How to Combine Beadwork and Metal

How to Combine Beadwork and Metal
I gave a lecture on designing Steampunk jewelry at my local bead society a couple weeks ago. I showed lots of stunning pictures and pointed out the different types of materials to use when working in this style. The photos all contained wired, riveted, strung, and chemically-bonded work, but beadwork? A little stitching here and there, but really nothing very meaty. So I gave a challenge to the group: Who could do some good Steampunk-style jewelry using a needle, thread, and seed beads?

Gloria Acker came up to me after the meeting and showed me a Steampunk pendant necklace she’d done with a clockwork-infused metal focal piece. She’d bezeled it with size 15° seed beads in a wonderfully whimsical way that evoked gears… I guess there is something to that adage, “Ask and it is given!”

Working metal into beadwork is actually a hot trend right now! Just look at the two projects (left image) found on the cover of the upcoming issue of Beadwork magazine. It features two “Modern Vintage” pieces, Barbara Falkowitz’s Hearts & Rosettes Necklace, which combines beadworked components with chain and metal links, and Amy Haftkowycz’s Floral Wreaths Bracelet, which combines beadwork with large metal rings. Plus, there are at least three other projects in this issue that combine beadwork with metal links, chain, or other findings as part of the overall design.

Want to dive into this trend, too? Here are a few suggestions for getting started:

Bling Bracelet

Sjournee necklace

Sequin Shimmer
by Cindi Slater
  • Weave strands of seed beads through chain to soften and fill the look. I did that here with my Sjournee Necklace (Beadwork, April/May 2009)
  • Use large jump rings to connect beadworked components.
  • Form a peyote- or brick-stitched tab at the end of a piece of beadwork, slide it through an appropriately-sized ring, and zip the end of the tab to the beadwork to form a loop. I use this technique in my Bling Bracelet, incorporating beadwork with chain.
  • Sew short pieces of chain to your beadwork, creating a different type of fringe.
  • Use metal beads to form fringe, as Cindi Slater does in her Sequin Shimmer, which will appear in the upcoming issue of Beadwork.

So be sure to subscribe to Beadwork to keep up with the latest and trendiest designs including working with metal. Have you already combined metal into your work? Share your ideas here on Beading Daily.

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