Blog Hops and Challenges, Swaps and exchanges

Soup, soup, beautiful bead soup!

The Bead Soup Blog Party has begun, with the exchange of bead soups! Denise got hers early last week while mine showed up at the end of the week. And I have to say, I think we were both quite chuffed with what we got.

Denise sent me a lovely selection of beads, inspired by my name, Melissa, which means honey or honey bee in Greek. The beads span a  palette of delicate oranges and yellows as well as earthy tones, plus a set of turquoise blue turtles for contrast. The beads include carnelian, coral, dyed agates and jasper, to set off two gorgeous stone focals, one a larged striped agate and the other a mustard-coloured agate, She threw in some of her favourite one- and two-holed beads and another small beadwoven focal that I think she made.

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The colours remind me of the Australian desert landscapes, which may lead me to some inspiration!

As to the beads I sent Denise, well, they had an Australian flavour of sorts. I picked beads by some of my favourite Australian beadmakers, including a big beautiful ceramic focal by Natali Fletcher-Jones, that I have been hoarding for a while, plus some earring charms by Melissa Gabelle, another local clay artist whose work I tend to squirrel away. These two ceramic artists are among my very favourites, and both of them keep tempting me with more and more lovely beads, which they sell through various groups on Facebook including Australian Art Beads, Handmade Alchemy and Handmade Beads and Findings, among others.

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I added several lengths of sari silk in colours that and a selection of Czech beads in different sizes and shapes in coordinating hues. Finally, there is also a brass dragonfly clasp that is similar to one I received in my very first bead soup! I hope you really enjoy playing with this soup Denise, I had fun putting it together for you!

Ok, so now we both have until 25 March to create with our bead soups. I’d better get cracking!

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

It’s BSBP season again!

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One of the key reasons I set up this blog was so that I could take part in blog hops and challenges, and the one that I most wanted to do when I started was Lori Anderson‘s Bead Soup Blog Party aka the BSBP! I took part in three BSBPs (here, here and here) before Lori had to stop organising them due to ill-health.

But happy days are here again! Lori is feeling much better than she was a couple of years ago and has set up the 9th BSBP — this time with a fun twist! Not only are we sending our partner beads, but we have been asked to send hoarded beads, beads that we’ve been holding on to for one reason or another. Beads that have special meaning and personal value to us. It’s a lovely idea, and also a difficult task, it can be hard to give up our precious, special beads!

This year my partner is Denise Milward, a beader living in Nottinghamshire in the UK. Denise took part in the last BSBP too (here is the first of several blog posts she did with her designs).

So what have I sent Denise from my hoard stash? Well, I can’t show you more than this:

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But I can tell you it has somewhat of an Aussie theme to it. I’ve picked out some of my favourite Australian-made pretties to send to Denise, along with a few other bits and bobs from here and there. I really hope she enjoys what I have sent to her, and is inspired! And I can’t wait to see what she makes!

I’ll post again about the BSBP when I get my beads in the mail from Denise, I’m looking forward to that too! And the big reveal is March 25, only a month or so away. Hopefully I’ll have a good couple of weeks to play!

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Books

Inspired by Reading: A Place of My Own

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The January book for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was Michael Pollan’s book A Place of My Own: The Architechure of Daydreams. It’s not a new book, it was first published in 1997 or thereabouts, and it deals with the design and construction of a small building — a place for the author to write. In typical Pollan style, though, it’s about much more than that, it’s about architecture, it’s about the conflict between the architect, who puts dreams onto paper and the builder who has to turn them into reality, and a lot more.

From the back of the book:

Inspired in equal parts by Thoreau and Mr Blandings, A Place of My Own not only explores the history and meaning of all human building, it also demonstrates architecture’s unique power to give our bodies, minds, and dreams a home in the world.

It’s a pretty wordy book, and gets a bit long-winded at times, but on the whole I enjoyed it and it certainly made me think! Perhaps that’s because my husband and I are starting to talk a little more seriously about renovating our home, or at least think about getting the process started with dreams and plans!

So I thought I would take a slightly different approach this month, and talk about the plans I have to create a small studio space of my own. Our home is a (typical for the area) single storey, 4 bedroom house built almost 100 years ago originally, with a dated extension that’s probably 25 years old. But one of the attractions for us when we bought it was the existence of a detached bungalow (as we call them here in Australia) aka studio. It’s a two-room plus tiny bathroom space that is mostly used as a guest bedroom and spillover storage for everything that doesn’t fit in the house. Most of my books are in there (I have a lot much to my husband’s dismay), and the cupboards are full of random art and sewing supplies, extra kitchen stuff and more.

