Friday, August 5, 2016

Getting the Bead Mojo Back

It's no secret I've been a bit overwhelmed lately.  Finally the end is in sight, so I am trying to get back to beading for my sanity's sake.  My creative room is too much of a disaster to be able to access much of my bead stash right now, but I did find my needle and thread stash.  So what do you do when you can only find needles and thread?  Repairs!
four repairs on my tray

This was spurred on by one of my coworker's wearing a pair of beaded earrings to work last week.  I was chatting with her during lunch when I noticed that a thread had broken on her earrings.  I commented on the break, and she mentioned that these were her favorite earrings and she was so sad when she noticed they had started to break.  Well, I had already been thinking about repairing a few projects of my they ended up coming home with me.  On this note, never volunteer for a repair project and expect to be paid.  If someone asks you to repair something for them, be realistic about how much your time is worth and be up front with them.  But if you say, "Hey, I can fix that for you" consider your time a gift.
Before (left and middle), and after (right).

On a repair like this, it's not usually possible to find an exact bead match, but I knew I could at least stop the thread from unraveling further.  All that needed to be done was to pass through all of the brick stitched sections with new thread, shoring up the weak existing thread.  Besides the fact that commercially stitched beadwork is usually done on super cheap thread, the metal beads and bugles have sharp edges.  I used 5lb test Powerpro to restitch everything except the fringe.  Fringe is always a weak point and this definitely needed to be restitched as well, but Powerpro is too stiff to offer nice drape, so I tied on some nymo in D and finished out the repair with that.
Circus necklace - before (left 3 pictures) and after (right)

I made this necklace several years ago for the opening night performance of a Circus I had helped to costume.  I knew at some point that the thread connection between the two ropes would probably fail...lampwork beads can be a bit tough on thread.  I had tried to use beads as a buffer as much as possible, but the connection snapped some time ago, leaving me unable to wear one of my favorite bright necklaces.  I know the original bead is around somewhere...but I just can't find anything specific right now, so I ended up using one of Sue's flat spiral beads to bridge the two ropes.  Ta daa!  Magically wearable again!
Electric squid and thorns - before (left and middle) and after (right)

This necklace features a boro "electric squid" focal by my buddy Shawn Bungo, and was also my first foray into the Czech glass thorn shape.  It turned out exactly like I saw it in my mind, but I was very aware at the time that I would probably end up with a thread breaking near the thorns at some super tight tension and threads rubbing against Czech glass bead holes is never a good combination.  Luckily, it was just one thread and only a couple of seed beads came loose.  I was able to weave in, restitch, and reinforce the problem area easily. 
Peach and mint goddess - Broken fringe bead (right), choosing a replacement (middle) and after repair!

This is a much older piece and you might look at the first pictures and think, "Lindsay, I don't see any broken threads or missing beads..."  You would be right with that observation...however, repair is still needed.  Look closer at the fringe and you will see it.  I'm not sure when it happened, but one of the lampwork leaves has broken!  The little tip of the leaf is now a jagged straight line of broken glass.  There are a couple of ways to make a repair like this.  In the past when I've had a fringe break, sometimes the hole of the bead is thin enough that you can "pop" the glass with a thick pin or needle.  In this case, the glass seemed to be way too thick to chance it.  So I opted to snip the fringe instead, weave each tail back into the piece, tie on a new thread and find a new fringe accent bead.  My lampwork boxes were easy to access at least, but it took me awhile to narrow down a replacement for the leaf.  What do you think?
My giant jar of stray seed beads - I sweep strays left on the tray after putting away a project into this jar.  When I need to make repairs, this jar keeps me from having to go searching for specific beads in my stash.
 I often dread repairs and put them off for a really long time, so it's been nice to make these 3 necklaces wearable again, along with giving new life to a friends favorite pair of earrings!  I have a strange thought that I might be a jewelry necromancer - taking "dead" items and bringing them back to life magically.  These projects have helped to renew my beady creative drive as well - doubling the magic.
I hope you all had fun following along with my recent repair journey!  Do you have a pile of repairs waiting for you to tackle them?  What is holding you back?  We would love to hear your strategies for making broken items whole again!


  1. I had to laugh at your "jewelry necromancer" comment. I am not sure what I may be? I love to break old and broken jewelry apart and use the single parts for new creations... Dr. Frankenstein? ;)

    But uuuuh... I also have a big pile of jewelry that needs to be fixed or adapted, from myself, family and friends... thankfully if I take them (for them as a gift) they all agree to my conditions: 1. it could take months to years.... 2. I try to keep the style in mind but for a free redo (or even one where it will cost me something due to the new components), I'll also be allowed to create what I want ;)

  2. I love that circus necklace, all that colour. I dabbled in seed beading one winter and now have a stash of unfinished projects in a cupboard maybe I should drag them out and have another go......

  3. What a perfectly timed post, Lindsay! Not only do I have a couple of my own pieces that need repair, but I've found at least 4 necklaces in my mother's stash she's caught on things. You've given me the kick I needed to get moving... Thank you!

    Heigh Ho, it's off to repair I go! :-D

  4. All three of those are amazing pieces that I was so happy to see....and the world needs more people like you, Lindsay! Doing something like that would probably put me off beading for the rest of my life LOL...I NEED to start fresh! Yaay necromancers of the world!


We would love to hear what you have to say, please leave a comment.