So I actually have something to write about here?!
I wasn’t even thinking of blogging about it as I was doing it, but I now have a new pair of pearl earrings. I haven’t yet signed up with an image-hosting service, so I’m afraid you can’t see them (;D) …nor do I really feel it would be wise for me to show them to you…but basically they’re a work in gold-fill, blue crystal, and two colors of pearls.
One of them has a kind of kinked loop in one of the dangles (I wire-wrapped all of the loops, including the ones which held other loops, which led to a slip), which the perfectionist in me says I would want to rework if I were going to sell them. My better sense says to leave it as it is and it’s unlikely anyone will notice. :) The minute amount of greater diameter in the kinked loop makes one of the earrings very, very slightly longer than the other. Like less than a millimeter longer. But I’m very attentive to detail, and to be honest, I’m probably not going to have my head perfectly level all the time anyway. (That…doesn’t sound right…)
One of the things I noted to myself is that using higher quality earwires really shows. Since I took out my CBRs, I’ve mainly been wearing two different pairs of earrings, both of which are warm tone. I can actually see that the earwires are cheap, in those. It isn’t so bad with the crystal set, but when the earwires are totally plain, and it’s next to something relatively plain like Cloisonné, I notice.
I’ve also noticed that my more successful designs are made using natural materials, metal, and crystal. I have a lot of glass — I started out on the jewelry-making thing as a shiny-hoarding teen — but the colors in glass tend to be less intense (or just not to match clothing), if we take the whole spectrum into account. In addition, the fire in glass is less intense than in lead crystal, CZ, or natural stones (compare a rhinestone to cubic zirconia and you’ll see what I mean); and the results with glass tend to have a more gaudy, “costume jewelry” type effect.
Not to mention that glass often can be poorly drilled; so in the past when I’ve tried using, say, cobalt blue cube beads, one could really see where the drill-hole was, because it was the site of whitish discoloration caused by fragments of glass left in the hole.
I should say that I don’t have a lot of experience with lampwork beads, though I have run across some which set off my “shiny” meter. Thing is that I’ve learned to try and avoid buying beads of which I have no immediate ideas for use. I learned that after about a decade of collecting beads; I’m now about 15 years in.
Anyway. Since my designs largely tend more toward “classic” type stuff, having focal pieces which are natural tends to play down the “costume jewelry” effect that can come with using cut or pressed glass as focals. Stone is good because it’s subdued and subtle — it doesn’t call a lot of attention to itself, but it can still make glass look really bad if you pair them haphazardly.
Stones — especially the veined or mottled or included ones like jasper or agate — most of the time, look very refined in comparison to glass. At least, in comparison to transparent glass. I believe this is at least in part due to the complex and fine nature of the process the stone went through to form. (I am, however, learning to stay away from transparent and weakly-colored materials generally, and this is mostly because they get washed out on me.)
And though I’ve seen some faux pearls which are very attractive, most of the time it’s apparent when a pearl is real and when it is not — a real pearl will have a rainbow-like sheen which a faux one won’t. Even the best faux pearls — or the ones I like best, anyway — tend further towards the “metallic” end than cultured freshwater ones (which, I’m guessing from the price, are the ones I’m getting). After having seen a lot of real and faux pearls, I can now kind of tell this way. (That’s not to say that faux pearls are necessarily bad. I think there is a time and place to use the high-quality faux pearls over nacre pearls. I’d just not assume they were interchangeable.) I can also, now, tell something of the quality of a nacre pearl by its sheen, iridescence, and reflectivity. It’s one of the reasons I’m reluctant to buy pearls online — I have little idea what I’m getting, and cultured pearls vary widely in their quality.
I hadn’t been thinking of getting focal pieces like natural-crystal briolettes for earrings, until I made this last pair and saw how well they turned out. Well, I also have a pair utilizing natural-stone briolettes, which also turned out really, really well, despite their simplicity.
So I may be out buying crystals soon to make another pair, although making earrings is clearly a “want” and a hobby, not a necessity.
I want to do more work in cooler tones, as this is the only pair I have in gold-fill wire which is not somewhere in the very warm range. Though I also know I want to experiment with an orange-blue pairing as well.
I should also note: 24-gauge dead soft wire is really soft. It’s what I had on hand for these earrings, and I was almost unprepared for the way the wire deformed so easily. I should probably stiffen it a little next time.
One more thing: I’m thinking about adding micro-macrame to my list of skills, but as of yet I have not tried this. I think the biggest things holding me back are having to get a macrame board, having to find beads with large holes, and having to find tools with which to burn the ends of nylon cord.