Thursday, June 16, 2011

Beauty in the Unexpected

by Jennifer VanBenschoten

A few years ago, I beaded some cabochons for a necklace project I had sketched out.  The idea was to back these transparent cabochons with foil, bead around them, and then suspend them from a chain made of Viking knit.  I had never done Viking knit before - I am definitely NOT someone who is either good at or terribly interested in working with wire - but I had a book and I thought since I'm primarily a self-taught beadweaving artist that I could teach myself Viking knit.  Easy, right?  Yeah, wrong.

I wound up chucking the whole messy wire Viking knit experiment in a drawer and packed away the cabochons.

Then a friend of mine called me and told me about how she had learned how to do Viking knit and how easy it was and how she just HAD to teach me how to do it!  And of course, things got in the way and we never did have a chance to get together while she was visiting from Florida.  So....

While doing a search for Viking knit instructions, I found this kit on bead artist Stephanie Eddy's website.  There was also a link to a YouTube video where she shows you how to actually do Viking knit.  I watched it and thought to myself, okay, I can do this.  I ordered the kit and waited (not so patiently) for it to arrive.

Well.  After reading the directions, it took me all of five minutes to get the hang of Viking knit!  I couldn't believe it! 

My first sample of Viking knit - looks pretty good!

My first attempt at Viking knit was incredibly uneven.  I was worried about how the final chain would look until I used that miraculous little tool, the draw plate, to smooth everything out.  I didn't even have to worry about weaving in the ends of my wire!

I was amazed at how small I got that huge chain of Viking knit.  It went from being a huge, clumsy piece of poorly-wrapped wire to being a sleek, tightly-woven chain capable of supporting a large focal bead in just a few minutes!

I've always had a deep appreciation for folks that could make their own chains.  In particular, I've admired the handmade chains and artwork by Lisa Nortz of Silver Bench Jewelry.  (Want to see something truly amazing?  Look at her sterling silver woven pack baskets.  One day, when I get rich, I'm going to own one of those!)

Making chains and metalwork are things that I just have no talent for.  But now with this new Viking knit skill...  I can see myself making all sorts of wire chains to accent my beaded cabochon pendants and bracelets!  They'd even work with beaded slides done in peyote stitch or herringbone stitch or right-angle weave or...  Do you see where I'm going with all of this?

Have you ever surprised yourself by learning something that you never thought you could?  Or have you been surprised by a previously undiscovered talent?  There's something beautiful in the unexpected!


MaCarroll Beads said...

WOW! What a great chain. I've always loved those! I am going to see if I can impress myself and make one.... I will let you know how it turns out! Off to check out the links :O) Thanks, Jen!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jennifer, it is lovely. You must have a lot of patience.

VanBeads said...

Thank you, ladies! It's actually not that difficult to do, and it doesn't take nearly as much time as I thought it would. I'm actually expecting a whole shipment of new wire today so that I can start experimenting with different pendants and end caps... It's so much fun and totally addicting!

Patty said...

I love making Viking knit. You can do it anywhere (although I don't recommend it on planes if you want to avoid annoying your neighbors with your flailing arms), and it's mindless enough that you can watch TV or do other things at the same time. You can also do it with some surprisingly heavy gauge (soft) wire, to make some very solid foundations for statement pieces.

I want to be Lisa when I grow up. Her work is stunning.

mairedodd said...

my friend teaches viking knit and yours is great... so nice when one has something like a draw plate to pull it all together - now if i could just get one of those over my hips!

Kelli said...

Love it!!!! Although I'm not sure I'd have the patience for it. OH my goodness!!!! Lisa's work is incredible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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