Braided Chain Necklace

Chain-Title2I’m not sure who came up with the saying “Less is more,” but they were wrong, very, very wrong! At least when it comes to a necklace like this.  While it may be simple to create, there is nothing simple about it.  Made with 10 different styles of chain, everything about this piece feels indulgent.  It makes a statement worthy of a Real Housewife.  Maybe drinking copious amounts of wine, big mansions, fancy cars, and scandalous love lives aren’t your thing (or maybe they are, who am I to judge?) but that doesn’t mean you can’t rock a big statement necklace of your own!

Large Chain – 2 feet of each color (Gunmetal, Silver, Antique Silver, Gold, Antique Copper, Antique Brass)
Small Chain – 2 feet of each color (Antique Silver, Antique Copper, Gold, Antique Brass)
Silver Jump Ring (TC0020-SP)
Antique Brass Jump Ring (TC0026-AB)
Toggle Clasp (TC6214)

1) Trim the chain into 2 foot sections. Because this chain is not soldered, the links can be opened with chain nose pliers as you would with a jump ring.  Use as many or as few pieces of chain as you wish.  I ended up with 14 two foot sections.  (Image 1)
2) Connect the chains together using the large brass jump rings to make four sections of chain.  Then connect the four sections together with an additional brass jump ring.  (Images 2-3)
3) Attach your chain bundle to something secure.  I used a piece of scrap cord and a macrame board.  You could tape the chain to your worktable or attach it to a clip board as well.  (Image 4) 
4) Separate the chain into the 4 sections and braid them together as shown. (Images 5-11) 
5) Trim excess chain if necessary and connect the ends together with jump rings as done in step 2, above.  (Images 12-13) 
6) Add additional lengths of chain as necessary to make the necklace your desired size and connect the toggle clasp with the silver jump rings.  (Images 14-15)
Note: The more strands of chain used, the bulkier the necklace will be and therefore the finished necklace will be shorter.  The finished necklace shown above measures 22 inches while the necklace shown below measures almost 25 inches.  So, while they both started with 2 foot strands, the extra bulk decreases the final length.  

This monstrosity of a necklace weighs a good 5 pounds and to be honest, I couldn’t wear it for more than a few minutes before getting a crick in my neck.  But don’t dispare! This technique can be used to make a smaller necklace of a similar style.  Just decrease the amount of chain used (and/or use chain with smaller links), add in some strands of ribbon or even a few strands of beads.  Braid them all together, and bam, a necklace that won’t break your neck!

For the necklace shown above, I used the large silver chain, three colors of the smaller chain (antique copper, antique brass and antique silver),  silver cup chain in turquoise and coral, and some navy and cream silk ribbons.  Simply use an end connector to attach the ribbon and a cup chain connector to attach the rhinestone cup chain.  Connect it all together with jump rings and braid together as shown in the tutorial.  The result is a nautical-inspired necklace that is much more wearable and light weight.  I love the different textures the crystal cup chain and ribbons add to the finished piece.

I also whipped up a bracelet using all of the extra chain that was leftover from making the necklaces.  I connected lengths of chain together with jump rings so that all of the pieces were seven inches in length.  Then, I connected all of the chain together with jump rings and attached the toggle clasp to finish it up.  A bracelet like this is a great way to use up leftover bits of chain.  You know, all those pieces that are too small to use but too large to throw away? If you’re like me, then you have an ever growing collection of them.

I’m a big fan of the mixed metals trend that has been so popular in jewelry recently.  I love mixing colors and sizes and textures for a completely unexpected and beautiful result!  What do you think about mixed metals and statement necklaces?  I would love to hear from you in the comments!


Palm Beach Pearl Necklace


We recently got in the fun new Tropical Punch line of lucite chain by Dazzle It!  The chain comes in 10 colors in two different sizes.  This line is bright and fun and perfect for your summer creations.  The necklace I made using the chunky chain reminds me of those fruity alcoholic drinks that come in the fishbowls, completely unnecessary and always a good time!  Sometimes it pays to be totally and utterly ridiculous and over the top and this is a necklace for all those times.  Or for kicking back on the beach with a fishbowl full of something cold to drink. You know, whenever!

