A new customer, recommended to me by Mary Ann Evans (of Mare's Wares Pottery), brought me a tender little knotted necklace while I was at Mare's July 1st Arts Fest and asked if I could put it back together again. Despite having had it in my possession since July 1, I only just recently completed it because I had trouble finding red cord of the right diameter, the color which had originally been used to knot between the beads.
The biggest surprise, however, was when I cut the necklace apart to begin knotting .. I initially thought the beads were red (garnet, was what I was thinking at the time), but it was the little red knots between the beads that caused that optical illusion. When the beads were all cut apart and sitting in a little ceramic dish, devoid of red cord, I discovered that they were carnelian .. a very pretty deep orange and not red at all! And to complete the weird optical illusion aspect of this venture, the silk cord I finally found that fit size-wise was burgandy .. though when next to the carnelian beads looked very much like a deep brick color, and matched the shade of the beads exactly! The brain is a wonderful thang!
The problem I encountered with the burgandy thread, however, was that there was no longer a marked contrast between the beads and the knots between the beads .. I knotted about 20 of them with the burgandy silk and, while very pretty, decided I'd better call the customer and ask if the contrast was important .. and explain what the new configuration looked like. Turned out she was fine with the lack of contrast (I would have had to order another spool of thread, too .. though I was happy to do it) and suggested I carry on. If you click on the photo, you should be able to tell the beads are carnelian. From a distance, they still look red though .. don't they?!?!
After this little exercise, I found myself in a knotting frame of mind and looked through my bead drawers to see what else I might put together in the same vein. I had several little baggies of rectangular pendants I had purchased from Silk Road Treasures at a show five or six years ago .. one little baggie with pale green jade, one with dark green jade and one with lapis. I pulled out the pale green pendants and found about ten or twelve different stones that would provide some nice contrast and completed the tin cup design shown here .. which I call Mountain Ash.
It's a nice mix - there's Mexican opal, green garnet, hessonite garnet, yellow turquoise, orange aventurine, jade, carnelian and pale yellow quartz (plus some Czech glass and #10 seed beads). At about 21", its one of the first long ones I've made in a bit. I added a very simple gold-filled hook and eye clasp .. it's very light weight. It was the colors I saw in our own three mountain ash trees that stand between the house and the river - and can be seen from my studio window - that gave me the idea for the name.
After that I was on a roll and just kept rummaging. I've got a couple drawers full of turquoise, but haven't done anything with any of it in a long while, so found some pretty faceted rondelles with small enough drill holes to allow for knotting and put together this really nice piece! I used turquoise-colored cord, so it blends in quite well; and the knots between the beads allow for a really nice flexibility in the strand. The clasp is handmade in Bali and is a design I sought out for what seemed like months after purchasing a necklace for myself with this same clasp from a little boutique in Albany. Was so delighted when I finally found them, I purchased five or six at the time .. there are only two left. I've tended to use them sparingly; but this piece seemed to call for it. I don't have a name for this one ... any ideas???
The green design came about after I ordered and received a strand of Labradorite marquis cut oval beads, one of which plays center stage here. I tried multiple times to get a close up of the pendant with its hidden opalescence .. but it just stayed hidden. All I could get was the reflection from one of my lights. Labradorite is a type of feldspar .. moonstone is in the same category - they both remind me of opal with their little internal rainbows brought out when the light hits them in the right way or in the right spot. There were several of the pendants on the strand that were rich with these surprising little bursts of color .. all the more likely with so much visible surface on such a large bead.
The strand, on the other hand, is not Labradorite but tourmalated quartz .. both the strand and the pendant have some naturally occuring bits of black in them, so I used black silk to knot; and I couldn't have been happier with the result! It's at once both simple and stunning - I gave it a spare and simple sterling toggle clasp .. I didn't want to take away from the strand in anyway. I call it Green Lagoon because the particular shades of green made me think of a sandy, warm and tropical place.
I'm now working on some variations of the Mountain Ash piece (I might pull out the darker jade and use a couple of those and/or assemble a whole 'nuther collection of stones and work with the lapis pendants) .. and I've pulled a bunch of little baggies full of possible strand and pendant mixes for some more knotted combos after that. AND (I forgot to mention this) since the catalyst for this knotty run - the carnelian and citrine necklace at the top - was completed using French wire, I've finished all of these using French wire instead of bead tips to attach the clasps to the body of the necklace. When done correctly, French wire (a tiny, itsy bitsy little wound wire tube) creates a little loop through the clasp and protects the cord from abrasion. It also looks very neat and tidy and is often used on high-end pearls. I haven't used French wire in a long time .. it's always good to refresh one's skills occasionally, no?
I expect there'll be a whole area of knotted pieces by the time the Stone Mills show in LaFargeville (August 7, 8 and 9) rolls around. I had a request for pearl bracelets at my last show though .. so gotta balance my time. There's so little of it, you know : )