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Coins, bells, and beads necklace

At a recent show I was ensnared by a huge pile of beautiful green serpentine beads. The colors were rich; the stones felt luscious; the variety of shapes and sizes was overwhelming; and the price was excellent. So I bought two strands! I’ve always been attracted to those brass Chinese coins with a square hole in the center, so I got six of them, too, and decided to link them with the serpentine.

When I got home, I started thinking about how to use the beads in a design. I didn't feel that the soft green stone and brass were enough to make a strong impact alone, so I added complementary orange (carnelian) and congruent yellow (light amber) to brighten the palette. I had also purchased a handful of fun, inexpensive Indian brass bells, and began imagining a necklace that I might wear to go dancing. I wanted this necklace to have a strong, unified look that would literally speak for itself; so I added a thinner second strand to increase the music of the bells.

When designing for a similar look, keep the following ideas in mind:

  • Pattern – Make long multiples to keep the stringing pattern varied and interesting while still coherent. Consider matching repeats from side to side, rather than making short, continual repeats end to end.
  • Color – Be bold. Monochromatic (black thread and brass beads, for example) can make a strong statement. If you use color, accent with a complementary color directly opposite the main color on the color wheel. Orange is opposite green.
  • Stringing material – If you use cord, double it for strength and don’t worry too much if some of it shows. Leave ends as little fringes or use some knotwork to showcase or suspend special elements, as I have the coins.
SUPPLIES
  • 6 Brass Chinese coins with square hole
  • 1 18-in. (46cm) Graduated strand serpentine, egg-shaped beads, 6--12mm 
  • 18-36 Serpentine saucer beads, approx. 12mm
  • 1 Strand carnelian tube beads, 5mm
  • 1 Strand carnelian button beads, 5mm
  • 1 Strand light amber chips
  • 10-12 yd. (9.1-11m) Black nylon bead cord, size E or F
  • 2 Twisted wire beading needles
  • G-S Hypo-Tube Cement
  • Optional: necklace design board, broach set, 
  • T-pin, knotting board

INSTRUCTIONS

Lay out the beads for either one or two strands. Start stringing at the center from coin to coin. As you string, be willing to make changes in the design if you suddenly get a better idea or the necklace doesn’t seem to be going the way you imagined.
Modern ethnic necklace a
PHOTO A
1. Cut 1 yd. (.9m) of cord, fold it in half, and tie an overhand knot a scant 1⁄16 in. (1.6mm) from the fold. To keep the loop open, insert a T-pin or a toothpick in it while adjusting the placement of the knot (PHOTO A).
Modern ethnic necklace fig
Figure
2. Pin the loop to a knotting board if desired and tie the two cords around each other in blanket stitch as follows: Loop the left-hand cord around the right-hand cord from back to front. Then bring the left-hand cord through the loop from front to back. Repeat with the right-hand cord around the left-hand cord (FIGURE). Continue until you have 5⁄8 in. (1.6cm). See if it goes around the edge of the first coin. Make a few more knots, if needed.
Modern ethnic necklace b
PHOTO B
3. Thread both ends into a twisted wire needle. Put the strip through the coin’s hole with the tiny loop on the outer edge and bring the ends through the loop (FIGURE B).
Modern ethnic necklace c
PHOTO C
Then make an overhand knot against the edge of the coin on top of the loop (FIGURE C).
Modern ethnic necklace d
PHOTO d

4. Put a needle on each cord. String the beads of the center section on one cord. Go through them with the other cord.

5. Leave a tiny space after the last bead and make another knot strip (FIGURE D).

Modern ethnic necklace e
PHOTO E
6. When the strip is long enough, take it through the second coin. Then thread the ends through the tiny space you left in step 5. Tie two half hitches between the coin and the last bead (FIGURE E). 
Modern ethnic necklace f
PHOTO F
Modern ethnic necklace g
PHOTO G

7. Then bring the ends through the last bead. Tie the first half of a square knot in front of the strand. Turn the strand over and tie another half square knot behind it. Turn it over again and repeat in front of the strand. This is a front-back-front knot). If possible, go through the next bead. Glue all the knots. When dry, clip the ends close or leave a little to dangle.

8. Start the next section with a knotted loop around one of the center-section coins, repeating steps 2-8. Continue in this manner until all the coins and beads between them are strung together.
optional music makers

Jingle strand – Add a second strand of beads to hang over the first strand. When the stones in the second strand hit the bells or coins, they’ll make music. Begin and end the strand with a second loop of blanket stitch in the first and sixth or second and fifth coins. 

Coin bells – The bells need to hit against each other or another piece of metal or hard stone in order to jingle. Button-like ornaments can be created easily by stringing beads and bells through the holes in these Chinese coins. I’ve made the second and fifth coins into coin bells on my necklace:

1. Cut 12 in. (30cm) of cord and string 3 bells to the center. Bring one end of the cord through the 3 bells again to catch them in a loop (PHOTO F).

2. Thread both ends of the cord through a serpentine disk, through the coin from front to back, and through another disk and a carnelian button.

3. Tie an overhand knot against the back of the button.

4. Thread one or more small beads on each end of cord, cut the ends off leaving 2-4 in. (5-10cm) tails, and tie an overhand knot near the end of each tail to secure the beads (PHOTO G). Dot the knots with glue.

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