Sunday, June 14, 2009

And now the happy ending

When I started the whole tree adventure, my original plan was to make little beaded leaf components that I could use in a number of different ways. Instead, I got sidetracked into a whole series of byways and of all the things I learned and accomplished, the beaded leaf was still the least satisfactory.

To end this week, I decided to remedy that. I applied the lessons I had learned over the past several weeks and made a spiral beaded leaf component attractive and sturdy enough to use in a wide variety of applications.

Lesson #1: 22g copper wire is too thin and soft to hold its shape.
  • Remedy: Use heavier, harder wire such as 19g half hard sterling wire.
Lesson#2: Beads that are strung directly onto the spiral are unstable and have a tendency to shift around.
  • Remedy: String the beads onto a fine working wire and couch into place.
Lesson #3: Wrapped loops create an unbalanced look.
  • Remedy: Make a plain loop for the leaf stem.
Lesson#4: Left to itself, the spiral can become distorted by catching on clothing, hair, etc.
  • Remedy: Take advantage of having the couching wire available and stabilize the open top of the coil, effectively creating a closed shape.
Applying those lessons, here is the finished product.

All of these remedies come back to using a heavier, harder wire. You can't string seed beads on 19g wire, but you can easily string the beads onto 28g wire and couch them in place. Couching also allows you to use a much wider range of beads, including gemstones and crystals as well as glass seed beads. The couching wire is then available to stabilize the leaf form so it won't catch and bend. The heavier wire is suitable for a plain loop, which is much better balanced with the appearance of the leaf. Worked in 19g, the leaf is only 1/8 inch longer than the 22g leaf (5/8 inch vs 1/2 inch -- 15 mm vs 13 mm) so it is still a small delicate component. The plain loop opens the possibility of creating a chain of these leaves as well as using them as charms or dangles.

Technical details: Coiled spiral leaves in 19g half hard sterling. #11 delica beads couched around the edge with 28g sterling. Latch-back wires, also 19g sterling.

I'm extremely happy with the way this came out. The learning curve on this one was a stinker, but ultimately worth it. At the end of the month I had a lovely new leaf component as well as new variations of wire armature pendants under my belt, and a wide range of variations bouncing around in my mind. Not only that, but as difficult and time-consuming as the process was, the final products are very manageable in terms of difficulty and of time spent. Once I finish my current project, I'm looking forward to being able to make some really lovely pieces with both the leaves and the trees.

Now I'm on to the next thing. Don't forget to check out all the talented artists at the Year of Jewelry. There are new and beautiful things posted there nearly every day.


pepperdove said...

Those are so pretty! I wish I wore earrings (again I wish this); I would wear those a lot.

Sandi said...

Charm bracelet, maybe?

Shay Stone said...

They came out great Sandi!