Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Books

Inspired by Reading Book Club: The Fault in Our Stars.

This month’s book for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was John Green’s YA novel The Fault in Our Stars. It’s a book I had been meaning to read for a while, so it was lovely to have an excuse to do so!

I really enjoyed the book. It’s sad of course, given that the two main characters meet at a cancer group for teens, but I really liked Hazel and Augustus, and thought them very believable teens. I need to find time to watch the movie I think!

Now, I have to confess that the pieces I’m going to show you now are not all inspired directly by the books, but they fit the inspiration perfectly. I was quite taken with the Encouragements—illustrated sayings that decorated the house of Augustus and his family. I could just picture them as I read, cross-stitched maybe or perhaps with Mary Engelbreit illustrations.

Late last year I started to make what I call Inspiration Bracelets. I use stamped metal bars from the scrapbooking/papercrafts designer Tim Holtz which have inspirational sayings on them, and I stitch them with waxed linen to leather bracelets. They’ve been pretty popular at my markets and in the couple of shops which sell my jewellery. I think they fit the idea of Encouragements perfectly!

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But I also wanted to make something using a specific encouragement from the book—Home is where the heart is. Such a great saying, it’s so true, and yet so twee! I have lots of house beads and pendants in my stash, and with a bit of digging I unearthed a beauty, a colourful little polymer clay house (maker unknown) with a heart in the window! I also discovered I really need to work on my stamping skills, as I am not too happy with the little brass disc, on which I have stamped the saying. I will probably remake it in the coming days.

homeheart

Thanks again to Andrew and William for choosing such a great selection of books. I’m looking forward to the next few challenges!

 

 

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Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Books

Inspired by Reading Book Club: A Girl of the Limberlost

This month’s book for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was the delightful novel A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter, an American naturalist and novelist who lived by the Limberlost Swamp in Indiana.

The story is about a girl who lives by the Limberlost Swamp. Elnora is determined to go to high school in the nearby town, despite her mother’s resistance, and pays her way through school by catching and hatching moths for collectors. The book mentions a variety of moth species, in particular the beautiful and coveted Luna and Yellow Imperial moths. I was fascinated by the descriptions of the moths emerging from their cocoons and fluttering their wings to dry them out and extend them for flight.

I really enjoyed the book, in fact I couldn’t put it down (luckily I was on holidays and had time to read). Elnora was a feisty heroine, who reminded me a lot of Beth from Little Women and Anne from Anne of Green Gables—independent and smart. And the author’s love of the Limberlost Swamp and its surrounds was evident throughout the book, which is rich in images and details of the swamp and its wildlife, especially the moths.

After reading the book, I knew that what I made would have to feature a moth or butterfly of some kind. Luckily I had the perfect specimen to hand—a delightful enameled moth (well maybe it’s a butterfly but I’m calling it a moth) by Anne Gardanne, which I picked up at BeadFest last year. Although I’m not sure it resembles any of the Limberlost moths, it is a sweet little focal in turquoise with mauve undertones.

It seemed appropriate to put cocoons alongside the moth. I used Heather Power‘s method for making wrapped wire and silk beads (as outlined in her recent book Beautiful Elements) and a piece of frayed mauve and blue sari silk to make two cocoons. A few flowers and a dragonfly clasp—because all swamps have dragonflies!—and it was done.

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Thanks Andrew and the rest of the Inspired by Reading book club! I’m looking forward to the next book on the list. And you can see some of the pieces made by others in the book club’s Facebook group.

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.

patina hearts

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!