Amazing Beaded Earrings and a Creative Challenge

Jul 3, 2011

A sampling of the earrings I made during my self-imposed creative challenge: create a pair of earrings every day for an entire month!

I don't often wear earrings. Part of that comes from a habit I got into after my son was born - it's just not good to wear long, dangling earrings in front of an eighteen-month-old who likes to grab things. (Ouch.) But the other reason I don't wear earrings too often is because I don't usually think about making them. When I come up with a new beading project, it's usually a necklace or a bracelet. For some reason, my brain doesn't want to come up with beaded earring projects.

So back in January, I challenged myself to correct this situation. I decided that I was going to make one pair of beaded earrings every single day for the entire month of January. In retrospect, I should have chosen a shorter month like February. But I figured if everyone else was making New Year's resolutions, then January would be the perfect month for a creative beading challenge. I sat down with my sketchbook and my beads and started coming up with designs for beaded earrings.

While I was stitching up those thirty-one pairs of earrings (a sampling of which you can see in the photograph), I started thinking about how versatile beaded earrings really are. Making one pair of earrings every day for an entire month really showed me how easy it is to make great earrings. Earrings don't need to use a lot of beads, they don't need to take a lot of time to make, and they can be as intricate or as simple as you want them to be. And because they don't take a lot of time or materials, beaded earrings make fantastic last-minute gifts. I was really inspired when I saw how even the simplest of my earring designs (an easy peyote stitch beaded bead strung with a couple of Swarovski crystals) attracted comments from admirers!

I have to admit, I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to come up with thirty-one earring designs. Like I said, beaded earring designs don't come to me easily, and the ones that I do come up with are usually hit-or-miss. But surprisingly enough, the ideas just flowed for those first few weeks of January, and I had more than enough beaded earring designs to get me through my self-imposed challenge! After I finished the first two or three pairs, the ideas came much easier. I'd find myself inspired by the pair of beaded earrings that I had just completed to make two more pairs using the same beads. Then I found some old sterling silver chain in my bead stash and got the idea to make little peyote-stitch "banners" and suspend them from the chain. I found a pair of 1940s-era Japanese glass beads that made a spectacular pair of vintage-looking earrings. I even found a design that used my precious cobalt blue vintage German glass drops, purchased at a trunk show back in 2004!

To make sure you never come up empty when you need a new beaded jewelry design, check out the new special issue 101 Bracelets, Necklaces, and Earrings from the editors of Beadwork and Stringing magazines. You'll find 148 pages of gorgeous jewelry projects from designers such as Melinda Barta, Jamie Hogsett, Marlene Blessing, Danielle Fox, and Denise Peck. Not only will you find some gorgeous fashion-forward jewelry designs, but you'll also get expert instruction, detailed materials lists and resources and loads of inspiration. Get your copy of 101 Bracelets, Necklaces and Earrings and be inspired!

Have you ever given yourself a creative challenge? What was it? How did you do? Share your story here on the blog with us!

Bead Happy,


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on Jul 4, 2011 8:17 AM

Right now, my self imposed challenge is to work on my jewelry for atleast one hour every day; even if I don't finish a piece, I stick to this and find I am getting many more pieces completed, which is good, because I am hoping to have my first jewelry show this fall!

beadsoup wrote
on Jul 4, 2011 8:23 AM

Yes!!  Several months ago I started a year long project to teach myself to bead. I do a lesson everyday. I'm on day 173 and still going strong!  Loving every minute! Come along for the ride!!,

Lori@129 wrote
on Jul 4, 2011 10:47 AM

I love the earring challenge!  Lately I've been challenging myself to only use beads I OWN and not buy anything new and that's been horribly difficult.  

candyT2 wrote
on Jul 4, 2011 11:54 AM

This spring I entered a design challenge at an online beadstore. The idea was to make jewelry from recycled/used jewelry or material.  I opted for the recycled category and made a necklace using strips of plastic from fabric softener and bubble-bath bottles. The strips were held over an open flame, heat-stressed  to turn them into free-form icicle-like pendants, and attached to a basic necklace of vintage seed beads. Surprise: it won first place in its division   ;-)

I had never worked with this particular medium before but the results were so much fun I now have a recycled-plastic stash for future projects.

on Jul 4, 2011 4:47 PM

Last winter, I asked my husband to carve some walrus ivory into square beads. ( both of us are part Alaska Native, & we acquired some walrus ivory several years ago ), thinking I would make a bracelet. My beads sat in my crafting storage unit for months because I couldn't come up with a design I liked, until a couple of weeks ago when I decided to think outside of the box. I finally made a choker-necklace using the ivory tile beads, onyx hourglass-shaped beads, seed beads, & home-made leather spacers. I made a toggle clasp closure using onyx leaf beads & 6/0 (?) root beer-colored seed beads in a circular peyote stitch. For the toggle, I used a hairpipe bead, 2 rondel bone beads w/seed beads on each end. I attached it to the necklace using the same seed beads with a right angle weave, then ladder stitch then attached that to home-made leather triangles .

on Jul 4, 2011 11:04 PM

Two months after I learned the Peyote stitch I decided to combine my artwork with my beading.  I painted a hummingbird on the lid of a Juniper Keepsake box and beaded Clematis blossoms and leaves which I stitched to a painted border that framed the hummingbird.  The real challenge was entering the box in a beading contest through Fire Mountain Gems & Beads.  Being a beginner in beading I didn't think I had a chance against the experienced beaders that entered the contest.  I was blown away when I was chosen as one of the finalists.  To see an image of the box go to my Facebook page Designs by Linda Art Studio & Gift Shop.  

Wolf912@2 wrote
on Jul 5, 2011 12:23 AM

I'd like to say, "Congratulations!", to all those of you who have completed your challenges and "Go get 'em, Girls!", for those of you who are still working on them.  I recently completed a year long challenge of making a pair of earrings every day.  I started on July 1, 2010 and ended just last week on June 30th.  

It certainly was a challenge.  I tried not to use the same beads twice, but when you are using what you have (I know what you mean Lori@129)  and not buying new, it can be difficult.  If you would like to see ALL those earrings, please check them out at my blog and click on the Earrings 365 page.   It feels very strange not to sit at my bead desk every morning and work with my beads.  But, I'll be back to it soon.

Anna_Gray wrote
on Jul 10, 2011 1:39 AM

I once noted that instead of making a full jewelry set every day (necklace, bracelet, earrings and sometimes a ring) I started to only make necklaces. So, I did my own earrings challenge - I made 12 pairs of earrings for 1 day using different materials, including found objects, for each pair. That seemed to set me back into the full set mode :).