These three treasure necklaces were part of a class project

‘They Aren’t Alike’ and Other Treasure Necklace Truths

Treasure Necklaces with Vintage African Trade Beads

What if one necklace or a pair of necklaces started you on a new path of design and appreciation and the process you broke your own set of limiting beliefs?

The “seed bead eight” experienced such a mini revolution during a treasure necklace class at Elinor’s Art & Beads. A kit for the class introduced vintage African trade beads with coin silver or brass.

These hebron beads were part of a treasure necklace kit.
©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Hebron Beads for treasure necklaces

“They aren’t alike,” complained one seed bead expert as she held up two similar Hebron beads.

Hebron beads are old, wound glass beads made with Dead Sea salts. Imperfections (including chipped and broken beads) are a given, but these beads are very collectible and very old.

A precious strand of Hebron had been split so that each treasure necklace kit from Elinor’s Art & Beads included some of these hard-to-find heirlooms.

The factory-perfection of delicas, for example, is in direct contrast to the energized markings and dissimilarities of trade beads. (Delicas are a small, perfectly cylindrical Japanese seed bead used for peyote and brick stitch beadwork.)

It was important to me to have each participant enjoy the project and reframe their view of design. Instead of patterned color and allotted increases/decreases they would practice free-form, non-patterned, non-counted presentations. Naturally, this generated nervousness. For the rest of the afternoon, we took deep breaths and let go of preconceived notions.

These three treasure necklaces were part of a class project
©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Three Treasure Necklaces in process

If you want to bust out of a rut, random helps, although the place of no pattern is not for everyone. Instead of symmetry, shapes may take precedence. Or instead of expected color, the introduction of a surprise blended shade can work. Patterns emerge subtly, in the form of a count.

These participants completed their treasure necklaces in class.
©2015, Mary Ellen Merrigan, participant treasure necklaces

Random allows for surprises, much as life offers a peek into the unexpected. Creating with randomness forces one to use what’s at hand. Several of the treasure necklace participants decided to add more coin silver to their project. The results were amazingly different.
Eight participants. Sixteen necklaces. And these treasure necklaces contained more than pretty beads: They were tickets to a breakthrough.

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