Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Floral Fantasy: the final Designer Quest challenge

One of the beading groups I belong to online is an Aussie group called It’s been around for quite a few years and has recently taken the decision to close its forum and move to Facebook. Sadly, along with the move, Beading Forum is planning to end its twice yearly Designer Quest challenges. These challenges are a lot of fun—a kit is put together by one of the Australian online bead shops, usually with a couple of colour choices. After purchasing the kit, you have a few weeks to come up with a design using as much of the kit as you can. And there are prizes for the best designs as picked by the judges and also by Beading Forum members.

This time around, the Designer Quest kit came from Kays Artycles. I chose the blue colourway, as I particularly liked the copper elements (the alternative was pink and silver). The key focal in the kit was a large white resin floral bead that we were encouraged to play around with and “colour in”. Along with that little challenge was a strand of lampwork beads in swirly blues and coppers, a generous baggie of cube-shaped seed beads in translucent blue with an AB finish, and a variety of copper rings, cones and cornflake beads. I added a few more of the middle-sized copper rings from my own stash.


I used Vintaj patinas to paint my focal. On the back side I used Earth, and on the front, I decorated the flowers with patinas in Cobalt and Garnet with Ochre for the centres. And over the top I dabbed the Victorian Gold patina. In retrospect, I realized I had some copper Gilders Paste which might have matched the findings a bit better than the gold, but I was pretty happy with how it looked in the end. It was a bit of a challenge to incorporate into the design too, as it is a top heavy piece. I found I needed to dangle it from the main necklace, rather than, as I originally planned, string it in the middle.


I added a small dangly tassel to the focal using waxed linen and some of the cube beads and cornflakes, then wired the rings and the lampwork beads together to make a necklace. The blue ribbon is sari silk.


In the end I didn’t use the coiled cones (but I have some earrings in progress), and I didn’t use many of the tiny cube beads. I have a few of the lampwork beads left over too, that will probably find their way into earrings and bracelets. I am quite pleased with how it turned out. It was a fun kit to work with and definitely a challenge.

If you’d like to see some of the other entries, visit the BeadingForum website here.


Filigree Fancy

I recently took part in Beading Forum‘s Designer Quest #25, a challenge organised by the Australia-based online forum twice a year. This time around, the beads came from Chicky Babe’s Beads.

I forgot to take a photo of the beads but luckily they had this good picture posted on the forum. I chose to use the Copper and Jet AB pack—the other was gunmetal and tanzanite, which I liked too, but I thought I would challenge myself more with the copper shades. It contained copper filigree of various shapes and sizes, some lentil dangles in two different colours, Swarovski bicones and a rivoli, as well as a crystal octagon, some seed beads and some copper chain.

I have to admit that I ummed and aahhed over my pile of goodies until it was almost too late to submit anything. I’m not great with seed beads and rivolis and in the end I decided not to use them. I added in some rondelles in a coordinating lighter shade to contrast with the darker filigree stampings, as well as some copper findings and some fine copper chain. And I dipped the bright copper chain from the kit in Liver of Sulphur to give it a more antique look which better matched the filigree (proud moment—it was my first attempt at oxidising copper with Liver of Sulphur and I was pretty chuffed with the result).

Here’s a close up of the dangle, which is my favourite part of this necklace.

I was quite pleased with my last minute effort, although it pales in comparison to the efforts of the dedicated beadweavers on the forum.


Peacock flower bracelet

Yesterday was the final day for submitting pictures to the Beading Forum Designer Quest #24. The Designer Quest, which is run a couple of times a year by the Australia-based Beading Forum and local magazine Australian Beading, is a competition for beaders to make a piece of jewellery or wearable art using a kit provided by a sponsor, in this case Cranberry Berry-licious Beads. Participants have around eight weeks to design and make their piece and a couple of extra weeks for photographing and uploading the pics.

And today, finally, we get to see what everyone else has made. The winner will receive $80 shopping voucher from Cranberry as well as a 12 month subscription to Australian Beading. And there is another $20 voucher from Cranberry for the pieces that gets the popular vote.

Anyway, this is the first time I have entered the Designer Quest, and it was quite a challenge for me as I don’t really have much experience with seed beads—and this kit was full of them! This is the kit I received …

See all those seedies? They range from 8/0 to 15/0! And there are triangles! Eek! And yes, that’s a vintage crystal rivoli-style stone there—that means NO HOLE! EEK! There are small smooth and faceted rounds and some tiny drops as well as some bigger pillow beads and some peacock daggers. All Czech glass.

