Meet Marianna Zukowsky and Learn How to Bead Cellini Spiral

Marianna Zukowsky recently began contributing to Beadwork magazine. Her Ombré Cellini Necklace will publish in the June/July 2018 issue. Here, Marianna shares with us how she got started beading, including her first experience going into a bead shop. Marianna also shares the inspiration behind her Cellini spiral necklace, as well as some tips for stitching and wearing this piece.

Marianna’s Story

Marianna Zukowsky

I have enjoyed all types of crafts since I was in grade school. My favorite hobbies are needlepoint and petit point. My son recently purchased a shamballa bracelet on vacation; when the hemp became frayed, he asked if I could fix it for him. I watched videos and read tutorials on making this type of bracelet until I was sure I could take it apart and put it back together on new hemp. I was successful!

My interest was piqued, and I started looking at jewelry in a new light. If I saw a necklace or earrings in a store or on a passerby, I wondered if I could make a similar piece myself. I started out by browsing Pinterest for inspiration and tutorials, as well as visiting bookstores and watching instructional videos on YouTube when I had time. I eventually taught myself to bead.

I have only been beading for a little more than a year. However, now that the beading bug is in my bloodstream, I spend most of my downtime on my new hobby. Beading relieves stress and brings me joy. In addition, I enjoy gifting my creations to family and friends.

Discovering a Local Bead Shop

My first experience going into a local bead shop was like stepping into another dimension. I had been in craft stores before, such as Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and JoAnn’s. But I had never set foot in an actual bead store. I don’t know what I expected, but I was fascinated and amazed and overwhelmed, all at the same time!

Everywhere I looked, walls, shelves, counters, and tables were filled with magnificent selections. I didn’t even realize I had been holding my breath until I finally released it. I slowly stepped into the store and methodically started making my way around, until I found myself back where I started. Once I had thoroughly surveyed the store, I was ready to begin shopping.

Again, I slowly made my way around the shop, going from room to room, display to display, and carefully placing my selections in my basket. Upon completing my full circuit, I found myself repeating my route and placing even more items in my basket. I repeated this path at least two more times before my husband gently brought me back to reality. We had spent an entire afternoon in one shop. Strangely, I still felt like I hadn’t seen everything in the store.

Putting My New Treasures to Use

Once we arrived home, I laid out my treasures. I admired my bounty and pondered why I had purchased certain beads, wondering what I would do with it all. One of these purchases was a container of peanut beads, aptly named because of their shape. I had no idea what to do with these beads, but they had intrigued me and therefore had made the cut into my selection.

Many months later, I came across these beads again while organizing my supplies. I realized that during the time I’d been developing my bead-weaving skills and knowledge, I hadn’t seen many projects that use peanut beads. I began researching, and I discovered that most peanut bead projects use right-angle weave.

Another thought entered my head. Wouldn’t these beads work great in a bracelet with crystals in the middle, such as in a tennis bracelet? After a few starts, ripping apart, and restarts, I created a bracelet that is thin and comfortable to wear. It sparkles and shines like diamonds in high-end jewelry but without the hefty price tag.

Marianna Zukowsky

This bracelet is an unlikely but beautiful union of two shaped beads woven together using a variation of odd-count peyote stitch. Odd-count peyote creates an extra thread bridge on one side, but in this design I mirrored the turn on the opposite side so that both sides have the same count thread bridge. This approach not only made the design look more cohesive but also strengthens the bracelet foundation while still keeping it flexible and supple.

Ombré Cellini Necklace Inspiration

Being on a budget, I tend to limit my bead orders to beads and colors that I can use in a variety of projects. I’ve lacked the confidence to work outside my comfort zone of color schemes. Therefore, I was excited when a friend gifted me large box containing a variety of seed beads, fire-polished rounds, and Swarovski rivolis.

As I worked on a couple of projects with the vast assortment of colors that I now had in my arsenal, I envisioned a monochromatic necklace for myself. I often use gold tones, but I yearned to make a silver rope of some sort. I spotted a tube of silver half-coat 4mm fire-polished rounds in my new supplies, and I soon created the silver colorway of my Cellini spiral necklace.

Marianna Zukowsky

Finishing the Necklace

Once the beaded part was complete, I couldn’t decide how to finish the necklace, including how long to make it. I loved the monochromatic spiral so much that I wanted to be able to wear it with different necklines. I didn’t want to create the same necklace in different lengths; instead, I wanted to be able to convert it from a choker length to princess length to matinee length.

After much thought and deliberation, an idea formed in my head. A sliding clasp would make the necklace adjustable. I had made my son a couple of shamballa bracelets with a macramé sliding clasp, and I wondered how I could incorporate this design into my necklace. I wanted to keep the necklace and strap sophisticated, so leather was out of the question. I thought how elegant a simple ribbon would look, and as I sorted through my clasps and beads I thought of using a tube slide bead. This would allow me to wear the necklace at the different lengths suitable for various necklines.

Marianna Zukowsky

This method was successful, and I was amazed at how light the necklace felt. I received many compliments on my necklace construction, including the originality of the sliding clasp. My convertible-length Cellini spiral necklace is simple to make and comfortable to wear.

I’ve seen many Cellini spirals of all different widths, using various colors and shapes of beads strung on cord, leather, rolo chain, or beaded chains. However, I’ve never seen anything like the ribbon with slide bead closure that makes my necklace convertible to different lengths.

Ombré Cellini Necklace Options

Since discovering the Cellini spiral technique, I’ve stitched several variations. I find it intriguing that the variety of beads and the order in which they are strung create beautiful spirals. The possibilities are endless!

I used beads in a monochromatic color scheme to create my Cellini spiral necklace samples. However, feel free to incorporate some color, whether in your fire-polished rounds or seed beads, or by using a bright, vibrant-colored ribbon.

If you want to create a larger diameter spiral core, add another seed bead to your sequence. Depending on the size and number of beads you add to the sequence, you’ll need more 3mm beads to create the bead cups for the rope ends. Keep in mind that adding beads will add weight to the rope. Therefore, you’ll need to double up the ribbon to bear the added weight. In addition, you’ll need to use a larger spacer bead in the bead cups on each end of the rope.

Marianna Zukowsky

For a different look, try the following substitutions:

  • Use leather or cord in place of the ribbon, for a more casual style.
  • Use crystal bicones or pearls instead of crystal rondelles at each end of the rope.
  • Use a unique button with large-hole shank in place of the tube bead to create the sliding clasp.

The adjustable clasp allows you to wear this necklace at different lengths. You can wear it as a choker at 16″, at the neckline of an open-neck buttoned blouse at 18″, or with a V-neck shirt or strapless dress at 24″. The necklace also looks beautiful when paired with a simple white t-shirt and jeans.

I hope you enjoyed learning about Marianna’s beading journey and the inspiration behind her Ombré Cellini Necklace. For more about the Cellini spiral technique, see “Getting Started with Cellini Spiral.”

Happy beading!
Lavon Peters
Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine

Find more beautiful designs in Beadwork magazine and the Interweave Store!


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