Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Outlandish Creations: Epic Inspiration Reveal and Blog Hop

Epic Inspiration Blog Hop badge

What’s your favourite epic TV show? There are so many of them these days, from Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and Black Sails; space operas like Battlestar Galactica and Dr Who; and other big budget dramas like Sons of Anarchy and Mad Men. I thought it would be fun to use these lavishly produced shows as a jumping off point for jewellery design, so I asked a few of my blogging friends to join me in a challenge and blog hop I called the Epic Inspiration Blog Hop.

My absolute favourite show, hands down, at the moment is Outlander. You could say I’m a little obsessed with it. For those who haven’t had the chance to see it yet, it’s a romantic, action, adventure series set largely in 18th Century Scotland, right before the Scots rise under the banner of Bonnie Prince Charlie in their final futile attempt to seize control of the British throne. It’s based on a series of novels by Diana Gabaldon, which are being made into a series by Ron D Moore (whose credits include Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, as well as Battlestar Galactica). The summary from Starz says:

Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

The story is not just a romance, although the developing relationship between Claire and Jamie plays a big part. There are political machinations, accusations of witchcraft, and the looming threat of Black Jack Randall, an English soldier who is the ancestor of Claire’s 20th century husband Frank. The end of season one is truly not for the faint-hearted, and I’m going to be waiting with baited breath for season two to air.

There is a lot to inspire in Outlander. The sweeping vistas of the Scottish Highlands for one. The divine costumes for another. And of course the story itself. I created three pieces inspired by the show, each drawing from different aspects.

My first piece is inspired by the Scottish landscape. One of the key locations in both the book and the TV show is Jamie Fraser’s home Lallybroch. In real life, the derelict Midhope Castle near Edinburgh was used for Lallybroch exteriors.

UK bead artist Natalie McKenna has a series of ceramic pendants inspired by Scottish landscapes. When I saw this one, I immediately thought of Lallybroch. In this piece I’ve tried to invoke the gorgeous vistas of the Scottish Highlands, the blues and greys of the sky, the browns and greens of the landscape. I’ve kept it simple, choosing beads that complement the focal, rather than compete with it, including some more beads by Natalie.

Lallybroch necklace

My second piece was inspired by the incredible wedding dress created by Outlander costume designer Terry Dresbach. Silvery linen is pleated and tucked into a full, lush shape, and flakes of mica give the underskirts a wonderful shimmer as they catch the light. The final flourish is a scattering of acorns and oak leaves embroidered with metal thread across the skirt and bodice:

Image courtesy of Starz
Image courtesy of Starz

If you’re interested, Terry Dresbach has posted close-ups of the dress details on her blog here.

I’ve used the embroidered oak leaves and acorns as inspiration for this necklace. The silver-plated stampings I’ve used look a lot like the embroidered leaves. Through the chain of the necklace, I have woven some grey-green sari silk.

Acorns and Oakleaves

My final Outlander piece was inspired by a line uttered by Jamie Fraser to his wife Claire. “You are my home now,” he tells her in a moment guaranteed to send hearts aflutter! When I came across a word bead by Swoondimples that says almost exactly that, I had to have it. A house to dangle from it from BoHulley Beads. Red hearts for Jamie and Claire’s love, and some blue flowers to represent the Forget-me-knots that Claire picked right before she fell through the stones and into the past. The clasp is a dragonfly, a nod to book two in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber (currently in production for season two).

You are my home

So that’s Outlander. But wait, there’s more. A few weeks ago, when I did Heather Powers’ Game of Thrones challenge, I promised that I had another piece in the works, just waiting for some beads to arrive. This is a necklace inspired by another wedding dress, in this case Margaery Tyrell’s dress for the wedding to Joffrey Lannister. The Tyrell symbol is the rose, and her dress had an intricate train decorated with fabric roses, and beautiful embroidery of thorny vines and flowers across the bodice.

Image from HBO: Making Game of Thrones
Image from HBO: Making Game of Thrones

Leah Curtis from Beady-Eyed Bunny makes polymer clay roses in just the right shape. I wanted to evoke the cascade of roses on the train, and I included some red roses too, just for fun. Silvery thorns peek out between the blooms and red droplets remind one of the hidden dangers of the rose. Quite fitting perhaps as Margaery’s new husband died at the wedding, although not necessarily by her hand.

Margaery's necklace

So that’s it from me, thank you for reading this far and if you haven’t seen (or read) Outlander, give it a go! I’m looking forward to seeing what other designers have been inspired by their favourite shows to make. Here’s a list of the participants, thank you all for playing along!

Melissa Trudinger    (Hostess)

Karen Mitchell         

Andrea Glick            

Karen Martinez       

Lennis Carrier          

Lindsay Starr            

Mona Arnott            

Lee Koopman          

Shaiha Williams       

Veralynne Malone  

Elisabeth Auld          

Kelly Schermerhorn

Dini Bruinsma          

Jami Shipp                

Terri G                        

18 thoughts on “Outlandish Creations: Epic Inspiration Reveal and Blog Hop”

  1. Lovely! I really wanted to participate and had quite a few ideas lined up but as I am travelling never thought I cold hop, so dropped out but now I feel I could have participated. Hopefully there will be a next time

  2. Fantastic designs on all the necklaces.I love love the Outlander necklace the most! Brilliant!
    Btw… I thought I had signed up for this..don’t see my name on the list. Did I miss doing something?

  3. As always, I love your pieces! I have yet to watch either show, but I can clearly see the connection between the inspiration and your designs. That first necklace may be my favorite – that pendant is evocative and sweet. The oak leaves in your second piece (the whole design actually) are simply stunning, just like that dress! Thanks for hosting this blog hop Melissa.

  4. Great pieces! I really love the silver leaf necklace. Can you imagine wearing a dress like that…Thanks for hosting this challenge. Great job!

  5. Oh, Melissa, I really like all your pieces, especially the one you made for the wedding dress in Outlander. And, what a cool idea with the Heather’s “home” bead. Great bracelet. You have me hooked on Outlander now. Thanks a lot! LOL.

  6. Your designs are wonderful, especially those two wedding pieces. Wow! I am just about to start the first Outlander book. Hope I love it as much as you do.

  7. I adore the oak leaf and acorn necklace. All of your designs are unique and so pretty. Thanks so much for hosting the blog hop it’s been a lot of fun!

  8. I have to admit I have not watched either series but your descriptions and designs make them come to life. These are great pieces. My favourite is the leaf and acorn necklace. Thanks for hosting this blog hop.


  9. I really love the Scottish countryside necklace and the leaf necklace, although everything (!!!) you made is just lovely.

    My blog post is live now- I had some problems connecting (and staying connected) to the internet and blogger wasn’t playing nice, either. Sorry I was late!!!


  10. Oh these are perfect! They are all so different and so fit the series.

    I am so sorry I flaked. I had it written down for next weekend and then I messed up my back fighting with my stupid car. I am going to try to get pics and get it up Wednesday.

  11. Love ♥ love ♥ love ♥ these designs! The embroidered leaves inspired necklace is so beautiful, so very elegant… Would be stunning to wear on a black dress!

  12. I do love that first necklace with the Natalie McKenna pieces. Such a lovely job you did with the colors and textures you choose. The oak and acorn piece is a much more elegant version of the one you made me (which I love and wear.) it’s a wonder design because you could do it in different colors and change is around to be dressy or every day and it’s still very you.

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