1pkg – Lucite Chain (LX985-40)
20pc – Large Plastic Pearls or Round Beads (14mm, 16mm, or 18mm)
4pc – 8mm Plastic Pearls
1pc – Pearl & Crystal Rhinestone Brooch
1pc – Toggle Clasp (TC6067-AS)
8pc – 10mm Silver Jump Rings (10FI222-S)
3pc – 8mm Silver Jump Ring (8FI222-S)
24in – Beading Wire
4pc – Crimp Beads
Glue – E6000


1) Fold the lucite chain in half.  Every other link in the chain will have a seam.  Gently bend the plastic at the seam to separate the links.  You should end up with two pieces and one should be one link longer than the other.  Apply a small bit of glue to the seam with a toothpick to close it up.  (Images 1-2)
2) Use flat nose pliers to connect two 10mm jump rings to each end of the lucite chains.  (Images 3-4)
3) Flip the pearl brooch piece over and connect each lucite chain to the outer loops with 8mm jump rings.  (Images 5-6)
4) On the other end of the chains, connect them both together by attaching an 8mm jump ring to the 10mm jump rings added in step 2. (Images 7-8)
5) Cut a 12 inch piece of beading wire.  Connect the wire to the center loop in the top set of holes on the back of the brooch. (Images 9-10)
6) String on one 8mm pearl followed by 10pc of large pearls and finishing with another 8mm pearl.  Attach the clasp to the end of the beading wire with a crimp bead.  (Images 11-12)
7) On the opposite end of the chain, attach a 12 inch piece of beading wire to the 8mm jump ring.  String beads on in the same pattern as above and complete the necklace by attaching the other end of the clasp with a crimp bead.  (Images 13-15) GO-1

I love the way the orange and the minty green both pair with pearls.  When I showed this necklace to a co-worker, she proclaimed that it was the perfect piece to wear to a wedding she is planning on attending this summer.  I agree!  These colors are both on-trend right now and, while they may be plastic, the pearl and crystal brooch elevates this piece to a level of elegance pretty enough to wear to a sunny, garden wedding.   



This piece combines the smaller lucite chain with a 14mm plastic round bead for a monochromatic look.  The pinks match perfect creating a fun tone-on-tone necklace that will add a pop of color to any outfit.  I could see myself wearing this piece with a pair of dark wash jeans, a white t-shirt and crystal sandals for a flirty summer look.


Football season may still be months away, but I couldn’t help myself when I came across my teams colors.  This would be such a fun piece to wear on game day, probably with the same jeans and t-shirt combo mentioned above.  I mean, what doesn’t go with jeans and a t-shirt, right?


Wear this necklace, made with complimentary icy blue tones, with navy stripes for a nautical outfit with a punch of color or make a statement by pairing it with a flirty, floral sundress.  Lightweight and colorful, these necklaces are as easy to wear as they are to make.  Make one for yourself and one for a friend in no time flat!

What do you think of Dazzle It‘s new Tropical Punch lucite chain?  Love or hate, I want to know!



Beaded Leather Cuff Bracelets

I am so excited about the newest line of tools we just brought in.  The Create Recklessly line of leather working tools by the Beadsmith has everything you need to get started making gorgeous leather jewelry in no time.  We now carry 8×10 leather sheets in 9 different colors as well as leather cuff bracelets in three sizes and colors.  We also have 7 colors of paint, specially formulated for use on leather.  When you add that to the TierraCast line of leather and components, the possibilities are endless.

I’ve never done much leather work before, so I wanted to do an easy project to get familiar with the tools.  The Create Recklessly Leather Tool Kit Deluxe includes 17 different attachments and has everything you need to set snaps, eyelets, grommets, and rivets, as well as pierce lacing holes and slots for decorative elements. For this tutorial, I use the Tool Kit Deluxe and the Tooling Board to create a simple beaded cuff using the leather cuff bracelets that already have the snaps attached.

Leather Snap Bracelet 
8/0 Seed Beads (8SB185-M and 8SB150, pictured)
Wildfire Beading Thread
G-S Hypo Cement 

Create Recklessly Leather Tool Kit Deluxe
Create Recklessly Angled Leather Knife
Create Recklessly Rotary Cutter
Create Recklessly Tooling Board with Ruler
Rawhide Mallet (MS153-2 or MS145)
Retractable Thread Burner
Leather Needles

1) Lay your desired leather cuff on the tooling board.  Using the included ruler, find the center of the bracelet and mark every 3/4 inches with a pencil.  (Images 1-2)
2) Screw the three-prong chisel attachment into tool base.  When it comes time to change the attachment, use the chuck key to provide leverage to unscrew it.  (Images 3-4)
3) Place the three-prong chisel onto your mark and then hammer gently with either a rawhide mallet or the rawhide head of the multi-faced hammer, to create the holes. (Images 6-7)
4) Thread the needle (I used the smallest needle in the red section of the needle pack) with beading thread and bring it up through the first hole from the underside of the cuff.  String 9 beads onto the string and thread the needle through the cuff. Skip a hole and then bring your needle up through the back side of the bracelet in the outermost hole.  (Image 8)
5) String on 9 bead and thread through the bracelet.  Tie a knot on the backside of the bracelet.  (Images 9-10)
6) Bring your needle up through the cuff, entering the center of the second set of holes.  String 9 beads and bring your needle back through the bracelet.  (Image 11)
7) Repeat the pattern until you have beaded through all of the holes.  (Image 12)
8) Tie off the string on the back of the cuff.  Trim the excess string with the thread burner and add a drop of glue to the knot to secure.  (Images 13-15)

