Beads, Swaps and exchanges

This is Halloween

Or rather, that was Halloween! Blink and you miss things these days! Well, in our case, a horde of children descended on our house to go trick or treating in our neighbourhood (how nice that it was a Saturday night!), that’s my excuse anyway.

But I thought I would show you a few scary bits and pieces that I celebrated the season with! I took part in a Halloween jewellery swap. My partner and I had to make each other some Halloween jewellery. I had actually ordered a rather snazzy lampwork sugar skull focal just before I went away on my big adventure, but sadly it didn’t survive the trip in the post (which was literally just across town), so the artist, Pauline Delaney, kindly offered to make me a new one. Complicating it all was the fact that the first skull was sent in good time for me to receive it before I left on holiday but then took more than a week to travel across town (happily Pauline is local). So I didn’t find out until I got back from my trip, and then it took a little while for Pauline to make and send the replacement.

Anyway. It all got sorted nicely and my skull arrived in the mail. The next challenge was to work out what to do with it. I have to admit to having a bit of designers’ block on what to do. I pulled out lots of beads but couldn’t come up with something I liked. So I turned to Pinterest and went looking for inspiration. And what do you know! I found it! After seeing some skull beads (mostly in earrings I admit) with tasselled skirts, I played around and came up with a sari silk tassel to match the flowers on the back of the skull, flowing from a Fallen Angel Brass black tulip bead cap. The accompanying beads went into a wire wrapped necklace along with a few Czech glass flowers, and Vintaj Arte Metal chain.

Sugar skull collage

While I was in the mood for skulls, I also put together a few pairs of cute earrings, featuring some tiny dyed howlite skulls with floral skirts. A pair of these plus the necklace went off in the mail to my swap partner Janeen, who lives in California.


And on Monday, Dia de los Muertos, aka Day of the Dead (the Mexican holiday which celebrates and honours the dead), I received a marvellous necklace and earrings from Janeen (she received her package that day too!). The necklace she sent me features polymer clay skulls by Staci Louise Smith, and I love it! Thanks again Janeen!


Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Halloween/Day of the Dead Jewellery Blog Hop

I like Halloween. It’s only just becoming a popular holiday in Australia, largely driven by the big retailers, but my kids have a lot of fun planning their costumes and going out trick-or-treating. And I have fond memories of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the local drag queens celebrated for at least a week, and the Halloween parade in the Castro was legendary for its excesses.

Today’s blog hop—the Day of the Dead and Halloween Jewellery blog hop—is brought to you by Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studio. The challenge—to make jewellery with a Halloween/Day of the Dead theme using at least one art bead in each piece made.

For all my intentions, I only had time to make one piece. I used one of Natalie Fletcher‘s ceramic sugar skull pendants to make a necklace—it is similar to the one I used last year for my Mexican-themed Challenge of Travel piece. If you want to know more about Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead celebrations, I wrote a bit about it in that post.

Anyway, instead of using silver components like last time, I decided to go a bit darker, with dark metal chain and findings. I had some lovely big orange lampwork beads from Puddle Glass Art that said Halloween pumpkin to me, and some dyed fire agate rondelles in vibrant pinks, blues, purples and oranges. The chain came from the Vintaj Arte Metal range and the twisted link was from Fallen Angel Brass.

Dia de las Muertos necklace

There are more than 40 participants in this blog hop, so please go and visit a few of them!

Diana Ptaszynski <–HOSTESS!!

Staci Smith

Kathleen Breeding

Sue Kennedy

Dianne Miller

Lisa Liddy

Toltec Jewels

Linda Landig

Laura Medeiros

Veralynne Malone

Lynn Jobber

Michelle McCarthy

Karen Totten

Jayne Capps

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Joan Miller

Melissa Meman

Melissa Trudinger <– YOU ARE HERE!!!

Kari Asbury

Inge von Roos

Andrea Glick

Stephanie LaRosa

Lola Surwillo

Jennifer Cameron

Diane Hawkey

Kristi Harrison

Nicole Valentine Rimmer

Tanya Goodwin

Shai Williams

Sandra McGriff

Sarajo Wentling

Marie Covert

Lisa Stukel

Laurie Vyselaar

Sherri Stokey

Pam Traub

Lori Dorrington

Kristen Stevens

Eleanor Burian-Mohr

Sally Russick

Dawn M. Gallop

Christine Damm

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Victorian Charms — The History Hop 2


It’s time for the second History Hop, hosted by Leah Curtis. I did this hop last year, creating a necklace and earrings inspired by the Art Nouveau movement. This time around, I’ve focused on Victorian jewellery—specifically English Romanticism and mourning jewellery.

