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

Soup, soup, beautiful bead soup!

The Bead Soup Blog Party has begun, with the exchange of bead soups! Denise got hers early last week while mine showed up at the end of the week. And I have to say, I think we were both quite chuffed with what we got.

Denise sent me a lovely selection of beads, inspired by my name, Melissa, which means honey or honey bee in Greek. The beads span a  palette of delicate oranges and yellows as well as earthy tones, plus a set of turquoise blue turtles for contrast. The beads include carnelian, coral, dyed agates and jasper, to set off two gorgeous stone focals, one a larged striped agate and the other a mustard-coloured agate, She threw in some of her favourite one- and two-holed beads and another small beadwoven focal that I think she made.

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The colours remind me of the Australian desert landscapes, which may lead me to some inspiration!

As to the beads I sent Denise, well, they had an Australian flavour of sorts. I picked beads by some of my favourite Australian beadmakers, including a big beautiful ceramic focal by Natali Fletcher-Jones, that I have been hoarding for a while, plus some earring charms by Melissa Gabelle, another local clay artist whose work I tend to squirrel away. These two ceramic artists are among my very favourites, and both of them keep tempting me with more and more lovely beads, which they sell through various groups on Facebook including Australian Art Beads, Handmade Alchemy and Handmade Beads and Findings, among others.

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I added several lengths of sari silk in colours that and a selection of Czech beads in different sizes and shapes in coordinating hues. Finally, there is also a brass dragonfly clasp that is similar to one I received in my very first bead soup! I hope you really enjoy playing with this soup Denise, I had fun putting it together for you!

Ok, so now we both have until 25 March to create with our bead soups. I’d better get cracking!

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

 

Dreams of Summertime: Art Jewelry Elements challenge

It’s cold and wet here in Melbourne today. School holidays too and the kids are housebound. Seems a funny time to be making summer themed jewellery, but at the same time it’s kind of appropriate. I love the sun, and I miss it desperately in winter. Sadly today we don’t even get the benefit of a cool sunny day, it’s gray and stormy.

But the challenge is on at Art Jewelry Elements to create summer-themed pieces. When I think of summer, all sorts of things come to mind: BBQs, holidays by the beach, but overwhelmingly, the one thing that really means summer to all Aussies is the blazing hot sun!

So with that in mind, I have created my own sunshine today with a pair of sunny earrings (hey, I did say it was the school holidays here!).

The ceramic charms are from Natalie Fletcher-Jones, and they are very yellow, with a hint of pinky-orange at the tops. Like the sun early in the morning. I’ve paired them with some sweet orange flowers and a blush-coloured round, and tied together with waxed linen.

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Thank you AJE for reminding me about the sun! This is a challenge and you should go and have a look at some of the other blogs:

 

 

ABS April Challenge

It has been quite a while since I participated in the monthly Art Bead Scene challenge. But this month‘s artwork grabbed my attention as it reminded me of a bead I acquired earlier this year from Natalie Fletcher-Jones.

The artwork in question is a painting—Jacob’s Ladder—by Helen Frankenthaler, an artist influenced by the Abstract Expressionists. It’s a beautiful soft piece.

Jacob's Ladder

Natalie’s bead is the result of an experiment in which it was wrapped in copper wire prior to firing in the kiln. At the high kiln temps required for glazing, the copper wire melted leaving a dark trail around the bead, that contrasts with the red and green glazes. Although the colours are deeper than in the painting, to me they have the same feel.

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Colourful dyed impression jasper rounds are almost a perfect match for the bead, and I’ve borrowed a technique I saw someone else use recently to knot little groups of beads along the waxed linen. The palette of colours I’ve used is definitely more autumnal than in the inspiration painting but that works for me as it is almost winter down here in Australia.

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If you’re interested in seeing what others were inspired to make by Jacob’s Ladder, then head to the Art Bead Scene linkup.

Inspired by Reading Book Club: A Wrinkle in Time

I’ve joined the Inspired by Reading Book Club, a crafty group of jewellery designers and more. The group was started by Andrew Thornton, and I’ve been sitting on the fence for sometime, wanting to join. I finally took the plunge this month, and I hope I can keep up with a design a month! The reading itself shouldn’t be a problem!

Anyway the idea is to read the book and then create a piece (or more) inspired by the book. This month’s book is A Wrinkle in Time, a classic children’s book by Madeline L’Engle, published in 1963. I first read this book when I was a child, and I was thrilled to find it just as readable as an adult, although somewhat dated. As the title might imply, it is a science fiction novel,  with travel through space and time through the tesseract, a form of travel akin to traveling through a wormhole. Meg Murray, a “difficult” and “different” child and her equally different little brother Charles, as well as school friend Calvin, have to rescue Meg’s father, a physicist who has been missing for a couple of years, and is stuck on a far away planet in a far away galaxy. At the heart of the book is the classic struggle between good and evil, with love conquering all in the end.

I did think about creating some pieces with the space theme. In fact, I have made various resin pendants, cufflinks and earrings fairly recently featuring images of space including nebulae and more.

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However the passage in the book that inspired me was a simple description of one of the book’s characters, Mrs Whatsit. Appearing early in the book as an old lady with the appearance of a tramp, she plays an important role as one of the guides through time and space. But her description is what hooked me. She is described as being completely bundled up in clothes, with several scarves of assorted colours tied about the head:

Mrs Whatsit untied a blue and green Paisley scarf, a red and yellow flowered print, a gold Liberty print, a red and black bandanna.

I initially thought I would create a necklace combining these colour schemes, but I ended up creating 4 necklaces, one for each scarf (and hence I’m late posting this blog update!).

The paisley scarf became a necklace featuring a paisley pendant from Humblebeads, knotted on waxed linen with a collection of flowers and leaves in similar shades of green, blue and purple.

Paisley scarf necklace

The red and yellow flowered print scarf uses a pendant I made myself using a scrap of Liberty of London print floral fabric and a clever miniature embroidery hoop from Melbourne-based Etsy seller Dandelyne (these come in a variety of shapes and sizes—this particular one is 4cm in diameter). I attached it to a long copper chain embellished with dainty Czech glass flowers.

red-yellow floral scarf necklace

The gold Liberty print uses another embroidery hoop pendant featuring a scrap of Liberty fabric with gold and purple flowers and leaves. This time I have paired it with a trio of seed bead strands in shades of purple, gold and bronze and finished it with brass chain.

gold liberty scarf necklace

Finally the red and black bandanna is represented by a red pendant by Peruzi and a selection of black and red beads. Although the pendant is very Art Deco in style, I think the geometric nature of it reminds me of bandanna prints.

red-black bandanna necklace

And here they are all together!

Mrs Whatsits scarves

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…