It’s an awfully long time since I managed to do a post for the Earrings Everyday We’re All Ears challenge. I always start the month with the best of intentions, but the reveal date is the day before my monthly craft market (and I am one of the organisers), so I’m usually too busy getting ready for that to think about anything else.
But this month, I had the perfect beads in my stash, so I couldn’t really not do it, could I?! The theme this month was tea parties, and Erin put up the most delightful pictures of vintage tea pots and cups with dainty floral patterns.
A little while ago I bought a few pairs of beads and charms from Natalie McKenna, aka Grubbi Ceramics, decorated with fragments of vintage floral decals. I’m not sure how she does it, but these beads have almost an aged patina to them, as if they’ve been dug up as fragments in a forgotten back garden. I love them!
The first pair of earrings feature Grubbi charms with a vibrant English cut Czech glass bead in rosy pink, to match the decals.
And the second pair of earrings, which I think might make their way into my jewellery box, pair a prettily decorated ceramic round with a rosy Czech glass rondelle. Sweet, don’t you think?
Thank you for the inspiration Erin and Earrings Everyday, it was just what I needed!
Visit the Earrings Everyday blog for a daily dose of inspiration!
It has been quite a while since I participated in the monthly Art Bead Scene challenge. But this month‘s artwork grabbed my attention as it reminded me of a bead I acquired earlier this year from Natalie Fletcher-Jones.
The artwork in question is a painting—Jacob’s Ladder—by Helen Frankenthaler, an artist influenced by the Abstract Expressionists. It’s a beautiful soft piece.
Natalie’s bead is the result of an experiment in which it was wrapped in copper wire prior to firing in the kiln. At the high kiln temps required for glazing, the copper wire melted leaving a dark trail around the bead, that contrasts with the red and green glazes. Although the colours are deeper than in the painting, to me they have the same feel.
Colourful dyed impression jasper rounds are almost a perfect match for the bead, and I’ve borrowed a technique I saw someone else use recently to knot little groups of beads along the waxed linen. The palette of colours I’ve used is definitely more autumnal than in the inspiration painting but that works for me as it is almost winter down here in Australia.
If you’re interested in seeing what others were inspired to make by Jacob’s Ladder, then head to the Art Bead Scene linkup.
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.
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!
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.
I even managed to add some of the Liberty cord to the earrings, tied in a bow between the beads.
And here is the full set!
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!
Of course I didn’t forget the art beads at BeadFest. Some of my favourite beadmakers were there, as well as some I have eyed from afar but never seen in person.
A group of beadmakers had a progressive make’n’take going on, so of course I had to play along. The ceramic house is by Diane Hawkey, the copper house frame was made by me on Brenda Schweder’s Now that’s a Jig wire wrapping jig, the dangles are by Nikki Thornburg (who also showed me a cool way to wire-wrap long stems) and the tiny enameled tubes were from C-Koop Beads (who also provided the leather). I’ve worn this a lot as I’ve travelled around the US, it’s nice and light for summer and the colours work beautifully with a lot of my clothing.
I also bought some more beads from Nikki Thornburg—some of her headpins. I’m sure I can find some uses for them somewhere!
Between Diane Hawkey and Nikki Thornburg was Marsha Neal Studio. Marsha was absolutely lovely and we chatted for ages (more than once!). I bought a few bead pairs from her, one of her organic pod/vessels (and one for my mum, not pictured) and one of her great wrap bracelet kits. Which I had every intention of making as I travelled but, well, you know …
And I had to buy a few somethings from C-Koop Beads too.
I had lunch with one of my very favourite bead makers, Heather Powers, on Saturday and then had a little splurge at her booth. Such beautiful beads, I could have bought one of everything. We also did a little swap – more on that in the next blog post.
Staci Smith’s stand was full of fabulous treasures. I picked out some fun bits and pieces there, and a gorgeous necklace for my sister in law’s 40th birthday (yes I know I could have just bought some of the components and made something myself, but the necklace just seemed right for her, apologies as I don’t have a picture of it).
Michelle McCarthy, a swap buddy of mine from the old Bead Swap USA group (now disbanded) had a booth of her ceramics (Firefly Design Studio) and I selected some great summery beads and pendants there.
Right next door was Anne Gardanne‘s stall and I picked up some more enameled components there.
At Jenny Davies-Reazor ‘s booth, I picked up one of her mixed media word pendants — this one just called to me and I suspect I’ll be keeping it. And then I did some swapping with the Art Jewelry Elements girls, again more on that tomorrow.
I have to say, it’s fantastic to actually be able to see the beads in person, pick them up and fondle them. Although it makes choosing them even harder.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks again Moriah for the challenge, it’s always fun to work with your pieces! I’ll look forward to the next one!
