Beaded Straps and Cords and Fringes…and a Giveaway!

So, the first thing that you should know about me is that I'm a total cabochon freak. I love beading with cabochons. One of the things that I always find to be a fun challenge when I'm stitching up a beaded cabochon necklace is what kind of fringe and strap I'm going to add to turn my beadwork into a piece of wearable art.

Sometimes, it's easy. The cabochons will pretty much tell me what to do when it comes to adding beaded fringe and beaded straps. I can draw from the colors of the cabochons themselves, and sometimes the textures or patterns on them if the cabochon has been made by one of my favorite ceramic artists. Other times, it's not so easy, and I've been known to stash a piece away in a drawer for a year (or more!) while I wait for the right inspiration to hit me. To give all of you some inspiration for ways to use beaded fringe and beaded straps, I thought I'd share some of my favorite beaded cabochon necklaces and talk a little bit about what I did for each of them. (Keep reading – this all ties into a giveaway at the end of the post!)

My Azteca neck piece was one of my first attempts at making a bead embroidered neck piece. I loved the way the embroidery came out, but when it came to fringing the piece, I was completely stuck. I tucked it away in a drawer for nearly a year before I realized what I needed to do for fringe. Oddly enough, the idea came to me when I was out feeding my chickens one afternoon! I rushed back into the house and took out my bag of bamboo tubes – the provided just the right earthy feel to the piece, and the seed bead loops on the ends of each fringe provided wonderful movement to the piece.
One of my more recent pieces, Midnight Sun, features a handmade cabochon by the wonderful Lisa Peters. I didn't want to distract from the beautiful gold design on the cabochon, but I still wanted it to have a little fun! Combining long and short fringes made it look like something my mom might have worn back in 1973. I alternated short fringes with vintage glass flower beads with longer strands of simple looped fringe. (And this piece looks fabulous when I wear it with a black turtleneck sweater!)
Another of my favorite ceramic artists, the very talented Marsha Hedrick, inspired me to create a dramatic necklace around her handmade Art Nouveau cabochon. The beaded fringe on this one was pretty simple – black onyx drops suspended from loops of seed beads – but then I decided to take it a step further and include those drops on the beaded strap as well. And of course, I had to find just the right color of seed bead to match the colors of the cabochon!
Sometimes I like to use materials for my beaded straps that aren't necessarily beads. For this gemstone cabochon beaded necklace, I decided to make use of some of the satin cord I had lying around and beaded up some peyote stitch slides. I used the same glass drops on the slides that I used on the fringe, and I added a larger size seed bead to the slides to give them some texture.
When I was stitching up this piece, using another funky handmade ceramic focal bead also made by the fabulous Lisa Peters, I decided to do an embellished rope in the style of Laura McCabe's intricate beadwork. Because I didn't want to overpower the focal bead, I just added a short length of simple fringe using pressed glass drops. The whole necklace is asymmetrical, and the fringe makes it fun to wear!

And so here is the good part: the giveaway!

Way back when I first got started in beading, I needed ideas and inspiration for ways to fringe my beaded creations. I found a copy of Jean Campbell's 32 Beaded Cords, Chains, Straps & Fringe and was instantly inspired! In fact, I still have a well-loved copy of this book handy because I still go back to it for ideas. And we just happen to have one copy of this fantastic book here in the Interweave offices, just looking for a brand new home.

So here's what to do: post a comment on this blog about your favorite stitch for a beaded strap, your favorite style of beaded fringe, or your favorite stitch for making beaded cords or ropes. On Friday, June 17, 2011 at 5 p.m. EST, I'll choose a random winner using my trust random number generator.

Good luck, and bead happy!

Jennifer

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