Been keeping busy wire wrapping beautiful, earthy gemstone beads to create these unique Large Brass Cross Statement and Small Brass Holy Spirit Dove Pendant Necklaces for Women. Unique handmade jewelry by Judy Rebman. Find them here:
Love Earthy Bohemian Gypsy Layered Necklaces? Check out my unique, handmade sets. Layers of earthy loveliness you can mix and match to create your own unique style! Here are a few. Find these and more at:
What goes into one of my handcrafted necklaces? Well, it all depends.
If it’s a piece that is commissioned from my own creative muse, it all starts with a flicker of an idea; maybe from seeing a unique pendant I’ve come across, or a pop up idea with something I already have in my abundant stash of gemstones, pearls, charms, and pendants and such; or, an urge to create something wild and unruly and rustic where I create starting from scratch such as one of my sun catchers or dream catchers.
If it’s a custom piece requested by a customer, it all starts with getting a solid idea of what that person has in mind. This can be challenging. It’s kind of like reading a book; two people can read the very same story but have a totally different idea or picture in their mind of what the characters look like, the scenery, and how the story ends. So to be very clear on things we’ll send some notes and pictures back and forth until I feel confident that we both have the same outcome, or close to it, in mind. That’s the beauty and challenge of creating a custom piece.
I’ll then determine the cost, set up a custom order and once the purchase is made I’ll get started.
If I have the supplies on hand, I start right away. How long it takes to get it done depends on the style. I’ll give a time frame with an expected completion date and my goal is to exceed that expectation but without rushing just for the sake of getting it done quickly. I won’t compromise quality for a quick finish. If it takes longer than a week, I’ll send updates along the way so the customer knows I am diligently working on their order.
Here are some pictures and the process that went into a custom order I recently received and completed.
This is a necklace that wasn’t exactly what the customer had asked me to create. Why? Because initially the request was to replicate a necklace. And, out of respect for other artists, I don’t copy other designs. I guess in the grand scheme of jewelry making, a necklace is a necklace; a string of beads or trinkets in different lengths that may or may not have a pendant at the end and may or may not have a clasp at the back. But, still, I start from scratch: how long, what kind of beads, how will I string them, pendant or no pendant, clasp or no clasp. Of course, creativity breeds creativity but in the end I take pride in knowing that my creations are not copies but pieces that start from scratch and develop into their own unique finish.
After a few notes and pictures of pieces I had previously created, we agreed on the design. A long strand of beaded links. Long enough to create a triple wrap necklace. Color was to be black, dark blue or purple. Beads, type and style, were to be the same. Pendant was to be one of my etched copper pendants with a dandelion design, no dangles below. Wire was to be copper. Clasp was to be something simple that the pendant would hang from. The customer indicated her fashion style was minimalist and simple.
I created a price sheet, set up a custom order. The purchase was made and I got to work.
Initially, I thought I would create the necklace with black onyx gemstones in a smaller 6mm size to better fit a simple/minimalist style. Got out my bead stash and my copper wire and got to work on hand wrapping.
But, snafu #1; I didn’t like how the copper jump rings were working with the beads. In my opinion, the jump rings I had on hand were a bit too thick and too big for the size of beads I wanted to use. So, I placed an order with one of my most favorite and dependable suppliers for a more suitable jump ring.
This, fortunately, did not create a delay in the making of the necklace for in the meantime I would work on creating the pendant.
My copper pendants start with a sheet of blank copper. I use 20 gauge. Not too thick and not too thin. I cut the desired shape by hand with heavy duty tin snips. This leaves behind a rough edge on the metal. So, after cutting the metal, I use a fine grade sand paper to smooth the rough edges; once again, by hand.
After the shape has a nice smooth edge, I smooth the front and back flat surfaces with steel wool to create an even surface to apply the etched design. The surface has to be clean of oil and dirt so I scrub the pieces with Dawn dish soap and Comet cleanser.
Next comes the design application. I’m still working on my artistic skills with drawing and painting. In this case, I used a rubber stamp and ink to apply the dandelion design on the metal. Here’s an example from a previous custom order.
