Bead Peeps Swap’n’Hop: You’ve got mail!

A lovely package showed up in my mailbox yesterday, all the way from England. A bundle of awesome goodies from Niky Sayers, my partner in the Bead Peeps Swap’n’Hop. And she has totally spoiled me with goodies!

Here’s what I saw when I opened the package …

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Then after the letter was removed:

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And here is what was in those intriguing packages!

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So, the big heart in the middle is a Gaea ceramic heart in a lovely soft aqua on chocolate brown clay. To the right of the heart is an awesome enamel scrip bead from Blue Antiquities, a pair of ceramic beads by Karen Totten and a fly connector by Bo Hulley. Below the heart is a trio of tiny lampwork drops by Laura Sparling — they are like little double droplets. Over on the far right are 4 faceted fossilized coral coin beads plus 2 fossilized wood  beads. A strand of Serpentine rondelles, again in shades of aqua and copper.

And then there are the gorgeous components made by Niky herself! A pair of copper mushroom headpins, a copper roll bead and a copper safety pin (I have plans for you, little pin!). And finally some coin-creations: a sixpence bead, a farthing clasp (I love the little wren adorning the coin!) and a farthing connector featuring a headpin by Jen Cameron! Oh I love Niky’s coin components!

The colours Niky has picked are absolutely me, and I can’t wait to get started with these beauties! I’ve already got some ideas rattling around my head.

Reveal day is 2 May. It’s sooner than you (and I) think!

 

Meet my Swap’n’Hop Partner: Niky Sayers

Swapnhop button

I’m taking part in the Bead Peeps Swap’n’Hop, a riff on the popular “swap beads with a partner and make something”-style blog challenges. I was thrilled to discover that my assigned swap partner is Niky Sayers of Silver NikNats. Niky is a super-talented, self taught jewellery designer and metalsmith in the UK.

I’ve been following Niky’s blog for a while, and I just love her work. We share a love of art beads, among other things. And I wish I could do the things she does with metal and gemstones!

She has been playing with old coins, making fabulous lockets, pendants and clasps from shillings and sixpence and farthing coins, which she sells on Etsy. I love how she combines the old coins with the sparkly gems.

Niky Sayers lockets

And I love this set of rings she made recently for Sally Russick’s Make a Statement Challenge, using one of Jen Cameron’s headpins.

Niky Sayers rings

Her earrings are tiny works of art, inspired by—and indeed fit for—a princess. This pair was inspired by Cinderella.

Cinderella earrings

So now I’m looking at my own collection of art beads and thinking about what I could send Niky. I’ve got a few ideas, and hopefully will have something in the mail for her by the end of the week. Can’t wait to see what you’ve picked out for me Niky, I’m sure it’ll be amazing!

 

 

We’re All Ears: Floral February

This month’s We’re All Ears inspiration over on the Earrings Everyday blog comes from a series of mixed media collages featuring watercolour paintings with fresh flowers by Malaysian artist Limzy. Aren’t they stunning!

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The first pair of earrings was inspired in part by my favourite series of books (and now TV series) Outlander (or CrossStitch as it was called in Australia and the UK) by Diana Gabaldon, about an English woman who travels back in time to the days of the last Jacobite rebellion in Scotland in the mid-1700s. Her journey back in time is triggered as she reaches to pick blue forget-me-nots at the base of a standing stone in the Scottish Highlands. They are on handmade copper earwires from Rebecca Anderson and feature Czech glass flowers and waxed linen.

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The second pair is a dainty pink pair for my daughter’s best friend. It’s fun to think that over the next few years as my girls get older and start wearing earrings, I’ll be making earrings for them and their friends too! This pair is on sterling silver for sensitive young ears and again feature Czech glass flowers.

Dainty pinks

Pop over to Earrings Everyday for links to other participants in the monthly blog hop!

