Oh, rainbows! Magical, meteorological phenomena filled with light and promise. For this Fast & Fabulous Rainbow Brights collection, we asked designers to create jewelry inspired by every color on the spectrum. Six colorful projects use stringing, knotting, simple wirework, and other basic techniques. You’ve seen some of the supplies in Cool Stuff, plus, you can use all of the rainbow-hued beads and pendants from your stash.
ABOVE: Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
These rainbow-hued designs will energize your mood and your wardrobe. Fast & Fabulous Rainbow Brights is part of the Beadwork Summer 2021 issue, or you can download it as a separate collection with project photos, materials lists, instructions, and resources. Here’s a peek at all of the projects and a little bit of background on each design.
Good Vibes Jewelry
“Rainbows are made of small raindrops. Happy lives are made from acts of kindness.” – Amit Ray
We love this Free Spirit bib necklace by Tory Vezina – and we think Ziggy, Tory’s cat, does too. Tory used gemstone beads representing the seven chakras to create this statement look. Check out the way Tory uses TierraCast pewter barrel beads to attach the leather cords together on the sides of the necklace. This clever cold connection makes it possible to use a wide variety of cords to create a similar look.
“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life.” – Lord Byron
When Tamara Honaman purchased a strand of rainbow-hued lampwork Burnin’ Beads by Kira, she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to make with them, she just knew they made her feel cheerful. In the end, she didn’t want to separate the strand so she made a complete set of jewelry to use all of the beads. The bracelet uses overhand knotting with chain, leather, and cotton cording while the earrings combine a matching bead pair with pretty lotus flower drops. The bracelet is an easy way to use a leftover bead – follow Tammy’s simple instructions to create sliding knots.
“When it rains, look for rainbows. When it’s dark, look for stars.” – Oscar Wilde
Why design with only one color in your jewelry when you can use them all? Howlite is an amazing mineral that is easily dyed a rainbow of colors and is soft enough to be carved into a multitude of shapes, from rounds to butterflies and more. In Terry Ricioli’s Joyful Rainbow necklace, Terry uses all of the colors to full effect. Plus, it’s a genius example of how to attach graduated strands to a length of chain using knots. That’s a technique you can use on any layered necklace!
Love is Love
“Hope will never be silent.” – Harvey Milk
Meredith Steele’s Color of Love necklace and earring set was inspired by the colorful raffia-wrapped rattan woven rings she spotted on LimaBeads.com. This Pride Month-themed set embraces every color of the rainbow along with symbolizing equality and diversity. Use knotting, stringing, crimping, gluing, and simple wireworking to create this colorful, summery set. If you’re looking for a more monochromatic style, choose coordinating beads and raffia-wrapped woven rings in your favorite color.
“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton
My Rainbow Heart design started with the vintage-style rainbow heart pendant – it’s very similar to one that I had in the 1980s and it just makes me happy. I wanted the necklace to have a lot of movement so I added the tiny rainbow tassels and charms and started layering different styles of chain together. Our technical editor Meredith Steele suggested replacing one of the chains with beads and that suggestion started me down the path of knotting stone beads with colorful cording. It had been a while since I’ve made a knotted strand. I unearthed my Beadalon Knotter Tool, #8 blue nylon cord, and, what do you know? It was just like riding a bike.
Wired Up Jewelry
“Be a rainbow is someone else’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou
Chasing Rainbows by Nealay Patel is an ode to the rainbow as a motif. Nealay is truly a jewelry architect, using simple wirework to make creative connections. Use SilverSilk to create the arches and wire to create the clouds. It would be easy to substitute any colors you choose for the rainbow, from traditional ROY G BIV to subtler shades. And you can follow the same instructions to make earrings in addition to your rainbow pendant.
Beyond Jewelry: More Rainbow Inspiration
Jewelry has a special power to commemorate moments and symbolize meaning. It seems that almost everyone has been inspired by a rainbow at some time or another. And there’s no rule that says you have to be traditional about it – these neon rainbow strands from Jesse James Beads are just begging to be strung into stretch cord bracelets.
See more rainbow-hued gems and read about other jewelry symbols in Power of Presence: How Jewelry Marks Human Experience by Deborah Yonick. We’re looking forward to seeing what you make!
Here’s a playful playlist to create the vibe:
Rainbow Country by Bob Marley
She’s a Rainbow by the Rolling Stones
Rainbows All Over Your Blues by John Sebastian
Somewhere Ove the Rainbow performed by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
A Special Performance of Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog
ROY G BIV by They Might be Giants
Katie Hacker, Editor of Beadwork and host of Jewelry Artist podcast