Art Elements June Challenge: Insects

Every three months, the blog Art Elements runs a themed challenge. This time around, the theme is insects, a subject with a lot of inspiration for jewellery designers. Personally I love insects of all sorts, except maybe cockroaches, mosquitoes and the ubiquitous Aussie blowfly! But the sheer diversity of insects is just amazing.

I had all sorts of plans to use up some of my insect-themed beads (yes I might have a few!), but in the end I had to content myself with a pair of earrings, and a very simple necklace, both featuring beads by Natalie Fletcher-Jones (it’s not that I don’t have insect beads by other people, but these are the ones that spoke to me this time around!).

First up is a pair of butterfly earrings, featuring black clay charms with a sweet butterfly decal. I’ve kept them pretty simple, just dangling a single flower below them. Despite being quite large earrings, they are very light.

The necklace showcases one of Natalie’s spike beads, again in black clay, and decorated with a cream glaze and a maroon-hued dragonfly. I added some dangles and strung it from a length of black suede leather thonging.

The challenge has inspired me to look through my stash for some more insect beads, so keep an eye out! I’ve also got a post almost ready to go featuring bees, I’ll probably put it up tomorrow. In the meantime, this is an Art Elements blog hop, so if you have time, visit the following blogs for some more insect inspirations:

Guests

Mona Arnott 

Melissa Trudinger  <– YOU ARE HERE

Sarajo Wentling

Divya N

Art Elements Team

Cathy Spivey Mendola

Diana Ptaszynski

Lesley Watt 

Caroline Dewison

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Lindsay Starr

Niky Sayers

Claire Fabian

Art Bead Scene June Challenge

It’s been a few months since I managed to make something for the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge. But I did make something this month! Well, a small confession — I actually made this last month, but using the inspiration artwork for June (which I had downloaded earlier in the year thanks to ABS making us a little booklet containing the year’s artwork, month by month).

Profile on Red Meanders, formerly Jeanne d’Arc. Odelin Redon, 1900, Pastel

The artwork is by Odelin Redon, a French artist active in the late 1800s to early 1900s, and it really has the most vibrant and luminous colours, quite at odds with the renaissance feel to the female head featured in the painting. I was really taken by the combination of pinks and blues and greens.

I pulled out one of the folk-inspired birds that Heather “Humblebeads” Powers has been making in recent months, a beautiful deep pink one with blue accents. I made a tassel out of embroidery silks that coordinated with it beautifully, but I needed a large bead to balance it. Serendipitously I received a package of funky knitted beads from KnittenJen’s Beads, and one of them paired beautifully with Heather’s bird. I kept the rest of the necklace simple, just stringing it onto a piece of suede thonging. I have had thoughts about adding some more beads (I do have some similar knitted beads without the seed bead embellishment), although to be honest I would need some larger beads than are common in my stash to give the necklace balance. Maybe if the right beads come along I’ll play with a new design but I’m enjoying wearing it like thisat the moment.

Once I’d made the necklace, I of course needed some earrings to wear with it, so I pulled out a pair of Heather’s charms and some Czech glass beads and whipped up a pair in coordinating colours.

Thank you for the colourful inspiration ABS, I now have a new go-to necklace and I have some more birds and some more knitted beads that may find themselves paired together in something similar in the near future!

 

It’s (Bead Soup Blog) Party Time!

It’s finally reveal day for the Bead Soup Blog Party: Bead Hoarders Edition!

When I received my bead soup from Denise Milward a few weeks ago, I was sure I would use the big striped agate focal first, and struggle with the yellow agate pendant. But then I saw a Design Seeds palette that gave me the perfect colour inspiration for the yellow pendant and I ended up struggling with the striped pendant instead!

Just to remind you, here’s the soup Denise sent me:

Here’s the palette that inspired me — that yellow is just about a perfect match for the pendant isn’t it?

Palette by Design Seeds { flora hues } image via: @botanical_tales

I knew I had some amethyst in my stash of gemstones, and I was delighted to find a strand of faceted oval stones. As I was going through a box of mixed beads, I also came across a bag of vintage Czech glass rounds in that very same deep amber yellow (I believe Lennis Carrier gave them to me in a swap a couple of years ago). I knotted them on lavender waxed linen to make a very simple but striking necklace.

