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Basic Jewelry Making
Lady Angharad verch Glyndwr O Llangollen

Basics on design or recreation of jewelry including closures, spacing, double/triple strands, achieving scalloping, adding extra adornments, fixing a broken item. Kit includes materials for necklace, bracelet, and/or earrings.

I am not an authority; I simply make and fix jewelry for myself and some friends and family. I look at pictures of what I want to make and follow their pattern.

Jewelry making 101
Start with your closure, and at least a quarter to half as much string/wire as you want it to be long. So if you want your necklace to be 20 inches long you want to start with at least 25 to 30 inches of string/wire. Why? You will lose some when you add each end of the closure, and if using larger beads on a short necklace there will again be some length needed. If you want to tie a knot between each bead then you want 3 times the finished length. The knots take up a LOT of string)

DO NOT make your necklace so tight you cannot breath! Even chokers have give.
Odd numbers seem to look better than even ones but that is personal preference.

Materials to Start
I could give you a laundry list of types of wire, string, tools and other hardware to use to make a necklace and below I do give some general types.

Basically all that is needed are:
• String or wire (size E silk thread is common. Remember thread can rot if it gets wet or soiled.)
(If using string then you might want a Beading needle, which is a very fine needle which fits through the hole in the pearl. Or make your own needle out of beading wire, simply by folding it over and cutting it into a point.)
• a way to close it if short
• Cutters or old scissors to cut for length and odd ends
• a piece of felt or cloth (to keep the beads from rolling everywhere)
• Beads or gems (must be in a setting with a opening on it or have a hole in the gem. There is a way to use wire to wrap a gem or stone but that is not shown here)

That's it. You can use tweezers to hold things, and small pliers for crimping and cutters for nipping wire but two hands and a good surface is all that is really needed.

Many necklaces were simply long strings of beads/gems that had no closures, they were simply a continuous loop that would be slipped over the head once or perhaps several times. These were closed with a simple knot that was then secured under a bead.

An S-clasp is simply that, a harder to bend piece of wire bent into a S shape, one end is tight against the back of the S while the other is a bit open to allow the passage of the other end of the necklace.
I use fletchings which are circles of wire for an S-clasp or U clasp to attach. These are simple to make.


There is a bar and circle or toggle clasp, the bar slips into the circle and straightens out so it is held securely.


Lobster clips, spring clips, barrel clips, and scores of other items can also be used, of course, they hold securely but have a more modern feel to them.

You can also use beads to close the necklace and make it adjustable, slide one cord though the open bead going one way then the other going the opposite direction, then you can slide it the cords back and forth to adjust the length. Two beads will give you more security. Just knot the ends of the cords to keep them from going back though the bead.

Ooo look its floating on the string. Actually it is not floating, if you look closely often you can see tiny seed beads separating the larger beads, or if not there is a knot tied on each side of the bead. (This is a good technique if the beads are precious to you; if the string breaks the beads are secure on it rather than sliding off to scatter in all directions.) Often there is the Large bead, small bead, long spacer, small bead, large bead combination.


Double/triple strands
This affect is simple to do, start with the closure and 2 or 3 strings, bead as normal but every 3-7 beads add one single large one to join them. If the large beads are not wanted then simple keep stringing until you have the length you wish.

Achieving scalloping
Make the second string longer than the first. To make it look like scallops coming off one single string add many more beads than on the main string.
To make a lattice work like the one on the right you can make each string separately then clip them together at the right places or you make the top two rows then add on off each end and do a simple twist around each place they should meet.

Adding extra adornments
This can be done a couple ways.
First – lay everything out in advance and decide where it is you want to add the hanging bit, then count as you string the beads, when you get to the correct number add the hanging bit.
Second – string everything first, then decide where you want to add the extra part, using a bit of string (edges get tucked under the beads) you tie it on (you can also use a metal ring to add it).

Fixing a broken item
1. Gather up every piece you can find, all the little beads and gems.
2. Decide if you can salvage the existing piece (is the string long enough?) or if you need to start over.
3. If you can salvage then you might end up with something a little shorter than before.
4. If you start over just keep a picture in your head of what it looked like before and if possible sketch it out so you can remember.
5. Sometimes it is as simple as removing a course of bead (if working with a pattern) and reclosing the end.

One very nice way is to get a broach with a way to attach it to the necklace, that way the broach will be pinned to your garb and the necklace will hang in scallops on either side. Even if you do not want the scalloping you can pin it down to discourage swing when dancing, moving rapidly or cooking.

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