Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Markets

Upcycling for jewellery display

I’m constantly working on my display options for markets and shows. Recently I have been inspired by Tammie Everly‘s upcycled suitcase display, which she blogged about in April. And then a group I belong to, Bead Swap USA, held a Facebook challenge to “think outside the box”, for us to take a plain box and decorate it. As the challenge description said:

You know those little wooden boxes available at all the big box craft stores? Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to go get one and decorate it with whatever medium or mediums you what. You can paint it, decoupage it, felt it, bead it, and mix media it up to your hearts content. You can choose whatever size box you like, with or without a clasp. 

Well, some time ago (maybe a couple of years ago), I picked up a wooden box on the side of the road, someone had put it into hard rubbish. It had a broken clasp and the inserts inside it were also broken, but I thought that I would be able to do something with it. Of course, it then sat there, and sat there, and sat there …

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When I started doing shows about 18 months ago, I started to paint it, and then went on to easier things, like trays and papier maché busts. So it sat there some more. And then this challenge came along and I thought, aha!

So I painted it inside and outside, first with a colour called Eggshell (it’s kind of a greyish off-white), and then with a lovely aqua blue called Sea Breeze, which I watered down a bit and also wiped with a sponge to get a streaky translucent effect. In retrospect, I probably should have sanded the outside of the box down, but it’s fine for the intended purpose.

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I took some foamcore board and cut it just a bit smaller than the inside of the box—two pieces, one for each side—and covered it with burlap. The pieces just pop in nicely, although I think I will get some double-sided tape and stick them in a bit more firmly. And voila!

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I’m undecided what I will display in this box, but bracelets are a good possibility. Or perhaps my collection of resin cufflinks and earrings. I will have to experiment before The Handmade Show next month. And I’ll need to rework my table to fit it in too. Currently my display looks something like this:

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Would you like to see some of the other elements of my display sometime?

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Beads, Swaps and exchanges

A torn and bleeding heart

I’ve talked about Bead Swap USA, the bead swapping group I belong to, in the past. It’s a great group and I have met some wonderful people through it. Recently we had a swap for Valentine’s Day of handmade (by us) pendants and charms. My swap partner was Lennis Carrier, from Windbent,  who has become a good friend, although we have never met in real life!

Lennis is, hmm, not a pink hearts and flowers kind of girl, so I knew I would have to be creative here, and I spent a lot of time searching Etsy and Pinterest for different ideas. I knew I had hit the jackpot when I came across the Etsy store Chocolate Rabbit, who has a fabulous selection of downloadable images with spells and potions. I decided to make Lennis a spell book using the images.

To make the covers I hammered out some copper sheet to make covers, antiqued them with Liver of Sulfur and then glued the book front and back images onto them. I then sealed them with several layers of matte finish Mod Podge. I wanted to give them a crackle finish, but couldn’t lay my hands the right kind of crackle medium, but the Mod Podge did add to the old look. I also rubbed Renaissance Wax onto the bare metal so it was protected from further tarnish. I used jumprings to put the book together. It’s a big pendant, about 3 inches by 2 inches!

Cover collage

Inside the book I used kraft paper to make pages, and glued tiny love spells to the pages.

pages collage

While I had the copper sheet out, I also cut a heart from it, hammered it to give it some texture, then cut it in half and stitched it up again using copper wire. Again, it was antiqued with LoS. A tiny blood red glass briolette hangs from the bottom, hence the name: Torn and Bleeding Heart.

torn bleeding heart

My final set of hearts for Lennis used some textured porcelain charms I made in Mum’s studio about a year ago. These had been fired but not glazed. I rubbed Gilder’s Paste in a patina blue-green shade onto the front, back and sides, wiping it back a bit so the white showed through here and there. I went over the top with some more Gilder’s Paste in a bronzey colour and then after they’d dried I sealed them with a matt spray sealer.

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I have a whole pile of unglazed porcelain charms and pendants to play with, and I want to try a few different things with them, including using the Swellegant system of metal paints and patinas. I’ll do another post when I have some results!

Beads

A gift for Lill

Last year I received a gift from an old friend of my parents. Lill, a textile artist, went to Ghana as part of an artists’ tour, and she brought me back some wonderful Krobo glass trade beads, recycled glass beads and brass. I’ll be writing more about these soon, but in the mean time, here’s a picture.

Krobo beads collage

In thanks I made Lill a necklace. It’s a very late thank you, as I dithered over what beads to use—Lill wears colourful and chunky jewellery. In the end I chose a pendant that I received in a Bead Swap-USA exchange. It’s a fabulous and unique pendant from US artist Meg Hannan, who uses fabric to create pendants in a millefiori style that she calls Fabric Jewels. Here’s a close up of the pendant. Gorgeous, huh??

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I strung it with a selection of glass beads including Czech glass and cultured sea glass in colours I pulled from the pendant.

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My parents gave it to her a couple of weeks ago when they visited her. I’m glad you love it Lill!

