Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lost in Translation: The Bam-Bam Necklace

I'm in love with this stone -- it's called African Opal.  I saw it for the first time just before Christmas and it's been love ever since.  I used it in several bracelets:  one with goldstone, which bring out the rusty color veining.  And one with hematite, which pulls out the cool blues.  I also made a necklace 'straight up' with no accent beads because it is just such an interesting stone! Clearly, I'm in love. The funny thing is, I was looking for replacement beads for a necklace that I had re-strung for a friend at work.  As is typical with most of my projects for friends ... it all starts with a ziplock bag.

In this case a very large one with extra-strength reinforcement.  The beads she handed me were the heaviest 'suckers' I've EVER worked with.  They were some sort of recreation of a lava bead (below left), but could not be real as the paint on the beads kept flaking off in my hands as I re-strung them.  The color looked like poop ... somewhere north of brown, somewhere south of green.  Why on God's green earth someone thought a multi-strand necklace with these beads was a good idea is beyond me.

A bit of background.  My friend found the necklace while traveling through Spain and thought it was amazing (her words, not mine) and was so upset when the necklace collapsed in her lap in the back of speeding NY taxi.  Clearly the necklace had sentimental value as nothing else could explain why she would want someone to repair it. Thus, the beads were loose in the bag when she handed it to me. And so, to add a little excitement to the project I had to try to figure out what the original pattern looked like.

It seemed simple enough .... 2 strands, graduated, large bead connector ... bada bing, bada boom and that should do it. I began stringing it the following Saturday morning, and was still at it late Sunday. The f'ing beads kept pulling down on the wire and pulling apart the necklace. I don't usually swear, but these beads were a real pain in the behind. 
The beads have crevices which catch the wire and before you know it you've got gaps in the pattern. (insert swear word)  I strung the necklace at least 4 times before I could get the right wire gauge as it kept snapping from the weight of the beads. I finally doubled up the wire and then used clamps to hold the pattern in place so I could try to add the clasp. The beads shifted and I ended up with bare wire the width of about 3 fingers. (insert swear word) 

Sometimes design goes wrong, horribly wrong.  You know what I mean.  We've all had that idea for a project that was going to be big, bold and such a statement.  Yet the statement it makes is OMG take that off! It looks like Phyllis Diller dressed you.  Raise your hand fellow design friends.  I know it’s happened.  It's happens to all of us at least once.

We started to call it the "Bam-Bam" necklace.  Due to its general boulder-like appearance, color and well... you could just see Bam-Bam from the Flintstones pounding it on the floor and swinging it from side to side.  I'm not usually so dramatic, but I've never worked with heavier beads, and then the fact that this was a multi-strand necklace - just kill me now!

So what happened next is the most baffling part of this story.  I finally finished the necklace.  Hauled it into the office (insert swear word) and handed it back to my friend. She was thrilled (clearly sentimental).  She set the bag on the floor next to her purse, and I thought that was the end of it.  The next morning she popped up right next to my desk with a 'deer in the headlights' look.  She asked "you didn't take back the necklace did you? to do a little more work on it?"  ... God no (was what I was thinking), but said "um no, why?"  Apparently someone had stolen it.  Are you f'ing kidding me?!  The worlds ugliest necklace goes missing?  I can't tell you how many projects I've brought into the office.  This is the ONLY one that has been stolen. 

So perhaps you're asking what happened to the beautiful African Opal I was talking about?  Well I did feel bad.  She did really like that necklace.  I decided to surprise her by stringing a new necklace, but this time I was in charge of the beads.  

This is when I discovered the African Opal.  I might have walked right past it because large beads are not really my style.  But I needed to find something that was similar (at least in size) to the stolen necklace. I was looking for large beads (her's were the size of gumballs) and I wanted natural looking stones (preferably not the color of poop).  I settled on the opals and I'm so glad I did as I have found this to be a beautiful stone and changes depending on what you pair with it. The final design of this necklace is simple, and one that has grown on me. 

When I saw the African opal stone I knew I had found the replacement beads.  I brought it in to her and she just kept saying how beautiful it was.  I asked her to please tuck it in a safe drawer! 
I ended up loving the African opal so much, that I made a bracelet for myself and another one for my sister-in-law. One with sandstone (above right) for her, and one with hematite for me. They are quite different, but I love them both. And I pray I never see 'Bam Bam' stones again in my lifetime.


Therese's Treasures said...

That is a great story and I feel your pain on trying to work with the almost impossible, just so the person that has sentimental attachment to the item can be happy. It is also just the way it goes something the you think is horrid, someone else thinks it is beautiful, go figure! Glad it all worked out in the end. African Opal is a gorgeous stone and pairs well with so many different accents.

AntiquityTravelers said...

Thanks Therese. Isn't it funny when someone else just loves a design and you feel like it is the emperor's clothes? But the funny thing was someone actually stole it? Not so funny for my friend as she was truly distraught - but wow ... that someone wanted it?

Thea said...

Am laughing at your Phyllis Diller - and the bam bam necklace. But those oval shaped opals? One of those on a gold chain with a delicate gold loop would be sooooo pretty. The color is really cool!

Working from home today, may get pics of my Antiquity Traveler jewels :-)

AntiquityTravelers said...

Yes - that was the fun part of this post ... searching for Phyllis. So much to work with! What a loon she is.

I could see you wearing the oval shaped opals. It is a seriously cool stone. Much like all that jasper you like!

Miss Val's Creations said...

I am laughing because I love working with lava stone since it is incredibly interesting and odd. But I do feel your pain. Finding the holes on those beads feels impossible sometimes!!! I love what you have done with the African Opal. That stone is stunning!

AntiquityTravelers said...

I will send you all the lava stone I come across :) It's like working with boulders!

New End Studio said...

A true labor of love, and then it was stolen; unbelievable and too funny.
The stones remind me of gunshot from the Revolutionary War.

Phyllis was one of a kind, I think she'd have appreciated this post, you are both so funny.

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