Anyway, with a recent reorganisation of various rooms and associated furniture within our house, I have decided to move all of my jewellery making supplies out there and turn part of it into a studio for myself. It will still have to double as a guest bedroom on a regular basis (don’t worry Gran and Papa, I’ll leave plenty of room for you!), so I can’t take over the whole space, and I can see myself bringing projects back inside to work on too, especially in the evenings.

Keeping in mind that it is a work in progress, I thought I would give you some before pictures, and I’ll come back in a few weeks to show you how it’s shaping up as a space to work.

Late last year I bought a fantastic old jeweller’s bench from a retired goldsmith. It was covered in layers of utilitarian grey paint, well hammered board as a working surface, and many other layers of grime, but it was a solid piece of furniture and at a pretty good price too! I immediately set to work sanding back the top and getting it ready to use. And then I ran out of steam and it’s been sitting there for a couple of months with things piling up on top of it. I’m hoping this weekend I might get back to it.

Here’s the before picture:

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My plan is to use the bench for metalwork — hammering, soldering, stamping, and so on. I am also planning to set up space for torch-fired enamelling, but because this workbench will be against a wall, I think I need to set up on a smaller table I can pull out into the middle of the room so that the flame is not directed straight at the wall.

My beads are in a complete mess, so my next job will be to sort them out. Most of my art beads and a fair few of the Czech glass beads I use most often are in this Ikea chest of drawers. It’s sitting in my hallway right now.

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I’ve moved most of the other boxes of supplies into the bungalow but I haven’t had a chance to sort it out yet, and I’ve got a bit of work to do to make the space my own. Fingers crossed I can get in there soon.

But wait. I couldn’t let this book go by without making something inspired by it. So I pulled out a tiny pair of house charms made by Lesley Watt and turned them into a sweet little pair of earrings.

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It’s on to the next book now, thanks again for another interesting read Andrew and William!

 

 

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

ABS January Challenge: Field of Flowers Earrings

I’m hoping to participate a bit more frequently with the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge this year, aided by the fact that they have published a little booklet with all twelve artworks for the year, so I can get a head start! Well, that’s the theory anyway!

This month’s painting — by Egon Schiele — is a riot of flowers in yellows, oranges and reds.

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I recently bought a couple of earring pairs from Melissa Gabelle. She decorates these little ceramic charms with slip to create a textured floral design. One of the pairs was a yellow and red design which was perfect for this challenge. I came up with a new way to hang the charms from the wires using deerhide leather, which I’m quite pleased with.

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In fact, I used the same technique to make a similar pair using smaller charms in purple.

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Thank you Art Bead Scene for an interesting and inspirational choice of art this month.

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

We’re All Ears: Greenery, the Pantone Colour of the Year!

I meant to post this yesterday but time got away with me, that’s school holidays for you! Anyway, this month’s challenge for the Earrings Everyday blog was to use Pantone’s Colour of the Year, Greenery. Erin helpfully provided a few colour palettes featuring the colour, which is a really lovely spring green, symbolic of new beginnings (and oh how apt that is this weekend!).

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Now, you might have seen this pair of earrings in last week’s Muffin Tin Challenge, but here they are again. The charms come from the talented torch of Cathleen Zaring and they are just bursting with green! The lampwork dangle comes from Lesley McIver, and the copper earwires are from The Curious Bead Shop.

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If you pop over to the Earrings Everyday blog here, you’ll find the links to the other participants in the challenge. Thanks to Erin for another great challenge, hopefully I’ll do more of them this year!

 

 

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Muffin Tin Challenge 2017

January’s a funny time of the year for me. On one hand, I am usually not working so I should have plenty of time to do things. On the other hand it is the summer school holidays down here in Australia, and the chorus of “Mum I’m bored” from my three kids can be overwhelming. It’s hard to hear the muse amidst the clamour!

Thankfully, Heather Powers from Humblebeads has come to the rescue with a fun creative activity to get things moving — the Muffin Tin Challenge! Basically, a muffin tin is filled with jewellery projects, one per hole. And then, as time permits, the projects can be pulled out and completed.

Now in theory, each muffin hole should contain all of the materials required for the project, but I never manage to be quite that organised. Instead I put in my focal and a few coordinating beads, and when I pull out the project from the tin, I find whatever else I need — findings, chain, extra beads and so on — in my stash.