After the design has been applied, the metal is put through a process which will etch the design into the metal. There are several ways this can be done. You can find them by searching the internet.
Once the metal has been etched, I clean it again with steel wool and soap and water. Now I have a nice clean shiny copper pendant.
The next step is my favorite part of creating these pendants. The patina! There are different ways to develop a patina on metal and again you can search the internet to find out how (the internet is an amazing thing isn’t it!). I use a heat patina which develops into beautiful colorful designs and patterns. And, the lovely thing about the patina is no two pieces come out exactly the same.
After I’m satisfied with the patina I may or may not add an ink design to the back side of the pendant.
The final step on the pendants is to apply some type of sealant. This will help to better maintain the patina. In this case, I applied three coats of spray lacquer. This was a three day process to allow each coat to dry between applications.
Now my pendants are done and I’m ready to start wire wrapping the beads.
In the interim of making the pendants and waiting on the jump rings I had made another gemstone order and received these BEAUTIFUL dumortierite gemstones. These gemstones are a dark blue with some medium blue, black and brown inclusions. I knew they would look marvelous with the copper wire and pendant. So I opted for the dumortierite over the black onyx.
What is dumortierite? From the web:
1. a rare blue or violet mineral occurring typically as needles and fibrous masses in gneiss and schist. It consists of an aluminum and iron borosilicate.
(If you’d like to know more about these stones or may be interested in their crystal meanings be sure to google it for some interesting facts and/or opinions.)
I had estimated the length needed to wrap the necklace three times would be between 52″ to 54″. That’s a lot of beads and wrapping but wrap I did. 85 times!
After wrapping the beads I put the necklace through a patina process. This darkens the metal wire making it almost black. So now we’ve gone from a too bright coppery wire look to a dark corrosive looking patina.
The next step is to hand polish the metal on each beaded link with steel wool. This process smooths out the metal and brings back some of the coppery shine while leaving enough of the patina so the metal has a more aged/antiqued finish; not too bright, not too dark. I find this to be the most time consuming part of the process. Earlier on I had tried to find different/easier ways of doing this; tried a vinegar bath which ruined some beads, didn’t buff out the scratches and brought the metal back to a coppery dull finish. My husband bought me a Dremel which “chewed” up the metal. In the end, for me, I find hand polishing the best way to finish my pieces and so that is my process.
Now I have the finished necklace. It’s a very long 55″. The clasp is a simple toggle clasp. I had to try a couple of different ways to attach it to determine how it would best work with the finished product. This resulted in a re-wrap and patina and polish of a couple of beads but that’s just my style. If I don’t feel absolutely sure of the outcome I keep trying until I get it right.
I also made a little “S” type removable/optional clasp. Attaching this to the back of the necklace after it has been wrapped may help hold the necklace in place.
Now the finishing touch. Adding the pendant. Earlier on in this post I mentioned that each pendant will have a different patina. I had created six pendants when I started this necklace; two different sizes, all with the dandelion design. I liked the smaller pendants with the necklace and one of them had a more coppery finish with hues of purple and blue which looked fabulous with the beads and copper wire.
Snafu #2. I didn’t care for the lacquer finish. It was just too shiny. Now I could have left it because it looked okay. The necklace was finished and all I had to do was add the pendant. But, I didn’t absolutely “love” the outcome. So……
I decided to remove the glossy lacquer finish and apply a coat of Renaissance Wax instead. This would provide a hard, protective seal will less shine.
Removing the lacquer finish was easy but it also removed the stamped ink design on the backside so I would need to re-stamp. No big deal but I would want the stamping to set for a day so as not to smear the design when I applied the wax.
And, finally, after three coats of wax and a good polishing I attached the pendant. And voila! The necklace was complete. And done within my two week start to finish window. And I LOVE how it came out.
Snapped a few photos. Put it in some pretty packaging and sent it on its way to its new owner.
I hope she loves it as much as I do.
I do have five of these awesome dandelion pendants available. I plan on making a few more beaded chains like this one to dangle them from. Maybe you’d like one for yourself. If so, you can contact me through my etsy shop and request a custom order or email me at judith_r@hughes. net.