Buried treasure — AJE January Challenge

I have a lot of buried treasure, aka my bead stash. Thankfully, Art Jewelry Elements is encouraging me to delve deep and dig out some of those little treasures for their first blog hop of the year, whimsically called the Buried Treasure challenge.

Like most beaders, I have a pretty good stash. Like most beaders, I’m not always good at using the beautiful beads in my stash. So challenges like this are great for making me dig for inspiration.

Anyway, I thought I would make some earrings. First off the ranks uses some of my very carefully hoarded Elaine Ray ceramic beads. Elaine no longer makes beads, so these are seriously precious. Most of them I got via a friend in the US who went to one of her trunk shows for me (thank you Diana K).

I paired these lovely little charms, which are dark blue which turns lighter blue as the glaze breaks over the stamped flower, with dark blue Czech beads, knotted together with chocolate brown waxed linen.

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The second treasure I pulled from my stash was a pair of copper charms from Kristi Bowman Design with a hole through the middle of the bead. These took a bit of thought about how to attach them to earwires as the distance from the hole in the centre to the edge was too far for a jump ring. In the end I used waxed linen again to wrap a jump ring to the top of the charm. I also created a tassel of sorts with some pretty aqua silk ribbon I got at a local bead show last year.

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Thanks AJE for the push I needed to go look through my buried treasure! This is a blog hop … go visit the other beady blogs that are participating to see what they pulled from their stash!

AJE team:

Guests:
Melissa – Bead Recipes <– YOU ARE HERE
Sarajo – SJ Designs
Samantha – Wescott Jewelry
Mona – Bijoux Gem

Plum-rosemary jam

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It’s the time of the year when our damson plum tree is laden with tiny tart plums that suddenly ripen over a few hot days. Last week, or was it the week before (!), I picked around 6kg of plums to make jam. The plum-ginger-lime jam is always a favourite with my family, the kids love it on their toast, so half of the plums went into making a new batch of that one.

With the other half, though, I wanted to try something new. I came across a recipe on the blog Eat the Love for a strawberry-plum-rosemary jam which sounded intriguing, and that sent me on a Google-Pinterest hunt for more plum-rosemary jam recipes. In the end I grabbed a little of this and that, and came up with my own version, using fresh rosemary from my garden and a lemon from a friend’s lemon tree.

I was mindful that rosemary can be quite overpowering so I took it out after the initial cooking of the plums. It’s given the jam a wonderfully subtle herbal note, a hint of rosemary that complements the tart sweetness of the plums. I wonder how it would go on scones with a bit of crème fraiche instead of double cream?

Out of 6kg of plums, I now have around 20 jars of jam, in various sizes and two flavours. Half of them are for the school fete, the rest are for us. And I’ve still got a kilo of plums to play with, might be time for a batch of plum ice cream!

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Plum-Rosemary Jam
2 kg damson plums, washed, stems removed
1 large lemon, juice and zest
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
2 cups water
1.75 kg sugar

Put whole plums, lemon zest and juice, whole rosemary sprigs and water into large non-reactive pot.

Bring to boil over medium-high heat and reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the plum skins have split and the flesh is soft.

Remove from heat and mash plum mixture with a potato masher. After 10-15 minutes more, remove the rosemary and discard. Allow to cool and then remove plum stones (see notes below).

Bring plum mush back to the boil over medium-high heat. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.

Allow to boil vigorously, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, until jam “jells” (see notes below). Skim off any scum that forms and remove any plum stones that come to the surface. When it is ready, take off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes or so while the jars are set up.

Pour jam into hot sterilised jars and seal (see notes below). Recipe makes about 3-3.5 L of jam.

Notes

1. I have found the best way to remove plum stones is to use a slotted spoon to scoop up plum mixture and a smaller spoon (or clean fingers) to pull out stones. It’s a tedious job, but stones that are missed can usually be pulled out when the jam mixture is boiling—they seem to get tossed up to the surface by the rolling boil. If necessary, the stewed fruit can be refrigerated overnight until ready to perform the next step.

