Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Defend and Protect: the Art of Awareness blog hop

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A couple of months ago, Lori Anderson announced a blog hop she was holding with Heather Millican of Swoondimples: The Art of Awareness blog hop. Swoondimples is known for its word beans, polymer clay beads with inspirational word(s) stamped on them. The idea was to choose a cause that means something to you, order a custom bead from Heather to represent the cause through words or colour and make something with the bead.

I thought about this hop for a while, as I found it hard to settle on a particular cause—like everyone, lives in my family and friendship circles have been touched by cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease and more. I felt that what I chose should mean something to me, and eventually it came to me.

Immunization.

Yes, I know it’s not really a disease, but to me it’s just as important to raise awareness of the importance of immunizing children against the handful of really awful childhood diseases. It’s probably the one thing that will get me up on my high horse! Perhaps a little background will help. I’m an immunologist and microbiologist by degree (although I no longer work as a scientist) and I worked for a number of years for a biotech company developing vaccines against herpes and influenza. I know firsthand what motivates the scientists doing this kind of R&D and believe me, it’s not money (if you think any scientist does research for the money, think again). Put simply, it’s about stopping children from dying from entirely preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles.

Now I know that many people don’t agree with me, and I am not writing about this to start a debate (so please don’t leave me nasty messages), and I’m not going to get any further into the politics of vaccines and immunization. If you are interested about the issues, I do urge you to watch an award-winning Australian documentary made a couple of years ago, that does a pretty good job of presenting the debate. It’s called Jabbed and you can find snippets of it on YouTube, and the full version on SBS On Demand (SBS is one of our public television networks here in Australia) among other places. And that’s where I am going to leave the issue of the motivation behind my choice.

Anyway, when I decided on immunization as my cause, I looked to see if there was any kind of official awareness campaign, but as far as I can tell, there is not, at least not in the way that diseases such as breast cancer have specific colours and ribbons and so on. There are events like National Immunization Week in the US, but they don’t have the high profile campaigns that some diseases have. Instead I chose to create my own. I picked lime green for my bead colour (partly because that was one of the colours used in one of the events I came across) and I came up with the words Defend and Protect to stamp on the bean. I also chose not to have a ribbon stamped on the back.

I toyed with the idea of creating an immunization superhero for my design, but sadly, I’m not capable of drawing something like that. So in the end I put my bead into a bracelet with some equally bold colours—orange and light purple to go with the lime green—and strung on waxed linen. And here is the end result.

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Now, this is a blog hop, and there are a bunch of people taking part, so go and have a look at what they made and why. I can guarantee you’ll find some really interesting stories! Here’s the list:

CandidaCastleberrywww.spunsugarbeadworks.blogspot.com

Lori Anderson www.PrettyThingsBlog.com (hostess)
Heather Millican www.facebook.com/swoondimples (bead artist)
mischelle andrade https://micheladasmusings.blogspot.com
Paige Maxim http://delightfullittlegems.blogspot.com/
Laurie Vyselaar www.lefthandjewelry.wordpress.com
Marybeth Rich http://forestofjewels.blogspot.com/
Alice Peterson www.alice-dreaming.blogspot.com
Kim Dworak http://www.cianciblue.blogspot.com/
Audrey Bélanger http://esperianterra.blogspot.ca/
Karen mitchell www.overthemoon-design.com
Joan Williams www.lilrubyjewelry.com
Jean Wells jeanawells.blogspot.com
Ann Schroeder www.beadlove.wordpress.com
Gail Accinelli facebook.com/oregonmadejewelry
Tania Spivey www.moobiegracedesigns.blogspot.com
Mallory Hoffman http://rosebud101-fortheloveofbeads.blogspot.com/
Mary K McGraw mkaymac.blogspot.com
Shai Williams www.shaihasramblings.com/
Beth Emery storiesbyindigoheart.blogspot.com
Catie Doman http://drcatie.blogspot.com
Lorelei Eurto Http://lorelei1141.blogspot.com
Lee Koopman www.stregajewellry.wordpress.com
Tammy Adams www.paisleylizard.com/blog/
Katie Nelson https://www.facebook.com/katiebead
Patty Miller http://pattymillerbeads.blogspot.com
Chris Eisenberg www.wanderware.blogspot.com
Cassi Paslick http://badatbeingmom.blogspot.com/
Charlee Griffith https://www.facebook.com/charlee.griffith
Kelli Nelson www.afamilyaffarekelli.blogspot.com
Catherine King http://catherines-musings.blogspot.com
Melissa Trudinger beadrecipes.wordpress.com <– YOU ARE HERE
susan Bowie https://susanbowie.wordpress.com
Jennifer Justman www.soulsfiredesigns.blogspot.com/
Cassi Paslick http://badatbeingmom.blogspot.com/
K Hutchinson http://jumbledhutch.wordpress.com
Veralynne Malone www.veradesigns.blogspot.com
Evie and Beth McCord http://ebbeadandmetalworks.blogspot.com/
Mihaela Georgescu http://michellemaya2005.wordpress.com
Rebecca Anderson Www.songbeads.blogspot.com
Charlene jacka www.clay-space.com
Kim Stevens www.pickingpoppies.blogspot.com
Susan McClelland Mistheword12.wordpress.com
Sally Russick www.sallyrussick.blogspot.com
Gina Hockett www.freestyleelements.blogspot.com
Mona Arnott bijouxgemsjoy.blogspot.ca
Sandi Volpe www.sandivolpe.com
Andrea Glick http://zenithjade.blogspot.com/
Janine Lucas http://www.esfera.me/travel/blog/travel-stories
Lori Bowring Michaud www.artfullyornamental.blogspot.com
Christie Murrow Www.charisdesignsjewelry.blogspot.com
B.R. Kuhlman www.mixedmayhemstudios.com
Lupe Meter www.gesmpccorner.blogspot.com
Lucy Bejarano www.lucybejaranojewelry.blogspot.com/
Stephanie Perry www.mustardbeadbystephanieperry.blogspot.com
Elisabeth Auld www.beadsforbusygals.com
Carolyn Lawson www.carolynscreationswa.blogspot.com
Heather Powers www.humblebeads.blogspot.com
Katie Hacker www.katiehacker.blogspot.com
Kepi Rasmussen www.kepirasmussen.blogspot.ca 
Gail Vanderster-Zwang www.angelmoose.blogspot.com
Elizabeth Hodges http://thewhisperingseas.blogspot.com/
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Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Swaps and exchanges

