An Ode to Necklace Making by Guest Blogger Betty Stephan

If you've ever seen the amazing beaded necklaces of artist Betty Stephan, you'll understand that Betty is a true master of necklace making. Combining bead embroidery with bead-weaving in art and elegance, her work has won numerous

Bead artist Betty Stephan

awards and appeared on the cover of a Lark Crafts Showcase 500 book.

While Betty creates beautiful beaded bracelets and the occasional pair of beaded earrings, necklace making is indeed her first love. I feel a kind of kinship with her, since necklace making seems to come easier to me than other types of beaded jewelry. Read on to find out why this award-winning bead artist loves the art of necklace making!

A couple of weeks ago I went to the hairdresser. For some reason she insisted on parting my hair on the opposite side from where it had been parted for the last 30 years. As silly as it sounds, it drove me nuts! I was so uncomfortable that within an hour I was in my car changing it back to the "correct" side. That's sort of the way I feel about beaded bracelets and earrings — sure I wear them sometimes, but I just don't feel right. Oh, but beaded necklaces! I seldom leave the house with a naked neck, and as far as necklace making goes, for me, beading just doesn't get any better.

First let me say that I like making wearable beaded necklaces. If you can't wear it, I'm really not interested in making it . I truly appreciate sculptural beadwork, but for now, it's just not what I want to do.

I've made all types of beaded jewelry. Beaded bracelet are fun to make. They're small and fast, but I feel like they limit me. Beaded earrings are great, but you have to make two of the same design! Who wants to make two the same of anything?

Necklace making is really my idea of the perfect way to express yourself. A good necklace making project can be varied so easily — change the size, shape, technique, beads, components, colors or anything else! For me, necklace making projects are perfect ways to express myself through art.

I like the challenges involved in necklace making. There are so many little puzzles to figure out! Engineering is a big part, making sure that the necklace lays correctly on the wearer. If you are making a beaded necklace with the goal of selling it, making sure that it lays correctly on a wide variety of necks is a must. One thing that I have discovered from selling my beaded necklaces at high-end shows is that there are many different shapes and sizes of necks and shoulders out there, all begging for a gorgeous beaded necklace.

After coming up with a beaded necklace design, it's important to ensure that the structure of the piece will support all the components and not flop over. The finished necklace must also be balanced so that it doesn't shift off-center when worn. The clasp should be secure, and easy to work. Above all, the finished beaded necklace needs to be comfortable, in my opinion, to make the wearer feel beautiful and confident. 

Working on all of these challenges, one by one, are some of the things that I really enjoy about necklace making. Even when my necklace making projects aren't successful at first, through a lot of trial and error that can be frustrating, I'm left with a finished beaded necklace that's a beautiful piece of wearable art, and something that I can be proud of. It's a wonderful feeling! I love necklace making! 

Are you all about necklace making, too? Even the most die-hard of bead stitchers sometimes likes a little inspiration from strung jewelry designs, and that's where 101 Bracelets, Necklaces, and Earrings comes in handy. Take a look at fresh new jewelry ideas from some of your favorite designers. Follow the latest jewelry-making trends and see what's new in the world of necklace making (and more!) when you get your copy of 101 Bracelets, Necklaces, and Earrings!

What do you love about necklace making? Do ideas for beaded necklaces come easy for you? Share your best (and worst) necklace making moments with us here on the Beading Daily blog!

Bead Happy,


Bead artist Betty Stephan lives in upstate New York. After she retired from her job as a preschool aide, she found the time to pursue a new career as a jewelry artist. She sells her work at fine craft shows throughout the northeast United States. You can see more of her work on her website, Betty Stephan Beadwork.

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