Simple Necklace with Polymer Heart Pendant

Jan 29, 2008

The Problem with "Just Make Something"

My friend Jeanne walked into a local bead shop for a beginning beading class. She was instructed to pick out some beads from the store and "make something" with help from the staff. To me, this seemed much more exciting than being handed a kit of beads, but my friend does not consider herself a creative person. She panicked at the idea of coming up with beads that would look good together. She ended up finding a sample finished necklace in the store and copied it exactly. She was pleased with her finished necklace--she wore it when we had lunch together--but her experience left me thinking how being told that you can make "anything" can be freeing for some people, but paralyzing for others, particularly those who are trying something for the first time.

Following a Recipe

Just like when learning to cook, it is safer to copy a bead "recipe" exactly when you are starting out. You don't waste money buying unnecessary ingredients and you know what the finished product will look like. But at some point, you might want to add your own special touches to a design. With this in mind, I asked Debbie Blair, editorial assistant for Beadwork and Stringing, if she would create a simple necklace project exclusively for Beading Daily. I asked her to use basic techniques (stringing and crimping), beads that were widely available, and a simple design that would be easy for a beginner to follow exactly and easy for someone with a little experience to customize.



Lilac Love uses two colors of beads (purple and green) and two shapes (round and oval). Most people--no matter how much they think of themselves as uncreative--can usually come up with two colors that they like together. (And there's always classic black and white, which is very popular right now.) This necklace also groups beads in odd numbers and uses metal spacers, two of Debbie's design tricks. Debbie also recommends using a bead board to lay out your design so that you can easily make changes.

FREE Project:Lilac Love

Creating Variations


I created a variation of Debbie's design using gemstones instead of glass--mahogany obsidian rounds and dyed bright blue howlite ovals. I kept the sizes and shapes of the beads the same as in the original design, except for the silver spacers. Using larger spacers meant that I needed fewer beads for a necklace the same length as the original.


It's amazing to me how such minor changes really change the whole feel of the necklace. Debbie's original necklace has a fun, lighthearted feel that is perfect for a party, while my version is considerably more serious--something that confidently says "Don't worry, Bank Manager, I won't dribble away this low-interest loan buying Strawberry Shortcake and Knight Rider lunchboxes on eBay!"




Adding a Pendant




For those of you with a little more experience--or those who want to try a new technique--Debbie added an optional step--a handmade polymer clay pendant. This is easier than it looks--you don't need a lot of special equipment for this simple project. You can buy a pendant instead or you can skip the pendant entirely--it's up to you!



What's you favorite clasp? Ends February 8, 2008. I'll share the results--plus a free design using everyone's favorite clasp--in a future newsletter.

Have you told us about your problem bead yet? Tell us and get some expert advice. Ends February 9, 2008.





Michelle Mach is the editor of Beading Daily. She's never been bothered by the instructions "just make something"--and she really thought that everyone else in the world felt the same way!

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Zaz wrote
on Jan 30, 2008 11:27 AM
it is very pretty michelle, and onc again you manage to "take us away" from the commercial aspect that this newsletter was going to route to, so AGAIN bravo, you don't give up. this heart thing reminded me that i'd like very much to make chris (my love and husband) a funky fun bracelet with rubber or leather, bright colors like red and a fun message like: love the world, or something silly like that, a bit zulu in form. i know i once managed to make him wear ribbons of luck that you have to wear till they fall off after making a wish and he did wear this one. later on i also saw him wear a rubber bracelet with a message, other than those nothing, not even a watch will go on his wrist.
so thank you for an unusual valentine suggestion.
Coley J wrote
on Jan 30, 2008 11:41 AM
This article is very interesting! The freedom of making anything however I want with colors that I love the most brings much excitment. I think that the endless possibilities is what would make it a tad paralysing to me. I love this beautiful necklace you have to offer. My favorite colors right now are brown and teal for some reason - I think those two colors look wonderful together. Thank you for the inspiration and great beading project!! I love beading daily!!
JeanetteR@6 wrote
on Jan 30, 2008 12:35 PM
As a beader who enjoys my hobby, I think once you start beading, you should ony wear your own designs
on Jan 31, 2008 2:46 PM
I can totally relate to this woman's predicament in the bead store, though I've been beading for around 20 years!! I obviously don't lack experience, but when I feel like making something, I am frequently overwhelmed by the possibilities. Even when I have a project in mind, I find that it takes several hours just to find all of the requisite supplies, tools, and beads in the right combination of colors. By then, I'm usually a lot less inspired than I was when the idea first struck me.

Does anyone else have this problem? Any suggestions? I suspect that some better way of organizing my huge bead collection would be part of the solution. Right now, the beads are in multi-compartment boxes, sorted by color.
Samantha E wrote
on Feb 4, 2008 2:49 PM
I have been hoarding beads and bits and bobs for ages, and they need organizing properly so I can see them all!
I do too feel somewhat overwhelmed with all the possibilities there are with beading etc, and sometimes I too spend more time sorting through all of my beads and stuff just to get the stuff I need for a project and yes my enthusiasm does take a dive!!
But today i decided to limit myself to 3 or so different types of beads which I wanted to sew onto a red silk bracelet cord. I don't know what it will look like like in the end, I'll just see where it takes me.
Whilst starting this I thought we really have too much of everything these days and what if these few beads were all I had, what would I make with them? I wondered what it must have been like a hundred or so years ago in the beading world when perhaps people didn't have all the things we have nowadays and how they made good use of the little they had and how they made so many beautiful things, where did they get their inspiration from?
We really are lucky to have access to so many wonderful beads and findings.
Next time when I am feeling overwhelmed and indecisive or distracted by my stash of beads I will slow down and simplify my thoughts, afterall it really is one bead at a time!
sandrade wrote
on Apr 13, 2009 5:44 PM
I am new to beading, I did a beginners class and we were supplied with beads to use and I found this quite helpful. My friend did a beginners class at a different store and was told to pick up to six types of beads she would like to use, as she was new to beading she ended up pick 6 types of black beads. Sometimes I think it is a bit intimidating when you go into a beading store which has thousands of beads in different sizes and colours etc, especially when you are just starting out. The ladies in the store I went to (Beads on Parade) in South Australia could not have been more helpful, and they certainly made the whole beading experience one which I would gladly repeat.