Monday, September 10, 2012

My Pearly Whites

In college, we'd have Theta-funded outings every month or so called "sisterhood events." We did things like go to the New Orleans aquarium, a haunted house during Halloween, play laser tag, etc. Just fun, carefree things around the city for some good ol' bonding time. My favorite sisterhood event by far was going to The Bead Shop.



I would go at any cost. Test the next day? Oh well. Driving home at 6AM the next morning? No problem. Leave class early to avoid missing the beginning? Sign me up.

Theta paid for $10 worth of supplies, and when beads cost 5 cents each, you can make a lot for 10 bucks. I think we had this sisterhood event once a semester starting the second half of my sophomore year, so I probably went 5 times in all. Last semester, I decided to make a necklace to wear on our wedding day. I had the $10 from Theta, plus an extra $10 off for filling up a frequent flyer card, so I was in pretty good shape.

At this point I knew our colors were going to be gold and teal (think a deep, saturated, peacocky blueish-green... my mother recently lectured me on the difference between teal, aqua, and turquoise so I'd hate to paint the wrong picture in your mind).

Speaking of my mother, I have a black pearl necklace she gave me. It has 4 strands of different sized pearls, and they're all twisted together.


I love this necklace, but I didn't want to wear black pearls with my wedding dress (in fact, I don't think I've ever worn it because I'm not quite sure when I should wear black pearls). With this necklace as my inspiration, I decided to make a white pearl twisted necklace with a strand of gold beads.

The Bead Shop has an entire wall of pearls in the back, and on the floor are baskets and baskets of strands that are on sale (for a reason I've never been able to figure out because they look exactly the same as the ones hanging on the wall). I dug through trying to find the best deals and made sure to get different sizes and shapes to keep it interesting. Their selection of round gold beads wasn't great, but I found some I was ok with and ended up with a 4 strand necklace.

(I apologize for these grainy, unfocused iPhone pictures... I got out my real camera for the finished project)


Once I moved back to Austin I set it out on my vanity and I've looked at it every day since. I haven't been totally happy with it, mainly because the gold beads looked kind of cheap and generic to me. Also, while the pearls were three different sizes and shapes (very small long ones, small round ones, and medium squareish round ones) they were still too similar in size. Plus, the lobster clasp I had chosen seemed too flimsy to hold up to all of the twist.


My goal was to switch out the ugly gold beads for something more delicate, beef up the clasp, and add another strand with some larger pearls. When I went through my bead collection which is mainly comprised of deconstructed necklaces, I came across these guys:


The only problem was that I only had about half as many as I needed to make a complete strand. My plan was to find some small seed pearls (about half the size of the gold beads) to use as spacers so I could get the gold ones to go all the way around. I headed over to Nomadic Notions to see what I could find and was reminded of how inferior it is to The Bead Shop. Womp womp. They have such a sad collection of beads and most of them seem so cheap-o with the random extremely expensive bead thrown in.

I didn't find any seed pearls, but I did find these large pearls which I thought were an interesting but not-too-out-there shape. I also found another clasp which you'll see in a little while.


John was watching Saving Private Ryan (which I had never seen... war movies are not my thing) so I decided to get going on my necklace. All I needed was my old necklace, my new pearls and gold beads, my new clasp, 4 gold crimp beads (beads you smash to hold wire in place), wire, clippers, and needle nose pliers.



First I un-strung and re-strung all of the pearls. I decided to use the small circular pearls as spacers for the gold beads. Once I had all 4 strings, I realized it was going to be more of a choker (and kind of in the literal sense) than a necklace, so I decided to use the old gold beads just on the ends to add some length like I had also done on the original necklace. I don't think they look bad this way since they aren't all over. Lastly, I looped the wire through the new clasp and back down through the crimp beads, crimped them, and trimmed the extra. And voila!





I like it so much better this way. The pearl sizes are much more interesting, and I'm just in love with those little gold beads. It feels a lot more delicate and sweet, which is what I was envisioning for my wedding day... not cheap and generic. This was a pretty quick and easy (and inexpensive!) upgrade, and I think I'll feel much happier with it around my neck on the big day.

Anyone know of a good bead place in Austin?

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