Beaded Rings: To Wear or Not to Wear?


The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis recently held an incredible Frida Kahlo exhibit. I've always admired her work, but now that I've seen her paintings up close, I'm a fan. Many of you know the story of her soap-opera life. . . . It overwhelmed me that she found so much comfort in painting. Most creative people can relate to that.

Anyway, her works were great to see, but I was just as drawn to the photographs of her. She was like a model, that one–eyebrows included. And as you might know, she loved to wear traditional Mexican dresses and often braided her hair with ribbons and flowers, all arranged as if she herself was a sculpture.

A huge part of the sculpture–like ensemble was her jewelry. It totally blew me away! She was a small woman, but she wore big, bold necklaces made out of stones, wood, and shells, like she cobbled them together after being stuck on a desert island. Or sometimes she donned enormous earrings resembling indigenous metalwork, as if she stumbled upon El Dorado in her wanderings. And other pieces look like Victorian filigree swiped from HRM herself. 

But the rings, oh, my goodness, the rings . . . always on her left hand. Not just one ring, and not just little rings, but sometimes five huge ones that covered most of her hand. Stone, metal, glass. She must have had boxes of them.

Do you have boxes of beaded rings? I do. I love making them. They work up quickly, are totally versatile design-wise, and are easy to store. But for some reason I forget to wear them. It's not because they're uncomfortable, or because they'll fall apart while washing my hands (most are made with fishing line, for cryin' out loud), but maybe they get in the way, are too flashy, or too, well, just too much. How about you? Do you wear them? Or are you like me and just make them and slide them on the nearest acrylic hand?

 Me, in a Frida-inspired moment

After seeing the beautiful Frida, though, the stately creature festooned with her fabric, ribbons, and baubles, I think I may be changing my mind. I have an inkling that a big honkin' beaded ring might be a symbol of power. And it just might be the ultimate signal of your beaderliness—just about no one but beaders (or people who know them) have beaded rings. 

Things about Rings 

  • Use the best materials you can afford. Rings are small, so you won't break the bank.
  • Don't use beads with special finishes or dyes. They'll eventually rub off.
  • If you're making a beadwoven ring, always use the heaviest fishing line (FireLine, Dandy Line, etc.) that will fit through your beads. It doesn't abrade easily and lasts and lasts.
  • If you can't find the fishing line color you want to match your beads, buy the white kind and color it with a Sharpie.
  • When making a wireworked ring, take extra care to tuck the ends into the work. This especially includes wire wraps and spirals—they each can catch on clothing really quickly.
  • Use a metal file to round the end of a wire after you trim it. It just takes a few seconds, and it greatly reduces the chances of getting scratched or ruining a sweater. 

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks! 


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