Earlier this month, Hodge and Podge and I went on a field trip to visit my friend Sylvie Abecassis who was kind enough to teach us how to make a rosary link necklace. Sylvie and I had attended the Rocky Mountain Bead Show last April, where I came upon the mother load of vintage Bakelite beads and buttons. I couldn’t help myself from buying as much as I could carry. A lot of the beads were rather large and I was having trouble visualizing what I would make from them. As much as I love big jewelry, I wasn’t really keen on looking like Wilma Flinstone either.
Sylvie had the perfect solution: rosary links. So I showed up with squirrel friends, cheesecake, and beads, and we set out to tackle my necklace. Sylvie, always the generous artist, gave me the flat yellow beads from her collection. They’re so pretty!
After we had the beads picked out and arranged, Sylvie began to show me how to string them together using the rosary chain link method. The tools you need are jewelry wire, round-nose pliers, flat-nose pliers, and flush wire cutters. You start by cutting a piece of wire an inch or so longer than the length of your bead. About an inch from one end, fold the wire at a 90-degree angle. Using the round-nose pliers, curl the shorter end of the wire up and around to form a loop. Then you change your hand position so that you are grasping the loop with one pair of pliers, and with another pair, coil the end of the short length under and around the longer wire two or three times. Trim any excess as close as you can. Then you add your bead and repeat on the other side. The tricky part comes with your next loop: I kept forgetting to link the new loop to the loop on the bead I had just completed. I ended up with a lot of empty chains! I called them practice chains. I’ll leave the demonstration of this technique to the experts: here’s a fabulous tutorial by Kathy of Katalina Jewelry.
Unfortunately, using all of these beads together created a really heavy necklace, so I decided to make a rosary chain with round black glass beads for either side of the necklace. I used a single loop rosary link on these instead of the wrapped rosary link I used on the larger beads. Time will tell whether or not this is strong enough.
I ended up making a pretty substantial necklace, didn’t I? I reserve the right to revisit this project later, when I’ve become better at these techniques. I may take off some of the larger beads. Maybe I’ll add some of the smaller beads. Maybe I’ll just start over. Or maybe in time, I’ll decide that this necklace is perfect just the way it is. That seems to be one of the great things about this technique. If you want to change something later on, it’s as simple as clipping off the unfavorable portion and connecting a new bead. You don’t have to take apart an entire strand.
Do you ever pull out your old projects and redo parts of them as you get better at a skill? I take it as a sign of growth to be able to go back to something and make it better. It’s all part of the learning process, and it’s one of the elements of crafting that I love most. The more that you create and the more that you practice, the better you get at it. Even if you mess up, it’s virtually impossible not to learn from the experience.
I encourage everyone to try different crafts now and then, and never shy away from learning new things. I wonder how I will use what I’ve learned through jewelry making in my crochet and knitting. I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!
Above all else, I feel very blessed to have great friends like Sylvie to teach me new skills and guide me along the way. Thanks, Sylvie, for a wonderful afternoon!