Bead Soup Swap & Create 2021

After a long hiatus, Lori Anderson has brought back her iconic Bead Soup Swap Party, now called the Bead Soup Swap and Create. In this event, jewellery makers are paired up and send each other a bead soup which must contain at least a pendant, a clasp and a mixture of accent beads – the bead soup!

Signups were in January, and I was paired with Israeli beader Yocheved Chana. Sadly my beads have not yet made their way to Yocheved, although I am told by the post office that they are close!

Yocheved does steampunk-style jewellery and she sent me a mixed bag of beads and bits, literally!!! Random brass elements, some stones and evil eye beads, and all sorts of other bits and pieces.

A literal bead soup! So many different things in here — brass components including some steampunk bits and bobs, sew-on Swarovski crystals, evil eye beads, a few gemstones, glass beads, plastic beads, and more!

I was immediately drawn to the brass elephant head with its lovely patina as a potential pendant. I punched a couple of holes in the top to give it some stability when strung and added in a couple of the green stones and some long corrugated brass beads from the bead soup. From my stash I added some recycled glass Krobo beads from Kenya (given to me many years ago by a family friend) and some brass elements I had picked up somewhere along the way, as well as a little bit of chain. I couldn’t find a clasp in the soup I was sent so I made it long enough to pop over the head.

Another piece in the soup that caught my eye was a lovely faceted chunk, which I am calling citrine. I added a Green Girl Studios pewter wolf pendant and strung them on a simple leather thing with a knotted cord clasp.

Thanks to the pandemic my studio space has been taken over by my husband who is working from home, and my ability to get in there and make is severely limited, so these two pieces are it for now. Thanks for the inspiration Yocheved, and I really really hope your soup arrives soon (I will update her links once I have them)! And many thanks Lori for organising the swap and getting me inspired enough to make something for the first time in over a year!

Other participants (more than 50!) in the Bead Soup Swap and Create have posted their creations in blogs, on Facebook and Instagram and even on Pinterest. You can visit them all here:

Anastasia Urbanski

Andrea Garvens

Ann Snyder Rishell

Bee Kuhlman

Becky Pancake

Birgit Klughardt

Bobbie Rafferty

Bridget Torres

Candida Castleberry

Christina Hickman

Divya N

Donna Hoblit

Dorit Woldenga

Elaine Robitaille

Elisabeth Auld

Ginger Bishop

Heather Canepa

Hope Smitherman

Inge von Roos

Jackie Locantore

Jayne Capps

Jenny Kyrlach

Jennifer Reeb

Jill Bradley

Joan Williams

Jodie Marshall

Joyce Becker

Kate Dufour

Kathleen Breeding

Kathy Lindemer

Katie Nielson-Nunez

Katrina Baslow

Kelly Hosford Patterson

Kim Hutchinson

Lisa Baxa

Lisa Long

Lorelei Eurto

Lucy Clasen

Marianna Wehner

Melissa Trudinger

Monica Dockery

Natalie Ettinger

Natalie Moton

Pamela Traub

Raquel Rosario

Robin Reed

Rochelle Brisson

Sarah Beardslee

Shaiha Williams

Susan Kelly

Terri Gauthier

Terry Jeanette Carter

Valerie Norton

Blog Hops and Challenges, Swaps and exchanges

Soup, soup, beautiful bead soup!

The Bead Soup Blog Party has begun, with the exchange of bead soups! Denise got hers early last week while mine showed up at the end of the week. And I have to say, I think we were both quite chuffed with what we got.

Denise sent me a lovely selection of beads, inspired by my name, Melissa, which means honey or honey bee in Greek. The beads span a  palette of delicate oranges and yellows as well as earthy tones, plus a set of turquoise blue turtles for contrast. The beads include carnelian, coral, dyed agates and jasper, to set off two gorgeous stone focals, one a larged striped agate and the other a mustard-coloured agate, She threw in some of her favourite one- and two-holed beads and another small beadwoven focal that I think she made.


The colours remind me of the Australian desert landscapes, which may lead me to some inspiration!

As to the beads I sent Denise, well, they had an Australian flavour of sorts. I picked beads by some of my favourite Australian beadmakers, including a big beautiful ceramic focal by Natali Fletcher-Jones, that I have been hoarding for a while, plus some earring charms by Melissa Gabelle, another local clay artist whose work I tend to squirrel away. These two ceramic artists are among my very favourites, and both of them keep tempting me with more and more lovely beads, which they sell through various groups on Facebook including Australian Art Beads, Handmade Alchemy and Handmade Beads and Findings, among others.


I added several lengths of sari silk in colours that and a selection of Czech beads in different sizes and shapes in coordinating hues. Finally, there is also a brass dragonfly clasp that is similar to one I received in my very first bead soup! I hope you really enjoy playing with this soup Denise, I had fun putting it together for you!

Ok, so now we both have until 25 March to create with our bead soups. I’d better get cracking!

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Swaps and exchanges


Perlensuppe is German for bead soup. And my bead soup has arrived! Yesterday I picked it up from the post office, a heavy little package from Germany! Of course I ripped it open as soon as I got home. And it was packed full of inspiration from my bead soup partner Sandra Wollberg.

First of all there are some beads, lots of them! Indian glass beads, Czech glass leaves and flowers, a strand of mixed critters ranging from butterflies to frogs and even scarab beetles, a strand of dragonfly-embossed coin-shaped beads, cultured pearls, delicately painted Chinese shell beads, peanut seed beads. The beads are richly coloured in both earthy and more vibrant shades.


Then there are the special components. First of all some polymer clay leaf headpins made by Sandra herself. Then a big Czech glass button, again with the dragonfly.


And three ceramic components from Blu Mudd—an owl pendant, a bracelet bar and a toggle clasp.


