Perlensuppe!

Perlensuppe is German for bead soup. And my bead soup has arrived! Yesterday I picked it up from the post office, a heavy little package from Germany! Of course I ripped it open as soon as I got home. And it was packed full of inspiration from my bead soup partner Sandra Wollberg.

First of all there are some beads, lots of them! Indian glass beads, Czech glass leaves and flowers, a strand of mixed critters ranging from butterflies to frogs and even scarab beetles, a strand of dragonfly-embossed coin-shaped beads, cultured pearls, delicately painted Chinese shell beads, peanut seed beads. The beads are richly coloured in both earthy and more vibrant shades.

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Then there are the special components. First of all some polymer clay leaf headpins made by Sandra herself. Then a big Czech glass button, again with the dragonfly.

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And three ceramic components from Blu Mudd—an owl pendant, a bracelet bar and a toggle clasp.

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Finally some sari silk in a lovely rust colour. And a few sheets of mica, to stretch my creativity to the limits!

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There’s definitely a theme to the soup—a kind of woodsy, late summer, early autumn theme. The ideas are spinning around, I think I can make some beauties! Thanks again Sandra, I hope you like your soup just as much! Fingers crossed it arrives really soon!

Oh, Sandra also sent me a little gift, a pair of vintage cuckoo clock earrings! I can just imagine these in a little gift shop somewhere, waiting for the right person to come along and buy them. Aren’t they sweet?

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I’ll be posting about the soup I sent Sandra once she has received it. Reveal date for the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party is not too far away now … 3 May!

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Tiny Flowers: We’re All Ears March Challenge

This month’s inspiration from Earrings Everyday ‘s We’re All Ears earring challenge is a sweet little pen and watercolour illustration from Beatrix Potter’s book The Tailor of Gloucester.

March earring challenge


Pen and watercolor by Beatrix Potter
from The Tailor of Gloucester from the collection at the Tate Museum

My earrings inspired by this image feature a pair of polymer clay matchstick charms from Humblebeads, which have been painted by Heather in a tiny floral pattern that to me resembles the stitching in the picture nicely! I topped them with a pair of Czech glass flowers from the Paintbox kit I received through the Curiosity Club, and dangled them from Vintaj brass earwires. I did have ambitions to use waxed linen cord in a lovely shade of magenta instead of wire but I just couldn’t get them to look right. Best laid plans and all that! In any case, they are quite sweet.

Tiny Flowers Earrings

Go here to see what everyone else has made this month!

Introducing my BSBP swap partner

It’s Bead Soup Blog Party time again! This year marks the 8th BSBP, and there are almost 500 blogging beaders and jewellery designers from all over the world taking part. Lori Anderson has once again put in a tremendous amount of work to carefully pair us all up, no easy task! She visits each and every blog along the way, and the pairing process alone takes several weeks (and a lot of help from her family, thanks guys!).

The idea is simple. We are paired up with another jewellery designer, and we send each other a bead soup, containing at least one focal bead or pendant, a special clasp and some coordinating beads to make the soup sing!

So without further ado, let me introduce you to my swap partner for the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party. This year I am paired with Sandra Wollberg, who lives in Wiesbaden, in Germany. And I’m thrilled!

Sandra is someone I have crossed paths with many times on the Bead Soup Café Facebook group, and in various blog hops, but we’ve never really been formally introduced before now. We both tend toward an eclectic boho style: she works with more filigree and stampings than I do, but we both share a love for Czech beads, and like me, she tries out different techniques and styles as the mood takes her. This is what she made last year for BSBP7, from a soup put together by Finnish beader Merja Sundström:

So, I needed to come up with a soup that might offer a bit of a challenge, one way or another. Sandra tells me that she mostly works with earthy colours, greens and teals. OK, cross them off the list, along with the brass stampings. In the end, I sent her a few choices, a couple of different palettes to play with. I hope she has a lot of fun with her soup!

Here’s a teaser — I’ve pixelated this with Lego Photo (a fun app I have on my iPhone) and randomly chosen the colours too!

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The package is in the mail, hope the trip across the world goes quickly!

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I’ll blog about the soups we’ve sent each other once we have both received them. The big reveal is a couple of months away yet—May 3rd is the date. Can’t wait!

