Backyard Arts and Crafts

For me, summertime has always been about projects. As the school year winds down, I begin to make lists in my head of all the ways I want to spend my time: I will read nothing but Jane Austen novels, I will photograph something every day, I will teach myself to sew. Sometimes I accomplish these things, and sometimes I don’t – but every year, I begin the summer with a hopeful bunch of plans and although I’ve never managed to complete them all, I’ve also never ignored my list completely. I may not do everything, but I always do something, and the break is a little more interesting because of it.

This summer, the project at the top of my list was tie-dye. I don’t know what possessed me. I’ve always been sort of indifferent to the aesthetic. I have owned exactly two pieces of tie-dyed clothing in my life: One was an oversized t-shirt I dyed at summer camp when I was seven, and the other was a pink and purple shirt I bought on sale on a family vacation last summer. I’ve neither loved nor hated either of these pieces of clothing. Sometimes a shirt is just a shirt. Multicoloured swirls and I had no real relationship – happy, sad or otherwise.
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Do It Yo-Self: The Organic Necklace

Doing things yourself never gets old. Though my boyfriend could talk your ear off about the fact that I would rather stick a rusty fork in my eye than pay a trained professional to perform a task I can easily do (after reading a wikipedia article) myself, I would also like to attest to that uplifting and euphoric feeling that accompanies a job well done. Unfortunately, DIY projects often entail an unforeseen problem, a slight glitch — like fabric that is not quite long enough, or outdated tools, perhaps even a string of beads that comes apart over your parents’ shag rug — the kind that was all the rage in 70s home décor — rendering you a blubbering ball of frustration (tears). Perhaps you think briefly about punching another person in the face — anyone would do — but you put down the knitting needle, leave the sewing bench, and take a breather. Like any good journey, doing-it-yourself involves ups and downs which ultimately make the final product that much more satisfying.

Admittedly, the initial start-up costs of buying beads, clasps, and those little do-hickeys that connect the beads to the clasps can be a bit daunting. Yes, you will have to spend a bit of hard-earned coin to make some magic happen, but keep in mind the first investment is always the worst. Personally I would much rather spend $20 on crafting materials than a night on the town. And in the interest of honesty, I will add that handmade accessories always make me look much more put together than a few rounds of gin and tonics.

So without further ado, the object of my week’s DIY affection: The Organic Necklace

I toss this “organic” term in there audaciously simply because I can, and hey, aren’t you intrigued? What could be organic about a necklace? Well this one is made out of wood and silver, and I am pretty sure Mother Nature gave us both those ingredients. Thank you m’lady.

1) I began by laying out all my materials and tools. This is a good way to check if you are missing anything crucial.

Is that an issue of Worn in the background?! Why yes it is.

A closer look at the main ingredients: wooden beads, chain, silver doodads

2) Next I eyeballed a length of chain. I knew that I would be adding additional strands, so I made the first length of chain a bit shorter than I wanted the finished product to be. I splurged and bought chain that is actually silver plated, nickel-free so that I don’t have an allergic reaction. I don’t think I’ll be purchasing pure silver until I win the gosh darn lottery.

3) I threaded the wooden beads onto some pliable wire and finished the ends in a loop. I then connected the wire loops to the chain using a small ring — for this step you will need the pliers.

When the first string of beads was all finished, the necklace looked like this:

4) The next step is incredibly crucial. Pour chocolate-covered almonds into a bowl and photograph it only after you have eaten a considerable portion. This way, it does not look like you started with so many and ended with so few.

In the end I really got in the groove and made not one, not two, but three necklaces! Each one is slightly different, but they also look lovely all together. The techniques for making each one was the same, and really, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to make jewelry.

It was very affirming to hear from the Obamas and Queen Elizabeth such praise as, “The necklace matches my diamond-encrusted crown so nicely,” and “Your jewelry helps me lead America in groundbreaking style.”

Come on now Barack, I’m blushing.

- Carmen Vicente