Getting back into handmade jewelry

Writing this post would be so much easier if I’d written it, two days ago.  At that time, though, I was still too busy working on my last project:  a beaded micro-macrame collar bridging off of two mother-of-pearl focals with bells and a central drop.  Apologies for not having pics yet — I didn’t have time to take them, today, and the lighting is pretty awful right now, especially where it comes to mirrors.  In addition, I haven’t even been sure that I’ve wanted to share my design online.

Right now this necklace is unique, and my design is protected by virtue of being unpublished.  I don’t grant much weight to the practicality of copyright, but I do know that no one can mimic me if I don’t show them what to mimic.  If I publish photos or drawings, I risk having my design ripped off (well, it probably will happen, let’s be honest; and it may not even be for-profit or out of any kind of wanting to make me feel bad:  it will probably be one-offs by micro-scale crafters).  Of course though, if it’s ripped off, that does allow me a degree of anonymity!

It’s not like this collar is the greatest thing ever, but a lot of thought and work went into my design and the creation of this, so it’s kind of special to me.  It also has a meaning to me that is hidden to most others outside my (gender-variant) circle.

That is to say:  in effect, this thing is custom-made for me, by me.  The color choices were partially intentional, partially subconscious, and include personal reference.  The knotting work was done over at least five to six hours, spread over three days (I was using a 10-cord variation of a sinnet based on the square knot that I don’t remember having ever used before).  I was amazed that I was able to get the bell charms to actually jingle, and…it’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful.

In any case, I’m not used to completing things — but I did as best I could with what I had, and with what I was willing to risk.  Next time I know what to change — what I was afraid to risk this time because of being concerned about having to undo a lot of work (i.e., a lot of small, tight knots:  and I can’t find my awl (though I remember seeing it).  I did have some success with large, sturdy, sharp needles — particularly what I think was a 3″ long doll needle — using the sharp end to pick out the knot and the blunt one to loosen it.  C-Lon (the cord I used) is relatively good with not shredding and not ripping all the way through, if it does shred from being picked at.

This is the first time in a long time that I sized a necklace to myself; and definitely the first time at this body weight (which has broadened my shoulders and likely, my neck).

The difficult point is that this is the first one I’ve made, and the first attempts are, generally speaking, where the kinks get worked out.

Unfortunately, though, I only have one each of the two mother-of-pearl focals I used for my pendant:  one, a ring; and one, a pierced disc.  These are arranged so that the disc floats inside the ring, held by cord and wire.  I obtained these years ago, at a bead store which is now fully online and which does not stock these parts anymore.  To rework the straps anchored on the ring means putting in another two to four hours, at least:  though I know what to do to speed the process along, this time (thread on 10-12 beads onto each set of anchor cords at a time, then work all the knots, repeat).

I also know how long the straps need to be, which is something I didn’t know and couldn’t envision the first time around.  The way this is designed is not as a straight, flat choker:  it’s V-shaped (right now the straps are coming off at about 60º to each other), so measuring the length wouldn’t tell me much, even if I could figure out what points to measure from…which seems as though it would require advanced math skills.  Worn, it’s a pear shape which…I’m not even sure how it distorts so it fits, but it does.

And, no, I don’t have a real-size bust to model this on, though continuing on in macrame work is a good argument towards getting, or making, one.  I can imagine a dress form being useful for this (especially where it comes to pinning the work down and fitting it), though all I really need is the neck and shoulders.  A fabric store near me has a workshop where it’s possible to make our own dress forms…it could be worth looking into.

So, you may be wondering where I’ve been.  Largely, I’ve been rediscovering my beads, cords, wires, metals, cabochons, tools…giving myself permission to invest time in creative work which did not have to have a “meaning” (though I’m sure you could see where it actually did turn out to have a meaning, particularly where it comes to a newer acknowledgment of a femme + male-identified space [yes, I am female, for reference]).  This piece was my celebration of that.

I had a long time off because of the MLK Jr. holiday, during which I dressed up as feminine (particularly, I wore a skirt and the standard-gauge jewelry I had made myself [which I had to remove my 14-gauge surgical steel rings to wear]), and I had a gender-euphoric moment when I realized I could do this.  Not only this, but because I make my own jewelry, I have complete control over what I wear in that department.  I can make my own statements with my jewelry, instead of having to purchase a ready-made statement.

I actually can be femme + male-identified + female-bodied.  And I don’t have to disclose this to every person I see, and I don’t have to act out or stigmatize myself visually to signal my internal difference.

I don’t have to be tortured by being physically female, or deny being physically female, for my non-woman identity to be legitimate…and I don’t have to avoid my own femininity and the feminine expression I’m permitted, just because my identity insistently differs from what is expected for someone who appears feminine.  Other people “not getting it” is not my fault or my problem.

In short, I retain full control over my identity and expression.

Only time will tell if this again shifts back to “gender-fluid” as my primary identity.

Today I had no time to work, but the three days prior, I’ve been working on this necklace, and a couple of other projects.  I’m actually kind of amazed at how well it turned out, though I think I could stand to loosen the tension on my macrame straps.  Next time.

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paintedstone

Haru ("Codey") is a second-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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