Ellen Byron’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me. She’s written over 200 magazine articles, and her published plays include the award-winning Graceland. Today she joins us to talk about her passion for beading. Learn more about Ellen and her book at her website.
Make a Necklace with Ellen Byron
Branding is the buzzword of the decade. With that in mind, I decided to create a signature color palette themed to my Cajun Country series that I’d wear to book signings and conferences. Since the series is set in Louisiana, I went with the Mardi Gras scheme of purple, green, and gold. Amassing a wardrobe in those hues hasn’t been a problem. But coming up with accessories has. So I decided to make necklaces that would compliment my outfits.
I got into making jewelry a few years ago, so I already had the basic tools: jewelry pliers, wire cutters, and wire. I bought crimping beads at Michael’s.
I have a collection of glass and crystal beads, but I expanded it through shopping at local bead shops, online stores, and craft shops. I also found old necklaces that I took apart so I could repurpose the beads.
Step one: I searched Ebay for “vintage pins purple gold green” or “mardi gras pins.” I ended up buying about five in several necklaces I assembled styles. Here are four, but I’ll guide you through my process using another pin.
Step two: I cut a length of wire about six inches longer than I’d need for the length of the necklace. That leaves about three inches on each end to attach a clasp. (NOTE: For this example, I only used one long wire because the brooch’s clasp I attached it to was vertical. If the clasp is horizontal, I cut two pieces of wire and attach one to each end of the clasp. NOTE #2: If the brooch is heavy, go with a heavier gauge of wire.)
Step three: I loop the wire around the top of the brooch clasp, making sure it’s even on both sides. I then slip on one or two crimping beads, push them down as close to the brooch clasp as possible, and squeeze the beads with the pliers to secure the wire in place. NOTE: This vintage alligator brooch had a loose clasp, so I also placed a dollop of strong craft glue over the clasp’s opening.
Step four: The fun part! I play with different bead combinations to see which best compliments the brooch I’m working with. Since this brooch is a bit heavy, I primarily used smaller crystal beads. If your necklace is too heavy, it won’t be comfortable and you increase the chance of it breaking. NOTE: I picked up the bead tray for fifty cents at a thrift store. I don’t use the measurements, but it’s a great surface to work on. But it’s totally optional.
If my combination is complicated, I write it down on a “cheat sheet.” You want both sides to match up. So if you make a mistake and don’t want to re-string your wire, just make sure you match the other side to the pattern. If you look closely at my finished necklace, you’ll see that I messed up once and instead of two green beads, I did one. When I realized this, rather than re-string an entire side, I simply copied the “mistake” on the opposite wire. That way, the patterns on both sides still match up.
The finished product is the photo at the beginning of this post.
I’ve laid out very detailed instructions, but making one of these necklaces is a lot of fun and really not that hard. My biggest dilemma now is how to stop myself from making more of them!
P.S. See if you can spot where I goofed up the pattern of purple/gold/green/gold/green/gold. Instead, I beaded purple/gold/green/gold/purple, missing a green bead. Hint: it’s about a third of the way up from the alligator.
Maggie Crozat, a feisty artist in her early thirties, moves back to eccentric Pelican, Louisiana, after a decade in New York to work at her family’s historic plantation-turned-B&B. The family business is in peril after an obnoxious eighty-something couple staying at the B&B on their honeymoon – yes, their honeymoon – mysteriously drops dead within minutes of each other. The Pelican Chief of Police carries a longstanding grudge against the Crozats, and Maggie can’t trust the sexy new detective in town because he happens to be the Chief’s cousin. So Maggie is forced to become an amateur sleuth, aided by her accordion-playing best friend Gaynell, her cross-dressing pal JJ, and her cocktail-loving Grandmere.