2. I use two methods to determine when my jam has jelled. First of all, put a couple of saucers in the freezer before starting to make the jam. Then, I regularly scoop up a bit of jam onto the wooden spoon and then slowly tip the spoon sideways to see if the droplets run together to form a “sheet” of jam. When that happens I grab a saucer from the freezer and drop a little bit of jam onto it. Back into the freezer for a couple of minutes and then push your finger into the jam—when it wrinkles up it has jelled. Better to underdo it slightly and have slightly runnier jam than overcook it.

3. I sterilise my jars and lids by washing in very hot soapy water. The jars are then placed upright on a baking paper-lined tray and popped into the oven, which has been set to 120ºC or thereabouts. I remove the jars just before I pour the jam into them, then screw the lids on tight and turn them upside down to cool down.

Here Comes the Sun: Art Jewelry Elements Rebirth of the Sun Challenge

The Art Jewelry Elements challenge this month is celebrating the rebirth of the sun during the winter solstice. Well, here in Australia, we are at the other end of the sun’s cycle and have just passed midsummer. That’s just fine with me as I love summer, well, up until it gets really stinking hot, so I’m happy to just celebrate the sun!

This time around I didn’t win one of the challenge giveaways so instead I bought one of Lesley Watt‘s sun pendants, rather a lovely one I think! I had chosen a bunch of Czech beads and laid them out in a reasonably complex order. And then I looked at the pendant again and decided simple was best. So I linked a small selection of beads together and added them to the pendant, popped some rather nice brass chain on as well, and created a little dangle for the bottom of the pendant.

Rebirth of the Sun necklace

I realised after I made it that the little pops of orangey-pink remind me of the colours in the sky at dawn, when the sun is reborn each day.

There are others joining in this AJE challenge, so if you can, go and see what they made too! Thank you Lesley and the AJE team for the challenge theme!

Guest Designers
Melissa Trudinger <– YOU ARE HERE!

AJE Team

Art Bead Scene Ornament Blog Hop

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If you’re looking for the History Hop: Paleolithic Style blog post it’s here.

It’s the time of the year for decorating Christmas trees and Art Bead Scene is holding its annual Ornament Blog Hop to showcase ornaments made with art beads. This year I was lucky enough to acquire a couple of Gaea Cannaday‘s beautiful ceramic Christmas designs to use in my ornaments, and they arrived just in time.

The first one is a cute little plaid Christmas tree. Those of you who know me know of my love (umm, obsession?!) with the Outlander books and TV series, and this ornament is actually destined to be part of a Secret Santa exchange (shhh). This tree needed a decoration for the top and I’ve knotted the two together with green and red waxed linen.

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The second ornament came with three coordinating ceramic beads, and I’ve simply knotted them all together with waxed linen in a similar style to the tree.

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This ornament has already found a spot on my rather crowded Christmas tree.

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For other participants in this blog hop, visit the Art Bead Scene post here, which features everyone’s links. Sit back with a holiday drink (as it’s summer here I think I’ll have a vodka cranberry cocktail) and see what everyone has made! Happy holidays!

History Hop: Paleolithic Style

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If you’re looking for the ABS Ornament blog hop post it’s here.

I’m a day or so late with this hop, it’s such a crazy time of year here. But, in the end I managed to get my piece done and photographed for Leah Curtis’s History Hop: Paleolithic Style.

The Paleolithic Era, the earliest and biggest part of the Stone Age, covers the period from when prehuman species first started to use stone tools until about 10,000 years ago when humans started to develop the beginnings of agriculture. Along with the development and use of tools, fire and more, Paleolithic humans started to develop art, such as rock paintings and stone carvings.

