But why does it taste so good?
That’s the question my husband and kids usually ask me when I serve a home run meal … not the chomp and gulp kind of dinner that they rush through because they’re jockeying for second helpings, but rather the kind of menu that usually begins at my farmers market where I’ve selected a half dozen really prime ingredients to work with. Of course that kind of meal usually involves three or four courses (and a nice bottle of wine for me), but even so it’s always surprisingly easy to put together because you can just let the wonderful ingredients speak for themselves. It’s very similar, in fact, to what I think this Bead Soup fun has been for me — not just another beading project, it’s been more like that 4-course farm market meal.
Let’s start with the ingredients: I was partnered with Sandi James, a wonderful beader in California with a gift for polymer clay, and she sent me a beautiful assortment of beads she had made. They had gorgeous swirls of carnelian red, black and flecks of gold worked into them. How she got the translucent quality in them, too, defies my imagination. Her package also included a mix of natural stones featuring the same palette — reds, golds and browns — in a variety of shapes. The focal beads in particular had a very vintage heirloom feel to me — even though they had been hand formed and featured a very natural shape, the abundance of warm, lush colors and delicate swirls reminded me of a delicate piece of silk. Basically, I knew at a glance I would need to look beyond my usual silver findings collection to find the right elements to complement these beauties. The quest had begun.
Fortunately, a bead show was just around the corner and I was able to load up on a few key supplies from Beth and Tom at Kabela Design. For years I had admired their beautiful brass and copper filigree materials every time I saw them at a bead show, but I just didn’t have the confidence to make the leap. But now I had a reason to dive into something different — heck, it was a mission! I spent quite a lot of time picking out just a few beads, donuts and chains. I didn’t know exactly what I needed, but it wasn’t much so the selection seemed especially important.
In terms of process and technique, once I got home and arranged all the ingredients together on my beading table, the necklace idea came to me pretty quickly. All I had to do was roll up my sleeves and dig into a little wire wrapping — just like those farm market meals, the ingredients were so beautiful and delicious, I simply attached one bead to the next and that was that. One of the things I really like about this necklace is its versatility — the chain can be worn as a single strand so the necklace hangs long (flapper fashion) or doubled if you prefer a shorter length. After that was finished, I had just enough extra materials to make a matching bracelet and pair or earrings.
When I step back and look at the finished pieces, I sort of swoon with that just-in-love feeling. Not just because I like the look and feel of them, but because they represent me getting to work with some new materials, and they prove to me that it’s really much easier to move in different directions than I had previously thought. And that feeling, I must admit, is truly delicious.