Sunday, September 16, 2012

Beautiful Failures

Cabbage Rose Bracelet
This is a finished Cabbage Rose bracelet.  Of all the things I have made over all the years I have been beading this ranks as one of my favorites.  This is based, very closely, on a pattern that can be found in the April/May 2007 issue of Beadwork.  I love the pattern.  I love how romantic the finished piece is.  I love the colors.  I love the embellishments. 
Cabbage Rose Detail

Having said all that, this piece is not wearable.

First, there is an issue with the weight of the piece.  When I planned this piece I bought a fairly substantial sterling magnetic clasp.  It was an etched square that matched the overall romantic aura of this piece.  Unfortunately since the piece is rather weighty the magnetic clasp did not hold. 

I am resourceful.  I bought a lobster claw clasp to replace the magnetic clasp.  As it turned out the bracelet was still to heavy.  It pulled my sterling clam shell, which attached the lobster clasp to the bracelet, out of shape.
Weight deformed clam shell on the Cabbage Rose bracelet
I really do love this bracelet and I would have bent this clam shell back into place until the metal was so fatigued it broke but that was not the only issue.
Cabbage Rose shedding
Did you notice that pink leaf on the right hand side of the picture?  This piece was woven with Nymo thread and for whatever reason the embellishments keep dropping.  Again, I can fix these losses as they occur.

What I cannot do is fix this bracelet permanently.  Each cabbage rose is made individually.  Rather than begin with a new thread, I used the tails to weave the cabbage rose to the peyote base.  I don't think I knotted the cabbage rose before using the tail ends to attach it to the base so I can't just clip them off. 

The clam shell is part of the woven peyote base.  I cannot just clip it off.  I could bend the metal and fatigue it until it breaks, but that would leave ugly exposed threads.  Plus, the bracelet is rather small and by the time I attached a new clasp it would be too large to wear.

I have avoided knots in the past as I saw them as a point of weakness.  Unfortunately, my integral weaving makes this bracelet unsalvageable.  The major lessons learned on this bracelet is to make use of piece work.  If each cabbage rose were knotted, I could salvage them and make a new base.

Nymo is great, I love the colors, I love the supple weave, but now I work with Fireline which seems to hold up better.

Side view Cabbage Rose
Even something well made and beautiful can be a failure. I have considered turning this into a hair barrette, but it is rather long.  I might be able to sew it to leather and attach it to a cuff; I have never made a cuff before.  What is most likely to happen is that some day I will remake this bracelet and plan appropriately.


  1. Hi KJ,
    I was thinking you could attach it to bead backing and make a cuff as I was reading and then you had the same idea. It is to beautiful not to give this a try and would not be that difficult to do. I would go with a light weight backing and whip stitch the peyote base down to the backing then get some ultra suede and brick stitch the front and back together and add a slide clasp and Ta Da finished and the bracelet is saved.

    1. I am going to Rings and Things this week. I will take this piece with me and look for a blank to build cuff around. It is too big for a clasp, which probably means it is too big for a slip on cuff.

  2. The colors and the beadwork in this piece are really gorgeous. I would just have to find a way to wear it and I think Therese's idea is perfect. I use Fireline almost exclusively and pre-plan my knotting - something I learned the hard way, too!!

    1. Thank you. I have worked hard at trying to find a way to wear this as it really is one of my favorite pieces.

      I do not pre-plan my knotting, but I have learned to knot with an eye to taking things apart.

  3. If you can't figure out a way to salvage it as a bracelet (although with your ingenuity, that probably really isn't an issue), maybe you could use it as a portion of a necklace? I see it as the side of a multi-strand...Whatever is ends up being eventually, it is gorgeous!

    1. I have had this for years and bemoaned the fact that it just isn't quite wearable for just about the entire time. As I said above, the cuff may not work because it is longish. I might just be able to add to the ends and sew it over a bangle. I will keep my eyes open at Rings and Things.

      I like the idea of using it in a necklace too.

  4. Kathy Jo, it is such a gorgeous bracelet, I can see why you would be very fond of it. I do think your idea to attach it to a backing is a good idea. Perhaps you could somehow attach your new closure to the backing so it would have a strong base to support it ? I wonder if a seed bead loop and button closure would hold the weight of such a monumental piece? Also wonder if the broken bead tips could be hidden within something like a Crimp Bead Cover (if they even make crimp covers large enough).
    I know you are one very cleaver and ingenious girl and will think of something, someway to salvage that beautiful bracelet with all its lovely cabbage roses and beads. :) Please keep us up-to-date on it.

    1. The bracelet was improperly sized and on the large side. The small lobster claw clasp that I used as my second alternative was to reduce the size of the bracelet. A button clasp would make it much to big.

      I went to Rings & Things today and they had no blanks for cuffs or bangles.

      Grr... I knotted and knotted and knotted so the darn thing would stay together and as a result I am not sure I can take even the ends apart.

      It was a great lesson and I hope by sharing that others are able to profit.

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  6. whats about hiding the rest of the clamshells in small beadcaps and connect them with a toggle - this should hold the weight

    alice schön


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