Thursday, April 10, 2008

Design-a-Day: Lucite and Hill Tribes Silver Pendant

I've fallen in love with Hill Tribes silver -- and not just because we share a name. The Karen tribe in Thailand makes beautiful silver beads and focal pieces using historical techniques, resulting in an organic feel and funky, ethnic styling. It's very different from the polished, ornamental Rajasthani silver of India.

Tonight, I was eying a stack of large vintage lucite beads that I got at the Baltimore Bead Show in January. These sea green beads were rescued from a Rhode Island factory that closed the 1960s, and they have a very cool crackle pattern sealed under a smooth outer coating. I also wanted to dig into the shipment of Hill Tribes silver that arrived last week!

When I design, I often start with one piece and then go through everything else I have, holding things up together and muttering a lot. In this case, though, as soon as I'd picked the big piece of lucite, I knew exactly what the next piece would be -- a particular Hill Tribes silver flower. A good start, but the composition was bare. I didn't want to detract from the flower with beads, so I tried some twists of hammered wire. All of my hammered wire wraps are textured using locally-available resources (which is to say -- my kitchen floor).

I toyed with combinations of pearls, shells and hematite chips for the necklace portion, but, feeling that a beaded necklace would detract from the coolness of the pendant itself, I chose to hang it on chain instead. A plain chain also seemed bare, so I accented it with hematite rings and tiny bits of turquoise.

I often get ideas for other pieces while implementing a design. I frequently make one earring and then run off and make some completely different before coming back to finish the other half of the pair. Sometimes I end up with three non-matching earrings and the beginning of a necklace at the end of an evening! While I was assembling the hematite and turquoise accents, I found myself shaking them and thinking how pleasantly dangly they were. A matching set of earrings seemed like the natural vehicle for this dangliness, and so the Creeping Vines Pendant and Earrings Set was born!


Anonymous said...

Ah ha! I found your blog. :) Love the layout, very crisp. Will add it to my favorite blogs!

Karen said...

I'm quite enamored, too -- it's one of the Blogger templates! They have some nice defaults.

Anonymous said...

You know that that Lucite pendent is just gorgeous! (and it matches your blog)

So when do we get to a pic of that fabulous blue hair I keep hearing about? My older son is always changing his hair color and so I get to play (I'm his colorist).

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Karen said...

hehe .. I have a photo of the blue hair on Jellybug Artworks:

And there are smaller of photos of me in nearly all of my hair colors on my personal website:

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks so much for posting the links! I know Manic Panic VERY well :)

Enjoyed viewing your website (very nice setup) and bookmarked it.

Love the various shades you've been - blue is cool though!

Have a great weekend ~ Sharon