So once I got that necklace out of the way, it was time to tackle the big striped agate pendant. I fiddled around for quite a while, trying different combinations of beads, including the honey-coloured matte agate rounds and the tiny carnelian beads that Denise had sent along with the pendants. I added some ceramic rounds made by Natalie McKenna and some wooden beads that I’ve had for ages. Then I found some big agate beads that my sister had brought me back from Vietnam or Laos that provided the weight the necklace needed to balance the size of the pendant. But it still needed something, the colours were too similar. And then I remembered the turquoise turtles, and added a couple — and suddenly it all fell into place!

I made a pair of asymmetric earrings with a couple more of the turtles and two more of the painted wooden rounds. I think they’re pretty cute, don’t you?

And here are all three pieces together!

I still have quite a few bits and bobs from Denise’s soup. I think the embellishment Denise made from daggers and rounds would look great stitched onto a cuff bracelet, but the leather cuffs I have are not wide enough. Perhaps it would work on a denim cuff if I can get some darker denim. Stay tuned for that!

Thank you so much for the beautiful bead soup Denise, I’ve had loads of fun with it, and I’m pretty pleased with the pieces I made from it. I’m looking forward to seeing what you made with the soup I sent you. (Denise is posting on Pinterest right here.)

Somewhere around 160 beaders and jewellery designers have joined in this round of the Bead Soup Blog Party, and none of it would have happened without Lori Anderson. I’ll be spending much of my spare time in the next week visiting all of the BSBP blogs and I hope you have time to look at a few too. Here’s a list of all of the blogs — and the odd Pinterest board too!

Lori Anderson :: Hostess

Claire Fabian

Jennifer Strehler

Rochelle Brisson

Annita Wilson

Melissa Trudinger :: You are here!

