Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Swaps and exchanges

Bead Peeps Swap’n’Hop: You’ve got mail!

A lovely package showed up in my mailbox yesterday, all the way from England. A bundle of awesome goodies from Niky Sayers, my partner in the Bead Peeps Swap’n’Hop. And she has totally spoiled me with goodies!

Here’s what I saw when I opened the package …


Then after the letter was removed:


And here is what was in those intriguing packages!


So, the big heart in the middle is a Gaea ceramic heart in a lovely soft aqua on chocolate brown clay. To the right of the heart is an awesome enamel scrip bead from Blue Antiquities, a pair of ceramic beads by Karen Totten and a fly connector by Bo Hulley. Below the heart is a trio of tiny lampwork drops by Laura Sparling — they are like little double droplets. Over on the far right are 4 faceted fossilized coral coin beads plus 2 fossilized wood  beads. A strand of Serpentine rondelles, again in shades of aqua and copper.

And then there are the gorgeous components made by Niky herself! A pair of copper mushroom headpins, a copper roll bead and a copper safety pin (I have plans for you, little pin!). And finally some coin-creations: a sixpence bead, a farthing clasp (I love the little wren adorning the coin!) and a farthing connector featuring a headpin by Jen Cameron! Oh I love Niky’s coin components!

The colours Niky has picked are absolutely me, and I can’t wait to get started with these beauties! I’ve already got some ideas rattling around my head.

Reveal day is 2 May. It’s sooner than you (and I) think!


Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Tin Roof … Rusted: the 3rd Annual Challenge of Music

Once again, I’m taking part in Erin Prais-Hintz ‘s Annual Challenge of Music. This year, she has set us a new challenge:

Pick a significant year in your life history. Now pick a song to help tell that story. Your playlist is as unique as you are! The music of your past weaves a story that only you can tell. The choices of song will tell us a lot about who you are, where you come from, what is important to you and give great insight.

Create something of your choice – jewelry, accessory or some other artistic representation – that helps us experience this special song. I am opening this challenge up to any artistic interpretation. Whatever way this inspiration moves you, follow its lead!

Well. What year to pick, what song to pick! I had a few ideas, but once again, the beads had their say.

The year was 1990. I had graduated from university, worked for a few months and then packed my bags to move across the word to start grad school at the University of California, Berkeley (go Bears!!). My first year there I decided to live at International House, a fabulous residence for graduate students (and the odd Senior) from all around the world, and their US counterparts who had a foreign connection, whether it was being born abroad, or spending time abroad while at high school or college, or even just more than a passing interest in the world.

Living in the I-House was an amazing experience. I met some wonderful people from all around the world, made some lifelong friends, and started figuring out who I was. But strangely, one of the things that really has stayed with me is the fabulous parties that the residents would throw. That year, I-House had a big group of students who liked to get down and dance the night away, drinking cheap wine, beer and cocktails. And while the recreation rooms had that student residence feel to them, listening to the B52s song Love Shack, which was doing the rounds at that time (well, strictly speaking it was released in 1989, but give me a little artistic license!), takes me right back to those parties.

So here is my little homage to I-House parties, and the ever-danceable Love Shack. I recently acquired one of Heather Powers ‘ Folk Art House beads, which lo and behold, has a rusted tin roof (again with the artistic license!). I cut a little sign out of copper and stamped it with the directions (15 miles to the Love Shaaack!), antiqued it with liver of sulfur and highlighted the stamped words with a dab of Vintaj patina ink in Marble. Then I dangled the house from the sign to complete my focal (that’s one of Rebecca Anderson‘s Deco Rose copper headpins there).

Love shack focal

And I strung them with an eclectic collection of beads that took my fancy (I’m being sneaky here and combining two challenges in one here—I’m playing along with Heather Powers’ Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge and creating something using a bead soup for the second challenge, more to come in a future blog post!). I was trying to get the feeling of a quirky little boho dive, the kind with tatty couches in the corner, maybe some locally-made art on the walls, definitely interesting reading material on the toilet walls, and a small dancefloor with a DJ and a disco ball in the evenings. The drinks are cold, the kitchen has some awesome bar snacks and all my friends are there on a Saturday night!

