Starfish Design Challenge

One of the things I’m enjoying most about making the transition to full-time jewelry maker is that I no longer feel guilty about the amount of time I spend following other artists to see what they are up to creatively. That used to be something of a guilty pleasure that I sneaked in whenever I took a break from my “real” job, but now that I’m focusing on jewelry full time, it’s really more like market research. Another thing I never got to do very often was join in on the creative design challenges proposed by fellow artists because it seemed I never had the time (or the energy) to create a submission before the deadline.

Fortunately, things have changed. Not only do I get to follow the work of other artists without feeling guilty, I also get to join in the fun of a good design challenge; which brings me to the point of this blog post. If you’ve been following my work lately, you already know that I’ve been dabbling with jewelry cord and various cord techniques in addition to the wire wrapping and chain weaving I’ve been doing for years. One of the artists I discovered along my recent foray into cord jewelry is Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macramé. If you’re not familiar with Sherri’s work, I highly recommend perusing her Etsy shop. You’ll be astounded by what this woman does with jewelry cord and beads. I’m in awe of her stunning creations!

Anyway, Sherri recently proposed a design challenge based on the pretty palette of colors she’s been using recently in her starfish jewelry collection. Having been in a bit of a creative slump lately, I decided to accept the challenge. My first thought was to create something with the beautiful beach glass my sister-in-law gave me a while back; but as I toyed with that glass, the inspiration failed to flow. Until I stumbled upon a sand-colored agate focal bead that’s been languishing in my supply stash for years, that is. It’s a large stone–the perfect size, as a matter of fact, to showcase a wire-wrapped starfish.

The following are a few photos of my submission as it’s progressed from start to finish. I started with the wire-wrapped focal piece first, and then I pulled a few beads from my supplies that are similar to Sherri’s starfish color palette.

This is what the focal stone looked like after the wire wrapping was complete, but before I antiqued and polished the raw copper wire:

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Since Sherri’s primary medium is cord and I’ve been dabbling with cord quite a bit myself, I decided to hang my starfish pendant on a multi-strand hand knotted cord necklace. I love using an abundance of beads in my knotted cord jewelry, so I went with five beaded and knotted strands for this piece.

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Then I added a fun and frilly beaded tassel for a bit of movement and color to finish off the wire-wrapped pendant.

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At this point, I faced a bit of a design conundrum. I want the length on this piece to be adjustable, so I planned all along to use a macramé slide knot clasp to finish off the necklace. The challenge was finding the right components to securely link the sliding clasp to the knotted cords.

I searched my local bead and hobby shops for some tasteful findings that would blend with my color palette, but I had no luck. I ultimately decided to make my own connectors, so I wrapped these pretty little infinity links using the same wire wrap pattern I used on the starfish.

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Note the mirrored image of the two connectors. This is the beauty of making your own findings. It’s difficult to achieve this level of detail with store bought components, which is why I like to make my own metal findings whenever I can.

And here’s the finished piece:
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Fabulous, isn’t it? I’m so pleased with the way this necklace turned out, and I can’t wait to see all the other wonderful submissions for Sherri’s starfish design challenge! I’ll share a link to that gallery here in this post as soon as it’s published.

Edited (6/17/2016): The starfish design challenge gallery is fabulous! Well worth the wait, so go check it out!