Click on each photo to enlarge.
I love the way it turned out. You may remember the skull components I made from this post
. I used howlite and coral beads (both dyed or "enhanced" as we say in the biz.) I also added a splash of green by tossing in some vintage glass leaves.
The clasp was one that I had in my stash. Lovely vintage glass and sterling silver. It was waiting for the perfect project. I got it years ago from my dear friend Jess from Jess Imports
. (The best source for unique and fancy clasps in my humble opinion. Join their email list to be notified when new stuff goes up online. They sell out FAST!)
When I tackle a multi-strand piece, I don't think too far ahead in the
future. I just take it step-by-step as it can be a bit daunting. I
usually don't pick the clasp until the piece is strung, but in this case
I used the clasp as my primary source of inspiration along with the
I began by "auditioning" my beads like I did in this Bead Soup piece
. Then I started stringing. I cut a 20" piece of SoftFlex
and got to work. (My favorite stringing material. Not a paid endorsement, just deep love from using it since it came out.)
Since I knew I wanted a multi-strand piece, and I had five finished skulls, I had the rough idea that it would end up being a 5-strand necklace. I didn't pre plan much else. I strung the first strand with the red skull and went from there.
As I was stringing along, I realized that the piece need more pops of color so I wire wrapped the vintage glass leaves and strung them next to each skull. The 4mm round beads bump up next to them and help them to hang nicely.
I checked the length of this first strand and added the length of the clasp and crimp closures and measured it against where I wanted it to sit around my neck. (First securing the ends of the strand by closing them with clear tape.) That gave me a rough idea of how long to make the remaining strands.
I kept stringing, cutting a new piece of SoftFlex and making each strand one at a time. I planned the layout as I went along, adding a large bead here, a stack of coral beads there. Placing the skull pendants spaced apart so they wouldn't knock against each other. I just let it evolve.
To make the strands sit nicely on the single loop of the clasp, I tapered each with two 4mm beads. I crimped one strand at a time to the clasp. I sized each strand as I went along, checking how it laid against the previous one.
I made slight adjustments by taking off the two 4mm beads and adding another bead or two to make the necklace slightly graduated. I tried the necklace on each time I added a strand to make sure the fit was right. (Think of this part like fitting a custom garment. You wouldn't have a fancy dress made without trying it on several times to make sure the fit is perfect. Same thing with a fancy necklace. It's a couture moment.)
To make sure that the closure was as pretty as it could be, I used crimp covers. If you haven't heard of them, they are 4mm metal beads with a split down one side. They close over crimp beads after they have been attached and hide them. I use the top indentation in my crimping pliers to gently (gently!) close them around the crimp.
I also used wire guards around the loop of the clasp. They add strength and have the added bonus of really creating a finished look. The SoftFlex strings right through them and is mostly hidden from view.
And there she is. I took her out for a test wear and the fit and feel are perfect. Viva la vida! A perfect necklace for Dia de los Muertos!