Loralee Kolton

Valerie Tilghman

Mischelle Andrade

Elizabeth Bunn

Marianna DeLuca Wehner

Johana Nunez

Jenny Kyrlach

Elizabeth Hodges

Lennis Carrier

Candida Castleberry

Mary Govaars

Sandi James

Arlene Dean

Kristina Eleniak

Nan Smith

Nadine Edris

Denise McCabe

Donna Marie Hanna

Audrey Belanger

Nicole Rennell

Robin Reed

Gail Zwang

Terry Jeanette Carter

Donna Hoblit Ann Schroeder

Klaudete Koon

Veralynne Malone

Lorelei Eurto

Ann  Sherwood

Jackie Locantore

Mowse Doyle

Dorit Woldenga

Cheri Reed

Dolores Raml

Palak Udeshi

Laurie Vyselaar

Heather Canepa

Dorothy Supri

Sharyl King

Elaine Robitaille

Heather Marston

Terry Matuszyk

Andra Weber

D’Arsie Manzella

Sooz Anzalone

Karin King

Leona Smith

Tania Spivey

Jasvanti Patel

Danielle Kelley

Shai Williams

Jacqueline Marchant

Erin Kenny

Becky Pancake

Kelly Schermerhorn

Renetha Stanziano

Rana Wilson

Janine Lucas

Kelly Hosford Patterson

Andrea Glick

Joanne Bell

Sarah Strover

Sam Waghorn

Helena Hatten

Jackie Ryan

Bridget Torres

Inge von Roos

Krafty Max

Iveth Caruso

Rebecca Ednie

Amy Severino

Sandra Wollberg

Blanca Medina

Dyanne Everett-Cantrell

Samantha Wescott

Christine Stonefield

Silke Groeber

Alenka Obid

Lori Bowring Michaud

April Grinaway

Yvette Goodridge

Kathy Lindemer

Kathleen A Breeding

Joyce Becker

Pam Farren

Divya N

Sherri Stokey

Terri DelSignore

Kate Gonska

Jean Wells

CJ Bauschka

Bonnie Coursolle

Barb Fernald

Noemí Baena

Dana Phillips

Karen Firnberg

Michelle Escano Caballero

Natalie Ettinger

Valerie Norton

Rachel Mallis

Denise Milward :: My partner

Bobbie Rafferty

Vonna Maslanka

Elisabeth Auld

Hannah Rosner

Carla Fry

Terri Gauthier

Teresa Fischer

Tanya Goodwin

Barbara Judy

Leanne Loftus

Carrie Stalcup

Lori Schneider

Joelyn Bissing

Kate Dufour

Gail Poveda

Katie Nielsen-Nunez

Pam DeBoer

Dee Elgie

Judy Jacobs

Elisabeth Matouschek

Shawn Elkins

Sally Russick

Susan McClelland

Tracy Stillman

Robin Lynne Showstack

Marianne Baxter

Maria Rosa Sharrow

Therese Frank

Sandi Volpe

Leslie Scholz

Joan Williams

Laura Guenther

Liz Engriser

B.R.Kuhlman

Bev Breisinger

Radel Vela

Kim Dworak

Carol Dillman

Alice Craddick

Janeen Burlingame

Leah Curtis

Ann Marie Hodrick

Donna Millard

Hajer Waheed Khalil

Lucy Clasen

Michelle McCarthy

Maria Rios

Babette Cox

Natalie Davidson

Brenda Ballou

Christina Hickman

Heather Gunther

 

Muffin Tin Challenge 2017

January’s a funny time of the year for me. On one hand, I am usually not working so I should have plenty of time to do things. On the other hand it is the summer school holidays down here in Australia, and the chorus of “Mum I’m bored” from my three kids can be overwhelming. It’s hard to hear the muse amidst the clamour!

Thankfully, Heather Powers from Humblebeads has come to the rescue with a fun creative activity to get things moving — the Muffin Tin Challenge! Basically, a muffin tin is filled with jewellery projects, one per hole. And then, as time permits, the projects can be pulled out and completed.

Now in theory, each muffin hole should contain all of the materials required for the project, but I never manage to be quite that organised. Instead I put in my focal and a few coordinating beads, and when I pull out the project from the tin, I find whatever else I need — findings, chain, extra beads and so on — in my stash.

So for the last two weeks I’ve had a muffin tin full of projects and I’ve been adding bits and pieces as I go. But of course, I’ve left it to the last minute to do anything! Last night I made five pairs of earrings, and this morning I’ve made a quick and easy necklace. I was going to make more than one but … kids! But I will keep going with my muffin tin over the next days and weeks, I hope!

Here’s the tin, with various focals and pendants, as well as some of the beads I picked out to go with the them.

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My first pair of earrings will probably be used for next week’s Earrings Everyday challenge, but here’s a picture of them anyway. Enamel charms by Cathleen Zaring, lampwork by Lesley McIver.

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Another pair featuring Cathleen’s enamel charms, in sunny blues and yellows (it is summer here after all!).

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This pair of earrings showcases Heather’s new style of earring charms – they are very versatile! The pink flowers remind me of eucalyptus blossoms.

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My fourth pair matches stunning lampwork spikes by Liz DeLuca with faceted Czech glass.

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And last, but definitely not least, these stunning lampwork spikes by Liz DeLuca go beautifully with Rebecca Anderson‘s “end of the day” beaded beads.

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The necklace is an homage to Heather’s gorgeous variety of stacked necklaces, with one of her beautiful gilded folk art birds on top of an equally gorgeous Czech glass briar rose bead.

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Thank you for the challenge Heather, it did give me the kick up the bum I needed to get started this year! Now to start thinking about the Art Bead Scene challenge for January …

To see what others have made, visit Heather’s post here for the links.

 

AJE Challenge: Autumn Dusk Necklace

This month’s challenge from Art Jewelry Elements focused on trees and autumn. My thoughts immediately went to the gorgeous tree pendants that Natalie Fletcher-Jones makes, with a design she carved herself a few years ago. She glazes them in a myriad of different colours and I have a couple of them in my collection, the one I eventually selected glazed in lovely dusky colours.

