Inspired by Reading: A Place of My Own

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The January book for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was Michael Pollan’s book A Place of My Own: The Architechure of Daydreams. It’s not a new book, it was first published in 1997 or thereabouts, and it deals with the design and construction of a small building — a place for the author to write. In typical Pollan style, though, it’s about much more than that, it’s about architecture, it’s about the conflict between the architect, who puts dreams onto paper and the builder who has to turn them into reality, and a lot more.

From the back of the book:

Inspired in equal parts by Thoreau and Mr Blandings, A Place of My Own not only explores the history and meaning of all human building, it also demonstrates architecture’s unique power to give our bodies, minds, and dreams a home in the world.

It’s a pretty wordy book, and gets a bit long-winded at times, but on the whole I enjoyed it and it certainly made me think! Perhaps that’s because my husband and I are starting to talk a little more seriously about renovating our home, or at least think about getting the process started with dreams and plans!

So I thought I would take a slightly different approach this month, and talk about the plans I have to create a small studio space of my own. Our home is a (typical for the area) single storey, 4 bedroom house built almost 100 years ago originally, with a dated extension that’s probably 25 years old. But one of the attractions for us when we bought it was the existence of a detached bungalow (as we call them here in Australia) aka studio. It’s a two-room plus tiny bathroom space that is mostly used as a guest bedroom and spillover storage for everything that doesn’t fit in the house. Most of my books are in there (I have a lot much to my husband’s dismay), and the cupboards are full of random art and sewing supplies, extra kitchen stuff and more.

Anyway, with a recent reorganisation of various rooms and associated furniture within our house, I have decided to move all of my jewellery making supplies out there and turn part of it into a studio for myself. It will still have to double as a guest bedroom on a regular basis (don’t worry Gran and Papa, I’ll leave plenty of room for you!), so I can’t take over the whole space, and I can see myself bringing projects back inside to work on too, especially in the evenings.

Keeping in mind that it is a work in progress, I thought I would give you some before pictures, and I’ll come back in a few weeks to show you how it’s shaping up as a space to work.

Late last year I bought a fantastic old jeweller’s bench from a retired goldsmith. It was covered in layers of utilitarian grey paint, well hammered board as a working surface, and many other layers of grime, but it was a solid piece of furniture and at a pretty good price too! I immediately set to work sanding back the top and getting it ready to use. And then I ran out of steam and it’s been sitting there for a couple of months with things piling up on top of it. I’m hoping this weekend I might get back to it.

Here’s the before picture:

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My plan is to use the bench for metalwork — hammering, soldering, stamping, and so on. I am also planning to set up space for torch-fired enamelling, but because this workbench will be against a wall, I think I need to set up on a smaller table I can pull out into the middle of the room so that the flame is not directed straight at the wall.

My beads are in a complete mess, so my next job will be to sort them out. Most of my art beads and a fair few of the Czech glass beads I use most often are in this Ikea chest of drawers. It’s sitting in my hallway right now.

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I’ve moved most of the other boxes of supplies into the bungalow but I haven’t had a chance to sort it out yet, and I’ve got a bit of work to do to make the space my own. Fingers crossed I can get in there soon.

But wait. I couldn’t let this book go by without making something inspired by it. So I pulled out a tiny pair of house charms made by Lesley Watt and turned them into a sweet little pair of earrings.

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It’s on to the next book now, thanks again for another interesting read Andrew and William!

 

 

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Here Comes the Sun: Art Jewelry Elements Rebirth of the Sun Challenge

The Art Jewelry Elements challenge this month is celebrating the rebirth of the sun during the winter solstice. Well, here in Australia, we are at the other end of the sun’s cycle and have just passed midsummer. That’s just fine with me as I love summer, well, up until it gets really stinking hot, so I’m happy to just celebrate the sun!

