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Design on a Dime: Stone and Leather Necklace

Design on a Dime: Stone and Leather Necklace

Erin Strother
erins 1 year ago

I’ve had this little sketch sitting on my desk for a while now.


This is my actual sketch.

In my head, the design looked pretty cool and it seemed like it would work really well for my Design on a Dime feature this month. Some simple mixed-media (nothing too expensive), with stamped leather and a funky new iridescent purple stone focal I saw hanging on the “Big Wall ‘O Beads” last time I was at the Michaels Store.

Yeah, well, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING worked out how I thought it would.

My plan was this: make a focal element using an oval piece of black leather, stamped with a pattern in gold ink. Then hang one of the cool purple stones over it, along with a smaller gold stick bead as an accent, strung with some small silver spacers. I thought I’d invent the rest as I went along.

necklace white LR logo

I already have a big bag of leather scraps that I use constantly, (RUN to Michaels and get some if you don’t have any. They are awesome!) and a rubber stamp I like for a pattern, so that was no problem, but I didn’t have a gold ink pad. And I knew not just ANY gold ink would work, because you need special ink formulated for non-porous surfaces like glass, metal and yes, leather. StazOn brand works great for this—I have some in purple and black—neither of which show up on black leather. So I thought I’d just pop down to Michael’s and buy some gold StazOn. Except they didn’t have any. Or silver. Or any other color I thought would work with my plan.

So my NEW plan involved buying a regular gold ink pad made to stamp paper and then using some kind of spray sealant on it afterwards to keep it from smearing. After testing my plan, I can report this does indeed work, although the matte sealant I used sort of ruined the luster of the leather. (Oh well.) I THINK you could also use hair spray for this but I have not personally tested this theory, so if you try it and it ruins everything, it’s not my fault.

Then I went to buy the purple stones for the focal, and found that some very rude person had bought ALL of them except one strand. Which, normally would have been fine, except the one strand they left behind looked like it had been run over several times by a tractor and then eaten by angry bears. Hmmm. So my NEW, new plan was to buy the less than desirable strand anyway and just hang on to it for a week or so, then go back and see if they had re-stocked, hoping to exchange them for better ones. So I did that. And after two weeks there had been no re-stocking of any kind whatsoever and there were still zero purple stones.

So my NEW, new, new plan was to clean and polish the existing bear-eaten stones as best I could, hoping they’d look slightly better, which they did. Sort of.

I started assembling the focal according to my crappy little sketch and the idea in my head. I wire wrapped the gold stick, which picked up the gold highlights of the leather and the gold iridescence in the stone very nicely, and then, guess what? When I attached it, it was hanging all sideways and dorky and looked totally poopy.

necklace2LR click me

So my NEW, new, new new plan, was to use one of the purple rounds I had bought to use for the rest of the necklace instead, and add a headpin with some tiny gold beads and wire coils to pick up the gold. And then I decided to live dangerously and BEND the headpin to match the curve of the leather oval. And that worked pretty well, which was good, because if I had to come up with any more new plans, I guarantee there would have been a lot of alcohol involved.

Finally, I was ready to make the rest of the necklace, which seemed like a fairly straight-ahead, simple stringing and knotting project. And after I finished that, I totally wished I had put some gold accent beads in there. But of course it was too late, and I also didn’t have any gold beads anyway, except the tiny ones that were too small to string on the cord. So, if you decide to make this project and you have some gold beads handy, throw a couple in there and it will look amazing.* (Probably.)

So, my New, new, new, new, new plan was to string some of the tiny gold beads onto gold jump rings and attach them around the knots as accents, which actually looked pretty cool. (Praise be!)

The moral of this story should probably be something inspirational about creative problem solving or not giving up in the face of adversity, blah blah. But I think the much more obvious moral is just to never use one of my sketches as the basis for a jewelry project.

*Again, I have not tested this theory, so it’s not my fault if you ruin everything by taking my bad advice.

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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  1. Keri Lee Sereika August 17, 2016

    Oh man I have been there. But it’s way more funny and entertaining to read about you being there! It was worth every rework!! What a great piece!

    1. Erin Strother
      Erin Strother August 17, 2016

      Thanks, Keri! I left out the parts of the story where major swearing was involved, and there was also some binge cookie consumption I didn’t mention, but it turned out ok in the end.

      1. rachel August 28, 2016

        I always assume that any challenges you face will be met head on with binge cookie consumption!

        1. Erin Strother
          Erin Strother August 28, 2016