July 24, 2007

Collaboration Exploration

So I have been working on a fun project idea recently involving collaboration. It was Cindy Gimbrone's idea, which she shared on a little private discussion group we belong to. The idea was to have two beadmakers each make three sets of beads. Those three sets would be distributed to the bead makers and one designer. We were lucky to have the wonderful Jean Yates agree to work on this project with us. All three artists would then create a piece of jewelry from the beads. Fun, huh? The goal was to see how the same sets of beads would inspire different jewelry designers. Here is my design story:
We are still in summertime/seaside state of mind, so I chose a set of my shells. I had only used them in a jewelry design for the Beachcomber Bracelet I designed for Simply Beads, so I was interested in using them in something different, and seeing other ways that they might be used.

Cindy generously contributed a huge selection of her spiral beads. She sent beautiful topaz and rootbeer colored ones that I adored. There were also beautiful watery teal spirals as well. I had a hard time figuring out how to use the teal, since I didn't really have any teal accent beads to match. And if you know me, you know I am drowning in every kind of shade of brown, so I naturally chose to set the teal aside for another project and focused on the earthtones.

So here is the piece I came up with...its called Sunken Treasure:

I knew I wanted to make a necklace, and I had just made this honey amber coin style pendant for a project I never completed. I loved how the shade was right between the topaz and rootbeer glass. I thought of a sunken treasure chest at the bottom of the ocean, with shells surrounding it. The spirals are so waterlike, and remind me of whirlpools and shells. They are wonderfully organic and yet shiny and glossy. I added some gold accents, just a little, to echo the treasure chest theme. I also wanted to add a bit of a textural element, like seaweed or netting or other such flotsam. So I used waxed Irish linen for the neck part and also some frayed details around the charms and dangles. The fringe is made on jewelry cable, with crimps hidden inside the spiral beads and covered at the bottom with gold crimp covers, so the crimps are not showing. I am very pleased with this design and I really enjoyed working on this project. I hope to do more collaboration explorations in the future!

Want to see what Cindy and Jean made? Check out their sites for the designs they made, and their own stories! Click for: Cindy's blog and Jean's blog


  1. hi!
    this was a great idea and the necklace is very beautiful!!!

  2. This is so beautiful! And really captures the sea! LOVE IT!

  3. I love your shell beads!! The necklace challege is gorgeous!

  4. I love it too! I especially love how you gracefully attached your gorgeous coin shaped focal to Cindy's spirals--you are really fantastic! It looks so "right".

    Love your sense of color, too!

    This was great fun!


  5. this was such a great idea! I love what you did with the beads, very cool!
    now I want to do one!!!

  6. I love this necklace, Melanie! You've made a necklace that uses your shells and my spirals perfectly! I love it's rustic quality - it truly is a treasure!