Monday, May 20, 2013

Serotonin and Dopamine Necklace

I finished another project! This necklace features beaded representations of two important brain molecules; serotonin and dopamine.


Last month I wrote about serotonin, a molecule in the brain associated with happy feelings. I also blogged about the process I went through to create beaded serotonin, where I went through several different colorways before arriving at the one that I liked. I settled on a colorway of metallic gold and pink, with accents of purple and peach:


Like serotonin, dopamine is also a small neurotransmitter. It is the key neurotransmitter of the reward system of the brain, which produces feelings of pleasure after rewarding experiences such as a delicious meal, sex, music, or finishing a beautiful beading project! In fact, any kind of reward experience will increase dopamine levels in the brain. However, dopamine levels are also increased in response to drug use, and it's linked to other kinds of addictive behaviors. Its precise roles in these and other complicated neural responses is still an active area of scientific research (which is scientist-speak for "we're still learning more about it!")

Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine, which has one six-carbon aromatic ring, as opposed to the two-ring indole group of serotonin. Two oxygen atoms are connected to the ring, along with a branch of two carbons with a nitrogen on the end. The resulting beaded dopamine molecule is slightly smaller than serotonin, but from a structural chemistry point of view, both are still described as small molecule neurotransmitters.

A Happy, Rewarding Necklace!

To create this piece, I wove several beaded serotonin and dopamine molecules using the principles that I describe in my Morning Coffee Molecules pattern. I then painted the backs of the beaded molecules with several coats of acrylic floor finish, which made the beadwork stiff and sturdy. Then I connected the molecules together with jump rings, and attached them to a clasp to complete this necklace.

For a little while, I wasn't sure if this necklace was done. I debated adding crystals or fringe to this piece on the jump rings between each molecule, but I didn't want to detract from the beaded molecules themselves. This piece also has so many shiny metallic beads that any additional beads will either recede or clash with the molecules, so I relented, and decided to let this piece stand as-is.

...But my next neurotransmitter necklace will have an abundance of crystals!

If you're interested in the beading techniques behind this piece, check out my Morning Coffee Molecules pattern, where you can learn how to create a beaded caffeine molecule!


  1. This is so amazing I can barely stand it. It definitely makes me happy just looking at it. That's what I call a statement necklace. Well done, Cindy, well done.

    1. Thanks Gwen! I'm honored that you consider it a statement necklace :). I certainly got a big boost of dopamine when I finished it!

  2. Es una maravilla, Cindy, como todas las cosas que haces.


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