Well, after mulling it over for a while and looking through my beading books and magazines for ideas, I came up with a workable idea. I have a fantastic book by Heather Powers, the bead maker and jewellery designer behind Humblebeads, called Jewelry Designs from Nature. It’s a beatiful book, full of stunning designs featuring a huge array of beautiful handcrafted artbeads. I love to browse through it! One of her designs, the Birch Forest Bracelet, is a variation of what Heather calls a Sundry bracelet, which features a fringe of seed beads combined with other small beads or charms, between larger beads. And I thought the technique could form the basis of my design.

But then I had to decide what to do with that crystal. I dug around in my stash and pulled out a Vintaj filigree bead cap which fit nicely around the crystal. I fashioned a flower out of the daggers and a few of the drops and attached it to a Vintaj daisy connector and then popped the crystal on top. Here’s a close-up of it. I think it turned out pretty well!

Then using Heather’s sundry fringe technique, I made two side pieces with gold and purple fringing in between the big beads. I joined it all together with brass jumprings and a brass clasp and voila!

I am so pleased with this design! I used some of nearly everything except the triangle beads. I just could not figure out a way to incorporate them. And I have plans to make a pair of earrings with the two large beads I have left, perhaps with a bit of fringing hanging from the bottom. But unfortunately, I have had a revolting month (don’t ask!), so it hasn’t happened yet. And maybe I’ll work out something to do with the triangle beads—suggestions most welcome!

As for the other designs, well, I’ll be going to have a look at them tomorrow. Unfortunately, the Beading Forum is membership based, with limited access to the forums for non-members, and this is one of the members-only things.

But I’ve got another challenge and blog hop coming up in a couple of weeks, so come back on the 31st May to see what I come up with for Erin Prais-Hintz’s Challenge of Literature.

Challenge of Literature 2012

Works in progress

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, and life’s popped up a few surprises to keep me on my toes.

It means I haven’t had as much time to make jewellery as I’d like. And I seem to have several pieces going at once!

This one is the remaking of a turquoise necklace for my mum. She bought these enormous turquoise beads last year in Spain and wants them restrung with coral coloured beads in between each one. They are HUGE! I’m not sure they are actually real turquoise, given the price she paid for them, more likely they dyed howlite, whcih has that characteristic veined appearance of turquoise. And the “coral” nuggets are also dyed howlite. Anyway, this is where I am with it, just need to make it longer than choker length —I have plenty more turquoise and coral beads so that’s not going to be an issue. I’d like to use chain at the back because, to me, those big nuggets would be uncomfortable to lean back against. But I am having problems finding silver-plated or silver-filled chain in the right style. It needs to be big to match the rest of the necklace.

These beads are to make a necklace for a friend to give as a present. They are a deep amethyst-hued Czech crystal with a lovely lustre finish. I plan to combine them with silver-plated chain to make a delicate necklace.

Finally, this is the focal I have made for the Beading Forum Design Quest 24 challenge. It combines Czech peacock daggers and small teardrop beads, that I have attached to a Vintaj brass filigree. And then there is a crystal rivoli popped onto the front, also wrapped in a Vintaj filigree beadcap. I’m pretty chuffed with how it’s turned out actually!

I’ll post more pics of the finished pieces when they’re done. On the schedule this week are a couple of mother’s day gifts, hopefully I’ll have time to make at least one of them!


Challenges and more

I recently decided I needed to stretch my wings a bit, give myself a challenge. Beading Forum runs a challenge twice a year—the Designer Quest—where members of the forum can purchase a set of beads for a modest price. The challenge is to make a piece of jewellery with the beads provided, and there is both a judged prize and a popular prize up for grabs.

This is the selection of beads I received for Designer Quest #24. 3 packets of seed beads in purple and a golden yellow, including some very tiny size 15/0 ones, a packet of triangle beads, Czech fire-polished faceted beads, round Czech beads, Czech teardrops, the big purple glass beads, small peacock dagger and even a faceted crystal. Yes, there are a lot of seed beads, something I don’t have a lot of experience with. And I’m certainly not going to launch myself into large scale bead-weaving or bead embroidery, not my thing. But I’ve got a couple of ideas based on a bracelet design in polymer clay art bead designer Heather Powers’ Jewelry Design from Nature that I plan to work on. I have a bit of time yet, but I think I need to get cracking soon!

Meanwhile, I received a lovely email the other day, informing me that I had won the Humblebeads & Vintaj Forest Friends Giveaway, which includes a fantastic selection of Vintaj brass and copper components and some gorgeous polymer clay beads and pendants from Humblebeads/Heather Powers. From the picture, it looks like a substantial stash of beads and bits, enough to make quite a few things! I’m really looking forward to receiving this package! Thanks so much Vintaj! And I’ll definitely post pics of what I make with my prize!

(Pic courtesy of