This time around I didn’t win one of the challenge giveaways so instead I bought one of Lesley Watt‘s sun pendants, rather a lovely one I think! I had chosen a bunch of Czech beads and laid them out in a reasonably complex order. And then I looked at the pendant again and decided simple was best. So I linked a small selection of beads together and added them to the pendant, popped some rather nice brass chain on as well, and created a little dangle for the bottom of the pendant.

Rebirth of the Sun necklace

I realised after I made it that the little pops of orangey-pink remind me of the colours in the sky at dawn, when the sun is reborn each day.

There are others joining in this AJE challenge, so if you can, go and see what they made too! Thank you Lesley and the AJE team for the challenge theme!

Guest Designers
Melissa Trudinger <– YOU ARE HERE!

AJE Team

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.

AJE swaps

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.

Michelle swaps

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…

AJE Elements Use Your Stash blog hop

Way back in the middle of December, Art Jewelry Elements announced that in January it would amp up the Component of the Month challenge, with every member of the team designing something using a component from their stash made by one of the other team members. Readers were encouraged to do the same, and to add a little extra, nine lucky jewellery designers would receive an art bead.

I was lucky enough to have my name drawn to receive this fabulous ceramic pendant from Lesley Watt.

Daisy pendant

It’s summer here in Australia, and our lawn is sprouting daisies and dandelions. I combined the pendant with a literal bunch of flowers, all knotted together on sunny yellow waxed linen cord.

Summer Daisy necklace

Thank you Lesley for sending me such a sweet little pendant to play with—I hope this necklace brings a ray of sunshine to brighten up your English winter today!

Here are the links to the AJE team blogs as well as the other winners and some jewellery designers who raided their stash to play along.

AJE team: 
Guest Participants ( aka winners)
Samantha- Wescott Jewelry
Kathy – Bay Moon Designs
Nikki – Silver Nik nats
Yvette – Blue Kiln Beads
Bonus participants! 

Autumn Design Challenge

I recently got the chance to participate in the Autumn Design Challenge using beads and components by Caroline Dewison (Blueberribeads) and Lesley Watt (Thea Elements). Caroline and Lesley, who are both based in the UK, combined their talents to put together little packages of goodies each containing a strand of ceramic beads from Caroline and a pair of bronze components from Lesley, and sent them off at a minimal cost to 20 participants randomly chosen from blog comments.

Although I wasn’t initially selected, I was fortunate enough to get chosen when one of the chosen participants pulled out. A couple of weeks later I received these lovely beads in the mail.

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I decided to make three pieces using these beads. The first, using the pretty enameled flower from Lesley, is a simple but super-long necklace. I matched the colours in the pendant with a little bag of vintage Czech beads I received from Lennis Carrier (Windbent) in a swap we did earlier this year. According to Lennis, these beads, in luscious pinks, reds and purples, are from the 1920s and 1930s! The flower is wired to the pink melon-shaped ceramic bead as well as a couple of the Czech glass beads to make a substantial pendant.

Vintage flower necklace collage

The second piece is another necklace, this time using the chocolate brown ceramic heart bead made by Caroline, as well as the two larger dark brown ceramic beads. I added Czech melon beads in shades of pink, burgundy and dark bronze. I think I’ll call this one “Dark Heart”.

Dark Heart Necklace collage

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to finish the final piece, a bracelet using the pretty bronze patinaed connector. I’ve picked out some beads to use, but that’s as far as I have gone with it.

I’d like to thank Lesley and Caroline for putting together such a fantastic little package of beads to play with, I’ll definitely be back for more! If you’d like to see what other participants have made, here are their blog links:

Lesley Watt – http://thegossipinggoddess.blogspot.co.uk/

Caroline Dewison – http://blueberribeads.co.uk

Gay Messander – http://gaysiemay.blogspot.co.uk/

Made By Jules – http://madebyjulesblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Heidi Post – http://expostfactojewelry.blogspot.co.uk/

Janet Bocciardi – http://www.honeyfromthebee.com/

Alice – http://alice-dreaming.blogspot.com

Dolores Raml – http://craftydscreations.wordpress.com

Lucy Haslam – http://faerystone.blogspot.co.uk/

Pine Ridge treasures – http://pineridgetreasures.blogspot.com

Shirley Moore – http://beadsandbread.blogspot.com

Tracy Collins – http://travelsintimedesigns.blogspot.co.uk

Melissa Trudinger – https://beadrecipes.wordpress.com/    YOU ARE HERE!!!

