Blog Hops and Challenges

The 6th Annual ABS Ornament Blog Hop

Every year Art Bead Scene hosts a handmade holiday ornament blog hop, and for the past few years I’ve joined in. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it this year, as I have had a really busy couple of months, but I found myself with some time to play today, so I put a handful of very simple ornaments together.

A couple of months ago, Michelle McCarthy from Firefly Design Studio sent me a cute snowman ornament. I found a couple of white lampwork beads with a frosted coating that reminded me of snowballs and knotted them all together.

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Ceramic bead and pendant maker Gaea always has a few festive pendants in her collection leading up to Christmas and this year was no exception. I also had a plaid tree she made last year left in my stash, so I pulled them all out. Because Gaea pairs her festive pendants with beads, there is little to do with them other than put them together, so I kept things simple and knotted them on red and green waxed linen.

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Finally, I have a stash of crystals that a friend gave me from a chandelier she removed a couple of years ago. I used some of the teardrop-shaped crystals and some Christmassy tartan ribbon to make some simple ornaments. They catch the light beautifully!

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To see what others have made, visit the Art Bead Scene blog here, people will be adding their links in the next day or so.

 

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Firefly Design Studio Challenge #2: By the Seaside

Michelle McCarthy‘s second design challenge is upon us, and this time, we had a seaside theme to work with. The kit contained a variety of components including a pendant, a bracelet focal, charms and beads by Michelle, in two colourways: sandy or blue. I chose the blue and waited somewhat impatiently for the kit to arrive in the mail. Ever noticed that it takes longer if you’re waiting for it?

Anyhow, the kit I received looked something like this (picture pinched from Michelle):

bead set

Also in the kit was a mystery component by Cory Tompkins aka Tealwater Designs. Of course I neglected to take a photo of it, but you’ll see it in my pieces. Armed with the kit, I looked through my stash for some beads that would work well with the soft blue and sandy tones of the components. Surprisingly, I didn’t have as much as I thought in there that would work with it, but I ended up with a nice selection.

I put the earrings together first, embellishing Michelle’s charms with a little brass starfish swinging gaily in front.

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The necklace features Cory’s mystery component—a small polymer clay link decorated with a sea urchin-like texture—as a secondary element on one side. The beads are mostly Czech glass, with a single faux sea glass teardrop opposite the textured link, as well as some of Michelle’s ceramic beads from the kit. I had a pretty blue silk ribbon to use as a closure.

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I used much the same combination of beads in the bracelet.

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And here’s a picture of the whole set together. I love the muted palette, perfect for a wintery seaside visit (hey, well, I do live in Australia and winter has arrived this week).

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If you’d like to see some of the other designs, you can see them here in the Firefly Design Studio Designer Challenge Group on Facebook. I believe that while the voting period is open, the page is public, and you can vote by Liking photos, so like/love/wow away! To go straight to my designs, click here. And thank you for your appreciation!

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Paisley Brights: the Firefly Design Studio Designer Challenge

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.

Paisley brights kit

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!

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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.

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I even managed to add some of the Liberty cord to the earrings, tied in a bow between the beads.

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And here is the full set!

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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!

 

Beads, Swaps and exchanges

BeadFest part 4 — the people and the swaps

One last BeadFest post and then I’m done, promise! This time I want to mention a few of the people I met at BeadFest and afterwards. I’ve been involved in the beading/jewellery design online community for a few years now, blogging, taking part in challenges, swapping beads and chatting on Facebook. So it was fabulous to meet some of the people I have talked to over the last few years.

I took with me a little stash of art beads from some of my favourite Aussie beadmakers—Natalie Fletcher-Jones, Melissa Gabelle (a new discovery), Pauline Delaney, and more to swap with friends I met on my travels (by the way, these three beadmakers are very active on FB bead groups including Australian Art Beads which is a great page for buying beads). I should have taken a picture of it all before I left, but alas, I didn’t.

One of the people I was really hoping to meet was Lori Anderson. As luck would have it, we walked into each other right outside the expo hall, as she was arriving with her son Zach and I was leaving. Of course I knew her immediately from her pink hair! We chatted happily for 10-15 minutes, and had hoped to catch up later that day or the next day, but unfortunately she was unwell and had to leave before we managed to meet up again. Lori gifted me a lovely bag stuffed full of beads and toggles (and I later sent her a bag of beads too, as I didn’t happen to have them on me that day). Sadly, I didn’t think to take a photo of Lori at the time, but here’s a picture of the gift!

Loris gift

I had lunch another day with Heather Powers, who is the creative soul behind Humblebeads. We had such a good chat! Some of the beads I showed in my last post came from a swap I did with Heather.