So the challenge in this hop is to create a piece inspired by Paleolithic art. I decided to use a small pendant by ceramic artist Beadfreaky, who is clearly very influenced by Paleolithic art. My pendant features a paleo-style deer against a white background. I combined it with small African bone beads and small round beads that were sold to me as “citrine chrysoprase”, which on investigation is more commonly known as lemon chrysoprase. The beads are on natural leather cord.

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Thank you Leah for another interesting blog hop, I look forward to your next History hop inspiration! And sorry for being late to the party.  Now I need to go and see what the rest of the participants have made. If you’d like to take a look, the links are below …

Leah Curtis (hostess) – Beady Eyed Bunny
Shaiha’s Ramblings
Anafiassa
Emmanuelle
Julia Hay – Pandanimal
Rachel Mallis – Mint Monarch
Beadrecipes <– YOU ARE HERE
Robin Reed – Artistry HCBD
Joanne Tinks
YeeLen Spirit Designs
Karin G. – Gingko et Coquelicot
Dini Bruinsma
Deborah Apodaca
Tapping Flamingo

Facebook Participants:
Laura Bailey Taskey
Album for Facebook participants found in Bead Soup Cafe

Channelling Lalique: Beading Back in Time Blog Hop

It’s the final challenge of the year in Lindsay Starr and Sherri Stokey’s Beading Back in Time Blog Hop series. And this time, we get to choose our favourite historical period to inspire our designs.

For this challenge I have chosen, rather than a specific time period, an artist—René Lalique—who worked across a couple of significant (and favourite) design periods, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, as my inspiration. Lalique was a glass artist known for his glass sculptures, perfume bottles, vases, jewellery, automobile hood ornaments, and more. Although he started designing as one of the pioneering artists in the Art Nouveau style, he really became well known for his Art Deco work.

Some months ago, my attention was caught by some beautiful glass beads by Lesley McIver, a lampworker in New Zealand. Lesley is pretty active on some of the Facebook auction sites and I was lucky enough to acquire both an earring pair and a larger focal bead in her rose design, which is inspired by Lalique’s work.

I browsed through images of Lalique’s designs, in particular the perfume bottles, and came across this one, which may have been Lesley’s inspiration. However, on further investigation it seems the design may be a more recent one by Lalique’s granddaughter, circa 1979, but I still think it is representative of his Art Deco style. In any case it provided me with my own inspiration, to invert the rose beads like the decorative stoppers on Lalique perfume bottles.

Lalique Samoa perfume bottle (image from Pinterest)

Lalique Samoa perfume bottle (image from Pinterest)

The earrings, which are actually quite large, feature frosted lavender roses atop enameled filigree beads by Bellissimo Jewels here in Melbourne. The enamel is another nod to Lalique who designed beautiful cloisonné as well as glass. I am not entirely happy with the choice of earwires as I’d prefer slightly less oxidised copper, but that’s what I had to hand. I will change them over when I can.

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The necklace has a gorgeous focal sized rose in blue, which fades to a pale blue toward the end of the petals. This one I’ve paired with a rather special lampwork bead by Michele Smith, a Hawaiian lampworker, which was gifted to me by a friend last year (apologies, I haven’t been able to find a link for this artist). The bead is a gorgeous encased flower with some black stringer work. I’ve kept the rest of it fairly simple, with a couple of deco-inspired vintage Czech glass beads (circa 1980s!) wire-wrapped along the length of an etched oval copper chain.

Lalique necklace

Many thanks to Lindsay and Sherri for setting up these challenges, I didn’t manage to do all of them because life gets in the way sometimes, but I did very much enjoy the two I did do. I’m looking forward to whatever they dream up in 2016!

And of course, this is a blog hop, so I’ve included the list of participants below!

