But Is It Wearable? Necklace Making From a Different Perspective

Wearing my Battle of the Beadsmith piece at last year's Bead Fest Philadelphia with friends.

In the last few years, I've seen more and more emerging bead artists who are pushing the envelope with their beautifully over-the-top beaded necklaces. That's part of the beauty of necklace making: if you can imagine it, you can make it. But upon seeing one of my wild, over-the-top, crazy complicated beaded necklace designs, I've had more than one person ask me, "It looks beautiful, but is it comfortable to wear?"

And of course, that got me thinking. Why do I love to make those kinds of scene-stealing beaded necklaces? What use is there in making something that you really can't wear comfortably? As it turns out, there are lots of reasons to just surrender yourself to making a beaded necklace that's as much a work of art as it is a piece of beaded jewelry.

Necklace Making As Art

When I created Lady In the Lake, I was more concerned with telling my story artistically instead of making a necklace that could be worn every day.

Looking through art books and artists at juried, high-end craft shows, I see a lot of beaded necklaces that are just stunning in design and execution, but that are in no way practical to wear, even on a special occasion. So, why would you want to make a necklace that no one can wear?

Allowing yourself to explore necklace making as an art form can result in some pretty spectacular pieces that can not only help you make a name for yourself in the art world, but that also allow you to develop new skills in using color and technique. Maybe you even allow yourself to explore new techniques that you've never tried before.

Using necklace making as purely an exercise in the principles of art can result in some surprising discoveries about yourself and your thoughts about art!

Necklace Making For Creative Problem-Solving

The skills I learned when creating my three-dimensional bead embroidered collar last summer will come in handy for this year's Battle of the Beadsmith!

Creating the structure of a wildly creative beaded necklace can present some pretty tough design problems. When I came up with my idea for last year's Battle of the Beadsmith piece, I wondered aloud, "Is this even possible?" I had no idea. And yet, I had to sit down and start stitching to find out what the beads could and couldn't do. In the end, I was quite pleased that I found ways around the technical issues that popped up along the way, and it made me feel even more confident to move on to my next large beaded necklace project.

When you make an over-the-top beaded necklace, you're stretching your creative problem-solving skills in ways you might never have thought possible. Who knows what else you might discover? A new bead-weaving technique, a new design element, or maybe a new love for an old beading stitch.

Necklace Making For the Joy Of It

And so what if you make an amazing, gorgeous beaded necklace and it can't be worn for more than twenty minutes without becoming uncomfortable to the wearer? I think that sometimes, we should forget about the practical applications of necklace making and jewelry-making in general and just go with the flow of it because it makes us happy.

The best part is that all of these things that you learn when making your own beautiful beaded necklace projects can be used in so many other ways. Take the ideas that pop up while you're working on your crazy, cool necklace making projects and apply them to other projects and ideas that you've had waiting patiently in your sketchbooks!

The Perfect Balance Between Art and Craft

Yes, I will always love to make showy, over-the-top, crazy complicated beaded necklaces. The skills and techniques I learn while making these kinds of beaded jewelry designs is just priceless. Even if the necklace itself never sells, I'll always have those skills that I can use to create new and innovative beaded jewelry.

Are you looking for some great beaded jewelry designs to practice your beading skills? Jean Campbell, senior editor of Beadwork magazine has a fabulous new video just for you! Check out Jean Campbell's Best Beading Workshops: Global Designs to learn about Jean's inspiration for three of her top beaded jewelry designs, plus watch and learn as she creates each one of these beading projects, step by step. Can't wait for the DVD to arrive in the mail? You can also download Jean Campbell's Best Beading Workshops: Global Designs instantly onto your favorite desktop or laptop computer!

What do you think about big, crazy, over-the-top necklace making projects? Do you enjoy making them or wearing them? Do you prefer more practical or subdued designs? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and tell us what you think!

Bead Happy,


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