Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Lots of knots: Waxed Linen Blog Hop

If you are looking for my BSBP8 post, it’s HERE!

About a month ago, Diana Ptaszynski had the brilliant idea to host a blog hop using waxed linen. Quick as a flash I signed up, as I really really like using waxed linen cord in my jewellery designs. I first came across it in Lorelei Eurto and Erin Siegel ‘s book Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry, which is a fantastic book, and one of my go-to books for inspiration. I love how both of these designers incorporate waxed linen into their designs, they are both a source of great inspiration to me!

What do I like so much about waxed linen? It comes in a whole range of colours, like teal or lavender, denim blue or rusty red, chocolate brown, black or naturally off-white.  It comes in several sizes, or plies (which refers to the number of strands incorporating the cord, usually 4 or 7, but as few as 2 and as many as 12!), so you can find one to fit most beads, except perhaps those tiny-holed pearls and small seed beads. And the waxing makes it kind of sticky, so knots really stay where they are supposed to stay. It’s lightweight and drapes nicely in a necklace, and is strong enough for bracelets too. And it adds a textural element to all jewellery designs that wire just doesn’t have.

For this blog hop I did a couple of pieces. The first is a necklace that is similar in design to the owl necklace I did a few weeks ago for BSBP8. As I have mentioned before, I am a member of Rebecca Anderson‘s Curiosity Club, and the April kit, entitled “Delft”, contained a combination of blue, aqua, white and translucent beads as well as two disk-shaped lampwork beads made by Helen Chalmers. And, like all of Rebecca’s kits, there were 2 skeins of waxed linen, in orange and denim blue.

In my stash, I had a polymer clay pendant in copper and blue-green from Erin Prais-Hintz, with a bird on one side and the phrase “Mother knows best” on the other: perfect as I planned to give this necklace to my Mum as a belated Mother’s day and birthday gift. I combed through my stash for some more beads in similar shades of blue, adding the white and blue floral ceramic beads and some blue seed beads to the mix. A copper chain at the ends of the beaded section allows the length of the necklace to be adjusted.

Mother knows best necklace Collage

My next design also used beads from one of Rebecca’s kits, this one the March kit, called “After the Rain”. Rebecca included a piece of Liberty print bias binding, and I was racking my brains to come up with an interesting use for it. Inspired by one of the other designers, I decided to wrap it around a Vintaj creative hoop to make a bangle. Instead of the more common wire wrapped around the fabric to help secure it, I wrapped some yellow and orange linen around instead, with a few tiny translucent pink Czech beads (both the linen and the rounds also came from the kit). I found an interesting lobster clasp in my stash and used it to close the bangle.

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I also made a pair of earrings from the same kit, using orange waxed linen to dangle yellow and orange flower beads and “mushrooms”—piggies on top of a round bead—from a brass ring.

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Finally, I thought I would show you some other earring designs using waxed linen (these were made a few months ago, not with this blog hop in mind). The first pair uses a pair of ceramic rounds from Jennifer Heynen, with seed beads knotted on waxed linen dangling below. The second pair uses some porcelain charms made by my Mum, with a sweet little floral decal adorning them. A small Czech coin with an embossed bird is knotted over the charm.

Waxed linen earrings Collage

Mum and I have also collaborated to make sweet bird ornaments: a porcelain bird with waxed linen “legs” knotted onto an antiqued brass or silver branch.

Birds of a feather Collage

It seems like there are a lot of other fans of waxed linen out there with Diana and I, as 44 people are taking part in this blog hop. If you have time to visit some of their blogs, the links are below.

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Beads

The last four days of Handmade Christmas days 9-12

And now for the (almost) final reveal of gifts from the 12 Days of Christmas Handmade Gift exchange.

On day 9, I didn’t open a gift as it was my turn to give. But I thought I’d post some pictures of the gifts I made for everyone else. I started out with some vintage chandelier crystals that I found on Etsy. For some of them I used various combinations of glass beads and memory wire to make some beaded rings to dangle the crystals.

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For the others I used some large crystals that I got ages ago from Etsy’s Dreamgirl Beads—they have a spectacular AB coating that just sparkles!

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I finished all of the ornaments off with some pretty ribbon with a shimmery, sparkly edge, that I got from Abby and Ellie, a fabulous ribbon shop, also on Etsy. I’m really pleased with how they turned out and I’m definitely going to find some more chandelier crystals to make decorations next year.

