rest come to life. It even provided me with the name, which was inspired by the dark blue diagonal line which bisects the bead like a river cutting through a landscape so far away that it must be viewed from the heavens: Sacred River!

So, vision and title firmly in mind, the excitement of putting it all together kicked into high gear. Within a very short amount of time, I had the completed work. What I left out was the Burmese silver and the Peruvian opal. What I added were horn beads and hand-carved horn cones, into which the multiple strands disappeared, and copper -- lots of copper! The necklace went from uninspiring to sparkling, from forgotten to heavenly! I also made sure to add that most useful of elements -- an extender chain, which enables the wearer to adjust the length from 17-20 inches. As you can see from the photos, that makes it very versatile.

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