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Sunday, October 11, 2015


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.

Step five: Time to attach the two halves of the clasp to finish the necklace. First, I string two crimping beads onto one end of a wire, and then I add the clasp. (I prefer a lobster claw clasp, which I’ll always attach to the left wire because I’m a lefty.) I loop the wire through the crimping beads, leaving enough of a loop to allow the clasp to hang loose, but not so much that the loop is huge. (I also leave about a half inch of wire below the clasp so that the beads have a bit of room, although you can’t tell from the pictures below.) I repeat the process with the other half of the clasp on the opposite wire. I twist the excess wire around the wire below the crimping beads once or twice for extra hold, and then trim off whatever’s left.


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.

Plantation Shudders

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.

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Angela Adams said...

Wow! That is lovely!!

M. Johnston said...

Now I've learned how to put together a necklace, and I have a bunch of beads to try it. Thanks for the lesson! (And the idea for branding.)

Ann Myers said...

Pretty! Great idea for using pins.

Ellen Byron said...

Hope you enjoy making them! My advice is to find a store in your area that sells beads. Often the owner will give you tips when you need them. That's what happened with me. Sometimes they even offer lessons.

Thanks for commenting!

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Ellen, Love the necklace on display. Thanks for the lesson and best of luck with Plantation Shudders. :)

Ellen Byron said...

Thanks so much, Joanne. I have to say, the alligator is one of my favorites.At the recent Bouchercon conference, some people couldn't tell what he was right away - a dragon? a lizard? - so I had several people come right up to my chest for an up-close look. It was kind of hilarious!