May I present: The Audrey Collar.
From home, I brought with me a stash of beads that I felt wouldn’t be available to me here. Among those beads are these colorful wooden squares that reminded me of candy and, for some reason, Mexican food.
Mainly because of the happy colors, in honor of one of my favorite blogs, homerunballerina, I’ve decided to embark on a new project. Since I was out of juice, I allowed the idea to brew in my head for a couple of days. Should I make a little purse? A celphone case? Yesterday the kettle whistled and I finally knew what I wanted to make: the Audrey Collar. It seems quite apt to make a statement piece that will adorn the neck like a smile since Audrey seems like a happy person. I’ll be employing a bead weaving technique that is simple and not very time consuming. At least I think so … since I’ve never done this before.
No matter, we can try this project together! 😛
Major Skill: bead weaving
What You Need:
Can you use another kind of string? Sure! Just make sure they are sturdy but thin enough to fit into the bead’s hole at least twice.
The chains are optional. You can finish off your collar with excess string and beads. But if you’re trying to ration your bead supply (like me), chains are great extenders.
Sometimes the repeated pulling of strings can strain your hand. This is where the pliers come in handy. Just make sure to pull as gently as you can so as not to a) snap the string in half, or b) break the bead (it can happen, depending on your bead’s material.)
Of course, you can use any-colored beads that you wish. And you can use whatever-shaped ones, too, although the finished form may have slight variations in character. What could matter more is the size of the beads you’re using. The bigger they are, the less you’d need and the quicker you’d finish. But this isn’t always a good thing since bigger beads might be worrisome to shape. Another challenge would be different-shaped and -sized beads which could make the collar look irregular. However, it could work. It all depends on your taste, you see. There are no set rules in crafting. If it doesn’t work, simply un-weave the beads and start again.
Prepping the String:
That is, if you are using nylon or other synthetic strings that can fray. Fraying not only disrupts your flow as you’re weaving, it also subtracts from the length of your string. Pretty soon, if you keep it unchecked, you will find that you don’t have enough to finish your work.
How much string should you use for your basic pattern? Decide on the length of your collar. You can measure your neck or, better yet, use your collar with the length that you desire and measure that. Double that magic number. Then double it again. As a rule of thumb, it is better to have extra length on your string than not.
The last step in prepping your string is to put each end through a needle. This is why you need 2 needles.
Making the Basic Pattern:
Very easy! For the basic pattern, it doesn’t matter which needle the beads go through. What’s important is that the 4th bead is shared by both needles. Try to remember this 4-number pattern because I’ll be using it in the next steps to make things easier for the both of us (haha!)
MAKING THE TIERS
I made three tiers for the Audrey Collar. The first tier is the foundation from which you build.
I used two weaving patterns. Because I have learned to bead weave by figuring out the patterns in my head and have yet to consult a bead weaving book, I don’t know the exact names for these patterns. So I will name them for the purpose of this tutorial.
The first and second tiers are made of a continuous weave. No skips. Just straight and straightforward, like cement blocks laid out in a line.
The third tier is made of, what I call, a scallop weave in which you do skip, creating those charming little smiles.
Or not. Remember: it all depends on your style.
When you’re done, secure your first row with another bead and tie the ends neatly.
You can start anywhere using this basic pattern. It’s a little like tetris or lego. You just make sure the two rows interconnect. Since this is a bit tricky, while still learning the rhythm of it, repeat the 4-number pattern like a mantra. It will help you focus and, eventually, the movement will be second nature to you.
Basically, you’ll be using the same pattern as the continuous weave. All you need to do to create that lovely scallop edge is to skip a bead before starting the pattern again.
Here is what the scallop weave looks like compared to the continuous weave:
TYING LOOSE ENDS
Like I said earlier, you can use strings and beads to finish up your collar and then top it off with a nice clasp. But if you opt to use chains, here is what you need to do:
Adding a little decorative tail at the end of the loop for your latch looks quite lovely when you have your hair up. It’s also quite sensual feeling it swaying against your skin as you move.
EMBELLISHING YOUR COLLAR
It’s your collar. If you choose to embellish it, pick items you feel good about. In the case of the Audrey Collar, I used some tiny plastic light brown beads and just beaded it throughout the outline of the collar. For the centerpiece, I framed the inner arch with small round turquoise. Then I used a round, flat turquoise on one face, and a white round capiz, made from mother of pearl, on the opposite face. It’s actually interchangeable so I can have the choice of white or blue depending on my look. (Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic of it!) Lastly, to crown my jewels, I added a round brass ring, a remnant of an old handbag. I’m happy it found a new home.
I must have spent two and a half weeks on the Audrey Collar. One week just letting the idea of it bounce around in my old noggin. Then a couple of days doing it with excitement, then undoing it in frustration, then redoing it with more resolve. If you embark on this project and find yourself in the second stage, don’t let frustration get the better of you. That is part of creativity, making mistakes is. Honestly, I never intended to put the turquoise at the center. But when I finished the 3 tiers, I felt the collar needed a focal point. Part of me was disappointed my original idea was lacking. Then it was all a matter of digging through my stash of beads and recyclables to find the inspiration I needed.
That’s me, Man Hands Lizzie, with that goofy smile on my face. Happy to be wearing my Audrey Collar. (Please don’t mind the lousy celphone camera photo — sigh!). There’s nothing as wonderfully satisfying as being adorned by a piece you’ve made with your own hands — even if they are manly.
Anyways, I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. I hope it inspires you to make your own lovely collar.
Have a joyfully creative and creatively joyful day everyone! Man Hands Lizzie