Firefly Design Studio Challenge #2: By the Seaside

Michelle McCarthy‘s second design challenge is upon us, and this time, we had a seaside theme to work with. The kit contained a variety of components including a pendant, a bracelet focal, charms and beads by Michelle, in two colourways: sandy or blue. I chose the blue and waited somewhat impatiently for the kit to arrive in the mail. Ever noticed that it takes longer if you’re waiting for it?

Anyhow, the kit I received looked something like this (picture pinched from Michelle):

bead set

Also in the kit was a mystery component by Cory Tompkins aka Tealwater Designs. Of course I neglected to take a photo of it, but you’ll see it in my pieces. Armed with the kit, I looked through my stash for some beads that would work well with the soft blue and sandy tones of the components. Surprisingly, I didn’t have as much as I thought in there that would work with it, but I ended up with a nice selection.

I put the earrings together first, embellishing Michelle’s charms with a little brass starfish swinging gaily in front.

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The necklace features Cory’s mystery component—a small polymer clay link decorated with a sea urchin-like texture—as a secondary element on one side. The beads are mostly Czech glass, with a single faux sea glass teardrop opposite the textured link, as well as some of Michelle’s ceramic beads from the kit. I had a pretty blue silk ribbon to use as a closure.

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I used much the same combination of beads in the bracelet.

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And here’s a picture of the whole set together. I love the muted palette, perfect for a wintery seaside visit (hey, well, I do live in Australia and winter has arrived this week).

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If you’d like to see some of the other designs, you can see them here in the Firefly Design Studio Designer Challenge Group on Facebook. I believe that while the voting period is open, the page is public, and you can vote by Liking photos, so like/love/wow away! To go straight to my designs, click here. And thank you for your appreciation!

We’re All Ears May challenge: Tea Party Earrings

It’s an awfully long time since I managed to do a post for the Earrings Everyday We’re All Ears challenge. I always start the month with the best of intentions, but the reveal date is the day before my monthly craft market (and I am one of the organisers), so I’m usually too busy getting ready for that to think about anything else.

But this month, I had the perfect beads in my stash, so I couldn’t really not do it, could I?! The theme this month was tea parties, and Erin put up the most delightful pictures of vintage tea pots and cups with dainty floral patterns.

A little while ago I bought a few pairs of beads and charms from Natalie McKenna, aka Grubbi Ceramics, decorated with fragments of vintage floral decals. I’m not sure how she does it, but these beads have almost an aged patina to them, as if they’ve been dug up as fragments in a forgotten back garden. I love them!

The first pair of earrings feature Grubbi charms with a vibrant English cut Czech glass bead in rosy pink, to match the decals.

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And the second pair of earrings, which I think might make their way into my jewellery box, pair a prettily decorated ceramic round with a rosy Czech glass rondelle. Sweet, don’t you think?

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Thank you for the inspiration Erin and Earrings Everyday, it was just what I needed!

Visit the Earrings Everyday blog for a daily dose of inspiration!

Gentle Spring Blog Hop

Gentle Spring

It’s time for the reveal for Lisa Lodge’s Gentle Spring Blog Hop. As with all her hops, Lisa sent out a kit for this hop containing a variety of beads in soft pinks and purples, plus a few supporting elements. Here is the kit I received—it’s got so many beads!

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I ended up making several pieces. For the first, I used a ceramic owl focal by Gaea and combined with some of the larger faceted dark purple beads plus the light purple faux sea glass nuggets (I added an extra strand of these from my stash), and knotted it all on some magenta waxed linen. It’s a short necklace, slightly longer than a choker—the owl nestles at the base of the throat.

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The second necklace features a pretty focal Art Tile from JLynn Jewels, dangling from a Fallen Angel Brass twisted ring, with a Czech glass teardrop dangle. I wire-wrapped some more of the dark purple beads, along with some small flat sea glass squares and added some Vintaj Arte Metal chain.

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Some smaller JLynn Jewels Art Tiles in the same paisley pattern make a pretty pair of matching earrings (although these ones don’t feature any beads from the kit).

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Finally, I made another pair of earrings, again with JLynn Jewels tiles and a couple of the tiny pink rondelles from the kit.

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I have heaps of beads left over, plus the clasp and the silver birds, which will no doubt find their way into more pieces down the road. Thanks for a great little kit Lisa! Please think about visiting the other participants in the hop:

Hostess: Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist

Kim Dworak, Cianci Blue

Shaiha Williams, Shaiha’s Ramblings

Gloria Allen, Gloria Allen Designs

Saundra Farren, Something by Saundra

Ann Schroeder, Bead Love

Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes

Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn’s Creations

Becky Pancake, Becky Pancake Bead Designs

Chris Eisenberg, Wanderware

ABS April Challenge

It has been quite a while since I participated in the monthly Art Bead Scene challenge. But this month‘s artwork grabbed my attention as it reminded me of a bead I acquired earlier this year from Natalie Fletcher-Jones.

The artwork in question is a painting—Jacob’s Ladder—by Helen Frankenthaler, an artist influenced by the Abstract Expressionists. It’s a beautiful soft piece.

Jacob's Ladder

Natalie’s bead is the result of an experiment in which it was wrapped in copper wire prior to firing in the kiln. At the high kiln temps required for glazing, the copper wire melted leaving a dark trail around the bead, that contrasts with the red and green glazes. Although the colours are deeper than in the painting, to me they have the same feel.

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Colourful dyed impression jasper rounds are almost a perfect match for the bead, and I’ve borrowed a technique I saw someone else use recently to knot little groups of beads along the waxed linen. The palette of colours I’ve used is definitely more autumnal than in the inspiration painting but that works for me as it is almost winter down here in Australia.

