Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Studio Time: Urban Primrose Lariat - 18-inch necklace

City = gray
Primrose = deep pink
I imagine this lariat gracing the throat of a woman who is urban and defined, fabulous and fine. A woman who recognizes the value of intricate handwork and doesn't mind stepping off the well traveled path. A woman who knows her tastes.

This piece is the pinnacle of my Urban Primrose design theme. When my mind settled on the Urban Primrose theme over two months ago, I started looking at my beads and mentally sorting through the catalog of skills I have (versus the skills I would like to learn) and settled on a simple pairing of brightly colored beads in a small cluster with a lot of silver. In a lot of ways, this was a labor of love. I've been working on this necklace for two months and it represents hours and hours (I've lost track of how many) of work.

The labor-intensive part of this project as the super-fine chain maille in 22-guage Argentium silver in Byzantine weave. To give you an idea of how fine, there are nearly three Byzantine links in one inch of this necklace. The width of the necklace is a mere 3mm wide. This is super fine, delicate handwork and the result is a stunningly beautiful chain. There are 38 Byzantine links in 14 inches of chain. That's 532 jump rings woven, with care and closed with precision in butted chain maille. (Side note: in butted maille, strength depends on the design and I depend on Urban Maille to help me create a strong weave.)

Another component I have had in mind was this toggle loop. You have to wiggle the pearls through the toggle, but the end result gives you some wearing options...a choker with a dangle or a regular necklace. I did four versions of this toggle loop before I settled on one that matched the picture in my head and the design of the neklace. Kristin at KS Jewelry Design had a tutorial on wire-wrapped and hammered loops that helped me refine the design.

As I was finishing this piece off and looking at the toggle loop, I realized I didn't want to finish the design entirely in chain maille. I broke up the expanse of chain maille with three wire-wrapped hammered eye-links, linked with sets of hammered jump rings.

Available in my Artfire shop.


  1. This is BEAUTIFUL, really stunning!

  2. Thanks so much! It was a lot of fun to do!

  3. Gorgeous! Love all the wire work. It really must have taken a lot of work...definitely a labor of love!

  4. That necklace is really stunning!!

  5. Thanks, Tara and Shaiha! It was a lot of work, but it's so satisfying to see it finished and like I pictured in my head. ;-)

  6. ooOOoo Jenn, those beads look like cranberry pearls...so luscious... & your silver work is extraordinary! My gosh, the fact that you made this a lariat makes this piece truly unique & very special! AWESOME!!!

  7. Oh, cranberries sound yummy, Nancy! I was just thinking...this is one of those pieces that won't be easily copied...it took SUCH a long time to make. If anyone wants to copy...be my guest. I'm not repeating anytime soon. :-)

  8. Totally gorgeous, Jenn! Did you make your own jump rings?

    I like the idea of changing up the banner on a monthly basis to reflect your design theme for the month.

  9. Hi, Hilary - no, I buy my jump rings from urbanmaille.com. I'm too distracted with glass. It was a conscious decision to stick with buying rings so I could focus on glass. I started messing around with my own jump rings (I will make some hammered rings or specific pieces) but for weaving, I use Urban Maille. I get a clean close with the rings because they precision cut the rings which is better than I get with my own rings. Aislyn does some of the research and design work that lets me incorporate chain maille, but still focus on glass. I can't imagine how much longer it would have taken me to create this piece if I did my own rings! (It was already ages...)