noun: aurora borealis: a natural electrical phenomenon characterized by the appearance of streamers of reddish or greenish light in the sky, usually near the northern or southern magnetic pole.: an aurora that occurs in earth’s northern hemisphere —called also northern lights
In reality, the electrical phenomenon we know as Aurora Borealis is caused by sets of charged electrons and protons that enter the atmosphere and cause the diffuse glow of light emissions from these super-charged and excited particles. Sounds like a party is happening up there!
This magical phenomenon is named Aurora for the Roman goddess of the dawn, and Boreas for the North Wind, so named by Galileo. The colors that are visible are directly related to the types of emissions:
oxygen emissions: green or orange-red – the most common
nitrogen emissions: blue or red
It is common to find beads in stores with the moniker “AB” or Aurora Borealis on them. So, what does that mean, anyway? Originally, that trade named term was coined by the Swarovski company referring to a special coating that was applied to certain crystal beads. The first production of Aurora Borealis beads was in the mid-fifties as a part of a collaboration with Manfred Swarovski and Christian Dior. Swarovski had discovered a new technique for coating the surface of crystals which spectacularly transformed them from shimmering green to blue, violet and a magical red dancing on the surface. The original finish was applied by coating the crystal shapes in extremely thin layers of metal that is then vaporized in a vacuum. This increased the sparkling power of the crystals and made them even more radiant. This innovation by Swarovski was such a success worldwide and started a trend of coating stones in a variety of shimmering colorful effects. He showed them to the fashion icon Dior who was so taken with them that he started sewing them onto lapels and into the fabric of the dresses he made. They became the pinnacle of high fashion and although their popularity waned by the 60s-70s with the rise of plastic coated beads, they are now on the rise and can be seen on all sorts of beads.
For my Northern Lights Layers set I decided to do a set of three layering necklaces. Want to know my secret for making a good layering set? Work in threes. Utilize some of the beads in each strand for a repeating motif. Make sure each strand can stand on its own while looking great together. I found this great chain at Michaels that is like tiny silver plated coins that add a bit of flash by catching the light just so. The first strand I made with the mixed shape hematite spacers and some of the crackled aqua rounds with chain at each end. It is rather dainty and about 16 inches.
On the second strand I wanted to focus on the abalone shell pendant. Those swirling colors really call to mind the Aurora Borealis. I brought out the blue in the pendant by mixing that with the sapphire hematite for a sonic blue. This one is around 20 inches with a 2″ drop for the pendant.
The final strand – the longest at about 24″ – uses that cool chain for simplicity and adds in the jet AB rounds for dangles. I kept the center strand as the most complex, the heaviest, both visually and physically, for balance.
Now they could each be separate, but I wanted them to hang together, yet be removable so that you could wear them in any combination, or alone. I solved that problem by attaching a small lobster claw clasp to each end and attaching them to one large oval jump ring, but any ring would do. This is a versatile idea that makes your necklace infinitely customizable.
My Pretty Palettes partner for July is Linda Landig.
I am pretty sure that Miss Linda has lit the night afire with her piece. That ceramic piece with the swirly night sky is complemented perfectly with the soft greens, pinks and reds that dance in the Aurora Borealis. I can’t wait to see more of this!
And now for something magical from our own Erin Strother…
I’ve never seen an actual Aurora Borealis. From the looks of the photos, I have a suspicion that it might be an elaborate hoax perpetrated by some evil foreign organization cleverly trying to pull the wool over our eyes—something along the same lines as Bigfoot, or that chocolate cake that everyone swears is actually a vegetable because it has grated zucchini in it.
In any case, the pictures I’ve seen are showstoppers, so I tried to create something for this month’s challenge that would capture a bit of the dark magic and shifting colors of an inky night sky, improbably awash in swirls of pink, purple and indigo.
Your turn! Let’s see what you made inspired by the Aurora Borealis in the summer night sky!
And check back here for the next Pretty Palettes inspiration on August 5th!
Erin, I love your necklace and how it can go from a smashing statement necklace to a sweet, but sparkly 16 inch necklace. What a great design!
Thanks for Another fun Challenge! Your necklace turned out Fantastic! Love the built in versatility!