Sunday, April 17, 2011

Neck Lace Experiments

I'm not one for making much jewelry.  There's a lot of it out there right now--beads, wire, crystals--and most of it handmade.  There are some truly beautiful artists out there creating a lot of gorgeous work!  So much that I've never really thought about expanding into the jewelry side of wearable art.  Frankly, there's so much impressive handmade work it's intimidating.  So I turned my attention to using other skills a long time ago.

But currently, I've been looking for ways to further embellish my vests (the mosaic thing is turning out to be quite frustrating--more on that later) and I have a lot of lace at my disposal.  I found a cheap source of Venetian lace that I had used in the past (, so I had a lot of it lying around.  I started exploring ways to manipulate the lace on my vests...

And thus I found several sources that discussed hand dyeing lace.  I have a collection of fabric paints already, so I decided to give it a shot.  But my lace is black.

Hm.  The tutorials that I had found had all talked about softly dyeing white lace with splashy tints of color.  I couldn't do that...

So I decided to paint it with my opaque fabric paints instead.  I'd done this before on a vest where I used the lace for epaulets on the shoulders.  But I didn't really want to do that again because I was worried it would end up looking like something Steampunk.  And while I love Steampunk, I wasn't looking to make anything for that style right now.  I didn't want to do anything on the shoulders.  I was looking for something more "straight on"--maybe a lapel floret or something.

To that end, I started tucking, gathering, pinching, pleating and generally mangling some lace samples I have.  After a while, I found that I could make some form of jabot/necklace/necktie/bow tie that looked pretty good, but wasn't what I was looking for...

But I stayed the course, went with the creative flow, and had fun riffing.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular, and when I shifted myself out of the way of self-editing, I struck on something that I really really liked.

Neck Lace.  I dunno what else to call it.  It's not jewelry.  It's not a bow tie.  It's not a jabot.  It's almost all of those things.  I don't know what it is.  It's lace for the neck.  Is this accessory something that I've not heard of before?  Is there a name for it that I don't know?

I got really excited after the first one turned out okay, and I dove into several more... I've been experimenting all day with different painting patterns and colors, and ran to the fabric store to get some rhinestones to put on them.  I started pulling out all my beads and chain rhinestones and got yards of organza ribbon and grosgrain and some more types of lace to play with and...  Let's just say, I'm having fun with it!

I think I've found something that will be a good mid-range price item for me to sell at craft fairs and such with my other more expensive items.   I've already discovered ways to dress them up by sewing on bugle beads and dangling things from them.  The chain rhinestones dress it up for an elegant evening look.  Or they could be killer club wear for the teen crowd worn with a simple a-line t-shirt.  Depending on how much paint is applied or the type of beads or rhinestones, they also have a down-to-earth feel--almost "flower child" at heart.  And they look good under a collar for a more office appropriate look.  Or they could actually be a very fancy "Mad Hatter" jabot for the costume crowd that could be made to fit under a jacket or vest!  I've already made quite a few of them, and will be posting them slowly on my Etsy and Artfire stores.

Has anyone else ever heard of this kind of thing?  I know it's been thought of before--it has to have been.  But I've been searching on Etsy and Google, and can't find anything like it.   I'm not sure I'm using the right search terms.  Anyone have any ideas?  I'm sure there are traditional or period garments out there that have used these somehow...  Am I missing them?

I'm heading back to my studio to do some more experimenting.  Until next time, Live Life with Relish!


  1. What fun these "neck-laces" are!!How fabulous. Gosh, you could do so many things with them.Bugle beads..hmm- they'd look marvellous. I love beads myself, but I have loads to learn!!Playing with laces is just gorgeous!!
    Using glue with a bit of water(woodwork glue) to stiffen, then spray paint with antique gold works really well on lace.Years ago I used to decorate shoes as pincushions, and put lace round the edges of shoe top.
    I love enthusiasm- your blog sings with it!!

  2. Totally wonderful. I've not seen anything like them, since the feather pieces that Lee Manual used to do. They would be easier to wear than fully beaded jewelry which can be quite heavy. I think you have invented the style.

  3. Oh, Corey, yes you are certainly onto something fine here! I thought at first it was feathers, I've made some neck pieces using some with leather. I think your neck lace is the right words for these gorgeous pieces.

    I know what you mean about jumping into the jewelry part of things, so very much talent already there. I joined in with just making a bracelet for a good cause and was so nervous about it. Of course mine had to be with fabric because that is what I know and I think you working with the lace is the same, it makes you stand apart. Whatever you are working with, your background and talent shines thru, these pieces are perfect.

    Thank you for the link to the lace place!
    and keep having fun, it shows and brigthens up the world!

  4. Judy, thank you much!! You know, I was a little worried about the stiffness in the lace myself. The paint that I'm using, Jacquard's Neopaque and Lumiere, really stiffen up the project, so I'm trying to figure out ways to use that to my advantage. I think it calls for more playing...err, um... experimentation. Yeah. Experimentation. ; )

  5. Sandy--Yes, they're quite light weight... I'm experimenting today with dangling threaded beads from the edges of the lace and seeing how much weight that adds... I've not heard of Lee Manual, but I am marching straight away to do a Google search! I love exploring people's work! Woohoo!

  6. Susan--I read your blog about your participation! What a lovely post!! Truly heartwarming! I hope that it does indeed recharge your batteries! We all have times like that, I think. It's good to be around friends that can be encouraging. : )


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