Chillin with Erin Strother

 Welcome to another guest post, this time with my friend Erin Strother.
Have a seat, grab your coffee, or wine, or night cap.... and enjoy this new take on jewelry design using Linen Cording!

   " A couple of months ago I was chatting with Lorelei on Facebook, and I was probably

complaining or criticizing something I don’t know about, (because that is my

superpower) and most likely just to shut me up, Lorelei asked if I had ever worked with

waxed linen before. And I hadn’t, so she said, “go to my Jewelry Accord website and

pick out some colors you like and I’ll send you some to play with and then you can do

a guest blog thing for me. And I said “cool.” So I went to her website and there were

like, 317 colors to choose from and I wanted 315 of them. I was racked with indecision,

because typically, after I’ve spent hours of careful deliberation choosing something, four

seconds later I wish I’d chosen something else.

     I found myself drawn to the dusty rose color, (which is really weird for me because I’m

really NOT a pink girl) maybe because it was the middle of summer and I thought it

would pair beautifully with shells, and I could do something beachy with it. So I decided

to get that, along with a few other colors I thought might work well together.

    A few days later the waxed linen arrived in a cute little package, and I took it up to my

studio, pulled out some beads and shells to see what worked together, and then I started

to do that thing where your brain gets all clogged up with 96 different ideas and you

don’t know which one to do, so you just stand there staring at beads for half an hour,

trying to design stuff in your head but not actually doing anything. And then Swiffer

(my fuzzy mutt dog) started whining and growling and jumping on me because she hates

when I just stand there, seemingly lobotomized, when I could be doing something so

much more productive like playing with the dog or feeding the dog or walking the dog.

     So, motivated mostly by laziness and a little dog bugging the crap out of me, I decided

to work up something super simple and quick. Any ideas involving knotting techniques

were immediately thrown out, as my knot tying skills are legendarily bad and I knew

my final product would end up looking like something made by a class for the spatially

challenged and partially sighted. So I simply strung some pink rose shell and white clam

shell heishi onto the linen along with some brass spacers, and added a couple of larger

different shell beads, a rough amethyst nugget, a darker amethyst stick and a crystal

quartz nugget in the center. I tied an overhand knot at each end to keep things in place,

and then finished the ends with some tiny 1mm cord crimp ends that I had on hand from

when I accidentally bought them thinking they were going to be bigger.

     BTW, am I the only person who buys beads on the web, and ALWAYS expects them to

be bigger? Here is the actual conversation I have with my husband practically every time

I order beads:

Me, opening package of beads: “I just bought some beads the size of bowling balls.”

Husband, looking at newly unwrapped beads: “Umm, bowling balls for Smurfs, maybe?”

Me: “I thought they would be bigger.”

    So anyway, back to finishing the necklace…

  I added some extra jump rings to the end so the length would be adjustable, and made a

small “S” clasp out of 18 gauge brass wire. The whole thing came together super quickly,

so I decided to do a companion piece to layer with it.

I wanted something different but complimentary, and again very simple, so I decided

to braid three strands of magenta cord together and do a couple of charm dangles in the

center. Braiding works really nicely with the waxed linen, as it has just enough stickiness

to hold together by itself while you are braiding without having to keep constant tension.

I strung more of the same brass spacers onto the braided cord, and then used head pins to

make a white pearl dangle and a shell dangle. I chose a rose quartz briolette for the third

dangle, wire wrapped a bale, and attached all three charms to the cord with jump rings. I

finished the braided cord the same way as the first—with slightly larger 3mm cord crimp

ends and a hand-made “S” clasp.

     These pieces work great separately, but also look really cute worn together. 

   In an unrelated experiment, I also found
that waxed linen works really well as an
 accent element in mixed media. It sticks

nicely and doesn’t slide when wrapped
around a larger bead, (or whatever) and
the knots stay nice and tight much better
than plain cotton, silk  or leather cord. I
am hooked! I can tell I’m going to need a
bunch more colors."

Erin Strother is a full-time graphic designer, part time jewelry designer, and writer of semi-humorous bead-related columns for Bead it Today Magazine and Bead Design Studio Magazine. Check out her work at StudioEgallery.


  1. I am ALWAYS surprised by the actual size of my beads when they arrive!

  2. So funny! I love your writing style. Only once was I surprised that the beads were *larger* than I expected. :)

  3. Anonymous10/01/2013

    Funny, I am always surprised at the size!

  4. Love Erin's sense of humor! And I've always loved her designs. What a fun post with pretty jewelry. I can so relate to the standing there waiting for inspiration to strike.

  5. I LOVE the mixed media charm dangle in the last picture, beautiful! And yes, I ALWAYS think the beads will be bigger even after checking with a ruler to see how big something measured in mm is. I think that's why American bead makers keep measuring in mm to confuse us instead of saying it's a 1/32 of an inch bead, lol.

  6. I am always entertained by whatever tale Miss Erin (2.0) weaves! This one left me snorting coffee all over myself, which enhances my post-flight snorting and wheezing cold nicely. "...a class for the spatially challenged and partially sighted" BUWAHAHA! I think that I have been in the class with her! I love what she did with this. It feels very beachy and boho. Thank you, Miss Lorelei, for sharing her observations with us today! Enjoy the day. Erin (the other ;-)

    1. It's a good day when I can make Erin (the other) snort coffee.

  7. I love you Miss Erin Strother, reading this was like talking to my sister, and she is full of awesome. I ALWAYS think the beads I buy online are going to be huge, and I get them and think oh crap what am I going to do with that. And I love that you named your floppy mop dog Swiffer. And I love what you did with the waxed linen. I've been itching to try some and see what I can do with it.

  8. I loved your humorous approach to this. you made me laugh AND appreciate your designs. Thanks!

  9. Love the Irish waxed linen - have used it forever, love your story and the design. Did you know waxed is used for bookbinding?
    Bead sizes? - I have a ruler glued to my computer to minimize guessing when ordering online.
    Standing there in outer space?! Yup, been there, too. Took me three years for my brain to get the right design for some lampwork beads. Thank god it was for my Mom!

  10. I love Erin's writing style. Her jewelry is beautiful and this post was very fun to read. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Lol. Hilarious! I love the way Erin writes. And I do the bowling ball bead thing all the bloody time....!!


Post a Comment

I'm sorry to have to turn on the word verification here, but I got fed up with spammers comments!

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.