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Design on a Dime: Necklace Before Christmas

It’s October.

Which means it’s time for me to watch one of my all-time favorite movies—“Nightmare Before Christmas”—produced by my close personal friend* Tim Burton, master of macabre humor and purposeful bad hair days. Burton created a moody, color-challenged palette consisting of mostly blacks and grays, along with a quirky, twisted design aesthetic, and then tied it together with an amazingly catchy Danny Elfman score. I love this movie so much I decided to make this month’s necklace an homage.

necklace before xmas logoLR

Due to it’s general awesomeness, I’m going to assume you’ve all seen this movie, but if for some insane reason you haven’t, you will have no idea what I’m talking about in this next bit, so go watch it right now, and then come back and read the rest of the blog. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

OK? So now that everyone is up to speed, here’s the philosophical discussion I recently had with my pal, “the Elk,” about “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

The Elk: “Why isn’t Oogie Boogie in charge of Halloween town? He is way scarier than Jack Skellington.”

Me: “Because no one wants a leader who’s made out of bugs. Yuck. Plus, he’s a single father with a major gambling addiction, and his three juvenile delinquent children are kidnappers. Not exactly a role model.”

The Elk: “NO—you are missing the point. Oogie Boogie is totally misunderstood. His character represents addiction, and the frailty and hopelessness of the human condition. You should feel sorry for him. I’ll bet Halloween Town doesn’t even have any addiction treatment programs.”

Me: “Ummm, you’re WAY overthinking it. He’s just a bad dude made out of a green burlap bag filled with BUGS! He’s a villain! I mean, he totally tried to KILL Santa!”

The Elk: “I don’t think he would have actually KILLED Santa. I mean, Santa is full of magicalness—he would be a pretty hard dude to kill.”

Me: “I think Batman could take Santa. Like, if they got into a fight.”

The Elk: “Oh, yeah, Batman for sure. He’s got superior technology working in his favor. And he clearly works out. Santa is seriously old and out of shape. But why would they even be fighting?”

Me: “Over a chick, of course. That’s what all dudes fight about. Like, maybe while Santa was kidnapped in Halloween Town, Batman swooped in and tried to get busy with Mrs. Claus. She bakes super-good cookies. All the guys want her, probably.”

The Elk: “There should totally be a sequel where Batman kills Santa, shacks up with Mrs. Claus and takes over Halloween Town.”

Me: “I thought you wanted Oogie Boogie to take over Halloween Town.”

The Elk: “Batman could fight him for it. It would be pretty easy, given that bats eat bugs and all.”

Me: “So you’re saying Batman would just eat Oogie Boogie?”

The Elk: “Yeah. Then his first act as leader would be to change the name of Halloween Town to ‘Halloweensylvania.’”

Me: “’Halloweensylvania’ IS a pretty cool name. That should definitely happen in the sequel.”

So, in honor of “Nightmare Before Christmas,” and the potentially awesome, as yet unnamed sequel featuring Batman, I present to you, the “Necklace Before Christmas.”

necklace before xmas2LR click

Tim Burton, if you are reading this, I am totally available to collaborate with you on your next project.

I used four different strands of beads for this, all of which I bought on sale at 40% off, so that rang in at a bit over $13 for beads. I also added a cool skull charm, which certainly didn’t break the bank, but in full disclosure, this is a mixed media necklace and does require some other supplies besides beads (which you should totally keep on hand anyway because you’ll need them for other stuff).

In addition to the usual necklace findings, (beading wire, crimps, jump rings, eye pins) I used leather remnants, (this is my new favorite thing—it’s an entire pound of leather scraps stuffed in a bag for $6.99—use a coupon so you don’t have to pay full price!), leather cord, eyelets, wire, and Ranger/Vintaj patina to “age” the wire. I made my own clasp, but feel free to use whatever you already have in your stash. No biggie. And if you don’t feel like buying some of this stuff, you can easily simplify by leaving out the eyelets, skipping the patina on the wire, or substituting beads you already have for the wire coils and spirals.

As always, full written directions to make this necklace will pop right up if you click the photo. (The one that says “click me for directions.” Duh.)

In conclusion, one final philosophical question to ponder: “IS there anything more suspicious than frog’s breath?”

*I have never actually met Tim Burton and this is totally a lie that I made up, but I’m sure if we DID meet, he would invite me to dinner and we would end up braiding each others’ hair and becoming bffs.

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.



  1. Kate October 21, 2015

    Ooo .. I love this! The spirals on the inside strand are amazing!!

    1. Erin Strother
      Erin Strother October 21, 2015

      Thanks, Kate! Working some wire into the design is always a great way to add interest without adding much cost.

  2. Rose October 21, 2015

    The skull on the clasp is a nice touch!

  3. Erin Prais-Hintz
    Erin Prais-Hintz October 22, 2015

    You always know how to put a smile on my face! I haven’t seen that movie in years. I will have to remember to sit down and watch it soon. I love the animation and the color palette and the way the worlds collide. And this message..
    “Just because I cannot see it, doesn’t mean I can’t believe it.” ~ Jack Skellington
    Wonderful necklace. Very Nightmare-ish and I love the mixed media elements you used, especially the leather bails! Wonderful! Enjoy the day.

  4. Rachel lyons October 22, 2015

    What’s this? What’s this?! There’s magic everywhere…

  5. SuperSlug October 27, 2015

    Such a beautiful designer and necklace. The Elk is a pretty funny dude!