Byzantine Captive Beading, or Chain Maille by any other name would smell just as pinchy.

ooh shiny pretties!

Friends!  Romans!  I have found a bead store!

I know that shouldn’t be super surprising, but the bead store I really liked closed a few years ago (or so I thought), and I hadn’t really found another local source for good beads, just a few antique shops that occasionally had the odd strand of mislabeled jasper or “Check glass” beads (insert facepalm here, please).  So imagine my surprise and utter thrill when I was driving around the west ends of town one Friday and discovered the bead store I thought was closed had, in actuality, just moved from St. Paul to Minneapolis!  Hooray!  Of course I stopped in immediately and came home with *ahem* a few new beads.

I used to do a lot of beading when I was younger (believe it or not, there was an awesome bead store in my hometown that one of the highschool kids opened when I was in middle school, so it was one of the few hobbies that didn’t involve a trip to another town for supplies!)  I still have quite a few beads, but my now-30 something self doesn’t have quite the same taste that middle-school-me did (though I will always love those little stone polar bear looking beads–you know the ones…adorable!).  So I haven’t done much with beads lately and even if I wanted to, my supplies were kind of…scattered.  In that “I have one of everything and can make nothing” sort of way.  But now that I know a good bead store just down the bike path from me–well, let’s just say I see more beads in my future.

But!  You don’t want to know about future beads!  You want to see now beads, yes?!  Of course you do!  My first beading project in a long time was a pair of earrings for myself.  I like long, dangly earrings, but I’m really picky.  I found a lovely pair of giant silver-tone cutout leaves at the bead store and built my way up from there.  I knew I wanted them to be really long (think collar-bone length), and the leaves are about 2.5″ on their own, so I just needed an inch or so between the leaf and the ear wire–and while I was wandering around looking for the perfect 1.5″ bead, I stumbled upon some very cool black & white round beads, but they were only 6mm across.  Not quite the size.  But they looked super cool–black on one hemisphere, white on the other.  So I added 4 of them to my horde and kept looking.

That’s when I spied a sample pair of earrings on display with this cool interlocking jumpring setup holding smallish beads inside.  And it appeared that the beads were not in any way attached to the earrings, just held by the intersection of the jump rings–so cool!  I surreptitiously took some notes (because the earrings in question were pretty expensive), then found some 8mm giant jump rings to try it out myself when I got home.

And that’s where the needle-nose pliers come in.  And where the pinchy bits start (needle nose pliers + my fingers + stubborn jump rings =  ouch).  I knew how I wanted to hold the bead in the rings in the end, but I had some trouble getting my fingers to make it happen, so I turned to google to find out how to make captive beads in jump rings.  Turns out, it has a name!  Byzantine chain maille, to be exact.  And once I could see how it was done, it was dead easy (I was, of course, over complicating things trying to get all the rings set up and closed before I put the bead in–no wonder it wasn’t playing nice!)  Much easier to close the rings over the bead and then add the top jump ring to keep everything closed and in place.

And so I finally made myself what I think are pretty neat earrings!  Once I figured out the method, it only took about 15 minutes to get everything assembled!

I love how these turned out, and they are exactly the length I was going for!  I get lots of compliments (and a couple requests for copies!) when I wear them!


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