I just stuck with a simple pattern on these bracelets but it would be really easy to add additional rows of beading or create patterns with different colors of beads.  The size 8/0 seed bead is the smallest size seed bead that my needle would fit through but you could also try a size 6/0 seed bead for even more variations!

I used a white string on both bracelets because that is what I had on had, but a black thread on the black bracelet would be much less obvious on the black cuff.  You can also color the white thread black with a permanent marker, which is what I ended up doing.  If you are worried about the knot being too rough or the threads catching, try gluing a pretty ribbon or a piece of felt to the inside of the bracelet to protect the stitches.

ThreeUsing a leather cuff with the snap already attached eliminates several steps to the process.  If you wanted to experiment with cutting your own bracelet and adding the snaps yourself, we have all the supplies to do so.  You can find the snaps on our website HERE.  TierraCast makes a pretty snap cover that can be glued on top of the snap to make it more decorative.  The tools needed to set the snaps are included in the Leather Tool Kit Deluxe.

I can’t wait to experiment more with the leather sheets and paints.  This whole line of tools and supplies makes me so excited at all the creating possibilities.  Have you incorporated leather into your jewelry designs?  What do you think of the Create Recklessly line of tools?


Met Gala 2015 – Beaded Dresses Galore!

The Met Gala, formerly known as the Costume Institute Gala, took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last night in New York City. Set to the theme of China: Through the Looking Glass, celebrities gathered en force to show off their most daring and decadent fashions. As one might expect, the night was all about making a statement. From fabulous diamonds, to trendy tassel earrings, everything was about being seen and the dresses were no different. Beaded and embellished gowns took center stage. Beads had quite the fashion moment last night and here are a few of my favorites from the event.

Katie Holmes walked the red carpet with Zac Posen, again acting as his muse in a custom navy blue gown.  Featuring celestial beaded details along the bottom, Katie looked every bit as elegant as always.  She shocked us all by showing up to the event with a brand new bob that looked to be inspired by Anna Wintour, herself.  I always love seeing Katie Holmes on the red carpet.

vanessa hudgens Vanessa Hudgens, known for her bohemian-chic street style, really brought the Hollywood-glam to the red carpet last night.  In a flirty, crystal embellished dress by H&M, she was both edgy and on theme.  Her makeup managed to look both dramatic and fresh, which perfectly complimented her look.  She was able to look age appropriate without looking too risqué and a little modest without looking matronly.


Wearing a blush colored Donna Karan Atelier gown, Lizzy Caplan was the picture of elegance.  The beading and embroidered details of the gown are absolutely exquisite and this is my favorite look of the entire night.  Her skin glows against the champagne color of the dress and the wine-stained lips and ruby ring are just the right pop of color for this other wise monochromatic look.


I’ve never been a fan of gloves on the red carpet, and unfortunately for Olivia Wilde, she won’t be changing my mind.  That said, she is absolutely working this intricately embellished Prada gown.  While it doesn’t quite fit the theme, she looks beautiful and her accessories (maybe not the gloves… okay, maybe even the gloves) all work together to complete her fun and edgy look.  Most importantly, you can tell she loves what she is wearing and that is a major win in my book.


Walking the red carpet with some handsome man candy on her arm (Hello, Joel McHale!), Allison Brie stuns in this embellished jewel-toned Prabal Gurung dress.  The deep eggplant color is rich and looks incredible on her.  I love the rectangle shaped sequins and the way they cascade down the dress.  On a differently cut dress, the lace may have been too much but it actually serves to soften the entire look and creates an interesting silhouette. Topping off her look with neutral make up and a faux-bob hair style, Allison Brie is one of my favorites of the night.


I’ll be the first to admit, this dress was not my favorite the first time I saw it.  Once I realized this gown was not just another lacy, floral gown but was an intricately cut leather and beaded masterpiece, I fell in love.  This Calvin Klein dress, custom-made for Rose Byrne herself, is gorgeous.  It’s both interesting and unexpected, especially from Rose, who tends to be more reserved on the red carpet.