As a little extra, I also included in each gift a snowflake pendant/ornament made by my Mum, who is a potter. I’m encouraging Mum to get into the bead-making business, for purely selfish reasons of course!!! Here are a couple of snowflakes …

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Day 10’s present arrived a little late courtesy of the postal system. Not to worry though, my gifts from Rita at Toltec Jewels were intact and numerous! First of all was a pair of snowman-themed pot holders.

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The handmade gift was a beautiful beaded snowflake ornament, in pale shimmery colours. I had to take the photo against the red of the pot holders to get it to show up properly, it almost disappeared on a white background!

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And finally a taste of Mexico, with a Lux Perpetua candle, a sombrero ornament and a miniature serape.

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Rita, thank you for your generous gifts!

On day 11, I opened a gift from Suzanne Reynolds, a mixed media artist. Suzanne made us all fabric covered notebooks (and the notebooks are replaceable), with hand-printed and batiked fabrics and scraps of sari silk ribbon.

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I’ll be keeping this notebook in my handbag Suzanne, thank you!

Finally, I opened day 12’s present—a day late as it was delivered on Monday. Gina Hockett sent me a copper bangle, wire-wrapped with deep earthy red stones—red jasper perhaps—spaced around it.

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It’s a beautiful bangle, thank you Gina!

It has been so much fun to take part in Lorelei’s 12 Days of Christmas Handmade Gift Exchange. I’ve received some lovely gifts from some fantastic artists. Thanks again Lorelei for the opportunity to play! And thank you so much for all of the wonderful gifts I have received, you are all talented people indeed!

Beads

On the first days of Christmas …

I was lucky enough to take part in Lorelei Eurto’s 12 Days of Christmas Handmade Gift exchange this year. The challenge was to make 11 gifts and send them to 11 recipients, in return I would get a gift from each of them. The gifts were not restricted to jewellery but they did need to be handmade by me. Starting on Chirstmas Day, each day we open a single gift assigned to that day, for a total of 12 days including our own.

Day one saw a gift from our gracious hostess, Lorelei. Due to the vagaries of two postal services, this gift arrived today, on day four, so I was lucky enough to open two gifts today! A beautiful jar of handmade spiced nuts (and my favourite combination at that!). These are coming down to the beach with me this afternoon! IMG_2832lores

I’ve already sneaked a taste and they are delicious, Lorelei, thank you so much for both the gift and the opportunity to join in the fun!

Day two was from Lisa Johnson, who sent me a fantastic pair of earrings with enamelled dangles.

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Aren’t they beautiful? Thank you Lisa, I love them!

On day three, I opened a gift from Suzette Bentley, who also gifted me with a lovely pair of earrings she calls Lollipops!

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Thank you Suzette, I have already worn them!

Here in Australia it is already day four and I have just opened my gift from Jodie Marshall. First of all are two chocolates, yum! And then a gorgeous knitted cuff, with a lampwork disc bead on the side. Just my colours, a rich ombré from deep pink to chocolate brown, and it fits perfectly!

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Thank you Jodie! I can’t wait to wear this!

I will be away with my family for the next few days and taking my little pile of gifts with me, so I will post an update on the presents I have received toward the end of next week.

Beads

All sorts of things coming up

I’ve just made a list of all the things I’ve signed myself up to do in the next couple of weeks, and, umm, I’m going to be busy! As soon as I have finished getting ready for the craft market I need to get moving on a few other things, a handful of bead and gift swaps and a handful of challenges and blog hops. Then of course I also have presents to make for my family!

Some of the highlights coming up include:

The 3rd Annual Challenge of Color: Earth as Art—Erin Prais-Hintz’s final challenge for 2012. This time, she has teamed up with colour queen Brandi Hussey to create 40 stunning palettes from enhanced satellite images. Each of the 80 participants in the blog hop get to choose between two palettes selected individually for each of us. These are my two, come back on 30 November to see which palette I chose to inspire a design.

The Art Bead Scene Ornament Blog Hop—organised by Heather Powers. In this challenge I need to create a handmade Christmas ornament using either handmade components or artist beads. I’ll post a sneak peek on 1 December, and reveal my creation a few days later on 4 December.

Finally, I was thrilled to be chosen to be part of Lorelei Eurto’s 12 Days of Christmas Handmade Gift Swap. For this swap I need to make 11 gifts and send them out across the world by the beginning of December, and starting on Christmas Day, each of us will open one present per day and blog about it as we go. As I’m the ninth on the list, my gift will be opened on 2 January.

And that’s it for blog hops in 2012. Of course, late January is when sign-ups for the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party are happening, and I’ve got a Sci-Fi themed blog hop happening sometime in the new year too. So it won’t be long before I’m busy again!