I have written SIX crafting adventure pieces and still haven’t done one on my jewelry making. That all changes now. You guys know you love my shameless attempts at garnering compliments.
You guys might realize by this point that I am not a ‘girly’ girl. But I cannot leave my apartment without a necklace on. I feel weird and naked without one. I feel like everyone is looking at my neck. Even though I logically know they are not.
By this point I have hundreds of necklaces. I have bracelets and have recently been venturing into earrings. My etsy is full of my jewelry for sale.
But everything I am going to post on here is from my personal collection and not for sale. It’s not even all of my personal collection. These only get seen if you happen to be looking at my neck. That is the curse of being a crafter. You want to save all the best stuff for yourself.
My father has been collecting beads and making jewelry for over 50 years. His jewelry makes the things I am about to show you look like they were done by a child. A gifted child, but still. His work is fantastic.
Sometime when I was around 13 or 14, I asked him to teach me how to make jewelry. He and his first wife invented a form of micro macrame with beads and stones at Woodstock. They moved to California and gave away necklaces on the beach. I mentioned that he was a total hippie, right?
So he sat me down and very patiently showed me how to do it. I practiced for hours until my hands cramped and everything I was doing seemed meaningless. Like when you say a word to many times until it is just noises and nothing more. And then I said, fuck this shit. I’m never going to get it.
I tried again a few years later based off my memory and I managed to spend several hours making a beaded cylinder of what appeared to be a cat hairball studded with beads. I savagely attacked it with scissors and hid my unholy horror of a creation at the bottom of a trash bin.
When I was 17 and had moved away, I asked him to show me again. I was making simple jewelry now and figured I had developed enough hand/eye co-ordination to make it work.
My father sat me down again and showed me again how to do the weaving with the string and beads. And I again failed miserably. I could tell he was frustrated but I figured I was just too stupid to ever make it happen.
I tried for about a year after that. Every once in a while I would sit down with a newfound determination to make it work. But it never worked. I don’t know where that well-spring of stubbornness and determination even comes from. But it appears to be ever-lasting.
Sometime when I was 20 I was trying for my fourth or fifth time to make this wretched thing work. It is so complicated and you have to hold your hands just so and it was one of those situations that felt so alien and awkward.
And then, for some reason, I did it backwards. I don’t know how I thought of it. Most likely, I had simply forgotten my father’s original instruction and just decided to make it up as I went (a common theme in my life). And it worked. I don’t know why, but it just worked.
I thought maybe my father had been telling me how to do it from his perspective which would have been backwards for me and therefore I had been doing it backwards all these years which is why it hadn’t worked. But no. Doing it backwards was what worked for me.
I started making necklaces. They have changed over time in a way that is so obvious it is like carbon dating the layers of sediment in stone. I can look at something I made and know exactly when it is from.
I eventually showed my brother the stitch. He does it backwards too.
Even though the three of us use the same technique, same materials, same style. Our pieces are as distinctly different as our personalities.