Design on a Dime: Leftover Layering Necklaces

November is a month traditionally known for leftovers.

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Next week, we’ll all make enough food to feed the entire population of Sweden, eat a pound or so, and load the rest into Tupperware that we toss on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Oh, we’ll eat the yummiest stuff over the next few days, but you know those two bites of cranberry sauce you so carefully saved are just going to sit there growing mold until you either feed them to the dog or toss out the entire Tupperware, for fear that if you open the lid, some mutant product of bacterial evolution will leap out and eat your face off.

One year, my culinarily challenged 6-year-old nephew, Jackson, struggling with a mortal fear of all food that is not chicken nuggets, was given an executive order to eat five bites of food (of the non-chicken nugget variety) during Thanksgiving dinner. He was allowed to choose whichever foods seemed least threatening, but they all had to be different. (For example, five bites of mashed potatoes would not cut it.) So, Jackson very bravely gathered five elf-sized bites of different Thanksgivingy foods, strategically located in non-touching geographical regions of his plate, and then proceeded to eat exactly one bite of a dinner roll before having a total meltdown. And that was that.

The analogy here is we almost always buy more stuff than we consume, leaving bunches of leftover stuff that has to be stored someplace until we use it for another purpose. (We’re talking about beads now, in case your head is still in pumpkin pie mode.) Sometimes it’s half a strand of beads. Sometimes it’s just two or three sad little orphan babies. But they’re all sitting there, taking up space when they could be shining brightly in a necklace or pair of earrings.

So, here’s a cool, easy idea to use up some of those neglected, leftover beads sitting around doing nothing but collecting dust.

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These layering necklaces are so easily customizable it’s ridiculous. You can use a whole row of just one bead, or use one or two beads paired with contrasting beads or accents. There are only a couple of rules. And before you get all huffy because you’re not into following rules, I promise, these are not dictator-type rules where everything is ruined if you don’t strictly adhere to the plan. In fact, they’re barely rules at all. More like vague suggestions, really.

Suggestion 1:

Use the same chain for all the necklaces. This ties the layers together, creating an overall unified look. I originally envisioned gold chain for these, but I didn’t have any, whereas I had an entire unopened package of black beading chain, so I went with that instead. Use whatever color you like though—silver, gold, copper. It’s all good, although I’d recommend a fine beading chain rather than something heavier, in order to keep the focus on the beads.

Suggestion 2:

Use the same accent beads on all the links. I used a 3mm metal round at each end of the link to tie the beaded links together. I also used the same silver rondelle accent bead throughout, although I did not use them on every link. This keeps the look from being overly random and chaotic.

Suggestion 3:

alternate-linkslrUse neutral-tone beads for some of the links to avoid clashiness. White, clear or any type of metal beads are all neutrals which match pretty much anything. I used ALL neutrals, with the exception of one colorful link. You don’t have to do it this way, but the idea here is that I can easily swap out the amethyst link for a different color of my choosing (I made alternate links in turquoise, dark blue, and pink/purple) so a link in any color will look good with the other neutral layers.

Suggestion 4:

Make all the links the same width. (The exception here would be the shortest necklace, which is a great place to highlight one larger focal bead, like a really cool briolette or rough nugget or art bead or something.) Of course, you can still make the shortest necklace the same type of link as the others. No pressure.

Another benefit of making this project is that you’ll free up some of the Tupperware you’ve been using to store leftover beads. Unless you’ve invited Sweden to dinner at your house next Thursday, you’re going to need it.

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Erin Strother

About Erin Strother

Erin Strother is a full-time graphic designer with an obsession for jewelry design living in southern California with her long-suffering husband George and their disobedient dog Swiffer. She has won 6 Pulitzer prizes, an Academy Award for “Best Virtual Sound Editing,” $4 in the California State Lottery, and other prizes too numerous to mention. She is currently working on her first novel, “The Summoning Circle.” (Really!) See more of her work at http://www.studioEgraphics.com and http://www.etsy.com/shop/StudioEgallery.

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