So for the last two weeks I’ve had a muffin tin full of projects and I’ve been adding bits and pieces as I go. But of course, I’ve left it to the last minute to do anything! Last night I made five pairs of earrings, and this morning I’ve made a quick and easy necklace. I was going to make more than one but … kids! But I will keep going with my muffin tin over the next days and weeks, I hope!

Here’s the tin, with various focals and pendants, as well as some of the beads I picked out to go with the them.

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My first pair of earrings will probably be used for next week’s Earrings Everyday challenge, but here’s a picture of them anyway. Enamel charms by Cathleen Zaring, lampwork by Lesley McIver.

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Another pair featuring Cathleen’s enamel charms, in sunny blues and yellows (it is summer here after all!).

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This pair of earrings showcases Heather’s new style of earring charms – they are very versatile! The pink flowers remind me of eucalyptus blossoms.

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My fourth pair matches stunning lampwork spikes by Liz DeLuca with faceted Czech glass.

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And last, but definitely not least, these stunning lampwork spikes by Liz DeLuca go beautifully with Rebecca Anderson‘s “end of the day” beaded beads.

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The necklace is an homage to Heather’s gorgeous variety of stacked necklaces, with one of her beautiful gilded folk art birds on top of an equally gorgeous Czech glass briar rose bead.

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Thank you for the challenge Heather, it did give me the kick up the bum I needed to get started this year! Now to start thinking about the Art Bead Scene challenge for January …

To see what others have made, visit Heather’s post here for the links.

 

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Swaps and exchanges

Beads of Courage and the Art Charm Exchange

A couple of years ago, I joined in the Art Charm Exchange, a swap and auction organized by Jen Cameron to raise money for Beads of Courage. This year Jen decided to run it again (the last time she will do so), and I jumped right in to take part again.

Beads of Courage is a program based in the US, which enables seriously ill children to collect beads representing milestones and procedures. The organization behind it runs a number of different programs, including commissioning special beads to be made by artists each year.

Jen’s Beads of Courage Art Charm Swap is a benefit for Beads of Courage, involving a big group of jewellery designers and bead makers from the US and around the world. Each participant provides 11 art charms made with handmade components such as lampwork beads or ceramic, polymer or metal clay, or mixed media. One charm is kept aside to auction off on eBay, and the remaining 10 are distributed amongst 10 of the other artists.

The charm auctions were meant to start today, but Jen has run into a snag there and has delayed the auction while she works out the best way forward.

Each year, Jen chooses a theme for the charms, and this year it was Fairytales. I thought about various different things I could do but in the end, I kept coming back to the idea of a book. After a bit of a search on Etsy and Pinterest for inspiration, I purchased some little brass book locket charms that were exactly the right size, with a bezel on both sides when the locket was open. I also found some digital book covers I could use to embellish the lockets. So I got to work. First the covers were glued onto the lockets using mod podge, and covered with several more coats. I love how the brush I use to apply the mod podge gives the covers a texture. I had two different versions of the cover, one says Enchanted and the other says English Fairy Tales.

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Inside the locket I glued a slip of paper with the words Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After into the bezels and then used a small amount of ice resin to partially fill the bezels. I was careful as I didn’t want to overfill the bezels and I was a bit worried that the resin would flow into the innards of the locket and then out the corners, but it all worked just fine!

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Finally I added a tiny key and a petite glass flower to the charms, and made sure they each had jump rings. Here’s a picture of the whole collection.

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I sent them off and waited impatiently to receive my collection of charms back. I’ll post about what I received in a separate post, perhaps when the auctions go live. In the mean time, hop around to see what others made inspired by the fairytale theme.

Alenka Obid
Andrea Glick
Angelique Gentry
Brooke Bock
Caroline Dewison
Cassi Paslick
Catherine van Alphen
Charlene Jacka
Helena Hatten
Jen Cameron
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Kathy Lindemer
Leona Smith
Lesley Watt
Lori Anderson
Marianne Baxter
Melissa Trudinger <– me!
Michelle McCarthy
Patty Miller
Shai Williams
Sheila Prosterman
Susan Kennedy
Terri Del Signore
Vanessa Gilkes

 

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

AJE Challenge: Autumn Dusk Necklace

This month’s challenge from Art Jewelry Elements focused on trees and autumn. My thoughts immediately went to the gorgeous tree pendants that Natalie Fletcher-Jones makes, with a design she carved herself a few years ago. She glazes them in a myriad of different colours and I have a couple of them in my collection, the one I eventually selected glazed in lovely dusky colours.

