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A stone and ceramic bead necklace reflecting Frida Kahlo's jewelry style
Scroll to the last photo for a glimpse of the original Frida Kahlo painting and a Pre-Columbian bead necklace from her collection. For more information, please click on How It's Made.
Stone beads: white/gray/cream 50x18mm tapered tube focal bead; snakeskin jasper 12mm and 10mm rounds; rust brown 4mm jasper rounds.
Ceramic beads: 1970s-80s rust-red tie-dye washed porcelain ovular tubes; blue glazed raku 8x14mm rondelles (under-strung with jasper rounds).
Coral red seed beads.
Sterling silver 19mm square toggle clasp; sterling silver artisan crimp covers.
Strung on 49-strand .019 (Antique Brass) bead stringing wire.
Necklace length/weight: ~19"(~Princess)/3.9 oz.
- This listing is for a necklace only. I'd suggest pairing this necklace with dangling Taxco-style silver filagree earrings to complete a "in-the-style-of-Frida" look.
- I work with artisan and other beautifully designed toggles and clasps. Helpful hint: Practice hooking and unhooking the clasp; visualize this while doing so without looking.
- Bead descriptions are based on bead vendor information and the best of my knowledge.
- Colors viewed may differ from actual colors due to device variances.
- Packed in a gift-ready window-lidded tin (anti-tarnish tab enclosed).
Notes on this piece: In early 2021 our local art museum hosted the Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism exhibition. Frida has become such a visual cultural icon that I think we tend to forget to explore who she really was, her place in 20th century art, and her place as a role model for strength and perseverance. One of the things that struck me while viewing the exhibition was how little notice I'd previously paid to her jewelry — which was remarkable (to me) since I've been making and wearing bead jewelry for almost 25 years.
When goimagine announced their Celebrate Women Challenge, an homage to Frida was my obvious choice. I began with online research looking for articles and images of "Frida Kahlo Jewelry." Frida (1907-1954) cultivated her distinctive style of fashion in clothing and jewelry as a reflection of her Mexican heritage. Her fashion choices were not fashionable in her time and were often considered to be eccentric and even ridiculed by others.
Most of the bead necklaces Frida wore appear to be made with Pre-Columbian stone beads, almost always opaque stones, generally (not always) large stones, and are sometimes worn as layered multiple strands. I began a search for comparable beads online and ordered some Guatemalan jade from a vendor in Mexico... then realized that these would not arrive before the Challenge deadline. Meanwhile I dug through my own bead collection, looking for beads with the shape-sensibility of Frida's style. The beads I found are of diverse materials and much shinier than those Frida wore, but I am happy with my homage.
My designs are inspired by the beads, by their color, shape, size and origin.
I’ve been buying/collecting beads for over 20 years, focusing on early and mid-century glass beads, but including semi-precious and other stones, freshwater pearls, contemporary artisan lampwork and ceramic beads. I work with sterling silver, bronze, or copper clasps and use sterling or gold-filled findings.
In my first years of bead jewelry design, I had to see and/or touch the beads to know what I wanted. After years of experience, I can confidently shop online (fortunately, during these times) and have a growing list of “go-to” artisans, vendors, and brands for my supplies.
My design descriptions include a list of “ingredients” used in each design.
Some designs come together quickly and organically. Others are re-worked several times, even if I’ve already attached the clasp with crimp beads and crimp covers and need to completely re-string.
Designs are often “retro-classic” as my OOAK designs are bead-centric with a nod to mid-century costume jewelry, rather than inspired by current fashions in jewelry designs or color trends. Add a pinch of whimsy and my personal take on color palettes.
I work on felted bead boards to calculate the length of each necklace (usually “matinée” length 20-24”) and to hold the beads I’ve selected for my design. Sometimes I change my mind mid-design and put away many of the beads I’ve been working with, then search for or order others. I use 49-strand .018 or .019 gauge bead wire, which allows stringing back under an inch or so of beads after the crimp bead and clasp are attached. I work by creating my design on the wire, rather than try to lay out the complete pattern, as it’s important to see how the beads will hang and to pick compatible spacer beads.
I use sterling or gold-filled ear wires and headpins, and often create “mis-matched” earring pairs.
The weight and length of each necklace are listed in case you have a preference for lighter or more substantial pieces. (I enjoy both.)
The name Dark Poet Designs was lifted from my once-upon-a-time one-line resume:
"...wife, mother, Girl Scout leader, bookkeeper (in both senses), dark poet..."
I am a retired elementary school teacher who has been designing bead jewelry for over 20 years. Originally, I hosted in-home studio shows. Over time, teaching and Argentine tango became my focus. I kept creating, but quit marketing my work.
I create necklace/earring sets, earrings, and an occasional bracelet. Each of my designs is one-of-a-kind. I frequently use mid-century vintage glass beads, usually post-war Japanese, German, or Czech. Other materials include semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls, crystals, seed beads, glass rondelles, raku or ceramic beads, contemporary artisan-made beads in various media, and sterling silver or bronze beads and clasps.
Thank you for visiting my page. To see some of my past work and browse through some interesting links, visit my website. My work is for sale online exclusively here at goimagine. Some of my work may be seen on Instagram. I'm also on Pinterest, Facebook, and Tumblr.
— Karen Reck | Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
P.S. I haven't written a dark (vampires, ghosts, and demon lovers) poem in several years.
Please contact me if you have any questions about your order, my work, or my terms.
U.S. shipping is FREE/included in price (First Class).
Time in transit may vary depending on USPS.
Estimated packing/shipping times: 2-5 days.
I will accept returns if you:
- Contact me within 5 days of delivery
- Ship items back within 7 days of delivery
Conditions of return
Buyers are responsible for return shipping costs.
Item(s) must be returned in their original condition and in original packaging.
Refunds will be issued after I've received your return.
Custom orders cannot be returned or exchanged.
Thank you for your support of goimagine and my work!