Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The 'Process'

I thought it would be cool to give you some idea of what goes into a beaded necklace design from my side of the fence. I'm not using this to crow about how much work there is in it, or how brilliant I am (though I can be at times), I just wanted to open up the design process to you and see if there are any surprises!
OK, so, first I have a sketch & doodle session in my 'art' book. This leaves me with lots of completely unworkable ideas, and the plan is that in the midst of all these is one workable idea for a design. Remember this is just on paper though, I have to see if I can get the materials to go with the idea, and at this stage there is no colour - it's all pencil and white shapes.
When I decide that this is something I can work with, I need a 'central piece' - this is usually a larger than normal crystal. From here I'm going to let you into the working behind 'Persephone', then you can see where I'm going with it! So, I decide I want to build around a large pear shaped crystal, this is really as far as I've got at this stage, I really don't know what will work with it - the original design for Persephone was a pear crystal with five navettes hanging down like leaves, it didn't work! I order the crystal in a colour that hits me while browsing the supplier's website, everything will hang on what I can do with this when I get it.
A week later and I have a gorgeous 'Montana' pear crystal on my desk. I arrange the navettes to the original 'leafy' design. It's rubbish. Far too heavy on the drop, so I need to play around now with all the crystals I have in my stash to make shapes that work. Shapes first, then colour. The idea of not being able to make the design never comes into my head - if I can imagine it, I can make it. My head is aware of where my limitations lie.
After three days of changing navettes round, adding rivolis of varying sizes, and listening to Nina's advice, I have a design. I photograph it quickly so I don't forget what I did. Now comes the hard bit - colours.
While all this is going on I'm waiting for a name to appear in my head, I need a name to bring it to life, none of my necklaces have been inanimate objects, they are all personalities. So now I get all my colours out that either compliment or blend with the main crystal - in Persephone's case I went for the chartreuse green to signify the 'Spring' element, and the gold to compliment the chartreuse! I then picked a few other shades of green to blend, and the golden crystals of the necklace chain to depict the old brown of Winter being overshadowed by the Spring.
The rest, as they say, was easy. Just fasten all the bezelled bits together. Although weaving through delica beads which are already stretched tightly is a nightmare! If you use a strong needle you will break the glass beads, so a less expensive 'bendy' needle is needed! The score for Persephone was 17 bent beyond all recognition needles!
It all fit together, it all balanced, it sat on the neck without falling forwards or sideways, it worked. That, at this stage, is as much as I could hope for. The next stage is putting it into the public domain and seeing what other people think of it - most of them experienced beadweavers who could pick a fault at a hundred yards! Facebook first, then a blog post, then....................Etsy. This is tricky. Pick a price. If I add up the hours actually making it I get to 20 - 25. If I add on design hours I start talking about days and weeks. How do you price that? There is an adage 'sell it for what you can get', I tend to stay with that, although this is usually considerably less than it is worth - if I breakdown the $500 for Persephone into hours worked and materials used I get around $5 an hour labour. This is why you rarely see a rich Artist. 
I hope this has given you an insight into why most of us are borderline certifiable, it will be interesting to see what I come up with next - it's all a blank at the moment!


  1. You make that much an hour! Amazing! :D

  2. Thank you so much, Peter, for sharing your process! It was such an exciting read! Greetings for Nina and Freya! Healing vibes to both of you!

  3. Here all this time I thought you were flyin by the seat of your pants!!