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.

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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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Paisley Brights: the Firefly Design Studio Designer Challenge

Recently ceramic bead artist Michelle McCarthy established a Designer Challenge series on Facebook, taking over from Moriah Betterley, who is no longer making beads on a regular basis. Her first design challenge is now underway, and I thought I’d like to show you what I made with the challenge kit!

Michelle made two variations of the same kit, which included a pendant, a bracelet bar and plenty of coordinating beads. I chose — surprise surprise — the bright combination, rather than the neutral combination (which was also quite lovely, but not as me!). Here is Michelle’s picture of the kit, as I forgot to take one.

Paisley brights kit

The kit also included a mystery component by lampworker Shannon Vickers. Again I forgot to take a photo of it.

Anyway. Two things struck me when I received the kit. The first was that I already had a strand of round multicoloured beads like the pair at the bottom of the picture that I could add into my design as needed. I think I bought them last year sometime. The second was that the design and glaze reminded me of some pretty Liberty fabric cord that I also had in my stash. So I added that to the design pile along with a selection of Czech and other glass beads.

I started with the bracelet. I had an idea in mind for a multistrand bracelet featuring some of the Liberty cord along with some of Michelle’s beads and the bracelet bar. I also added in the mystery lampwork bead — a lovely orange bead with green dots. I was thrilled when the design in my head worked in real life!

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The necklace then took its cue from the bracelet, with a similar combination of elements, likewise knotted on waxed linen cord, and a cute blue tassel dangling from the pendant.

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I even managed to add some of the Liberty cord to the earrings, tied in a bow between the beads.

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And here is the full set!

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This is a challenge and there are prizes for the most popular designs. You can go and look at all of the designs from all of the designers here (I think the page is public until the beginning of March) and if you feel like voting for mine clicking here will take you straight to it — just like and if you want, leave a comment. No pressure though!

 

Wish Upon a Star: Superstition Blog Hop

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Today is Friday 13th, one of the most superstitious days on the calendar. And Tammy from Paisley Lizard has organised a blog hop to celebrate it. Tammy challenged us to create a piece inspired by a superstition.

I’ve always been intrigued by superstitions—they fascinate me. Even though I tend toward a scientific outlook on life, I find myself looking for lucky four leaf clovers and wishing on the first star I see in the sky in the evening without a second thought. So I decided to choose the latter as my inspiration.

The idea of wishing on a falling or shooting star dates back to the ancient world and wishing on the first star of the evening may be even older, according to Wikipedia. I wanted to incorporate a shooting star into my design. I’m also on a bit of a leather and metal kick at the moment—if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you might have seen some cuff bracelets I’ve been making recently (which I will blog about next week)—and this challenge was a good opportunity to play with both.

I had a leaf shaped Vintaj blank that I trimmed and filed smooth, and combined with a star shaped blank to make my shooting star. And I stamped the words “wish upon a star” onto another blank. I used Vintaj patina in Nouveau Silver to colour the blanks silver and darkened the stamped words so they were visible. The biggest challenge was getting the rivet holes the right size, as I wanted to use the Tierracast rivets to fasten the metal to the black leather cuff, and I didn’t have a punch that produced large enough holes so I had to do a lot of filing with a small circular file to enlarge the holes. Still, I got there in the end!

Wish upon a star

I’m pretty pleased with the cuff. I have a bit to learn still about stamping and riveting, but I have to say it’s good fun!

Now it’s time for you to hop along to see the rest of the participants in the Superstition blog hop. Thanks Tammy for a fun challenge!

Tammy Adams (Hostess)                                    http://www.paisleylizard.com/blog/

Renee Hong                                                            http://www.fineanddandyjewelry.blogspot.com

Betony Maiden                                                       http://beadwenches.blogspot.com/

Coral Law                                                                http://abcoraldesign.blogspot.com/

Lee Koopman                                                         http://stregajewellry.wordpress.com

Jeanette Belmont                                                   http://www.onecanvasatatime.com

Shai Williams                                                          http://www.ShaihasRamblings.com

Beth McCord                                                           http://ebbeadandmetalworks.blogspot.com/

Robin Lynne Showstack                                        http://heartsdesiresjewelryforyou.blogspot.com/

Lori Blanchard                                                        https://alainnjewelry.wordpress.com/

