It’s BSBP season again!

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One of the key reasons I set up this blog was so that I could take part in blog hops and challenges, and the one that I most wanted to do when I started was Lori Anderson‘s Bead Soup Blog Party aka the BSBP! I took part in three BSBPs (here, here and here) before Lori had to stop organising them due to ill-health.

But happy days are here again! Lori is feeling much better than she was a couple of years ago and has set up the 9th BSBP — this time with a fun twist! Not only are we sending our partner beads, but we have been asked to send hoarded beads, beads that we’ve been holding on to for one reason or another. Beads that have special meaning and personal value to us. It’s a lovely idea, and also a difficult task, it can be hard to give up our precious, special beads!

This year my partner is Denise Milward, a beader living in Nottinghamshire in the UK. Denise took part in the last BSBP too (here is the first of several blog posts she did with her designs).

So what have I sent Denise from my hoard stash? Well, I can’t show you more than this:

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But I can tell you it has somewhat of an Aussie theme to it. I’ve picked out some of my favourite Australian-made pretties to send to Denise, along with a few other bits and bobs from here and there. I really hope she enjoys what I have sent to her, and is inspired! And I can’t wait to see what she makes!

I’ll post again about the BSBP when I get my beads in the mail from Denise, I’m looking forward to that too! And the big reveal is March 25, only a month or so away. Hopefully I’ll have a good couple of weeks to play!

We’re All Ears: Pretty Patchwork Earrings

This month’s inspiration for the Earrings Everyday challenge is patchwork. And while Erin suggested that we use colour and pattern as our inspiration, I went in a slightly different and more literal direction.

You see, I have these tiny little embroidery hoops I have been dying to try out in earrings. They’re just 1 inch in diameter, and super cute. In the past I have used larger (but still petite) embroidery hoops as pendants, with pretty fabrics on display. But this time, I thought I would try a tiny patchwork pattern inside the hoop — a four-patch block — using fabric with a small print on it (the fabric came with a Molly Makes magazine I picked up last year).

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It was trickier than I thought to get the seams lined up, and I need to work on my “fussy cutting” so that each patch shows off enough of the pattern to balance it all out. But I think they turned out pretty well for a first attempt. And they are super light weight, despite their size (as earrings go they are quite big!)

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I’m planning to try something new with these hoops too — tiny paper pieced blocks like these (there are even more on Etsy from this designer). Perhaps not quite as small as these earring hoops, but in pendants. I need to go out and get more fabric!

To see what other designers have come up with for this month’s challenge, visit the Earrings Everyday blog here and look for the linky.

Thanks Miss Erin, for pushing me to try something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

Inspired by Reading: A Place of My Own

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The January book for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was Michael Pollan’s book A Place of My Own: The Architechure of Daydreams. It’s not a new book, it was first published in 1997 or thereabouts, and it deals with the design and construction of a small building — a place for the author to write. In typical Pollan style, though, it’s about much more than that, it’s about architecture, it’s about the conflict between the architect, who puts dreams onto paper and the builder who has to turn them into reality, and a lot more.

From the back of the book:

Inspired in equal parts by Thoreau and Mr Blandings, A Place of My Own not only explores the history and meaning of all human building, it also demonstrates architecture’s unique power to give our bodies, minds, and dreams a home in the world.

It’s a pretty wordy book, and gets a bit long-winded at times, but on the whole I enjoyed it and it certainly made me think! Perhaps that’s because my husband and I are starting to talk a little more seriously about renovating our home, or at least think about getting the process started with dreams and plans!

So I thought I would take a slightly different approach this month, and talk about the plans I have to create a small studio space of my own. Our home is a (typical for the area) single storey, 4 bedroom house built almost 100 years ago originally, with a dated extension that’s probably 25 years old. But one of the attractions for us when we bought it was the existence of a detached bungalow (as we call them here in Australia) aka studio. It’s a two-room plus tiny bathroom space that is mostly used as a guest bedroom and spillover storage for everything that doesn’t fit in the house. Most of my books are in there (I have a lot much to my husband’s dismay), and the cupboards are full of random art and sewing supplies, extra kitchen stuff and more.

Anyway, with a recent reorganisation of various rooms and associated furniture within our house, I have decided to move all of my jewellery making supplies out there and turn part of it into a studio for myself. It will still have to double as a guest bedroom on a regular basis (don’t worry Gran and Papa, I’ll leave plenty of room for you!), so I can’t take over the whole space, and I can see myself bringing projects back inside to work on too, especially in the evenings.

Keeping in mind that it is a work in progress, I thought I would give you some before pictures, and I’ll come back in a few weeks to show you how it’s shaping up as a space to work.

Late last year I bought a fantastic old jeweller’s bench from a retired goldsmith. It was covered in layers of utilitarian grey paint, well hammered board as a working surface, and many other layers of grime, but it was a solid piece of furniture and at a pretty good price too! I immediately set to work sanding back the top and getting it ready to use. And then I ran out of steam and it’s been sitting there for a couple of months with things piling up on top of it. I’m hoping this weekend I might get back to it.

Here’s the before picture:

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My plan is to use the bench for metalwork — hammering, soldering, stamping, and so on. I am also planning to set up space for torch-fired enamelling, but because this workbench will be against a wall, I think I need to set up on a smaller table I can pull out into the middle of the room so that the flame is not directed straight at the wall.

My beads are in a complete mess, so my next job will be to sort them out. Most of my art beads and a fair few of the Czech glass beads I use most often are in this Ikea chest of drawers. It’s sitting in my hallway right now.

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I’ve moved most of the other boxes of supplies into the bungalow but I haven’t had a chance to sort it out yet, and I’ve got a bit of work to do to make the space my own. Fingers crossed I can get in there soon.

But wait. I couldn’t let this book go by without making something inspired by it. So I pulled out a tiny pair of house charms made by Lesley Watt and turned them into a sweet little pair of earrings.

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It’s on to the next book now, thanks again for another interesting read Andrew and William!