Sienna Miller is always one to take risks on the red carpet and this look is no different.  With China being the theme of the night, it would have been nice to see her in something that looked less like a matador costume.  While I love that she went with this intricately beaded pants suit by Thakoon, the entire look falls a bit flat to me.  Maybe if the cut was a little different and it didn’t just look like fancy pajamas, I would like it more.  The craftsmanship is beautiful and with the beading, I’m sure it looked much better in person.  Perhaps this is one of those looks that just doesn’t translate well in pictures.


Everything about Taraji P. Henson’s look is on pointe.  Invited by Belenciaga creative director, Alexander Wang, she served as his date and his muse in this custom-made, gorgeous beaded dress.  The elegant column gown was constructed of black seed beads, rhinestones and tiny chain links and took over 120 hours of painstaking workmanship to complete.  I especially love her whimsical Fred Leighton earrings.  You might just see a DIY version of those in the future.


Generally a showcase for women’s fashion, a few men still like to get in on the fun.  One of those men, Adrien Brody, decided to go big or go him in his embellished oxblood blazer by Dolce & Gabbana Alla Sartoria.  Not many people could pull off such a statement look but Brody manages it quite well.  Perfectly styled for the theme of the event, his playful look is a win for the red carpet.

What did you think about last nights Met Gala fashions?  I was very impressed overall and felt like this years looks did not disappoint.  Be sure to check out some of the links provided because there are so many more creative and amazing looks that I didn’t cover! Tell me, who do you think was best dressed last night at the Met Gala?


3-2-1 Earrings!


Looking for an easy project to tackle this weekend?  Well, this easy tutorial is just for you!  With just a few simple steps and minimal supplies, you can have yourself an awesome pair of earrings as fast as you can count to three.  All you need for each earring is THREE quartz crystals, TWO eye pins, and ONE earring wire.

4pc – Copper Eye Pins - 2 inch
1pr – Copper Ear Wires
6pc – Polished Quartz Spears


1) String three quartz crystals onto an eye pin.  Trim the wire and make a loop. (Images 2-4)
2) Make a loop on the end of an eye pin.  Be sure that the loops are facing in the same direction. (Images 5-6)
3) Grasp the center of the eye pin with the large side of your bail making pliers (or the barrel of a marker, like a Sharpie) and make a horseshoe shape. (Images 7-8)
4) Open the loops on the curved eye pin and insert the loops from the beaded link.  (Images 9-11)
5) Add an earring wire to the curved section.  (Image 11)
6) Repeat all steps to complete the earring set.  (Image 12)
7) WEAR!

Products shown above: Antique brass eye pins, antique brass ear wire, stone spears.

Don’t let the name fool you, because you don’t have to stick to the 3 beads per earring!  This technique is easily adapted with any number (or size or shape) of beads.  Below, you can see how I used this same technique with just a single drop.

Products shown above: Silver eye pins, silver ear wire, bi-color amethyst drops.

Products shown above: silver eye pins, silver ear wires, silver jump rings, prehnite rough spear nuggets.

These are my favorite pair of earrings.  When the buyers brought all the yummy beads back from Tucson, I absolutely fell in love with this strand of raw prehnite spears.  Pricy as they are, I had to take home a strand.  I made these earrings and have been wearing them practically every day since.

Personally, I think this style of earring looks best with natural materials, like the rough cut stones above.  I love how rugged and organic they look.  It would be cool to try a dressier version with cut crystal drops, like these!  Hope you have a sunny and creative weekend!


Iris Axis Triple Wrap Bracelet

The woven wrap bracelet has become a fashion staple in recent years.  Made popular by jewelry designer Chan Luu, this trend doesn’t look like it’s going away soon.  I absolutely love making these wrap bracelets.  Whether making a multi-wrap bracelet or keeping it simple with a single wrap, these are easy to construct even if they can be a little time consuming.  I find that I rather like sitting on the couch, whipping up one of these bracelets while binge watching one of my favorite TV shows.  It’s a great way to pass the time and keep your hands busy.

One of my favorite tools for making wrap bracelets is the foam Macrame Board by The Beadsmith.  Coming in a full size or mini, it’s perfect not only for macrame projects but bead weaving too.  I love the flexible foam and the half-inch grooves along the entire outside border.  The printed grid makes it easy to precisely measure your jewelry designs.  I  prefer to work with the mini sized board, it’s a little smaller than a magazine and can be used for any sized project.  When my bracelet became too long, I simply wrapped it around the back of the flexible foam.  Because the board is made of such a pliable material, it won’t damage the piece in any way.  You can also use it to hold your needles if you need to set your project down for a while!

