Simple Necklace with Polymer Heart Pendant

The Problem with "Just Make Something"

My friend Jeanne walked into a local bead shop for a beginning beading class. She was instructed to pick out some beads from the store and "make something" with help from the staff. To me, this seemed much more exciting than being handed a kit of beads, but my friend does not consider herself a creative person. She panicked at the idea of coming up with beads that would look good together. She ended up finding a sample finished necklace in the store and copied it exactly. She was pleased with her finished necklace–she wore it when we had lunch together–but her experience left me thinking how being told that you can make "anything" can be freeing for some people, but paralyzing for others, particularly those who are trying something for the first time.

Following a Recipe

Just like when learning to cook, it is safer to copy a bead "recipe" exactly when you are starting out. You don't waste money buying unnecessary ingredients and you know what the finished product will look like. But at some point, you might want to add your own special touches to a design. With this in mind, I asked Debbie Blair, editorial assistant for Beadwork and Stringing, if she would create a simple necklace project exclusively for Beading Daily. I asked her to use basic techniques (stringing and crimping), beads that were widely available, and a simple design that would be easy for a beginner to follow exactly and easy for someone with a little experience to customize.



Lilac Love uses two colors of beads (purple and green) and two shapes (round and oval). Most people–no matter how much they think of themselves as uncreative–can usually come up with two colors that they like together. (And there's always classic black and white, which is very popular right now.) This necklace also groups beads in odd numbers and uses metal spacers, two of Debbie's design tricks. Debbie also recommends using a bead board to lay out your design so that you can easily make changes.

FREE Project:Lilac Love

Creating Variations


I created a variation of Debbie's design using gemstones instead of glass–mahogany obsidian rounds and dyed bright blue howlite ovals. I kept the sizes and shapes of the beads the same as in the original design, except for the silver spacers. Using larger spacers meant that I needed fewer beads for a necklace the same length as the original.


It's amazing to me how such minor changes really change the whole feel of the necklace. Debbie's original necklace has a fun, lighthearted feel that is perfect for a party, while my version is considerably more serious–something that confidently says "Don't worry, Bank Manager, I won't dribble away this low-interest loan buying Strawberry Shortcake and Knight Rider lunchboxes on eBay!"




Adding a Pendant




For those of you with a little more experience–or those who want to try a new technique–Debbie added an optional step–a handmade polymer clay pendant. This is easier than it looks–you don't need a lot of special equipment for this simple project. You can buy a pendant instead or you can skip the pendant entirely–it's up to you!



What's you favorite clasp? Ends February 8, 2008. I'll share the results–plus a free design using everyone's favorite clasp–in a future newsletter.

Have you told us about your problem bead yet? Tell us and get some expert advice. Ends February 9, 2008.





Michelle Mach is the editor of Beading Daily. She's never been bothered by the instructions "just make something"–and she really thought that everyone else in the world felt the same way!

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