The Evolution of a Beaded Jewelry Design

Have you ever had a beaded jewelry design take on a life of its own? It can happen, and it's one of the reasons why I sometimes don't get a lot of sleep at night. My creative bead-brain takes a good thing and then just keeps going, and going, and going…

The original Czech glass gumdrop component, which led to…
The Hoarder of Beauty necklace, which led to…

Earlier this year, I started playing with some of the Czech glass gumdrop beads I got from York Beads. I came up with this little component, and pretty soon, they had multiplied like beady rabbits all over my bead board. Okay, so, what next? I joined them together to create my Hoarder of Beauty necklace.

While designing that necklace, I wanted to come up with a handmade toggle clasp that would accent the whole piece without being too noticeable, so I whipped up this fun little peyote stitch ring. The ring was so much fun, I wondered what would happen if I added a whole bunch of embellishment and turned a set of rings and bars into a bracelet. What do you know? I had a nice little stash of Czech glass cup flower beads (also from York) that paired perfectly with some more gumdrops. The resulting bracelet was a beaded jewelry design that felt like it came together all by itself!

A simple peyote toggle toggle clasp, which led to…
A bracelet made of embellished peyote stitch rings, which led to…

Now, while working on a variation of this bracelet for a potential teaching gig, I realized that these little peyote stitch rings might make some great bezels for things like cabochons or crystal Rivoli stones. It was one of those ideas for a beaded jewelry design that just sort of ate me up inside until I could finally find the time to sit down and play with it. Call it serendipity, but these amazing little bezels work up in under thirty minutes (really!), and link together beautifully.

And at the risk of sounding like an old 80's infomercial, wait! There's more!

And the most recent development from my original design: the Evolved Peyote Stitch Bezel. Who knows what will come next?

After I joined a few of these bezeled crystal stones together (trying to figure out where to place the flamingo cabochon I got in Tucson two years ago), I thought they looked a little, well, naked. A close look at the way I had created the beaded structure for these bezels led me to experiment with some more embellishments around the outside of the bezel. With all the embellishments, I felt like this particular design is complete…for now!

This is the part where I start to lose sleep. Now that I've seen all kinds of potential for these little beaded rings and bezels, I'm starting to think up ways to connect the rings to make a chain, or how to use them to create three-dimensional components. What excites me the most is that the possibilities for something like this are just endless!

But because I do eventually need to put the beads away and sleep, I have three rules that I adhere to when my beaded jewelry designs start to evolve:

  1. There is no such thing as a mistake, only learning experiences. If a particular embellishment or technique doesn't work, move on and try something else!
  2. Rip out fearlessly! I no longer hesitate to rip out a section of beadwork that doesn't look right or work for any particular design. (Unless, of course, it's just easier to set the whole thing aside and start over from the very beginning.)
  3. Write it all down. Between grocery lists and menus and school supplies for my five-year-old, I just can't remember everything. (Even though my five-year-old thinks I have a photographic memory.) This is where my sketch book comes in handy — if I have a sudden flash of inspiration, I can jot it all down and look at it later after everyone else has gone to sleep and I find some quiet time to bead.

Would you like to see just how far you can take your own beaded jewelry design ideas? Check out Finishing Touches for Beadwork, the latest video from Beadwork magazine's Melinda Barta. Watch and learn 35 techniques for adding fringe, edgings, and surface embellishments to your beaded jewelry designs. Can't wait to get started? Finishing Touches for Beadwork is also available as an instant download, so you can be watching and beading in just minutes!

For a limited time during the Interweave Fall Sale, pre-order your copy of Finishing Touches for Beadwork and get Melinda Barta's Custom Cool eBook at no additional cost! (You can also get your free eBook when you download Finishing Touches for Beadwork for your favorite desktop or laptop computer.)

Have you ever had a beaded jewelry design morph into two or three or even four other designs? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your stories with us, or better yet, take a few snapshots of your beaded jewelry designs and post them in the Reader Photo Gallery!

Bead Happy,


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