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Naomi knows: Tips on making a bead-and-chain bracelet

Troubleshooting design challenges in a stash project
RELATED TOPICS: BRACELET | CHAIN | DESIGN
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For a friend's 60th birthday two years ago, I designed a bracelet using 60 beads. (Check out Project: Birthday bracelet for the original post and instructions.)

Though I've made a few of these bracelets in the last couple of years, they always take me a while to design. And now I'm making a gift for my friend Colleen, who's turning 50. So I thought I'd share a few tips I've picked up along the way.
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One tip worth reiterating: Start with the chain.

Though I usually choose a finish that the recipient would like, I also consider the general feel of the palette (warm vs. cool). For this bracelet, I'm going with a silver or gunmetal chain. To help me decide, I actually count the links first. Two mathematically sound options:

• 17 links: Three beads per link times 16 links, plus one on the next link and one for the extender, equals 50. This would be a good arrangement for a larger-link chain.
• 25 links: Two per link with no extender; this is a good option for a chain with smaller links and if you want to finish with a toggle clasp.
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Tip: Start by making piles.

Colleen's favorite color is purple, so I had a starting point. I typically like to find gemstones first, then add pearls and crystals.

I liked the amethyst ovals and lavender quartz rondelles. To add contrast, I also chose dark purple pearls, purple velvet rondelles, and pink pearls. I ruled out iolite coins and Provence lavender rondelles (both were too blue).

And though I liked the big wisteria pearl, I found only one. Sure, this is a use-your-stash project, but it's a challenge to incorporate individual beads. For me, it's harder to search for 50 different beads than to find, say, seven groups of seven, plus one for an extender.
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Tip: Refine the palette as you go.

I didn't have a lot of beads in a true purple color. So unfortunately Colleen's going to get a bracelet that includes lilac and hot pink, with touches of brown and beige (so it doesn't look too cutesy).

I thought I was all set. I'd do six repeats of those eight beads, then one more on the next link and one for the extender.
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Tip: Don't panic if you make a mistake. (Just mix in beads of different colors or proportions to fill in the gaps.)

After attaching 32 beads, I realized my mistake: I was supposed to attach three beads per link.

But I figured out a solution: going back in with small beads. I attached round amethyst and purple velvet crystals, the lavender quartz rondelles (which I'd scrapped earlier because they were too small), and lilac pearls.

That's the nice thing about these bracelets: they're pretty forgiving, as long as you have a few supplies handy!
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