Beads, Swaps and exchanges

Mr Frog jumped out of his pond one day

Mr Frog jumped out of his pond one day
And found himself in the rain
Said he, “I’ll get wet and I might catch a cold”
So he jumped in his pond again.

This nursery rhyme inspired a necklace recently. Actually, this rather fabulous bead inspired the necklace.

GGS Frog bead

It’s a pewter bead by Green Girl Studios, which has a frog on each of the four faces, alternating up and down. It was sent to me as part of a Bead Swap-USA exchange by Diana Keever, along with a bead soup containing all sorts of goodies to match, including a green raku ceramic donut by Olivia Dowdy Brown. As I played with the beads, the green donut, which has a lovely swirly texture, became a pond, and the frog bead jumped out of it. Some clear and white crystal beads dangling from the frog became raindrops. And I knotted a selection of the lovely soup beads—jade, dyed agate, carnelian, malachite, jasper, Czech glass—above the donut. The clasp is a dragonfly, because dragonflies and ponds and frogs all hang out together, right?

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Did I tell you I love frogs?

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Markets, Swaps and exchanges

Bits and bobs

I’m working up to another market in mid-June, not sure what it will be like as by June it’s pretty cold and wet in Melbourne, which could drive down the numbers a bit. Still, as long as I can sell a few things, I’ll cover the costs of being there.

I recently took part in a swap through Bead Swap-USA with the talented Lennis Carrier of Windbent. Our swap was to be a finished piece (or pieces) of jewellery with a woodland theme. I think we both laughed when we opened our respective packages and found we had gone down the same woodland path. Lennis made me this necklace:

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I love the mixture of metals—copper, gunmetal, brass and that wonderful rusty iron pendant—and the eclectic mixture of glass beads (see the owl bead?). And there is a coordinating pair of earrings there too.

Here is what I sent Lennis. See what I mean about sharing inspiration?

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The pendant is from Peruzi and I chose a mixture of brown and green beads to go with it. I also made a cute sari silk and copper wrap bracelet for her. It’s long enough to wrap twice around her wrist, and works as a choker necklace too.

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In the next couple of months I have a few challenges and blog hops coming up. First up is at the end of this week, the second round of the History Hop, hosted by Leah Curtis. Then I’ve got Toltec Jewels’ Summer Elements hop in mid-June and  Lisa Lodge’s Seasons Blog Hop in early July. Mid-July will see Lori Anderson‘s Bead Hoarders blog hop, and in late August there is the Summer Colour Surprise blog hop, also hosted by Lisa Lodge. You can see buttons on the sidebar for most of these hops (a few of them haven’t had official sign-ups yet). All of that should keep me on my toes!

Beads, Swaps and exchanges

Secret Bluebird

Here is a little blue bird, swinging on a branch, perhaps singing his little heart out.

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It’s a necklace I made late last year for a gift exchange I took part in via Bead Swap-USA. I was assigned a person to be a “Secret Sister” to, sending her gifts to over a period of three months leading up to Christmas. My recipient, who lives in California, likes birds.

The glass bird comes from Bellissimo Jewels, a local lampworker, and I picked it up at the Bead Expo in November (along with a bunch of orphan beads and some fun enamelled filigree, which will no doubt surface in a design one of these days). I wrapped it onto a brass branch from Vintaj, and added a few Czech glass beads in shades ranging from a rustic earth to turquoise blue.

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I made a pair of earrings too.

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Other gifts I sent included some notecards with hand-embellished birds, a couple of books (one a SF/fantasy novel by an Australian writer and the other a book of inspiring necklace designs), some tiny hummingbird and kittycat charms and a small packet of Japanese fabric. I hope Sue enjoys them all!

I also had a secret sister of my own, who sent me presents all the way from Tennessee, including some lovely lampwork beads, a stash of beads and bobs to replenish my cheap and cheerful supplies after last year’s school craft market, and a couple of handmade pieces. She is a talented seedbeader …

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… and she also makes interesting and beautiful polymer clay pieces. This is tiny, by the way, a couple of centimetres high.

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Thanks again, Lindsay!

Beads

Double earring swap

Another swap I have done recently through BeadSwap-USA is an earring swap of two pairs of earrings. The first pair uses embossed copper rectangles from Melinda Orr, paired with a pretty Czech flower bead in yellowy-orange.

With a couple more pairs of these copper rectangles to use up, I have some fun organically-shaped freshwater pearls that might go well. What do you think?

For the second pair I used a pair of round red beads I got from a sampler pack from Dreamgirlbeads, one of my favourite Etsy shops. I think it’s coral, and it’s such a rich red colour. I paired it with some tiny sterling silver spacer beads and a dark dark blue, almost black Czech glass round.

If you come back on 16 October, I am taking part in Diana Ptaszynski’s Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap. My partner is another Aussie, Karen Mitchell, from Over the Moon Design.