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January 2010

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In the Pink
Written by: Melissa J. Lee

Happy New Year! While I enjoy my holiday season, I also like being able to look forward to 2010. The holiday accoutrements have been put away and a whole new glorious year of beading lies ahead of us. Yes!

When I heard that Soft Flex® Company would be launching new color palettes of its excellent Trios Variety Packs in 2010 based on holiday themes, I knew immediately that I wanted to profile a pack for my article this year. And what could be better than "Be My Valentine", a beautiful collection of beading wire in shades of rhodochrosite, pink tourmaline and spinel? These warm, vibrant shades make my heart go pitter-pat.

Now, I have a confession to make. I came to pink rather late in life. I spent the first twenty years rebelling against this beautiful color as being too delicate, too feminine, too...girly. Ditto for hearts and heart themes. However, in recent years, I've come to know and love all different shades of pink and use them in my jewelry design a great deal (see above photos for a few relevant designs).

However, I tend to enjoy pink designs with a twist. I want my pink to display a little robustness, a little sharpness, a little attitude. After some thought, I came up with two non-traditional Valentine designs for your consideration. They share a common theme - they both display my love of the color combination pink and black.

Here's the first piece, entitled "Shot Through The Heart".

The focal for this piece is a black heart bead by lampwork artist Sarah Moran. I think Sarah's beads, with their bold lines and colors, work quite well with Soft Flex Wire Trios. Also, it just so happens that the shade of pink in this particular bead almost perfectly matches the pink tourmaline shade of wire. I decided it would be interesting to create a little starburst to frame the bead. This design was so easy to execute - simply string several short strands of wire (of slightly different lengths) through the bead hole and adorn them with Swarovski crystal. I chose orange here, to complement one of the other colors in Sarah's bead. I think it sets off the lampwork bead pretty well.

(The finished effect reminds me of an arrow - which is the basis for the title of the piece.) I then strung a short piece of spinel wire through the bead and attached three black beads (onyx and glass, respectively) in graduated sizes to the bottom of the focal. The necklace itself is also strung on spinel wire, with faceted onyx, dusty rose freshwater pearls, amethyst and faceted rhodochrosite. I left the rest of the spinel wire bare and finished it with a small infinity-shaped sterling clasp. Thus, it's a light piece, but the Trios gives the bead significant impact (in my humble opinion).

For the second piece, I took a more familiar design and gave it a little extra emphasis. I like really substantial jewelry designs, but the Soft Flex Wire Trios tends to give jewelry a more delicate look and feel. I decided to try to make more of a statement with the wire by creating a large, multi-strand necklace. This pieces uses 11 strands of Trios wire in graduated lengths.

Here, the overall effect of the necklace is still delicate (and the piece is beautifully light-weight), but the sheer number of strands makes a big impact. As with the previous design, I chose to combine the various shades of pink wire with black beads - here onyx, spinel and glass - in varying shapes, sizes and cuts. I was inspired by astronomy in assembling the piece - hence, the title "Orbital". I stopped at 11 strands, here, but I could easily see doubling this number in a similar necklace.

As usual, playing with Soft Flex Wire Trios makes for a great design experience. Thank you to Soft Flex® Company for giving me the opportunity to create these new pieces! And thank you for reading - I hope these designs inspire you to create more unconventional designs to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Melissa started making beads from fine silver and designing jewelry when she left work to stay at home with her young son. Her work has been published in magazines such as Stringing, BeadStyle, Simply Beads, Bead Trends, Step by Step Beads, Creative Jewelry and BEADS 2009. She won first place in the Metal Clay category of the 2009 British Bead Awards and second place in the Beyond Glass, Handmade Beads and Components category of the 2009 British Bead Awards. She won second place in the Necklace category of the 2009 Bead Arts Awards. She was a finalist in the 2009 Bead Dreams competition and a finalist in Fire Mountain Gems' Beading Contest 2008. When not enjoying beady pursuits, she can be found spending time with her son, knitting or curled up with a good book.

Email: strandsofbeads@yahoo.com
blog: http://www.strandsofbeads.blogspot.com

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