As I was shuffling through my beads to see what might work with the pendant, I came across a recent selection from The Curiosity Club in just the right combination of soft dusky pinks and purples to go with the necklace. Finished off with a leafy clasp, it has an autumnal feel to it.

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Thank you AJE for another great challenge! This is a blog hop, so if you have time, pop over and see what others have made:

AJE Team

Jennifer Stout Cameron

Lesley Watt

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Laney Mead

Niky Sayers

Cooky Schock

Cathy Spivey Mendola

Caroline Dewison

Guests

Brooke Bock

Karin Grosset Grange

Merja Sundström

Cindy Martin Shaw

Allison L Norfleet Bruenger

Kathy Lindemer

Gloria Allen

Shai Williams

Tammy Adams

Mona Arnott

Terri Del Signore

 

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Books

Inspired by Reading: The Silver Witch

Book cover

This month’s book for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston, a lovely novel which weaves together the stories of Seren, a witch and shaman from Celtic Wales, and ceramic artist Tilda, who has moved to a cottage near a Welsh village after her husband’s death. As Seren and her Prince’s lives are increasingly threatened, Tilda discovers she has powers of her own, and an ancestral connection to Seren and the nearby lake.

The book features a pretty spectacular piece of jewellery, a golden torc engraved with Celtic designs of a hare and a dog. Sadly it’s not something I could easily make, so I looked instead at Tilda, a potter who creates beautiful ceramics. The pieces she creates when she moves to Wales are decorated with Celtic patterns as well, and this is what inspired me.

I chose a pretty ceramic pendant by BluMudd (sadly, Moriah isn’t making beads anymore) featuring a Celtic pattern in pretty shades of aqua greens and blues, reminding me of the lake that features in the book (although as I thought about it, I realized that the lake would probably be more of a deep dark blue, than green, especially in winter, when the book is set). I surrounded the focal with Czech glass beads in shades of blue and green, and added a small length of double chain in brass. It’s a simple piece but I think it captures the cool wintery colours of the book, and certainly the Celtic influences. What do you think?

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I really enjoyed the book and a couple of others I read by the same author. If you like a book that blends history, witchcraft, and yes, even a bit of romance, you’ll probably like them too. I’ll be seeking out a few more of Paula’s books in the near future.

 

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

AJE Art Headpins Challenge

Art Jewelry Elements always comes up with fun challenges and this month’s headpins challenge is a doozy! Art headpins are fancy headpins, not just your run of the mill headpins, and are made with lampwork glass, polymer clay, ceramics or metal. They are often used in earrings but can also be used to make interesting pendants.

I have a few fancy headpins in my stash, but I rarely use them, so this was a good nudge to do so. I ended up making three pairs of earrings. I would have liked to make more things and possibly not earring things, but I’ve started a new job recently so my creative time is a bit shorter than usual.

The first pair uses some flower headpins I’ve had for a long, long time, maybe four years or more. In fact I’m not even sure who made them, although I know they were by an Australian lampworker who no longer makes beads. They’ve got a little lacy brass beadcap to hide the point where the glass and the wire stem meet, and I’ve just kept it simple, dangling from a brass cats-eye on brass wires.

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The next pair features a striking pair of orange spikes by Pauline Delaney, a lampworker here in Melbourne. I’ve paired them with a Czech glass oval bead with an etched bird, and darkened copper earwires.

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Finally, I recently purchased some headpins from Sue Kennedy and I picked out these ones to make earrings with today. I added some Czech glass in matching aqua hues, a tiny copper washer and wrapped the long headpin wire back around the top beads.

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I’m inspired now, so expect some more art headpin designs from me soon! Thanks for the nudge AJE.

Others joining in this bloghop include:

Guests:

Alison Herrington

Renetha Stanziano

Karin Grosset Grange

Gloria Allen

Deb Fortin

Cate van Alphen

Mona Arnott

Shai Williams

Sarajo Wentling

Kathy Lindemer

Solange Collin

Brooke Bock

Melissa Meman

Patricia Handschuh

Tammy Adams

Melissa Trudinger <– YOU ARE HERE!

AJE Team Members:

Caroline Dewison

Lesley Watt

Cathy Mendola

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Susan Kennedy

Laney Mead

Diana Ptaszynski

Lindsay Starr

Niky Sayers