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If you’re interested in seeing what others were inspired to make by Jacob’s Ladder, then head to the Art Bead Scene linkup.

Inspired by Reading Book Club: A Girl of the Limberlost

This month’s book for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was the delightful novel A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter, an American naturalist and novelist who lived by the Limberlost Swamp in Indiana.

The story is about a girl who lives by the Limberlost Swamp. Elnora is determined to go to high school in the nearby town, despite her mother’s resistance, and pays her way through school by catching and hatching moths for collectors. The book mentions a variety of moth species, in particular the beautiful and coveted Luna and Yellow Imperial moths. I was fascinated by the descriptions of the moths emerging from their cocoons and fluttering their wings to dry them out and extend them for flight.

I really enjoyed the book, in fact I couldn’t put it down (luckily I was on holidays and had time to read). Elnora was a feisty heroine, who reminded me a lot of Beth from Little Women and Anne from Anne of Green Gables—independent and smart. And the author’s love of the Limberlost Swamp and its surrounds was evident throughout the book, which is rich in images and details of the swamp and its wildlife, especially the moths.

After reading the book, I knew that what I made would have to feature a moth or butterfly of some kind. Luckily I had the perfect specimen to hand—a delightful enameled moth (well maybe it’s a butterfly but I’m calling it a moth) by Anne Gardanne, which I picked up at BeadFest last year. Although I’m not sure it resembles any of the Limberlost moths, it is a sweet little focal in turquoise with mauve undertones.

It seemed appropriate to put cocoons alongside the moth. I used Heather Power‘s method for making wrapped wire and silk beads (as outlined in her recent book Beautiful Elements) and a piece of frayed mauve and blue sari silk to make two cocoons. A few flowers and a dragonfly clasp—because all swamps have dragonflies!—and it was done.

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Thanks Andrew and the rest of the Inspired by Reading book club! I’m looking forward to the next book on the list. And you can see some of the pieces made by others in the book club’s Facebook group.

Ceramic Blog Hop

Ceramic Blog Hop

It’s been a while since I did one of Lisa Lodge’s blog hops, but recently I signed up to be a part of her Ceramic Blog Hop. Lisa put together a pretty ceramic focal bead by Gaea with a selection of purple impression jasper and some silver-toned elements including charms, spacers, chain and a clasp to make a fun little kit for me.

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While the jasper coordinated with the focal quite well, it was too dark to use without something in a contrasting colour. I dug around in my bead boxes until I found some pretty matte green glass ovals that were big enough to work with the other beads. With a few spacers and the tree of life charms used as connectors to the chain and clasp I had myself a pretty little necklace. The owl charms made a sweet little pair of earrings, with a single pale green rondelle and earring wires featuring a little Bali-style flower that kind of reminds me of the silver spacers in the kit.

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Thank you Lisa for the opportunity to be part of this blog hop (and apologies for being a day late, I’ve been travelling). The other participants include:

Your hostess: Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist

Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn’s Creations

Kim Dworak, Cianci Blue

Shaiha Williams, Shaiha’s Ramblings

Veralynne Malone, Designed by Vera

Kari Asbury, Hippie Chick Design

Chris Eisenberg, Wanderware

Gloria Allen, Gloria Allen Designs

Saundra Farren, Something by Saundra

Ann Schroeder, Bead Love

Christine Stonefield, Sweet Girl Design

Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes <– YOU ARE HERE

 

Inspired by Reading: The Swan Thieves

This month in the Inspired by Reading Book Club and challenge our book was The Swan Thives: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova. It was a big book but surprisingly readable for all that, with a dash of intrigue, a psychological element and a good dose of art history. In any case I enjoyed it! 

The premise of the story is a psychiatrist trying to understand his patient — renowned painter Rob Oliver — who has attacked a painting purported to be by a particular artist of the French impressionist school. Oliver’s story is told largely to Dr Marlow by his wife and his ex-lover, and gradually uncovers an obsession with a young French  woman, an impressionist painter torn between her respectable marriage and her passion for art. Ultimately the mystery is solved by the psychiatrist. 

Although I sometimes found the jumping between the characters confusing, I thought that the author painted a good picture of  Oliver and the obsession that overtakes his art. And I loved the author’s vivid imagery, which suited a book about painters. 

There were two elements of the book that I wanted to explore with my Jewellery but unfortunately I only had time this month for one. The angle I didn’t have time to take was to look at some of the impressionist paintings mentioned in the book, including those by Alfred Sisley, who painted a number of streetscapes in the towns of Louveciennes and Moret-sur-Loing, both mentioned in the course of the story. I even picked out a set of boro lampwork beads in the colours of a winter streetscape that I wanted to use, but I realized I need to figure out the best way to highlight the beautiful beads. 

But the other scene that grabbed my attention was from early in the book, when the psychiatrist Andrew Marlow was visiting the scene of his patient’s crime at the National Gallery of Art. He meets a young woman (who unbeknownst to him will become crucial to the story) and it is his description of the Jewellery she wore that got my attention:

… on her collarbone she wore a necklace if knotted leather strung with long ceramic beads that looked as if they could have had prayer parchments rolled up inside them. (Chapter 6, The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova)

I came across a polymer clay bead made by local artisan Jenny Church (she doesn’t have a website but she sells through the Facebook group Australian Art Beads), that was long and covered in mysterious writing. I asked Jenny if she would make me some matching beads, and knotted them all together on leather with some Greek ceramic beads with a grey and gold look. I used more of the Greek ceramics to make a button and loop closure to the necklace. 

  
I was quite pleased with the chunky look of the piece, it’s not often that I use big beads in my jewellery designs. 

For more about the challenge, and to see what others have been inspired to make by the book, visit the Inspired by Reading Facebook page