Approx. 150pc - 4mm Roller Crow BeadsBlue Iris
Approx. 100pc – 4mm TierraCast Turkish Heishi Beads
TierraCast Earth Button
.12mm C-lon Cord or KO Thread
1mm Leather Cord
GS Hypo Cement for Fabric
Big Eye Needle
Macrame Board by The Beadsmith
Thread Burner

1) Cut about 70 inches of 1mm leather cord and about 1 yard of thread.  String the button onto the leather and center it on the cord.  Thread the needle with the beading thread.  Place the end of the thread next to the cord and tie an overhand knot connecting them. (Images 2-3)
2) Place the button into the center groove at the top of the macrame board and secure the leather into separate sections on the bottom of the board. (Image 4)
3) Wrap the beading thread several times around both strands of the leather cord by bringing the cord from left to right over the top of the leather and wrapping it under.  (Image 5)
4) String one bead onto the needle and bring the string over the leather from left to right.  (Image 6)
5) Bring your needle under the leather and through the bead and under the leather from right to left. (Image 7)
6) String two beads onto the needle and repeat steps 4-5, above.  (Images 8-9)
7) String three beads onto the needle and repeat steps 4-5, above. (Image 10)
8) Continuing stringing as in steps 4-5, using three beads per row and randomly adding the spacer beads into the design, until you have about 3 inches of string left on your needle.  (Images 11-13)
9) Cut the needle from your string and re-thread it with about a yard of thread.  String through the second to last row starting from the right and going left.  String through the last row in the same manner as steps 4-5, above.  Add a new row of three beads.  (Images 14-17)
10) Place a drop of glue on each tail of thread.  Allow to dry completely before trimming with the thread burner. (Images 18-19)
11) As the bracelet gets longer, adjust the piece on the macrame board.  Wrap the tail end around the board and secure the button into one of the grooves to hold it steady.  (Image 20)
12) The beaded section should measure 20.5 inches and have about 32 rows when complete to be long enough for a triple wrap bracelet.  Adjust the amount of rows for a longer or shorter bracelet.  Add additional thread if needed as shown in steps 9-10, above.
13) When you have reached your desired length, decrease the amount of beads in the row from three beads to two, following with a row of one single bead.  (Images 21-22.)
14) Wrap the beading thread around both strands of leather cord and tie and overhand knot.  Tie three additional overhand knots in the cord, spacing them about an inch apart to accommodate for the size of the button.  String spacer bead onto each tail of leather and finish with an overhand knot.  Trim.  The additional knots at the end of the bracelet allows the finished piece to be adjustable. (Images 26-29)
15)  Reenforce knotted areas and the places where additional thread was added for extra security.  Allow to completely dry before wearing.

Here is a close up of the button closure.  I love this Earth button from TierraCast’s Your World Collection.  There are over 55 styles of buttons from TierraCast to choose from as well as other styles that can be found on our website.  I have also collected vintage buttons for a long time and have used them in wrapped bracelet designs.  So pick up something new or raid your stash for pretty buttons to use in your jewelry creations.

We recently got in a new size of roller crow beads that I wanted to use for this piece.  Typically coming in 6mm or 9mm, the new 4mm crow offers an alternative to a simple round bead and I liked how well it matched up in size with the Turkish Heishi spacer beads.  I love this Blue Iris color as well since it seems to have more turquoise and blue tones than other dye lots I have seen.  My favorite aspect of the finished wrap bracelets is how different the same beads look with silver components versus the gold.  The silver beads bring out more of the blues and purples while the gold highlights the green and bronze colors.  Another bead of choice for wrap bracelets is the size 6/0 seed bead.

There is so much that you can do once you have mastered the wrap bracelet technique.  Try combining different sizes and types of beads to create multifaceted designs.  With so many colors and styles to choose from, its easy to mix and match colors of leather and threads and beads.  Add to that, beautiful buttons by TierraCast and you will surely have a stunning piece of jewelry.  It’s also fun to substitute different materials for the leather, like the Chinese knotting cord or waxed cotton cording.  It really makes the possibilities endless!

SilverGold-SquareThanks to Chan Luu, who brought this style of bracelet into fashion, creating a trendy and easily DIY-able design for the masses.  Wrap bracelets are easy to make and customize, so you can certainly have one to match your own personal style.  Right now at Shipwreck Beads, all beads are 15-50% off.  These prices won’t last much longer; the sale ends today!

Have you ever made a wrap bracelet?  Let me know in the comments!


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