Tin roof ... rusted collage

Among them are a Gaea dotted heart and dotty bead, a Jennifer Heynen pink swirly bead, the red heart from my Curiosity Club Paintbox kit, a couple of other interesting Czech glass beads and some blue melon beads to tie it all together. The swirly copper clasp (which my photo doesn’t really show well at all) is also from Rebecca Anderson’s Deco Rose collection.

I hope you will join me at the Love Shack sometime. Now, it’s time for you to go and see what the other participants in Erin’s Challenge of Music have come up with! The best way is to click on this link to go to Erin’s reveal page (once it is Saturday in the USA, I’m a bit early here) and look for the InLinkz list at the bottom of the page. I’ll be adding my link as soon as I can.

Thank you Miss Erin for another excellent challenge, it’s been fun!


The next step

My kids’ school is holding a little craft market in a couple of weeks and I’ve signed up for a stall. So, that means I’ve got about 2 weeks left (!) to make as much jewellery as I possibly can. Eek!

My Mum is making some ceramic Christmas decorations—porcelain snowflakes and birds—as well as some other ceramic bits and pieces to sell at my stall too.

Here’s a sneak peek of the things I’ve been busy making this weekend … bracelets! I made TEN yesterday—those lovely colourful Czech glass ones in the photo below. And there are several with Gaea‘s lovely ceramic beads knotted on leather.

I’ve got loads of earrings too, and will be making more this week, along with some necklaces. I’ve been madly ordering supplies so that I can whip up a bunch of cute necklaces for little girls—rainbows, butterflies, hearts, lockets, mysterious keys and flowers. I’m aiming to spend no more than $2-3 on each one and with luck I can sell them for $10-15. And I’ve started working on how to display everything too.

Oh, and I’ve also come up with a name for my jewellery “business”…


What do you think? I’m hoping that if I sell some of my designs I might be brave enough to open an online store on Etsy or Madeit, or even sign up for one of the local craft markets—there’s one around the corner from us every month that could be good for a newbie like me.


From the Faraway Tree — the Challenge of Literature Blog Hop

A little under a month ago, Erin Prais-Hintz from Tesori Trovati/Treasures Found unveiled the latest in her quarterly series of challenges and blog hops—The Challenge of Literature. The brief? To use literary inspiration to create a piece of jewellery.

In Erin’s words:

What is your favorite literary pastime? Do you enjoy reading poetry? Are you a fan of the classics like Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, or the Bronte sisters? Do you recall the first novel that you ever read that you so fully connected with? Or are you in the throes of reading bedtime stories so that colors your literary world?

Whatever your inspiration… poetry, drama, mystery, fantasy, realistic fiction, romance, graphic novels, children’s illustrated or young adult… I challenge you to be inspired by literature this month!

If you love reading, this is the challenge for you! For the Challenge of Literature, we will choose a piece of writing that speaks to each of us personally and translate that literature into an accessory.

via Treasures Found :: Inspiration is Everywhere.

From the moment I read her post, I knew this challenge was something that spoke to me. I love to read, and I always have.

But what would best inspire me? My favourite genre is fantasy, closely followed by science fiction. And paranormal and horror fiction. And historical fiction. And chick lit. The occasional thriller, especially if it has a science bent. See what I mean?

And then I thought of Enid Blyton, whose tales of fairies and forests started my love of fantasy. Oh, The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree. Reading these books transported me to a delightful land of fairies, pixies and gnomes, animals who spoke, magic lands and adventures. I have read them all dozens of times, as a child and as an adult. I still own copies—and not the politically correct and sanitised versions from the 1990s but the original copies I had as a child, battered and well read.