Tin Roof … Rusted: the 3rd Annual Challenge of Music

Once again, I’m taking part in Erin Prais-Hintz ‘s Annual Challenge of Music. This year, she has set us a new challenge:

Pick a significant year in your life history. Now pick a song to help tell that story. Your playlist is as unique as you are! The music of your past weaves a story that only you can tell. The choices of song will tell us a lot about who you are, where you come from, what is important to you and give great insight.

Create something of your choice – jewelry, accessory or some other artistic representation – that helps us experience this special song. I am opening this challenge up to any artistic interpretation. Whatever way this inspiration moves you, follow its lead!

Well. What year to pick, what song to pick! I had a few ideas, but once again, the beads had their say.

The year was 1990. I had graduated from university, worked for a few months and then packed my bags to move across the word to start grad school at the University of California, Berkeley (go Bears!!). My first year there I decided to live at International House, a fabulous residence for graduate students (and the odd Senior) from all around the world, and their US counterparts who had a foreign connection, whether it was being born abroad, or spending time abroad while at high school or college, or even just more than a passing interest in the world.

Living in the I-House was an amazing experience. I met some wonderful people from all around the world, made some lifelong friends, and started figuring out who I was. But strangely, one of the things that really has stayed with me is the fabulous parties that the residents would throw. That year, I-House had a big group of students who liked to get down and dance the night away, drinking cheap wine, beer and cocktails. And while the recreation rooms had that student residence feel to them, listening to the B52s song Love Shack, which was doing the rounds at that time (well, strictly speaking it was released in 1989, but give me a little artistic license!), takes me right back to those parties.

So here is my little homage to I-House parties, and the ever-danceable Love Shack. I recently acquired one of Heather Powers ‘ Folk Art House beads, which lo and behold, has a rusted tin roof (again with the artistic license!). I cut a little sign out of copper and stamped it with the directions (15 miles to the Love Shaaack!), antiqued it with liver of sulfur and highlighted the stamped words with a dab of Vintaj patina ink in Marble. Then I dangled the house from the sign to complete my focal (that’s one of Rebecca Anderson‘s Deco Rose copper headpins there).

Love shack focal

And I strung them with an eclectic collection of beads that took my fancy (I’m being sneaky here and combining two challenges in one here—I’m playing along with Heather Powers’ Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge and creating something using a bead soup for the second challenge, more to come in a future blog post!). I was trying to get the feeling of a quirky little boho dive, the kind with tatty couches in the corner, maybe some locally-made art on the walls, definitely interesting reading material on the toilet walls, and a small dancefloor with a DJ and a disco ball in the evenings. The drinks are cold, the kitchen has some awesome bar snacks and all my friends are there on a Saturday night!

Tin roof ... rusted collage

Among them are a Gaea dotted heart and dotty bead, a Jennifer Heynen pink swirly bead, the red heart from my Curiosity Club Paintbox kit, a couple of other interesting Czech glass beads and some blue melon beads to tie it all together. The swirly copper clasp (which my photo doesn’t really show well at all) is also from Rebecca Anderson’s Deco Rose collection.

I hope you will join me at the Love Shack sometime. Now, it’s time for you to go and see what the other participants in Erin’s Challenge of Music have come up with! The best way is to click on this link to go to Erin’s reveal page (once it is Saturday in the USA, I’m a bit early here) and look for the InLinkz list at the bottom of the page. I’ll be adding my link as soon as I can.

Thank you Miss Erin for another excellent challenge, it’s been fun!

Joining the Curiosity Club

Late last year I bought myself a Christmas present—six months membership in Rebecca Anderson’s Curiosity Club. Rebecca, one of my favourite and inspirational jewellery artists, has a little bead supply shop on Etsy, selling Czech beads, waxed linen cord, her own range of handmade findings and most recently a nice little selection of Vintaj components and leather cord. Last year she set up the Curiosity Club, a monthly shipment of beads and components personally selected by her. Along with the shipment, there is a Facebook page for members to share their designs, and each month Rebecca does a little tour on her shop’s Facebook page to show off what we all make from the kits.

So far I have received two kits, and the third should arrive any day now. Silly me, I haven’t taken a picture of each kit before diving in, but they’ve been lovely, with some waxed linen, a selection of beads sweetly threaded with a little brass or silver key and a special component or two! Anyway, I thought I would show you some of the things I’ve made so far using the beads and findings I’ve received.