My absolute favourite show, hands down, at the moment is Outlander. You could say I’m a little obsessed with it. For those who haven’t had the chance to see it yet, it’s a romantic, action, adventure series set largely in 18th Century Scotland, right before the Scots rise under the banner of Bonnie Prince Charlie in their final futile attempt to seize control of the British throne. It’s based on a series of novels by Diana Gabaldon, which are being made into a series by Ron D Moore (whose credits include Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, as well as Battlestar Galactica). The summary from Starz says:
Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
The story is not just a romance, although the developing relationship between Claire and Jamie plays a big part. There are political machinations, accusations of witchcraft, and the looming threat of Black Jack Randall, an English soldier who is the ancestor of Claire’s 20th century husband Frank. The end of season one is truly not for the faint-hearted, and I’m going to be waiting with baited breath for season two to air.
There is a lot to inspire in Outlander. The sweeping vistas of the Scottish Highlands for one. The divine costumes for another. And of course the story itself. I created three pieces inspired by the show, each drawing from different aspects.
My first piece is inspired by the Scottish landscape. One of the key locations in both the book and the TV show is Jamie Fraser’s home Lallybroch. In real life, the derelict Midhope Castle near Edinburgh was used for Lallybroch exteriors.
UK bead artist Natalie McKenna has a series of ceramic pendants inspired by Scottish landscapes. When I saw this one, I immediately thought of Lallybroch. In this piece I’ve tried to invoke the gorgeous vistas of the Scottish Highlands, the blues and greys of the sky, the browns and greens of the landscape. I’ve kept it simple, choosing beads that complement the focal, rather than compete with it, including some more beads by Natalie.
My second piece was inspired by the incredible wedding dress created by Outlander costume designer Terry Dresbach. Silvery linen is pleated and tucked into a full, lush shape, and flakes of mica give the underskirts a wonderful shimmer as they catch the light. The final flourish is a scattering of acorns and oak leaves embroidered with metal thread across the skirt and bodice:
If you’re interested, Terry Dresbach has posted close-ups of the dress details on her blog here.
I’ve used the embroidered oak leaves and acorns as inspiration for this necklace. The silver-plated stampings I’ve used look a lot like the embroidered leaves. Through the chain of the necklace, I have woven some grey-green sari silk.
My final Outlander piece was inspired by a line uttered by Jamie Fraser to his wife Claire. “You are my home now,” he tells her in a moment guaranteed to send hearts aflutter! When I came across a word bead by Swoondimples that says almost exactly that, I had to have it. A house to dangle from it from BoHulley Beads. Red hearts for Jamie and Claire’s love, and some blue flowers to represent the Forget-me-knots that Claire picked right before she fell through the stones and into the past. The clasp is a dragonfly, a nod to book two in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber (currently in production for season two).
So that’s Outlander. But wait, there’s more. A few weeks ago, when I did Heather Powers’ Game of Thrones challenge, I promised that I had another piece in the works, just waiting for some beads to arrive. This is a necklace inspired by another wedding dress, in this case Margaery Tyrell’s dress for the wedding to Joffrey Lannister. The Tyrell symbol is the rose, and her dress had an intricate train decorated with fabric roses, and beautiful embroidery of thorny vines and flowers across the bodice.
Leah Curtis from Beady-Eyed Bunny makes polymer clay roses in just the right shape. I wanted to evoke the cascade of roses on the train, and I included some red roses too, just for fun. Silvery thorns peek out between the blooms and red droplets remind one of the hidden dangers of the rose. Quite fitting perhaps as Margaery’s new husband died at the wedding, although not necessarily by her hand.
So that’s it from me, thank you for reading this far and if you haven’t seen (or read) Outlander, give it a go! I’m looking forward to seeing what other designers have been inspired by their favourite shows to make. Here’s a list of the participants, thank you all for playing along!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know I love the ceramic beads and pendants made by Natalie Fletcher-Jones at Peruzi. Recently she came up with a new style—porcelain butterfly wing earring pairs delicately painted in her “watercolour” style.
Needless to say I immediately had to have some, and chose a couple of pairs, one featuring an overlaid decal and one without. But then the beads sat there for a month or so while I mused on what best to put them with. And then last week I was sorting through some beads and the perfect match popped out at me. Another recent purchase, this time from New Zealand lampworker Lesley McIver aka Glitz Art Glass, included some small lampwork rondelles in exactly the right hues to go with the wings. I love it when serendipity hands me the solution!
I used waxed linen to join the two components and tied them on to dark sterling silver earwires from The Curious Bead Shop. The ends of the linen have been adorned with seed beads as little antennae.
I’m keeping the decal pair for myself, but the other pair will be available for sale at my next market, or eventually in my (currently rather empty) Etsy shop.