Deb Fortin                                                                http://www.mhotistudio.blogspot.ca

Michelle McCarthy                                                 http://www.fireflydesignstudio.blogspot.com

Maria Rosa Sharrow                                               http://willowstreetshops.blogspot.com

Kim Dworak                                                             http://cianciblue.blogspot.com/

Divya N                                                                     http://www.jewelsofsayuri.com

Karin Grosset Grange                                            http://ginkgoetcoquelicot.blogspot.fr

Mowse Doyle                                                           http://mowsemadethis.blogspot.com/

Rebecca White                                                        http://morganafeycreations.121hub.com/#sec-blog

Shawneen Fagnani                                                 http://blondespotpinkshoe.blogspot.com/

Catherine King                                                        http://Catherines-musings.blogspot.com

Brook Bock                                                              http://artisticendeavor101.blogspot.com/

Kari Asbury                                                             http://hippiechickjewelrydesign.com/blog

Nan Smith                                                                http://wirednan.blogspot.ca

Carolyn Lawson                                                      http://carolynscreationswa.blogspot.com

Linda Anderson                                                      http://fromTheBeadBoard.blogspot.com

Ann Schroeder                                                        http://www.beadlove.wordpress.com

Melissa Trudinger                                                  https://beadrecipes.wordpress.com/ <– YOU ARE HERE!

Kathy Lindemer                                                      http://bay-moon-design.blogspot.com/

BeadFest part 1 — the classes

I’ve just returned home from our 8 week family holiday in the USA. It’s pretty much been radio silence from me here while I’ve been away (thanks to intermittent access to wifi, busy days of travel and sightseeing and so on), but I plan to do a few posts this week about the beady side of the trip, aka my BeadFest experience.

BeadFest was—to this Aussie anyway—ah-maze-ing! We arrived in the middle of the afternoon on Thursday (the second day I think of BeadFest), thanks to late flights the day before resulting in an unexpected stopover and a very early start, and I had a class starting at 4:30pm, so it was a bit of a scramble.

The first class I did was with Sara Lukkonen, of C-Koop Beads fame, and was a torch-fired enameling class. We enameled flowers and disks and whatnot, and then riveted them to leather to make bracelets, and even a little leather ring. I LOVED it, and can see a torch in my future – I just need to set up a suitable space at home somewhere.

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Anyway, I used a transparent turquoise frit (which looked a deeper blue over the copper), opaque purple and opaque pea green on my pile of flowers and disks and I’m thrilled with my bracelet—have worn it several times already! I made a matching ring too.

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I’ve also got a pile of leftover pieces which may or may not end up in something sometime.

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The second class I took was a short (45 minute) class with Erin Keck, which I took specifically to learn how to shape metal into a dome shape (the technique is called dapping). We made a simple pair of earrings using Vintaj embossing folders to texture the disks before dapping them. I can definitely see the possibilities here.

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The second long class of the week was a class which introduced a few new techniques—fold-forming niobium, and then anodizing it to colour it. It was a fascinating class taught by Marti Brown, and while I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy the anodizing set-up, it was fun to try it out and I ended up with a gorgeous pair of earrings and a pendant too.

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Finally I took another short technique class to try my hand at soldering copper. The class was taught by Kate Richbourg (and I will be looking up her video classes on Craftsy and Jewelry Making Daily) and I made a set of three stacking copper rings. Definitely another thing to try at home once I get set up!

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It was great to have the opportunity to do some classes at BeadFest, and I just wish I’d had the time/money to do more. Next time (yes there will be a next time, it will probably just take me a few years), I will absolutely spend more time doing classes. In my next couple of posts I will talk about the shopping (oh the shopping!) and the people!

Blu Mudd Design Challenge #8

I recently took part in Blu Mudd‘s design challenge. Moriah isn’t making beads regularly anymore (she’s concentrating on her soap business) but she is still running regular challenges, which is fun! Now that the competition part is over, I can show you what I made.

The theme this time was Southwestern, with a big bear pendant done in Zuni style, a connector with a pawprint and a feather connector too. To me, the first two components worked well together and the feather, with slightly different colours, stood out as a separate piece. I didn’t take a pic, so here is Moriah’s picture.

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I started with the feather. With its little turquoise stripe, I decided to pull out some turquoise nuggets and make a long necklace with the turquoise dangling along a length of black deer hide leather thonging. It’s simple, but it looks effective.

