I thought I’d share my creative process of making jewelry with you, from start to finish. My sister and I are working on our “Tribal Summer Collection” for our Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/SistasJewelry). We want to create bold, colorful pieces that reflect a variety of tribes throughout the world. I have been admiring the Aboriginal art of Australia and the dot designs they use. Using their designs as inspiration, I have hand painted wood pieces with toothpicks, in various colors and designs to use as centerpieces and earrings for the new pieces we are creating. Summer also reminds me of days at the beach, exotic locales and organic shapes. I love the color and movement of coral, mixed with the turquoise water, so I decided to mix my toothpick technique with these motifs to create an “Under the Sea” inspired statement necklace.
I started with blank wood pieces that are drilled at the top, paints from the craft store and a lot of toothpicks. I painted them by layering each color, one at a time. I did not draw out the design beforehand. I let it flow freely as I was creating.
These dry fairly fast and are ready to use. I wasn’t sure what type of necklace I was making when I painted them. All the beads and jewelry making supplies are kept at my sister’s house where we create together. I laid the painted pieces out and started to pull coordinating beads. We had two types of faux coral sticks that I knew I wanted to use to highlight the coral in my painting. We use faux coral for two reasons. It’s environmentally friendly, rather than plucking real coral from the ocean and genuine coral is very expensive. We also had some turquoise African sea glass we bought at a flea market. I started laying these out in a pattern.
I wanted to add another textural element to this necklace to take it over the top. I had purchased this netting from the fabric store the year prior to use when we were creating a beach themed Summer collection but I never used it. It was bright white when I bought it and I wanted it to looked a bit aged and used, like a fisherman’s net. I brewed some black tea and soaked the netting in it for a few hours. I laid it out to dry and the tea staining offers the subtle coloring I wanted. I had never worked with this in creating jewelry, so there was a learning curve. I tend to come up with these grand ideas and then have to figure out how to execute them, which can be challenging. I decided to thread the netting in between the beads to create the feeling that the coral was intertwined with the netting. This was not an easy task. The netting did not cooperate easily but I did get the entire necklace strung.
Originally I envisioned the net as a fisherman’s net in the ocean but once it was strung it reminded me of sea kelp and how it sways with the movement of the ocean. I decided to cut the netting, very organically, as it would be in nature.
I love how it turned out. My creative process starts with an inspiration, whether it be color or shapes or ideas and grows on its own. Sometimes it’s a struggle figuring out how to make your vision a reality, but the end result is always worth it. We are feverishly working on some amazing pieces for our “Tribal Summer Collection”, which will be up in our Etsy shop in May. We hope you’ll stop by and see what we are up to!