Of all the challenges that I enter, my favorite is the Do-Over Challenge hosted by Jeannie K. Dukic of JKD Studio. What makes this challenge different from others is that Jeannie sends each participant one of her old, unloved, and unsold pieces of jewelry. It’s our job to take it apart and have a “Do Over”. We need to use at least 50% of the piece if possible. I previously participated in both the 5th and the 6th Do Over Challenges. I love this particular challenge because you are given such a limited set of materials to work with and it’s fun to try to think of a new way to use the same beads. To take it in a different direction completely. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not so much!
Before: Jeannie’s Necklace
Jeannie sent this necklace made from three diamond-shaped pieces of slate connected with three strands of black and peacock colored seed and bugle beads. I really liked the necklace as it was, to be honest. I am feeling more drawn to large, dramatic jewelry as I get older. (Or maybe I care less about what others think. That could be it, too.) But I could totally see myself wearing this with a wide necked black t-shirt. Jeannie included a pair of small, simple earrings (not pictured) that were made from the bugle beads.
Design Considerations and First Try
I took the necklace apart and decided that I wanted to go for something a bit more rustic to go with those slate beads. I didn’t use the seed beads because I knew they’d just look too much like the original necklace if I did. The slate is too heavy to use in earrings, so a focal and earrings was out of the question. But how could I combine three very graphic and dramatic square-shaped beads in a way that was very unlike the original necklace? I opted for using a 3-way connector made with my Rustic Bead and Component technique. One slate bead on either side and then creating a dangle going down, first with the third slate bead and then with more accent beads. Well…it seemed a good idea at the time. But once I put it on? Ew. No. Just no. See what I mean?
The colors worked. The overall tone and feeling worked. The dangle, or drop, is a bit long (from the connector) but I’m okay with that. The big fail was those tricky diamond shapes. Three over one. Looks like eyes and a mouth, the rustic flower connector being the nose. Sort of. Let’s just say that it looks a million percent better here than on my neck. Epic fail.
Second Time’s a Charm
I took the slate beads with me to dinner and set them on the table. As my husband and I moved them around and thought about ways to make them work, I started to get an idea. What if I put the three squares together? I thought about embedding them in polymer clay, but as luck would have it, my oven’s element went up in flames last week and I was without any way to bake polymer clay. (It’s an awful feeling.) Then Gary pushed the beads into a new configuration and I saw it. The Answer!!
Well at least part of the answer. I knew how to make the three slate beads work. But how to make a good necklace design? It needed a bead to tie it all together. But remember…my oven was broken. Polymer clay artists are used to being able to make beads to fit any occasion or color. But I couldn’t do that. I dug through every box of beads that I have. Finally my eyes fell on an old bead from the “junk box” with leaf cane slices on it. It must be 10 years old. But it matched.
Soon I had the design figured out. But it needed a couple of accent beads. Sigh. Nothing in my stash matched. Wouldn’t it be great if I had more of those leaf beads? Then I remembered. I don’t have more beads, but I still have the cane. Heh. A ten year old cane. I worked with it enough to get it moving, then made a couple of slices. It worked! So off I went to buy a new oven element so I could bake them. (Nothing’s ever simple, is it?)
And here we are. The finished necklace. I like it much better than the first try. What do you think?
Do Over Challenge Blog Hop
There are 19 participants in the 7th Do Over Challenge, each one listed below. Take a few minutes to go visit each of them and see how they transformed their own Do Over piece. I like to look at the “before” pictures and imagine what I’d do with it before looking at the final result. I’ve learned a lot about design by watching how others do their Do Overs. Leave a comment and let them know how much you like their piece!