Ancient oceans: Beading Back in Time Blog Hop

A couple of beady friends of mine—Lindsay Starr and Sherri Stokey—recently came up with an idea for a series of blog hops, which they’ve called Beading Back in Time. Each quarter will be devoted to a different time period and the first, of course, is pre-Human.

Conveniently, in my stash I had two beautiful ammonite focals. In case you’re wondering, ammonites were a group of molluscs which populated the ancient oceans for several hundred million years, from the Devonian period until the big extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period that wiped out some 75% of the life on our planet. Although the fossils look similar to today’s Nautilus species, with their distinctive multi-chambered spiral shells, they were more closely related to octopus, squid and cuttlefish.

The first piece features a ceramic ammonite focal, made by Peruzi, with a lovely verdigris-like appearance. I wanted to evoke the feel of the ocean, so I paired it with some aqua beads in various shapes and sizes, and a silk ribbon that made me think of seagrasses waving gently in the water.

Ancient oceans collage

The second focal is a real, fossilized ammonite that a friend gave me in a swap. The front, with its distinctive spiral ranges from a dark olive green to coppery brown, but the back still has glimmering remnants of the shell’s nacreous origins. I found some unusual Czech glass beads with a pitted rock-like appearance and some interesting double coin pearls with a golden shimmer to go with the ammonite fossil. And in case you’re wondering, oysters are a very old variety of mollusk and both pearl and oyster fossils have been found—I looked it up!

ocean fossil collage

Thank you Lindsay and Sherri for the great challenge. Now I need to start thinking about the next time period—early human!

Co-hostess:  Lindsay Starr of Phantasm Creations

Co-hostess:  Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

Kelly Rodgers of Beadin’ Black & Blue

Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio

Caroline Dewison of Blueberribeads

Melissa Trudinger of Boho Bird Jewellery <– YOU ARE HERE!

Sue Kennedy of SueBeads

Stephanie and Chris Haussler of Pixibug Designs

Jen Cameron of Glass Addictions

Jean Wells of Jean A. Wells Artisan Jewelry

AJE Elements Use Your Stash blog hop

Way back in the middle of December, Art Jewelry Elements announced that in January it would amp up the Component of the Month challenge, with every member of the team designing something using a component from their stash made by one of the other team members. Readers were encouraged to do the same, and to add a little extra, nine lucky jewellery designers would receive an art bead.

I was lucky enough to have my name drawn to receive this fabulous ceramic pendant from Lesley Watt.

Daisy pendant

It’s summer here in Australia, and our lawn is sprouting daisies and dandelions. I combined the pendant with a literal bunch of flowers, all knotted together on sunny yellow waxed linen cord.

Summer Daisy necklace

Thank you Lesley for sending me such a sweet little pendant to play with—I hope this necklace brings a ray of sunshine to brighten up your English winter today!

Here are the links to the AJE team blogs as well as the other winners and some jewellery designers who raided their stash to play along.

AJE team: 
Guest Participants ( aka winners)
Samantha- Wescott Jewelry
Kathy – Bay Moon Designs
Nikki – Silver Nik nats
Yvette – Blue Kiln Beads
Bonus participants! 

January thoughts

I’ve been neglecting my blog the last few months, only posting when I need to, for a blog hop or challenge and happily ignoring it at other times. No really good reason for it other than, as usual, things get in the way. Like kids, a good book or three, too much time fooling around on Facebook, my real job, that sort of thing.

While I try not to make resolutions these days—they’re too easy to break—January is a really good time to stop and take stock of what has gone before and what is coming toward me, often at breakneck speed!

So, there were a few things I didn’t blog about in 2014, which I really should have done. For example, this necklace which I made for the Bead Society of Victoria’s annual Bead Challenge, which was displayed with all of the other entries at the BSV’s annual Bead Expo in mid-November. This challenge requires the purchase of a kit, and ALL of the beads in the kit must be incorporated into a single piece (yes they count them!).

Here’s the kit …

bead challenge 2014 pack

And here’s my necklace.

