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!

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.

 

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

 

Inspired by Reading: The Silver Witch

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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.

 

Art Bead Scene challenge: Klimt-inspired earrings

It’s a while since I did an Art Bead Scene monthly challenge piece. But this month’s inspiration artwork just happened to remind me of a pair of enameled charms I recently acquired from Cathleen Zaring (who was nice enough to make me a pair after I just missed out on a Facebook auction).

Park bei Lu.

“Park Near Lu” By Paul Klee, 1938; Oil and coloured paste on paper on jute; original frame strips; 100 x 70 cm

The painting in question is by Paul Klee, one of the early 20th century expressionist painters, and is called Park by Lu. I love the sharp contrast between the bold black branches, and the surrounding colour. And Klimt is one of my favourite artists.

As I mentioned, the branches reminded me of a pair of charms I bought from Cathleen Zaring, with similarly bold black trees painted on them. I added a couple of Czech glass rondelles in colors that coordinated with the painting and hung them on oxidized sterling silver wires.

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These are big earrings, but very light and they make quite a statement! Thank you for the inspiration Art Bead Scene!

 

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!

 

 

Dreams of Summertime: Art Jewelry Elements challenge

It’s cold and wet here in Melbourne today. School holidays too and the kids are housebound. Seems a funny time to be making summer themed jewellery, but at the same time it’s kind of appropriate. I love the sun, and I miss it desperately in winter. Sadly today we don’t even get the benefit of a cool sunny day, it’s gray and stormy.

But the challenge is on at Art Jewelry Elements to create summer-themed pieces. When I think of summer, all sorts of things come to mind: BBQs, holidays by the beach, but overwhelmingly, the one thing that really means summer to all Aussies is the blazing hot sun!

So with that in mind, I have created my own sunshine today with a pair of sunny earrings (hey, I did say it was the school holidays here!).

The ceramic charms are from Natalie Fletcher-Jones, and they are very yellow, with a hint of pinky-orange at the tops. Like the sun early in the morning. I’ve paired them with some sweet orange flowers and a blush-coloured round, and tied together with waxed linen.

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Thank you AJE for reminding me about the sun! This is a challenge and you should go and have a look at some of the other blogs: