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.

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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.

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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.

 

Inspired by Reading Book Club: The Fault in Our Stars.

This month’s book for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was John Green’s YA novel The Fault in Our Stars. It’s a book I had been meaning to read for a while, so it was lovely to have an excuse to do so!

I really enjoyed the book. It’s sad of course, given that the two main characters meet at a cancer group for teens, but I really liked Hazel and Augustus, and thought them very believable teens. I need to find time to watch the movie I think!

Now, I have to confess that the pieces I’m going to show you now are not all inspired directly by the books, but they fit the inspiration perfectly. I was quite taken with the Encouragements—illustrated sayings that decorated the house of Augustus and his family. I could just picture them as I read, cross-stitched maybe or perhaps with Mary Engelbreit illustrations.

Late last year I started to make what I call Inspiration Bracelets. I use stamped metal bars from the scrapbooking/papercrafts designer Tim Holtz which have inspirational sayings on them, and I stitch them with waxed linen to leather bracelets. They’ve been pretty popular at my markets and in the couple of shops which sell my jewellery. I think they fit the idea of Encouragements perfectly!

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But I also wanted to make something using a specific encouragement from the book—Home is where the heart is. Such a great saying, it’s so true, and yet so twee! I have lots of house beads and pendants in my stash, and with a bit of digging I unearthed a beauty, a colourful little polymer clay house (maker unknown) with a heart in the window! I also discovered I really need to work on my stamping skills, as I am not too happy with the little brass disc, on which I have stamped the saying. I will probably remake it in the coming days.

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Thanks again to Andrew and William for choosing such a great selection of books. I’m looking forward to the next few 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):

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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!

Gentle Spring Blog Hop

Gentle Spring

It’s time for the reveal for Lisa Lodge’s Gentle Spring Blog Hop. As with all her hops, Lisa sent out a kit for this hop containing a variety of beads in soft pinks and purples, plus a few supporting elements. Here is the kit I received—it’s got so many beads!

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I ended up making several pieces. For the first, I used a ceramic owl focal by Gaea and combined with some of the larger faceted dark purple beads plus the light purple faux sea glass nuggets (I added an extra strand of these from my stash), and knotted it all on some magenta waxed linen. It’s a short necklace, slightly longer than a choker—the owl nestles at the base of the throat.

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The second necklace features a pretty focal Art Tile from JLynn Jewels, dangling from a Fallen Angel Brass twisted ring, with a Czech glass teardrop dangle. I wire-wrapped some more of the dark purple beads, along with some small flat sea glass squares and added some Vintaj Arte Metal chain.

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Some smaller JLynn Jewels Art Tiles in the same paisley pattern make a pretty pair of matching earrings (although these ones don’t feature any beads from the kit).

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Finally, I made another pair of earrings, again with JLynn Jewels tiles and a couple of the tiny pink rondelles from the kit.

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I have heaps of beads left over, plus the clasp and the silver birds, which will no doubt find their way into more pieces down the road. Thanks for a great little kit Lisa! Please think about visiting the other participants in the hop:

Hostess: Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist

Kim Dworak, Cianci Blue

Shaiha Williams, Shaiha’s Ramblings

Gloria Allen, Gloria Allen Designs

Saundra Farren, Something by Saundra

Ann Schroeder, Bead Love

Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes

Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn’s Creations

Becky Pancake, Becky Pancake Bead Designs

Chris Eisenberg, Wanderware