Mags – http://magsinhelmet.blogspot.com

Pepita – http://pepita-handmade.blogspot.co.uk/

Jo-Ann – http://itsabeadifulcreation.blogspot.com

Toltec Jewels – http://www.jewelschoolfriends.com

Judith Johnston – http://www.judith-johnston.com/blog

Janine Lucas – http://www.esfera.me/travel/blog/travel-stories

Madeline Bunyan – http://madelinebunyan.com/mlj/

Chic and frog – http://www.chicandfrog.wordpress.com

Another bracelet swap

I’m really enjoying doing swaps and challenges—it gets me moving and stretching my creative muscles! And that can only be a good thing, right?

The bracelet swap I did a few weeks ago led me to another bracelet swap with another jewellery designer I met through BeadSwap-USA, Lindsay Starr. I played around with Lesley Watt’s tutorial again—I’ve got lots of ideas for using this technique! This time I used a central focal ring in copper, and beaded off both sides of it with some unusual Czech glass beads. I think it worked out really well.

Stay tuned for my post on the Double-Trouble Earring Swap! I’m just waiting to hear that my earrings have arrived in Canada—it can take so long for packages to get from one side of the world to the other! The next few swaps I’m doing are all bead-related—a flowers and leaves swap, a pendants and charms swap (both of these through BeadSwap-USA) and a Pantone colours swap through Lori Anderson’s Bead Soup Cafe Facebook group.

I’m also planning to take part in a side-shoot of Diana Ptaszynski’s Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap, and I’m tossing up whether to do a historical challenge/blog hop. Then there’s the Beading Forum‘s Designer Quest, which is due in November. I’m sure some more fun will be heading this way too, especially with Christmas looming on the horizon.

Quick bracelet swap

Not long ago I signed up to a forum called BeadSwap-USA. It’s a great little forum of beaders interested in swapping beads and jewelry with each other.

At its heart are the travelling bead boxes, which sadly only travel around the US at the moment due to the difficulties of shipping bigger packages internationally. I have hopes of getting an Australian travelling bead box established though, if I can persuade any other Aussies to sign up!

The site also hosts a series of person to person swaps of both finished handmade jewellery and beads/components, usually involving a specific type of jewellery or bead/component. I have signed up to take part in a few of those over the next month or two. The first was a Quick Bracelet Swap, in which assigned partners make each other a bracelet (taking into account their partner’s tastes!) and send it off. My assigned parter for this swap is Laura Singley, a beader living in Montana. And lucky Laura gets not one, but two bracelets from me!

I’ve recently seen a couple of fun tutorials for bracelets that I thought I would try out. The first bracelet is a quick and versatile little number from British beader Lesley Watt, which simply alternates beads on two strands of waxed linen cord, with jumprings separating each bead. It’s certainly been a popular design, as I’ve seen it popping up everywhere. I made my version using Czech cathedral beads in a teal green with gunmetal jumprings and a blossom button for the closure.

I’ll definitely be making more of these bracelets—they’re quick and easy, and look great. And they’d work with all sorts of different beads or as part of a larger design.

The second tutorial I was inspired to try comes from Tracy Statler, whose blog Make Bracelets has a number of fantastic tutorials and videos. Her most recent design of clusters of beads was perfect for a strand of glass pearls in rich colours that I picked up recently.

And I’m pleased to report that my partner loved both bracelets!

Make sure you check back in on the weekend when I reveal my Bead Soup Blog Party creations!