I started a jewelry designing adventure in March, which I have to share.
I wanted to design elaborate fantasy necklaces for myself.
A Victoriana lover, I began working with Victorian-styled and other vintage-style components. This post has some of my initial designs using the components, even though they’re my beginner’s attempts. (These are not for my shop, I’m just having fun for now.)
I couldn’t get the photos I wanted of the above piece: you can’t see the pink pendant’s luscious color and sparkle peek through the fleur-de-lis. I call this necklace Grande Dame: it is quite a large piece; see the insert in the next picture. Some of the beads are probably Swarovski; I am unsure bc I upcycled them.
Unless noted otherwise, all the amazing metal components in these pics were purchased from Susan Street, at VintageJewelrySupplies.com
One thing that drew me to vintage-style stampings and similar components is that people reshape them—or even cut them apart—to set stones, make bails, and adorn stones. I drew on those techniques in the design below. I call it Cowgirl Faerie Queen, LOL. I feel very special wearing it!
The bail of Cowgirl Faerie Queen is filigree I rolled into a large tube, so I can hang the piece as a pendant or necklace. I also wrapped a filigree around the main stones to set them. Then I cut apart a vintage-style pressing and wrapped the portions around the pendant for ornamentation. The stick pin in the picture is not from Susan’s shop, but everything attached to the little bead hanging off the end of the stick pin is purchased from her.
Making jewelry from the components is a blast! And wearing the pieces makes me feel otherworldly and very fancy. 🙂
But designing and constructing the pieces is completely different from what I’m used to—fine art beadweaving. There’s been a real learning curve. A lot of experimentation was necessary. The following example of my beadweaving designs is for comparison.
My point is, its handful of medium size beads aside, this bracelet is lotsa tiny beads, woven together much like lace is made, with very thin thread. Beadweaving entails different skills and structural designs from those required in my new adventure, e.g., reshaping filigree in a way it becomes a secure stone setting.
The design below is called Gentle Soul. The enamel floral element is a sterling silver earring of my mom’s, the mate of which was lost. I was afraid to clip off its back, in case I wouldn’t be able to integrate it into a new piece, and would’ve ruined this beautiful old earring. But I am glad I clipped. I glued it to filigree I had rolled into a bail.
Gentle Soul has some tiny beads that I think are Swarovski. The red bead on the bottom is from a necklace I purchased decades ago. The wee blue bead below it is probably vintage east Indian. I wish the photo captured how the large blue stone glistens!
The next one is called Green Magic. This too has a bail made from a filigree wrapped into a tube, so I can wear it as a pin or a pendant. Willie, this is one of the stones you gifted me!
Willie, all these designs were made before you gave me filigree wrapping tips in our recent conversations. Equipped with your tips, I should get better at this.
Susan and Willie kindly answered technical questions, when I had a design concept but couldn’t figure out how to do certain techniques in order to execute my design.
If you want to design your own pieces, buy great supplies at Susan’s shop.
If you prefer purchasing finished pieces, look at Willie Zuniga’s beautiful jewelry. She’s a master at this sort of component building and has the most amazing aesthetic awareness. 2019 update: my friend Willy passed on recently. She will be sorely missed. Her innovative jewelry and kind spirit brought joy to many people. Willie’s daughter, Melania, carries on her mom’s legacy, so folks can continue to wear Willie’s innovative designs: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MorningGloryLegacy
I’ve more initial attempts. I’ll post their pics soon with details of my learning process, in case that’s useful to you. Thank you for sharing my fantasy adventure!
Dear reader: Though my above designs were not for sale—I was making jewelry to wear myself—I do make enchanted jewelry available exclusively to my newsletter subscribers. Subscribe for free here: https://outlawbunny.com/newsletter/.