Thursday, February 25, 2010

For the love of Bead Caps!!!

I was looking around Etsy this last week, one of my favorite things to do when I want some new ideas. (It's seriously better than most magazines... the things people are doing!) To find some really quality pieces, I like to follow the network of favorites. I check for people who favorite my shop, then check them out, and check out their favorites and so on and so forth. It's a great way to be introduced to some of the most quality work out there! If you don't have an Etsy shop, just find a seller you really love, check their favorites, and go from there.

I'm a weird, weird person. This goes without saying. Especially if you have any actual face to face contact with me. I'm such a weird combination of things... I'm totally right brained, yet very analytical and precise, which tends to be more associated with left brained things. I like to break things down piece by piece and figure them out. I like to visually demolish things and figure out why I like this or that, or why I dislike another thing. It's an exercise I constantly participate in to hone my design skills and to practice my own mental visualization. I can so concisely form these images in my mind, it's like Tony Stark's computer in IronMan. The process I go through looks something like this: I look at an object and break it, in my mind, into its elements. I mentally remove certain elements to see if it still looks good and even add others to see if that makes it look better. I can do this for a long time, staring at a piece, until I come to the conclusion of why that piece looks good or why I don't like it.

Another less complex thing that I like to do is to stare at something I think is just butt ugly. I hate to say it, but the Fire Mountain Gems catalog is my favorite resource for finding random totally ugly pieces of jewelry. I LOVE this company as a store, but for jewelry ideas... uber ick! I look at some of the pieces I see and mentally try to take away or add things until I come up with a way to save the design. I don't mean to make myself sound like a total snob. I know that I have a snob in me and I do my best to keep her under wraps. But for this stuff, seriously, I'm too nice to be meaning it in a mean way. Thank God He at least made me a little bit nice. What I'm talking about here is purely an academic kind of exercise I engage in while looking at other people's work. I can really appreciate artistry and skill without having to like the result. The reason I like to do this is because it's not threatening. There's no pressure. I didn't make the thing. I'm not attached to it. Honing design skills in this way really helps with my own work, though. I have to practice being unattached and look at some hideous thing I've made (yes, I make hideous things ALL the time) and do this same exercise where it matters. What would make this work? And it really helps me!

I've digressed again. Anyway... as weird as all of this probably sounds, I've got to say that I had a little epiphany because of it this week. I was looking through a shop of a person who favorited me on Etsy and I really was loving so much of her stuff. I thought it just looked amazing. Way better than my stuff, actually. And I was trying to figure out why. I mean, her stuff was essentially the kind of thing I do. Wire work, though, no torch work, etc. I mean, again, I'm not being a snob about this... I was just wondering what it was about her stuff that made it seem so much nicer than mine even though she wasn't actually doing anything overly complicated. Again, I don't mean this in a mean way... I really hope that comes across. I was just trying to figure out her design process. What the heck was it about her stuff that made it look so good?

And after dissecting several of her pieces in my head, it hit me--BEAD CAPS!

This woman used bead caps very often in her pieces, something that I rarely do, primarily because the sterling and gold filled ones are so cost prohibitive and also because I work mostly with fine silver now and there just isn't a huge selection of fine silver bead caps out there.

The bead caps worked like little crowns, dressing up the beads so that even the simplest pieces looked suddenly that much more finished and that much more beautiful. I've always tried to make earrings, for instance, more special by the earhooks I made for them. This works well, but not as well as adding a bead cap.

I went ahead and got some cheaper bead caps at JoAnn yesterday. These are Blue Moon brand. I've shown two pairs of earrings in each shot--one without and one with bead caps. I think you'll agree that the bead capped ones look so much nicer. I also made sure to use plain earwires for these examples so that none of the earring enhancement would come from there.

Another tip I discovered--I use these little metal beads (all of this stuff is plated, by the way) at the bottoms of my headpins to make them look fancier. The beads also served to keep the bead caps more in place as most bead caps for some weird reason have huge holes.

I mean, the difference is so subtle, but it's definitely there. I'm going to start using bead caps more in all of my work. I'm also going to try to figure out how to make some out of fine silver that won't be insanely expensive.

Elliott approves of the earrings. I said, "Those are my earrings." And he said, "NO, they're MY earrings. I want to put them on!" Daddy would be so proud. Of the fact that Elliott can't wear them.

To find a really great selection of bead caps of all kinds, go to Off to the side, under "Jewelry Supplies", click on "Findings", then scroll down until you find "Bead Caps". Fire Mountain Gems rocks!

1 comment:

  1. With BullionVault you may obtain physical precious metals by the gram at current market exchange rates.

    Your bullion may be stored in 1 of 5 secure international vaults. And you may exchange it online or take out physical bars.