I Just Ate My Earrings: Savor Ephemeral Art by Making 3 Candy Jewelry Designs
Sometimes I have the most fun with art that isn’t meant to last. I pour my whole heart into sprawling sidewalk drawings, expressive pumpkins, whimsical snow sculptures, and meticulously frosted cookies. The fact that my projects will wash away, rot, melt, or be eaten doesn’t detract from the experience. In fact, their ephemeral nature might actually propel me to focus on the act of creating for its own sake. Does this happen to you, too?
While ephemeral art and jewelry don’t often go hand in hand, the two are not mutually exclusive. When a candy necklace fell into my hands last Halloween, a sudden thought struck me: I could use my beadweaving skills with these candy beads to make something far more fun than a simple strung necklace. That was the beginning.
Using my family as guinea pigs, I experimented with three beading and jewelry projects that will last only as long as the nearest sweet tooth can hold back. If you need a break from your usual routine, give these transient designs a try – or even come up with possibilities of your own.
Beadweaving … with Candy Beads
What you need:
- A generous supply of candy necklaces (affiliate link)
- Sewing thread or beading thread
- A tapestry needle or any needle that will fit through the beads
Get ready for some sweet-smelling aromatherapy as you bead! Cut the elastic on several necklaces and let those beads roll free. You’ll notice that candy beads are short and squat with large holes. These features make them a bit tricky to work with, especially when it comes to maintaining tension. I quickly realized two things: a bigger bead size doesn’t necessarily make for easier stitching, and some stitches work better than others.
A two-column flat herringbone stitch produced a wide, draping bracelet that worked out quite well. Right-angle weave, peyote stitch, and square stitch had potential, but my beadwork was on the floppy side. As for chenille and brick-stitch, my attempts were so clumsy that they didn’t even warrant a photograph.
The winning stitch was daisy chain, hands down. Not only was the resulting necklace delightful, but it was easy to do — and actually the first time I had ever tried this stitch. Daisy chain also proved to be the least frustrating for little fingers, if you’re considering a kids’ activity. I found that seven candy “petal” beads created the snuggest fit around the center.
For a great introduction to daisy chain, right-angle weave, peyote, brick, and square stitch, check out Tammy Honaman’s online workshop. To dive deep into herringbone and all it’s possibilities, don’t miss Melinda Barta’s workshop, Herringbone Stitch: Basics and Beyond.
Kumihimo … with Licorice Laces
What you need:
- Long licorice laces, in colors of your choice (affiliate link)
- A kumihimo disk with wide slots (Homemade is fine!)
- Thread to tie the licorice ends
As a newly-initiated fan of kumihimo, I was excited to try this technique with nontraditional materials. I ordered a rainbow pack of licorice laces and soon found it sitting in my mailbox, a cold lump. Luckily, as I peeled the strands apart, my concerns about its pliability disappeared. It was flexible, surprisingly resilient, and only a little bit sticky.
Since most kumihimo disks have tight, narrow slots, I created a workable disk from card stock with 16 more-or-less evenly spaced cuts. I chose eight strands of licorice, tied the ends together with a piece of thread, and positioned the strands in the disk in the standard way.
I was pleased with how easily the licorice began to plait, with only a few kinks here or there from the candy itself. Since licorice is considerably thicker than typical kumihimo cord, my finished piece was a bulging, caterpillar-like tube – but nicely woven, none-the-less. I tied the ends off with thread and evened off the licorice ends.
I also tried four-strand kumihimo, which created a much thinner braid. There are a lot of possibilities here: you could tie your kumihimo into a bracelet, decorate a gingerbread house, or use it as a cake topper. To prevent it from becoming brittle, store it in a plastic bag. Or just eat it immediately!
If you’re ready to see for yourself how easy kumihimo is, check out Jill Wiseman’s workshop Kumihimo with Beads. Once you’ve tackled braiding with licorice, I’d wager you’re not about to be daunted by wire, so pick up a copy of the eBook Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy for even more fun designs!
Molded Earrings … with Chocolate
What you need:
- Two-part silicone mold-making material (affiliate link)
- Chocolate chips or chocolate for molding
- Polymer clay
- Ear wires
- Optional candy beads
When we had the pleasure of filming four great polymer clay workshops with Christi Friesen earlier this year, I loved the variety of techniques she brought to the studio. Just one of those techniques was making and using molds. I was so fascinated that I immediately purchased a two-part silicone mold-making kit to experiment with in my polymer clay endeavors.
You can make a mold of anything you want, from an antique found object to an item from nature. You can even create a polymer clay original and make a mold of it, which is exactly what I wanted to do – with chocolate – for my next edible jewelry project.
I started by creating a simple polymer clay leaf, large enough to provide a satisfying sugar rush once cast in chocolate. After baking the clay, I prepared my mold-making material, thoroughly mixing parts A and B. With the leaf on a flat surface, I completely covered the baked clay with the silicone and left it alone to cure for about an hour to make sure it was set. When I removed the clay original from the silicone, I had a perfect impression of my leaf.
Now comes the chocolate. You can buy chocolate specifically for molding, or you can use chocolate chips like I did, making sure to follow the melting instructions on the package. Melt the chocolate, use a spoon and a toothpick to encourage the chocolate into all the spaces in the mold, and then place it in the fridge for about half an hour. At that point, the chocolate should pop easily out of the flexible mold.
All that’s left is the earring assembly! I threaded a tapestry needle, pierced the chocolate leaf, threaded on three candy beads for embellishment, and tied the thread around an ear wire. For obvious reasons, I wasn’t overly concerned about creating a really permanent knot. Make a second earring and you’ll have a delectable pair.
Make it. Wear it. Eat it!
Ephemeral art makes a great gift, especially for the person who already has everything. Edible, wearable jewelry can amuse a friend or add a bit of pizzazz to the top of a present. Even the activity of making these treats can add a few laughs to a social gathering or a holiday event. Plus, as any parent knows, it can be a relief to know that ephemeral art will not end up stashed in your basement for years to come.
Enjoy the process of creating, no matter how long your projects will last.
Go be creative!
Producer, Bead & Jewelry Group
Featured Image: Enjoy the creative process of making jewelry – and then snack on it!