The first kit, sent in December was called Winter’s Tale (Rebecca is from the UK, currently living in Belfast, Ireland), The special item in this kit was a pair of snowflake charms from Bohulley Beads, which I used in a pair of earrings along with the charcoal grey waxed linen and some of the clear and smoky rondelles, Rather than just stringing the beads on the linen, I did a little macramé between each bead.

snowflake earrings

Sadly, the school holidays prevented me from making more from this kit, although I am still mulling over the remaining beads, which include a variety of minty green and olive beads. Before I knew it, it was time for the January kit to arrive. Aptly named Paintbox, this kit contained a bright and happy selection of beads in aqua blue, lavender, and bright fuschia pink, some pale green leaves, a red heart, Picasso-finished flowers, waxed linen in lavender and denim blue, and some of Rebecca’s own components—a spiral clasp and a pair of heart headpins.

The first beads I turned to were the aqua blue piggies—little curved beads with two holes. I wove the lavender waxed linen in and out of the beads and dangled them from the fuschia flowers.

Paintbox earrings Collage

The lavender and aqua combination looked great so I dug out some fantastic aqua blue lampwork beads from Brisbane-based lampworker Liz de Luca to make some more earrings, this time with the lavender rondelles and some tiny Hill Tribe silver bead caps and spacers.

aqua gumballs Collage

So far, obviously, it’s all been about the earrings. I’m working on a challenge at the moment—the 3rd Annual Challenge of Music—which may well find itself using a few more of the beads from the kits in a bigger piece. The reveal date is this Saturday so come visit me then to see what I have come up with.

Green with a hint of sparkle

I’m taking part in today’s Winter Sparkle challenge and blog hop hosted by Lisa Lodge of Pine Ridge Treasures, despite the fact that it is still (for another week) summer here in Australia. Although this week we have had our first taste of autumn, with cool damp weather (hopefully tomorrow will be warmer).

My kit this time contained a variety of green beads, ranging from large faceted ovals, to tiny sparkly crystal rondelles and seed beads. I decided to make a 2-strand necklace, using as many beads as I could. The only beads I didn’t use from the kit were the bugle beads. And I have to apologize for the fact that although this necklace is “finished” it’s not finished to my satisfaction—at some point I will probably redo it, as I am not quite happy with it (there are a few mistakes and I haven’t got any crimp covers, it bothers me LOL).

Winter sparkle

Lisa also included a couple of sparkly clear faceted drops, which will become earrings one of these days.

Thank you again for a wonderful kit, Lisa. Please take some time to see what everyone else made!

Your hostess:  Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist

Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes

Kathy Zeigler Lindemer, Bay Moon Design

Eleanor Burian Moore, The Charmed Life 

Jo-Ann Woolverton, It’s a Beadiful Creation

Chris Eisenberg, Wanderware

Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn’s Creations

Toltec  Jewels, Jewel School Friends

Christie Searle Murrow, Charis Designs Jewelry

Heather Richter, Desert Jewelry Designs

Ev Shelby, Raindrop Creations 

Dolores Raml, CraftyD’s Creations

Kim Dworak, Cianci Blue

Cassi Renee Paslick, Beads: Rolling Downhill

Annette Rivers, Mama Owl’s Mess

Tammie Tusher Everly, TTE Designs

Crystal Thain, Here Bead Dragons

Marybeth Rich, A Few Words from within the Pines

Norbel Marolla, She Flies Again Jewelry

Karen Burg, KEB Designs

Karin Grosset Grange, Ginkgo et Coquelicot

Jasvanti Patel, Jewels by Jasvanti

Green dragonfly earrings: We’re All Ears February challenge

Earring-focused blog Earrings Everyday has added a monthly design challenge for its readers—the We’re All Ears challenge—which of course means making earrings.

This month’s inspiration is a gorgeously vibrant photograph starring a pair of loving damselflies on an intensely green background:

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Damselflies in Love
Photo credit: National Geographic, Yeo Weng Sang

As luck would have it, around the time this picture appeared in my feed, I received some gloriously green lampwork beads from Beads and Botanicals that immediately announced their intention to take part in this challenge. To keep it simple and let the beads talk, I paired them with tiny Vintaj brass dragonflies (the closest I could get to damselflies) and an orange Swarovski crystal.

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I’m very tempted to keep this pair! And I’m looking forward to seeing next month’s inspiration!

If you’re interested in seeing the other designers taking part in the earring challenge, go to today’s post on Earrings Everyday for the link-list (sadly it doesn’t work properly on WordPress.com blogs, so I can’t add it here).