As I was shuffling through my beads to see what might work with the pendant, I came across a recent selection from The Curiosity Club in just the right combination of soft dusky pinks and purples to go with the necklace. Finished off with a leafy clasp, it has an autumnal feel to it.

file-30-9-16-9-07-05-am

Thank you AJE for another great challenge! This is a blog hop, so if you have time, pop over and see what others have made:

AJE Team

Jennifer Stout Cameron

Lesley Watt

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Laney Mead

Niky Sayers

Cooky Schock

Cathy Spivey Mendola

Caroline Dewison

Guests

Brooke Bock

Karin Grosset Grange

Merja Sundström

Cindy Martin Shaw

Allison L Norfleet Bruenger

Kathy Lindemer

Gloria Allen

Shai Williams

Tammy Adams

Mona Arnott

Terri Del Signore

 

Rio and Rings: An Olympic Challenge Revealed

A couple of weeks ago I put out a challenge to friends in the beading community to come up with designs inspired by the Olympic Games, which were celebrated in Rio in August. As I said then, I love the Olympic Games, it’s one of the few sporting events I avidly watch (along with the similar but smaller Commonwealth Games and the Winter Olympics). The Aussie team is huge (especially given we are a nation of only 25 million or so people) and usually brings home a few medals, mostly in various watersports like swimming, sailing, canoeing/kayaking, and rowing, and even a few athletics medals as well as random sports like shooting and equestrian events. But while the medals are nice, I just love seeing the camaraderie between athletes of all nationalities and the joy as they compete and win. The sheer athleticism of the gymnasts astounds me, the achievements of superstars like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt is mindblowing, and I love seeing sports that I’m not familiar with (pingpong anybody? Or perhaps the Modern Pentathlon?). Even the team sports are fun to watch!

In my original post, I mentioned various things that could be used as inspirational jumping off points. I had lots of ideas, such as a metal piece echoing the graceful lines of a gymnast in mid-flight, but sadly I had neither the time nor the metalwork skills to pull that one off! So I went in a different direction.

As a self-confessed colour lover, I was very drawn to the colours used by the Rio Olympics in their logos and branding—vibrant hues of bright blue, orange, yellow and green, in organic, swirling graphics.

2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svg

I decided to feature those colours in a lariat style necklace. The lampwork beads come from Beatlebaby Glassworks, and they’ve been sitting in a drawer for a couple of years awaiting the right project. The necklace itself is very simple, with the beads strung along a length of 3mm wide chocolate brown deer hide leather, and it can be worn in several ways—wrapped around the neck or even around the wrist as a bracelet.

Lariat necklace

When I was digging out the beads I used above, I found another set of beads—little rings in translucent frosted glass—from the same bead artist, and these made me think of the Olympic Rings, a symbol that above all others says Olympic Games, although they are completely the wrong colours! I used slightly wider deer hide leather in black to string them in another lariat-style necklace. It’s very comfortable to wear!

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Oh yes, and later this week the Paralympics start—have you ever watched them? The athletes are simply amazing, and many of them have overcome the most incredible of challenges to reach the Olympics. It’s worth seeing if it is showing on TV in your area.

A couple of my jewellery-making friends have joined me in this little challenge, so if you have time, go and see what they made!

Lennis at windbent.wordpress.com

Michelle at www.fireflydesignstudio.blogspot.com

Linda at  fromTheBeadBoard.blogspot.com

 

 

Inspired by Reading: The Silver Witch

Book cover

This month’s book for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston, a lovely novel which weaves together the stories of Seren, a witch and shaman from Celtic Wales, and ceramic artist Tilda, who has moved to a cottage near a Welsh village after her husband’s death. As Seren and her Prince’s lives are increasingly threatened, Tilda discovers she has powers of her own, and an ancestral connection to Seren and the nearby lake.

The book features a pretty spectacular piece of jewellery, a golden torc engraved with Celtic designs of a hare and a dog. Sadly it’s not something I could easily make, so I looked instead at Tilda, a potter who creates beautiful ceramics. The pieces she creates when she moves to Wales are decorated with Celtic patterns as well, and this is what inspired me.

I chose a pretty ceramic pendant by BluMudd (sadly, Moriah isn’t making beads anymore) featuring a Celtic pattern in pretty shades of aqua greens and blues, reminding me of the lake that features in the book (although as I thought about it, I realized that the lake would probably be more of a deep dark blue, than green, especially in winter, when the book is set). I surrounded the focal with Czech glass beads in shades of blue and green, and added a small length of double chain in brass. It’s a simple piece but I think it captures the cool wintery colours of the book, and certainly the Celtic influences. What do you think?

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I really enjoyed the book and a couple of others I read by the same author. If you like a book that blends history, witchcraft, and yes, even a bit of romance, you’ll probably like them too. I’ll be seeking out a few more of Paula’s books in the near future.