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Lava lights necklace

Easy techniques erupt in a show-stopping necklace
Lava lights necklace
The color gradation in this necklace — from cool and dark in back to hot and bright in front — evokes a volcanic eruption.

I made Santorini Eruption as an homage to the volcanic explosion that created the beautiful Santorini archipelago in the Aegean Sea some 3,500 years ago. Jeri Warhaftig’s smoky beads with streams of flame orange running through them were the starting point, and I carefully arranged the fringe beads to transition from dark and earthy at the back to fiery at the front. The fringe also transitions from short to long, enhancing the image of flowing lava.


Necklace 20 in. (51 cm)

  • 9 42 x 12 mm art-glass beads
  • 10 15 mm lava beads
  • 20 12 mm copper disk beads
  • 450–500 assorted fringe beads in a variety of shapes and sizes such as:
    • 8 x 7 mm drop beads (drilled lengthwise)
    • 8 x 6 mm glass bicone beads
    • 8 mm round crystals
    • 7 x 6 mm cathedral beads
    • 6 mm bicone crystals
    • 6 x 4 mm drop beads
    • 6 x 4 mm glass flower beads
    • 6 x 3 mm glass rondelles
    • 6 mm cube beads
    • 5 x 10 mm drop beads
    • 4 mm pinch beads
    • 4 mm druk beads
    • 4 mm bicone crystals
    • 3 mm fire-polished beads
  • 20–30 g total 6/0, 8/0, and 11/0 seed beads in a variety of colors and finishes clasp
  • 146 2 x 2 mm crimp beads
  • flexible beading wire
    • .014 (approx. 60–65 ft./18.3–19.8 m)
    • .019 (24 in./61 cm)
  • painter’s tape
  • crimping pliers
  • wire cutters


Lava lights necklace Photo A
Photo A
Lava lights necklace Photo B
Photo B
Lava lights necklace Photo C
Photo C
Lava lights necklace Photo D
Photo D
Lava lights necklace Photo E
Photo E


1. Lay out the art-glass and 15 mm beads on your work surface, and position the fringe beads between them so that the colors gradate from one color at the back (such as the dark murky greens of the sea bed) to another color at the front (like the bright shimmering blues seen at the surface of the water) (PHOTO A).

2. Cut a piece of .014 beading wire five to six times longer than the middle art-glass bead. Repeat to cut a total of 68 pieces to the same length. 

3. Cut four more pieces of beading wire about eight times longer than the middle art-glass bead. 

4. Gather 12 pieces of beading wire for the middle bead (eight short and the four long ones cut in step 3), and make a bundle by wrapping the ends with small pieces of painter’s tape (PHOTO B).

5. Repeat step 4 to make a bundle of eight wires (all short) for the next three art-glass beads on each side of the necklace, and a bundle of six wires for the last art-glass bead on each side.


1. On a 24-in. (61 cm) piece of .019 beading wire, center the middle art-glass bead. 

2. On one end, string a disk bead, a 15 mm bead, a disk, and the next art-glass bead (PHOTO C). Repeat to string the remaining art-glass, 15 mm, and disk beads on the first side of the necklace, then string the other side of the necklace as a mirror image of the first side.

3. String the bundle of beading wires from step 4 of “Preparation” through the middle art-glass bead (PHOTO D). Repeat with the remaining art-glass beads and wire bundles. 

4. Test the necklace for fit, and string a few 6/0 seed beads on each end if needed. On one end, string a crimp bead and half of the clasp. Go back through the crimp bead and a few more beads, crimp the crimp bead, and trim the excess wire. Repeat on the other end.

5. Isolate one wire in the middle bead bundle, and remove both ends from the tape. String seed beads and assorted fringe beads as desired on one end, then string a crimp bead and a seed bead. Skip the last seed bead, and go back through the crimp bead (PHOTO E). Crimp the crimp bead, and trim the wire. Repeat with the same bead sequence on the other end of the wire.

6. Repeat step 5 with all the remaining wires, varying the length of the fringes as desired.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you’re using smaller art-glass beads than Ronnie used, you may need more than nine to make a necklace. Or, make a bracelet instead: Cut the beading wire for the fringe three or four times the length of the art-glass beads, and make the fringe 1–1 1⁄2 in. (2.5–3.8 cm) long. – Julia Gerlach
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