The Victorian era spanned the long reign of Queen Victoria, who ascended the throne in 1837 and died in 1901. Queen Victoria, who was only 18 when she inherited the throne, loved jewellery, and her tastes in jewellery and fashion influenced the world!

Victorian jewellery is classified into three periods: the Romantic period or English Romanticism, which spanned 1837-1860, the Grand Period from 1860-1885, and the Aesthetic Period from 1885-1901. English Romantic jewellery featured stylised and symbolic themes from nature, including flowers, leaves, grapes, and berries, as well as motifs such as snakes, birds and insects. Gold was the prominent metal, but due to its scarcity at the time—the US and Australian gold rushes didn’t happen until the mid-1800s—filigree and other light forms such as chasing and repousse were popular. Gemstones and natural materials including tortoise shell, lava, jet, agate, bog oak, ivory and coral were frequently used. Jewellery was largely still handcrafted during this period.

The increase in English tourism to destinations throughout Europe made jewellery a frequent souvenir, with cameos from Pompei, micro-mosaics from Rome, enamelled plaques from Switzerland and more coming back to England. Cameos had been around since Roman times, and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the Victorian era, in materials including shell, coral, onyx, carnelian and agate.

Brooches, bracelets and rings were the most popular jewellery forms, in part due to the high necklines and bonnets of daytime fashions. Necklaces tended to be worn close to the neck and ranged from simple chokers, ribbons and chains displaying a pendant or locket to elaborate designs incorporating gemstones and more. Queen Victoria also loved charm bracelets, and would often give her family members charms as gifts.

Mourning jewellery was also prevalent during Victorian times, although it had been around for a few centuries. Hair jewellery was very prevalent, with elaborate woven pieces of jewellery made from human hair, as well as simple lockets holding small locks of hair from deceased loved ones. But mourning jewellery really came to the fore after Queen Victoria’s beloved husband Prince Albert died in 1861. The bereaved queen entered a long period of full mourning, with strict protocols requiring both black dress and black jewellery, utilising dark gems and materials including jet and onyx, black enamel and black glass.

So, after reading as much as I could find about English Romanticism and mourning jewellery I decided to create two pieces inspired by the era, a cameo necklace and a charm bracelet in a dark gothic style inspired by mourning jewellery.

I found it difficult to find images of cameo jewellery specifically from the Victorian era—plenty of cameos, but mostly on fairly simple chains. Most of the pictures I found came from the mid-20th century revival of Victorian style jewellery and later. My version has a green and white cameo on an antique brass frame, with some  brass connectors.  Although probably not particularly authentic, I used freshwater pearls and some faceted Czech crystal to highlight the green background of the cameo.


The gorgeously gothic dark tones of Fallen Angel Brass inspired the mourning charm bracelet. I used a lovely heavy chain for the bracelet, and dangled a series of charms from it including hearts, flowers, an acorn, a tiny hinged book of love, a dragonfly, a lock and key, a swallow, interspersed with black and smoky grey crystals set into pronged settings, dark grey pearls, black Czech crystals and even a few tiny garnet red Swarovski crystals. I did plan to include some fabulous black intaglios (reverse cameos with the image carved into the glass) set into an ornate frame, but I ran into problems getting the glass to stay glued in the frame, and decided to save that for another day.


Now that you’ve seen what inspired me, please take some time to look at the creations of the other blog hop participants. There is a wonderful range of time periods and places represented amongst them!

Leah Curtis – Indus Valley – <– Our Hostess!
Laney Mead – Māori –
Becca – Art Nouveau –
Melissa – English Romanticism and Mourning Jewellery – <– You are Here!
Tracy Stillman – Native American –

Gerda – English Romanticism and Mourning Jewellery –
Liz E – Native North American –
Ahowin – Māori (New Zealand)  – 
Jasvanti – Indus Valley –
Lizzie – Art Nouveau –

Julia Hay – Merovingian –
Dini – Celtic –
Caroline – Art Nouveau – 
Charlie – Moche of Peru –
Karin – China –

Niky Sayers – Rome –
Marcia Dunne – Celtic and Mourning Jewellery –
anafiassa – Mesopotamia –
Kokopelli – Native American –
Christa – Native American –

Clair – Roman –
Susan Bowie – Native American –
Gloria Allen – English Romanticism –
Sheila Garrett – Early Russia –