For those who have not been lucky enough to read these classic books, the Faraway Tree is a magical tree. Three children—Jo, Bessie and Fanny—move to the country. One day, they discover a mysterious woodland, the Enchanted Wood, and at its heart is the Faraway Tree. When the children climb up the tree, they discover that there are all sorts of folk living in the tree, and at the very top, a ladder leads up to a series of magical lands in the clouds, with names like Topsy-Turvy Land, The Land of Take What You Want, The Land of Birthdays, The Land of Toys, The Land of Enchantments and more. Not all of the lands are pleasant, and the children have many adventures with their friends from the Tree, Silky the fairy, Moonface, The Saucepan Man and more.

“It’s a simply enormous tree,” said Jo. “Its top goes right up to the clouds—and oh, Dick, at the top of it is always some strange land. You can go there by climbing up the top branch of the Faraway Tree, going up a little ladder through a hole in the big cloud that always lies on the top of the tree—and there you are in some peculiar land!”

“I don’t think I believe you,” said Dick. “You are making it all up.”

“Dick! We’ll take you there and show you what we mean,” said Bessie. “It’s all quite true. Oh Dick, we’ve had such exciting adventures at the top of the Faraway Tree. We’ve been to the Rocking Land and the Birthday Land.”

“And the Land of Take-What-You-Want and the Land of the Snowman,” said Fanny. “You just can’t think how exciting it all is.”

“And, Dick, all sorts of queer folk live in the trunk of the Faraway Tree,” said Jo. “We’ve lots of good friends there. We’ll take you to them one day. There’s a dear little fairy called Silky, because she has such a mass of silky gold hair.”

“And then there’s Moon-Face, with a big round face like the moon! He’s a darling!” said Bessie.

(From The Magic Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton. First published in 1943.)

I thought to myself, what if I could create the Faraway Tree as a necklace? Who and what would need to be present to evoke this most magical of trees? Well, all magical trees need an owl of course! Silky the fairy and Moonface, who lives right at the top of the tree, near the ladder that leads to magical lands. An assortment of leaves and flowers and fruits from a tree that whimsically grows acorns, apples, cherries, and more.

And here it is, my Faraway Tree necklace, and a pair of leafy earrings to match it.

A closer look at the focal:

And the earrings. I kept them simple, as the necklace is so busy!

Some of the components I used include an owl pendant and some coordinating ceramic beads from Gaea, a couple of spacer beads from Humblebeads in the necklace, and also in the earrings, lovely rectangular rhyolite (also known as rainforest jasper) beads in shades of cream, rusty brown and green, brass chain, lots and lots of Vintaj components including the branch, earring leaves, fairy and Moonface charms, plus a sweet acorn cap and a leafy clasp, Czech glass leaves flowers and rondelle “fruits” and a couple of sweet little flower headpins I found on Etsy some time ago. A scrap of sari silk in colours to tie it all together that was wrapped around a package of sari silk from Mudhound Studio.

If reading the books interests you, you can find the more recently published versions on Amazon and The Book Depository, or try eBay for vintage copies like mine.

For the rest of the blog hop participants use the links below or visit Erin’s blog:

Erin Prais-Hintz
Rebecca Anderson
Rose Binoya
Lori Bowring Michaud
Shannon Chomanszuk
Marlene Cupo
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Kim Dworak
Beth Emery
Therese Frank
Amy Freeland
K Hutchinson
Jennifer Justman
Susan Kennedy
Linda Landig
Lisa Lodge
Lisa Lowe
Kirsi Luostarinen
Beth McCord
Melissa Meman
Sharon Misuraco
Tracey Nanstad
Melinda Orr
Kashmira Patel
Alice Peterson
Sally Russick
Niky Sayers
Pam Sears
Amy Severino
Tracy Stillman
Emma Todd
Melissa Trudinger — you are here!
Lesley Watt
Shai Williams