Sherri Stokey <—–Co-Host
Lindsay Starr <—–Co-Host
Anastasia Kristala Urbanski
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Stephanie Haussler
Niky Sayers
Melissa Trudinger <—– You Are Here!
Kelly Rodgers
Michelle McCarthy

Wish Upon a Star: Superstition Blog Hop

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Today is Friday 13th, one of the most superstitious days on the calendar. And Tammy from Paisley Lizard has organised a blog hop to celebrate it. Tammy challenged us to create a piece inspired by a superstition.

I’ve always been intrigued by superstitions—they fascinate me. Even though I tend toward a scientific outlook on life, I find myself looking for lucky four leaf clovers and wishing on the first star I see in the sky in the evening without a second thought. So I decided to choose the latter as my inspiration.

The idea of wishing on a falling or shooting star dates back to the ancient world and wishing on the first star of the evening may be even older, according to Wikipedia. I wanted to incorporate a shooting star into my design. I’m also on a bit of a leather and metal kick at the moment—if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you might have seen some cuff bracelets I’ve been making recently (which I will blog about next week)—and this challenge was a good opportunity to play with both.

I had a leaf shaped Vintaj blank that I trimmed and filed smooth, and combined with a star shaped blank to make my shooting star. And I stamped the words “wish upon a star” onto another blank. I used Vintaj patina in Nouveau Silver to colour the blanks silver and darkened the stamped words so they were visible. The biggest challenge was getting the rivet holes the right size, as I wanted to use the Tierracast rivets to fasten the metal to the black leather cuff, and I didn’t have a punch that produced large enough holes so I had to do a lot of filing with a small circular file to enlarge the holes. Still, I got there in the end!

Wish upon a star

I’m pretty pleased with the cuff. I have a bit to learn still about stamping and riveting, but I have to say it’s good fun!

Now it’s time for you to hop along to see the rest of the participants in the Superstition blog hop. Thanks Tammy for a fun challenge!

Tammy Adams (Hostess)                                    http://www.paisleylizard.com/blog/

Renee Hong                                                            http://www.fineanddandyjewelry.blogspot.com

Betony Maiden                                                       http://beadwenches.blogspot.com/

Coral Law                                                                http://abcoraldesign.blogspot.com/

Lee Koopman                                                         http://stregajewellry.wordpress.com

Jeanette Belmont                                                   http://www.onecanvasatatime.com

Shai Williams                                                          http://www.ShaihasRamblings.com

Beth McCord                                                           http://ebbeadandmetalworks.blogspot.com/

Robin Lynne Showstack                                        http://heartsdesiresjewelryforyou.blogspot.com/

Lori Blanchard                                                        https://alainnjewelry.wordpress.com/

Deb Fortin                                                                http://www.mhotistudio.blogspot.ca

Michelle McCarthy                                                 http://www.fireflydesignstudio.blogspot.com

Maria Rosa Sharrow                                               http://willowstreetshops.blogspot.com

Kim Dworak                                                             http://cianciblue.blogspot.com/

Divya N                                                                     http://www.jewelsofsayuri.com

Karin Grosset Grange                                            http://ginkgoetcoquelicot.blogspot.fr

Mowse Doyle                                                           http://mowsemadethis.blogspot.com/

Rebecca White                                                        http://morganafeycreations.121hub.com/#sec-blog

Shawneen Fagnani                                                 http://blondespotpinkshoe.blogspot.com/

Catherine King                                                        http://Catherines-musings.blogspot.com

Brook Bock                                                              http://artisticendeavor101.blogspot.com/

Kari Asbury                                                             http://hippiechickjewelrydesign.com/blog

Nan Smith                                                                http://wirednan.blogspot.ca

Carolyn Lawson                                                      http://carolynscreationswa.blogspot.com

Linda Anderson                                                      http://fromTheBeadBoard.blogspot.com

Ann Schroeder                                                        http://www.beadlove.wordpress.com

Melissa Trudinger                                                  https://beadrecipes.wordpress.com/ <– YOU ARE HERE!

Kathy Lindemer                                                      http://bay-moon-design.blogspot.com/