Finally some sari silk in a lovely rust colour. And a few sheets of mica, to stretch my creativity to the limits!


There’s definitely a theme to the soup—a kind of woodsy, late summer, early autumn theme. The ideas are spinning around, I think I can make some beauties! Thanks again Sandra, I hope you like your soup just as much! Fingers crossed it arrives really soon!

Oh, Sandra also sent me a little gift, a pair of vintage cuckoo clock earrings! I can just imagine these in a little gift shop somewhere, waiting for the right person to come along and buy them. Aren’t they sweet?


I’ll be posting about the soup I sent Sandra once she has received it. Reveal date for the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party is not too far away now … 3 May!


Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Swaps and exchanges

Introducing my BSBP swap partner

It’s Bead Soup Blog Party time again! This year marks the 8th BSBP, and there are almost 500 blogging beaders and jewellery designers from all over the world taking part. Lori Anderson has once again put in a tremendous amount of work to carefully pair us all up, no easy task! She visits each and every blog along the way, and the pairing process alone takes several weeks (and a lot of help from her family, thanks guys!).

The idea is simple. We are paired up with another jewellery designer, and we send each other a bead soup, containing at least one focal bead or pendant, a special clasp and some coordinating beads to make the soup sing!

So without further ado, let me introduce you to my swap partner for the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party. This year I am paired with Sandra Wollberg, who lives in Wiesbaden, in Germany. And I’m thrilled!

Sandra is someone I have crossed paths with many times on the Bead Soup Café Facebook group, and in various blog hops, but we’ve never really been formally introduced before now. We both tend toward an eclectic boho style: she works with more filigree and stampings than I do, but we both share a love for Czech beads, and like me, she tries out different techniques and styles as the mood takes her. This is what she made last year for BSBP7, from a soup put together by Finnish beader Merja Sundström:

Sandra collage BSBP7
Photos by Sandra Wollberg

So, I needed to come up with a soup that might offer a bit of a challenge, one way or another. Sandra tells me that she mostly works with earthy colours, greens and teals. OK, cross them off the list, along with the brass stampings. In the end, I sent her a few choices, a couple of different palettes to play with. I hope she has a lot of fun with her soup!

Here’s a teaser — I’ve pixelated this with Lego Photo (a fun app I have on my iPhone) and randomly chosen the colours too!


The package is in the mail, hope the trip across the world goes quickly!


I’ll blog about the soups we’ve sent each other once we have both received them. The big reveal is a couple of months away yet—May 3rd is the date. Can’t wait!

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Sand and Sea Blog Hop

My Bead Table II widgit

I’m taking part in Lisa Lodge’s My Bead Table II Sand and Sea Blog Hop. Lisa is a jewellery designer and occasional purveyor of bead mixes, and every now and then she throws out a challenge sending out interesting bead kits to inspire us all.

In this challenge, Lisa made two bead mixes, a Sand kit comprising beads and components in tans, creams, orange and brown tones, and a Sea kit of blues, greens, and purple tones. I received a Sand kit, with an interesting Greek ceramic focal bead, a handful of larger glass and stone beads, and a bead soup of tiny freshwater pearls, some larger glass pearls in champagne tones, green Czech glass rondelles, and a variety of tiny Czech glass and seed beads, along with a few gold toned beads, beadcaps and jumprings.

Sand and Sea bead soup

I had ideas to make a number of pieces from this soup, but in the end I only made one in time for the hop. There is a design in mind for the Greek ceramic focal, but I didn’t have the right coloured waxed linen cord and I didn’t have beads that I liked next to it. And I will use the two smaller oval beads and the larger oval pendant when the right beads come along as well.

So, with the bead soup, I made a necklace inspired by the colours of a very special place. I grew up in Western Australia, and my husband’s family still lives there. Every couple of years we head over in early autumn to holiday on Rottnest Island, which lies about 20km off the coast of WA’s capital city Perth. It’s a fantastic place to unwind, as there is really not much you can do other than go to the beach, and if you feel energetic enough, go for a bike ride. Needless to say, the beaches are spectacular, with white sand, rocky outcrags, dull green vegetation on the dunes and water in colours ranging from a pale greeny-blue at the edge to a deep azure blue further out.

Little Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island (photographed by Matthew Dry)
Little Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island (photographed by Matthew Dry)

This necklace is strung on a greeny-blue ribbon to represent the junction between the water and the sea. A couple of nugget-shaped orange and green beads from my stash cap the ends of three braided strands of bead soup. Unusually for me, I used the gold-toned beads from the soup—I’m not usually one for gold-toned jewellery, but it worked well with this colour palette.

Sand and sea necklace collage DS

Please visit the other bloggers taking part in this blog hop!

Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist — Our hostess!

Eleanor Burian-Mohr, The Charmed Life
Mary Govaars, MLH Jewelry Designs
Tanya Goodwin, A Work in Progress
Kathy Lindemer, Bay Moon Design
Toltec Jewels, Jewel School Friends

Sharyl McMillian-Nelson, Sharyl’s Jewelry
Marla Gibson, Spice Box Designs
Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes — YOU ARE HERE!!!
Dot Lewallen, Speedie Beadie
Ema Kilroy, Ema K Designs

Kim Booth, The Pink Martini Boutique
Jami Shipp, Celebrating Life
Leah Tees, My Beady Littleeyes
Christie Murrow,
Monique Urquhart, A Half Baked Notion

Gloria Allen,   Gloria Allen Designs
Cindy Anderson Wilson,  It’s My Sea of Dreams
Suzi Campbell, Suzi Campbell Creations
Shaiha Williams,   Shaiha’s Ramblings
Annette Rivers, MamaOwl’s Mess