Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Floral Fantasy: the final Designer Quest challenge

One of the beading groups I belong to online is an Aussie group called It’s been around for quite a few years and has recently taken the decision to close its forum and move to Facebook. Sadly, along with the move, Beading Forum is planning to end its twice yearly Designer Quest challenges. These challenges are a lot of fun—a kit is put together by one of the Australian online bead shops, usually with a couple of colour choices. After purchasing the kit, you have a few weeks to come up with a design using as much of the kit as you can. And there are prizes for the best designs as picked by the judges and also by Beading Forum members.

This time around, the Designer Quest kit came from Kays Artycles. I chose the blue colourway, as I particularly liked the copper elements (the alternative was pink and silver). The key focal in the kit was a large white resin floral bead that we were encouraged to play around with and “colour in”. Along with that little challenge was a strand of lampwork beads in swirly blues and coppers, a generous baggie of cube-shaped seed beads in translucent blue with an AB finish, and a variety of copper rings, cones and cornflake beads. I added a few more of the middle-sized copper rings from my own stash.


I used Vintaj patinas to paint my focal. On the back side I used Earth, and on the front, I decorated the flowers with patinas in Cobalt and Garnet with Ochre for the centres. And over the top I dabbed the Victorian Gold patina. In retrospect, I realized I had some copper Gilders Paste which might have matched the findings a bit better than the gold, but I was pretty happy with how it looked in the end. It was a bit of a challenge to incorporate into the design too, as it is a top heavy piece. I found I needed to dangle it from the main necklace, rather than, as I originally planned, string it in the middle.


I added a small dangly tassel to the focal using waxed linen and some of the cube beads and cornflakes, then wired the rings and the lampwork beads together to make a necklace. The blue ribbon is sari silk.


In the end I didn’t use the coiled cones (but I have some earrings in progress), and I didn’t use many of the tiny cube beads. I have a few of the lampwork beads left over too, that will probably find their way into earrings and bracelets. I am quite pleased with how it turned out. It was a fun kit to work with and definitely a challenge.

If you’d like to see some of the other entries, visit the BeadingForum website here.


Filigree Fancy

I recently took part in Beading Forum‘s Designer Quest #25, a challenge organised by the Australia-based online forum twice a year. This time around, the beads came from Chicky Babe’s Beads.

I forgot to take a photo of the beads but luckily they had this good picture posted on the forum. I chose to use the Copper and Jet AB pack—the other was gunmetal and tanzanite, which I liked too, but I thought I would challenge myself more with the copper shades. It contained copper filigree of various shapes and sizes, some lentil dangles in two different colours, Swarovski bicones and a rivoli, as well as a crystal octagon, some seed beads and some copper chain.

I have to admit that I ummed and aahhed over my pile of goodies until it was almost too late to submit anything. I’m not great with seed beads and rivolis and in the end I decided not to use them. I added in some rondelles in a coordinating lighter shade to contrast with the darker filigree stampings, as well as some copper findings and some fine copper chain. And I dipped the bright copper chain from the kit in Liver of Sulphur to give it a more antique look which better matched the filigree (proud moment—it was my first attempt at oxidising copper with Liver of Sulphur and I was pretty chuffed with the result).

Here’s a close up of the dangle, which is my favourite part of this necklace.

I was quite pleased with my last minute effort, although it pales in comparison to the efforts of the dedicated beadweavers on the forum.


Challenges and more

I recently decided I needed to stretch my wings a bit, give myself a challenge. Beading Forum runs a challenge twice a year—the Designer Quest—where members of the forum can purchase a set of beads for a modest price. The challenge is to make a piece of jewellery with the beads provided, and there is both a judged prize and a popular prize up for grabs.

This is the selection of beads I received for Designer Quest #24. 3 packets of seed beads in purple and a golden yellow, including some very tiny size 15/0 ones, a packet of triangle beads, Czech fire-polished faceted beads, round Czech beads, Czech teardrops, the big purple glass beads, small peacock dagger and even a faceted crystal. Yes, there are a lot of seed beads, something I don’t have a lot of experience with. And I’m certainly not going to launch myself into large scale bead-weaving or bead embroidery, not my thing. But I’ve got a couple of ideas based on a bracelet design in polymer clay art bead designer Heather Powers’ Jewelry Design from Nature that I plan to work on. I have a bit of time yet, but I think I need to get cracking soon!

Meanwhile, I received a lovely email the other day, informing me that I had won the Humblebeads & Vintaj Forest Friends Giveaway, which includes a fantastic selection of Vintaj brass and copper components and some gorgeous polymer clay beads and pendants from Humblebeads/Heather Powers. From the picture, it looks like a substantial stash of beads and bits, enough to make quite a few things! I’m really looking forward to receiving this package! Thanks so much Vintaj! And I’ll definitely post pics of what I make with my prize!

(Pic courtesy of