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The bear presented me with a challenge—to balance the large size of the pendant with enough weight in the supporting necklace. I ended up knotting half a dozen strands of waxed linen on each side, with sections of seed beads in southwestern colours strung onto each strand. I used a similar strategy to make a coordinating bracelet with the pawprint connector. I’m happy with the results, the pieces have visual weight without actually being heavy.

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Thanks again Moriah for the challenge, it’s always fun to work with your pieces! I’ll look forward to the next one!

You can see what others made here.

Defend and Protect: the Art of Awareness blog hop

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A couple of months ago, Lori Anderson announced a blog hop she was holding with Heather Millican of Swoondimples: The Art of Awareness blog hop. Swoondimples is known for its word beans, polymer clay beads with inspirational word(s) stamped on them. The idea was to choose a cause that means something to you, order a custom bead from Heather to represent the cause through words or colour and make something with the bead.

I thought about this hop for a while, as I found it hard to settle on a particular cause—like everyone, lives in my family and friendship circles have been touched by cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease and more. I felt that what I chose should mean something to me, and eventually it came to me.

Immunization.

Yes, I know it’s not really a disease, but to me it’s just as important to raise awareness of the importance of immunizing children against the handful of really awful childhood diseases. It’s probably the one thing that will get me up on my high horse! Perhaps a little background will help. I’m an immunologist and microbiologist by degree (although I no longer work as a scientist) and I worked for a number of years for a biotech company developing vaccines against herpes and influenza. I know firsthand what motivates the scientists doing this kind of R&D and believe me, it’s not money (if you think any scientist does research for the money, think again). Put simply, it’s about stopping children from dying from entirely preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles.

Now I know that many people don’t agree with me, and I am not writing about this to start a debate (so please don’t leave me nasty messages), and I’m not going to get any further into the politics of vaccines and immunization. If you are interested about the issues, I do urge you to watch an award-winning Australian documentary made a couple of years ago, that does a pretty good job of presenting the debate. It’s called Jabbed and you can find snippets of it on YouTube, and the full version on SBS On Demand (SBS is one of our public television networks here in Australia) among other places. And that’s where I am going to leave the issue of the motivation behind my choice.

Anyway, when I decided on immunization as my cause, I looked to see if there was any kind of official awareness campaign, but as far as I can tell, there is not, at least not in the way that diseases such as breast cancer have specific colours and ribbons and so on. There are events like National Immunization Week in the US, but they don’t have the high profile campaigns that some diseases have. Instead I chose to create my own. I picked lime green for my bead colour (partly because that was one of the colours used in one of the events I came across) and I came up with the words Defend and Protect to stamp on the bean. I also chose not to have a ribbon stamped on the back.

I toyed with the idea of creating an immunization superhero for my design, but sadly, I’m not capable of drawing something like that. So in the end I put my bead into a bracelet with some equally bold colours—orange and light purple to go with the lime green—and strung on waxed linen. And here is the end result.

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Now, this is a blog hop, and there are a bunch of people taking part, so go and have a look at what they made and why. I can guarantee you’ll find some really interesting stories! Here’s the list:

CandidaCastleberrywww.spunsugarbeadworks.blogspot.com

Lori Anderson www.PrettyThingsBlog.com (hostess)
Heather Millican www.facebook.com/swoondimples (bead artist)
mischelle andrade https://micheladasmusings.blogspot.com
Paige Maxim http://delightfullittlegems.blogspot.com/
Laurie Vyselaar www.lefthandjewelry.wordpress.com
Marybeth Rich http://forestofjewels.blogspot.com/
Alice Peterson www.alice-dreaming.blogspot.com
Kim Dworak http://www.cianciblue.blogspot.com/
Audrey Bélanger http://esperianterra.blogspot.ca/
Karen mitchell www.overthemoon-design.com
Joan Williams www.lilrubyjewelry.com
Jean Wells jeanawells.blogspot.com
Ann Schroeder www.beadlove.wordpress.com
Gail Accinelli facebook.com/oregonmadejewelry
Tania Spivey www.moobiegracedesigns.blogspot.com
Mallory Hoffman http://rosebud101-fortheloveofbeads.blogspot.com/
Mary K McGraw mkaymac.blogspot.com
Shai Williams www.shaihasramblings.com/
Beth Emery storiesbyindigoheart.blogspot.com
Catie Doman http://drcatie.blogspot.com
Lorelei Eurto Http://lorelei1141.blogspot.com
Lee Koopman www.stregajewellry.wordpress.com
Tammy Adams www.paisleylizard.com/blog/
Katie Nelson https://www.facebook.com/katiebead
Patty Miller http://pattymillerbeads.blogspot.com
Chris Eisenberg www.wanderware.blogspot.com
Cassi Paslick http://badatbeingmom.blogspot.com/
Charlee Griffith https://www.facebook.com/charlee.griffith
Kelli Nelson www.afamilyaffarekelli.blogspot.com
Catherine King http://catherines-musings.blogspot.com
Melissa Trudinger beadrecipes.wordpress.com <– YOU ARE HERE
susan Bowie https://susanbowie.wordpress.com
Jennifer Justman www.soulsfiredesigns.blogspot.com/
Cassi Paslick http://badatbeingmom.blogspot.com/
K Hutchinson http://jumbledhutch.wordpress.com
Veralynne Malone www.veradesigns.blogspot.com
Evie and Beth McCord http://ebbeadandmetalworks.blogspot.com/
Mihaela Georgescu http://michellemaya2005.wordpress.com
Rebecca Anderson Www.songbeads.blogspot.com
Charlene jacka www.clay-space.com
Kim Stevens www.pickingpoppies.blogspot.com
Susan McClelland Mistheword12.wordpress.com
Sally Russick www.sallyrussick.blogspot.com
Gina Hockett www.freestyleelements.blogspot.com
Mona Arnott bijouxgemsjoy.blogspot.ca
Sandi Volpe www.sandivolpe.com
Andrea Glick http://zenithjade.blogspot.com/
Janine Lucas http://www.esfera.me/travel/blog/travel-stories
Lori Bowring Michaud www.artfullyornamental.blogspot.com
Christie Murrow Www.charisdesignsjewelry.blogspot.com
B.R. Kuhlman www.mixedmayhemstudios.com
Lupe Meter www.gesmpccorner.blogspot.com
Lucy Bejarano www.lucybejaranojewelry.blogspot.com/
Stephanie Perry www.mustardbeadbystephanieperry.blogspot.com
Elisabeth Auld www.beadsforbusygals.com
Carolyn Lawson www.carolynscreationswa.blogspot.com
Heather Powers www.humblebeads.blogspot.com
Katie Hacker www.katiehacker.blogspot.com
Kepi Rasmussen www.kepirasmussen.blogspot.ca 
Gail Vanderster-Zwang www.angelmoose.blogspot.com
Elizabeth Hodges http://thewhisperingseas.blogspot.com/

Daenerys’ dragons: Game of Thrones Jewellery Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, Heather Powers suggested that we do a challenge based on the fantastic world of Game of Thrones, the book series by George R. R. Martin and the TV series from HBO. And as a long time reader of the books and fan of the TV series too, I just had to join in.

I had a couple of ideas, but so far I have only managed to put one of them together, thanks to a busy schedule and school holidays. I plan to use the other two for an upcoming blog hop (stay tuned for an announcement of that hop in the next week or two).

For today’s piece I was inspired by Daenerys of House Targaryen and her dragons. Although the dragons were thought to have died out long before the last Targaryen king ruled in Westeros, his exiled daughter Daenerys was given three fossilized dragon eggs on her marriage to Khal Drogo. When her husband died, she placed the eggs on his funeral pyre, and then walked into the flames to claim the newly hatched dragons.

(Image from fanpop.com)

(Image from fanpop.com)

Daenerys wears shades of icy blue and silvery grey and, at least in the early seasons, not a lot of jewellery, other than some wonderful armbands. I am looking forward to seeing what her style becomes as she moves to reclaim her birthright. In the meantime, this bracelet features a Green Girl Studios dragon egg, as well as two beaded beads in shades of aqua and silver made by Rebecca Anderson of The Curious Bead Shop, which remind me of the dragon eggs. The icy blue and silver Czech glass peanut beads also come from The Curious Bead Shop. I love the matted, almost pitted texture of them, almost like stone.

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To see what other participants in this jewellery challenge have made, visit Heather Powers’ blog for the links.