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At Jenny Davies-Reazor‘s booth, I met not just Jenny but several of the other Art Jewelry Elements bloggers too—Lesley Watt (who came over from the UK to attend the show), Diana Ptaszynski and Linda Landig (who took photos but managed to stay out of one herself!). There were definitely swapsies involved with Jenny, Lesley and Diana, and they kindly allowed me to rest my poor tired feet behind their stand.

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Michelle McCarthy and I had already arranged to do a swap through a swap group we belong to, and decided to do it in person at the show.

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And here’s a picture of me and Marsha Neal, just because!

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After BeadFest there were a few more chances to meet people and to swap beads via the mail with friends I didn’t get a chance to meet in person.

Lennis Carrier sent me a fabulous selection of art beads, almost all of them with a few coordinating Czech beads as well. We had hoped to catch up in person, but she ended up helping out a friend on the other side of the country instead of coming to BeadFest.

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Cory Tompkins sent me a lovely selection of her polymer clay creations, and a stash of other bits and bobs as well. Aren’t those polymer sugar skulls awesome?!

Corys gift

A few weeks after BeadFest I went roadtripping through the southwest with my family and we had dinner with Gina Hockett, another friend from my bead swap group. She gifted me some lovely turquoise cabs (from Judy McCourt), some lampwork beads, and a bracelet and earrings too, as well as some petrified wood pieces for my kids (collected from outside the national park of course!).

Gina swap

It was wonderful to meet online friends in real life, even if it was only for a short time—I will be back! And of course, I would love to see some of my beady friends in Australia one day…

Beads

BeadFest part 3 — the art bead shopping

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.

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I bought a few more beads from Diane Hawkey. The glass beads in the picture were from Beach House Glass Beads.IMG_0860

I also bought some more beads from Nikki Thornburg—some of her headpins. I’m sure I can find some uses for them somewhere!

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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 …

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And I had to buy a few somethings from C-Koop Beads too.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Right next door was Anne Gardanne‘s stall and I picked up some more enameled components there.

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I splurged on a few exquisitely made beads from Joan Miller Porcelain. I wanted to buy a lot more.

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Green Girls Studios was good for a few more beads too.

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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.

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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.

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Swaps and exchanges

Octoberfest: Better late than never!

Well, here I am, arriving a week late at Rita’s 3rd Annual Octoberfest party! I am so sorry, I have just been a bit swamped with life recently.

Anyway. I thought I would pay homage to Autumn, even though we are in the midst of Spring here in Australia. Our trees are that wonderful intense green of new foliage and the weather is veering wildly from yesterday’s heat to today’s rain and wind.

I have to say I find Autumn bittersweet, as I am a summer girl at heart. Here in Melbourne, at least, we have enough European trees to get the changing colours of the leaves, which I love (the piles of leaves on the lawn and the verges, not so much). So I thought I would use an Autumn leaf as an inspiration for this hop.

Recently I received a pile of metal goodies from Cheryl Foiles, through a fun game of giving presents and stealing presents and then stealing some more, that I played with a group of bead-loving friends. Amongst all of the fun stamped and enameled components was a beautifully patinaed fold-formed copper leaf. I combined it with some large dyed agate beads and some Czech glass in shades of red, orange and yellow, green, and even a deep purple to make an autumnal necklace.

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Here’s a close up of the focal. It’s pretty special isn’t it!

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But wait, I haven’t finished yet. Last night was Halloween here and I wore a pair of earrings sent to me by Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio in a Halloween-themed earring swap a couple of weeks ago. The cute ceramic pumpkin charms were made by Michelle. She also sent me a second pair that are very pretty indeed. Thank you Michelle, I’ll be wearing both pairs a lot!

Halloween swap Michelle

In return I sent her this little pair of earrings, featuring pumpkin-coloured glass beads and gunmetal sugar skull charms. The second pair of earrings are just a cute little flower and leaf design.

Halloween swap Melissa

I’ll be back in a few days with a few more updates, and teases for some upcoming blog hops!

 

 

 

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Seashell in the surf necklace: The Sea Shell Design Challenge

My friend Rita, aka Toltec Jewels, has been on a roll with challenges featuring her favourite artist beads recently. The Sea Shell Design Challenge showcases a pretty ceramic scallop shell pendant made by Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio. Rita sent out a dozen or so shells to a group of us and challenged us to make something!

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The shells came in a variety of hues—I believe mine is the one at the top right. In person it’s a lovely weathered bluey-green colour. Digging through my stash I found a variety of pretty Czech beads in a spectrum of blues and greens that reminded me of the ocean, from the waves breaking on the sandy beach, to the deep water. And I also found the perfect clasp, a copper starfish!

Seashell necklace collage

The reveal within our Facebook group was yesterday, but I thought I would share what I made with all of you too. Thank you again Rita, for a delightful challenge, and your continued generosity to your fellow beaders!