Craftsman of the Month
Cover of Rock&Gem V1N1 March-April 1971

Wanda J. Little and Colleen Reigh
January 1999

With such an engaging article on malachite having appeared in the last issue of R&G, we couldn't help but be charmed by the serendipity of this subsequent submission to the Craftsman of the Month contest.

Actually, the craftspersons of the month for January are sisters Wanda J. Little and Colleen Reigh, of Benbrook, Texas, who have worked together for 10 years designing, making and selling jewelry and fiber crafts. They have backgrounds in engineering and technical writing, and in education, as well as nine years of experience writing and editing craft instructions for a craft how-to book publisher with international distribution.

Wanda and Colleen love to work with tumble-polished natural stones, glass and metal beads. When designing, the sisters are inspired by the shapes and play of colors of beads and metal. The function of the piece also guides the design. Rarely does a completed design emerge without numerous modifications due to the sisters' interaction and exchange of ideas. The personality of the client and the designers' concept of style and function dictate the evolution of designs. The designers' distinct personalities and individual approaches to problem solving enhance and improve the work of each individual.

Here's how they explain the creation of this malachite necklace:

"The idea for this design was inspired when we made this 40mm malachite cabochon and simple wire mount that allows the entire pattern of the stone to show."

"The mount was made by aligning three pieces of silver wire and soldering them together in the center. The ends were bent into five prongs and a hanging loop. (Prongs may be cut to length so the mount is adjustable for various sizes and shapes of cabochons.)"

"We planned the design on a beading tray, trying various combinations of malachite and silver beads. We found that fluted silver beads were the perfect accent for the patterned malachite beads, which ranged in size from 4mm to 8mm."

"We cut two 36-inch strands of beading thread, tied one end of both strands to one eyepin, and threaded needles on the other ends. Both needles were passed through single beads and the two-strand sections were beaded separately. The cabochon was added at the center of the necklace during stringing."

"To finish the necklace, the needles were removed and the strands pulled snug to tighten the beads. The ends of the thread were tied to the second eyepin and the excess thread was cut off. The eyepins were threaded through small silver cones. We cut the ends of the eyepins to 3/8-inch, bent them 90 degrees, and shaped loops with round-nose pliers. Then a split ring was attached to one loop, and a split ring and clasp to the other loop."

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