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Floating tin cup assistance

Hi folks,

I tend to work in a wide variety of styles (avoiding soldering and
chemicals when I can), but one of my most popular styles - especially
with brides - is the tin cup necklace. I’ve been making this style
off and on for years. The older ladies always know what I’m talking
about when I mention or show them this style, the younger ones not so

I’ve often wondered about the history of the term; and when I just
recently got an order for a bride’s necklace for a version on
"invisible" wire, I found I had a couple questions to which I haven’t
been able to find ready answers. One - does anyone know the
derivation of the term tin cup? I could find little reference to it,
short of web sites displaying necklaces of this design. And two -
I’ve only ever used silk, nylon, and once or twice leather cord to
produce this style. I’ve never done the “floating tin cup” thing and
am uncertain about materials… I’m sure the stringing material is
some kind of plastic line (hopefully coming in different diameters).
I know from seeing them on people that the beads are held in place
with little crimps, which I think totally destroys the continuity of
a piece (little smashed beads don’t look nearly as nice as tidy
little knots); but I’m not sure how else to do it, short of glue -
and that seems a little dicey, too. Any suggestions??

I’ve got lots of time to accomplish this… the wedding isn’t until
spring 2009… but I hate to wait with regard to its construction in
case I’ve got some experimentation ahead of me.

Many thanks,

I've often wondered about the history of the term; 

I’ve always assumed that the “tin cup” referred to the kids’
“telephone” that consisted of two cups knotted on either end of a

As for “invisible wire”, I guess she wants fishing line, or the
stringing equivalent, but ugh! And double ugh when it comes to trying
to knot that stuff. If it is a multi-strand design it might look kind
of cool. Depending on what the beads are, I’d go with glue rather
than crimps, although it’s going to come down to doing a few samples
and seeing what she likes.

Chris Lehmkuhl
(long time beader and short time metalsmith)


As my goes, the tin cup necklace was named for a movie
of the same name (The Tin Cup) with Rene Russo, playing a character
that wore the design. It became popular, and as such, entered into
jewelry legend. Pearls are the usual fare, knotted together in equal
intervals on a silk thread that is lightweight and light in color.

Hope that helps!

Kim Paluch


The “Tin Cup” necklace originated in the movie “Tin Cup” with Rene
Russo and Kevin Costner. Rene wore the necklace throughout the movie-
and then also wore it in her next movie “Ransom” with (I believe) Mel


The “tin cup” necklace got its name and popular appeal after being
seen in the movie “Tin Cup”. It was worn by Renee Russo. We sold gobs
of them in my store, just like we sold gobs of the notorious “Y
necklace” during the OJ Simpson trial. Now all you have to do is
create that next big idea and you’ll live in infamy.


I set a rather nice big pendant for a great customer today with
beautiful river rocks in sterling bezels. Guess what I used to make
the rocks sit perfectly level…PLASTIC!!! She knows about it, she
loves it, and she’ll probably commission many more. And guess what
else I used… a teeny bit of GLUE to hold the plastic in place so
it wouldn’t shift while I burnished the bezel. Moral of the
story…people, get over yourselves! It’s not brain
surgery…which my brother in law had twice for the dreaded
Parkinson’s disease. Now HE’S the hero in my book. Use what you
want, make art, be a jeweler, be a metalsmith, make hammers, make
love, just don’t think your way is the ONLY way. This forum has
helped and inspired sooo many people around the world, be they
serious jewelers or wannabes. That’s what I thought it was all about.
Lately with all the criticism and purist expectations, I’ve lost the
desire to see what my admired virtual cohorts are up to. And as far
as making a living making hammers…well if Stacey Lee wants to,
and she can, more power to her! Maybe she should make hammer


Hello Karen,

So far as the derivation of the term “tin cup necklacle”, I believe
it gained common usage following the movie “Tin Cup.” The female lead
wore the design throughout the movie and obviously it was noticed
and copied.

Regarding the floating style, knotting the pearls in place is the
acceptable means for securing the stations using silk cord. I
believe you could also knot a clear, flexible line, but it won’t be
easy. I’ve only done the knots with silk and the hardest part is
getting precise placement.

Good luck and I hope someone else has more advice to offer!!

Judy in Kansas, where it has been a rainy day and I see flood
warnings are out for those low-lying areas.

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.

Thanks for the input everyone… I would’ve thought the "Tin Cup"
term was older than the movie of the same name, but with that
in hand, I went searching a bit more and kept running
into the same story. I DID, however, find that before the movie, this
style of necklace was called a “Station Necklace”… most often done
in chain.

As for its construction, I’m tempted to try to talk the young lady
into using silk instead of invisible line… I long ago learned to
knot nylon coated beading wire, but only knots hidden inside a bead
tip. I’m not sure I want to try knotting plastic (I know that the
stretchy stuff is difficult enough, often requiring a little bit 'o
flame to melt the knot into itself - not exactly the look you want
for visible knots). Being me, I’ll probably do it a couple different
ways and give her the choice… my guess is the silk version will look
best. But who knows?!?!

Oh… and in case anyone is still curious about the “melted mess” I
made with a baggie full of sterling heart toggles on top of my kiln,
I finally found that my studio toaster oven set on “toast” for less
than a minute would soften the muck enough to pick out a few pieces
at a time. Too much heat and it was difficult to pull the toggles and
bars out with anything but tweezers; the “toast” setting zapped it
just enough, and fingers were easier to manipulate the layers of
plastic and toggle. Took forever to get through them all, and I only
broke the ring on two bars in the process. Could’ve been worse…

Still sweeping brain droppings up with the dog hair…