Spring flowers necklace

I was very pleased with it, even though I knew it wouldn’t be in the running at all—have a look here to see all the entries and here to see the winners. Part of me wishes that they would run the competition in different categories as those of us who don’t work with seed beads really don’t have a chance against those beautiful creations. But still, I was pleased with what I created and that’s the thing that matters. In case you’re wondering, the beautiful lampwork bead is made by Denise Smith of DKS Lampwork. Here’s a closeup.

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Marketwise, I had my ups and downs. I never seem to sell very well in the middle of the year, when the weather is cold and dreary. However, I had some wonderful markets in November and December. My biggest seller at the markets doesn’t tend to be my one of a kind creations, but I have a line of simple resin jewellery including pendants, earrings, cufflinks and most recently rings, featuring sweet pictures and patterns which sell quite well. This year I’ll keep doing my local market, The Handmade Show, which kicks off for the year in April (I’m now on the committee which is fun and a bit different) and a couple of others here and there as the opportunity comes up.

In the meantime, a lovely little shop in Alexandra, a small town north east of Melbourne, has a selection of my jewellery for sale. If you happen to be out that way, pop in and say hi to Cindy at Rustic Simplicity.

I’m also planning to revamp my Etsy shop, Boho Bird Jewellery, and I’m going to kickstart my efforts with this course. It starts in a couple of weeks, and you may well see some posts about it here as I work through it.

I’ve already got three or four blog hops and challenges lined up for the next couple of weeks, as well as a few overdue Christmas pressies, so I really need to spend some time making jewellery! Yay! And it’s plum jam making time! If you’re lucky I’ll post a recipe for plum icecream in the next few days. Yummy!

 

 

2014 Holiday Ornament Exchange and Blog Hop

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How quickly does the year pass? It seems not that long ago that I took part in Sally Russick‘s 2013 Holiday Ornament Exchange, and all of a sudden it is time to do this year’s blog hop!

Anyway, this time I have been paired up with Elisabeth Auld, a glass beadmaker and jewellery designer living in Virginia, in the US. Our brief was to make each other an ornament using handmade components and art beads. We chatted a bit via email to gauge each other’s style, and happily seemed to be on the same page (eclectic!).

Here is the sweet ornament I received from Elisabeth. Isn’t he a cute snowman?

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He looks great nestled among the branches of my tree too!

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Elisabeth also included a sparkly pair of earrings and a necklace featuring one of her lampwork glass beads as a gift for me. Thank you again!

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Now, for this year’s ornament, I decided to take a mixed media approach. Local scrapbooking company Kaisercraft does a range of different embellishments made of thin balsa wood and some hexagonal shapes caught my eye. I gave them an aged appearance with Distress Ink and then I found some vintage-style Christmas images on Etsy and “decoupaged” them on with Mod-Podge. Holes were punched at the top and the bottom and I wired a pretty lampwork bead (made by Marianne Bradman, Fields of Clover) in Christmassy colours of green and red above and some Czech glass rounds below. The finishing touch was a loop of sari silk in green. Of course, I had to make a couple of them!

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I also included a different kind of handmade ornament, a tree made from cinnamon and star anise, wrapped together with waxed linen (I got the idea from Donna Hay magazine last year). It smelled divine, spicy and mysterious. I was pleased to see it made it across the world intact!

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There were ten other pairs in the ornament swap, you can visit their blogs via the links below! Thank you Sally for such a fun excuse to be creative!

1.  Sally Russick  and Tanya Goodwin
2.  Veralynne Malone  and Sally Russick 
3.  Melissa Trudinger  and Elisabeth Auld
4.  Erin Prais-Hintz  and Lesley Watt 
5.  Jenny Davies-Reazor and Patti Vanderbloemen 
6.  Kim Bender-Hora and Beth and Evie McCord
7.  Becky Pancake and Lynne Bowland 
8.  Therese Frank  and Karen Williams
9.   Melissa Meman  and Linda Hanes 
10.  Sandi Volpe  and Linda Landig 
11. Alicia Marinache  and Susan Kennedy