The Beads of Courage Art Charms auction is live!

I recently told you about the Art Charm Exchange and Charity Auction to raise money for Beads of Courage. Well, today is the day the auction goes live and also the day of the blog hop, where I get to tell you about the charms I made for the exchange.

This year’s theme was SOAR. To me, the word evokes a bird high up in the sky, wings outstretched, soaring through the sky, or hovering. I decided that this was an image I wanted to incorporate into my charms. I had some small Vintaj bezel charms that I could use, but the back of them was not flat and finished-looking. And also, I really wanted to include the word soar into my design. So I decided to go for a mixed media design.

On the back side of the charm, I pressed a small lump of turquoise-coloured polymer clay to cover the grooves. I gave it some texture, used some rubber stamps to press the word soar into it and baked it. I used acrylic paint (in a burnt umber colour) to highlight the texture and words without covering up the lovely colour, and sealed with Renaissance wax.

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Then I pasted and sealed the images into the bezel side of the charm and finished it off with resin. The images, which I got from Piddix on Etsy, are quite fun, they show the silhouette of a soaring bird over a background of rusty, patinaed metal.

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I picked out the 11 best to send to Jennifer Cameron. She then sent 10 of them out to participants (including me, as we each got one of our own back), and kept the last one for the auction. And here is a nice close up picture of my charm that is being auctioned right here right now!

Soar auction collage

At the time of writing this blog post it has a starting price of USD$9.99. If you like it, please bid on it and help raise some funds for Beads of Courage. 100% of the sale price goes to Beads of Courage—I would love to see it sell for a good price! The auction goes for seven days, and this one will be ending next Monday night December 1st, at 10:17pm EST or Tuesday afternoon AEST if you happen to live in Australia like me (note: you should check the auction end-time in your own time zone).

A few more things. I will post the charms I received in a few days (maybe this weekend). And also, this post is part of the Art Charm Exchange blog hop. Here is a list of the rest of the participants. Please take some time to visit their blogs and the other auctions and see what they were inspired to make!

2014 Art Charm Exchange Participants

Jennifer Cameron: http://www.glassaddictions.com/blog

Alenka Obid: http://pepita-handmade.blogspot.com

Alicia Marinache: http://www.allprettythings.ca

Andrea Glick: http://zenithjade.blogspot.com

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

Cassi Paslick: http://badatbeingmom.blogspot.com/

Cate van Alphen: http://fulgorine.wordpress.com

Cheri Reed: http://creativedesignsbycheri.blogspot.com

Chris Eisenberg: http://www.wanderware.blogspot.com

Cory Tompkins: http://www.tealwaterdesigns.blogspot.com

Elizabeth Auld: http://www.beadsforbusygals.com

Genevieve Gabbert: http://www.glassaddictions.com/blog

Jami Shipp: http://celebratinglifewithdamamashipp.blogspot.com

Jenny Davies-Reazor: http://www.jdaviesreazor.com/blog

Jill Bradley: http://www.jillybeads.blogspot.com

Kim Dworak: http://www.cianciblue.blogspot.com

Lee Koopman: http://stregajewellry.wordpress.com

Lennis Carrier: http://www.windbent.net

Lesley Watt: http://www.thegossipinggoddess.blogspot.com

Mallory Hoffman: http://rosebud101-fortheloveofbeads.blogspot.com

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

Michelle McCarthy: http://www.fireflydesignstudio.blogspot.com

Monique Urquhart: http://ahalfbakednotion.blogspot.com/

Moriah Betterly: http://mlbetterly.blogspot.com

Nancy Dale: http://nedbeads.blogspot.com

Nancy Smith: http://wirednan.blogspot.ca

Niky Sayers: http://silverniknats.blogspot.co.uk

Perri Jackson: http://ShaktipajDesigns.com/blog/

Renetha Stanziano: http://www.lamplightcrafts.blogspot.com

Shai Williams: http://www.shaihasramblings.com/2014/11/art-charm-exchange-auction.html

Sheila Prosterman: http://catswithbeads.blogspot.com

Susan Delaney: http://susandolphindelaney.wordpress.com

Susan Kennedy: http://www.suebeads.blogspot.com

Terri DelSignore: http://artisticaos.blogspot.com

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

Vanessa Gilkes: http://culturezine.com/blog/

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Clay and Metal Blog Hop

Widgit5 Metal and Clay

It’s reveal day for Lisa Lodge‘s latest blog hop, the Clay and Metal Blog Hop. This time, she’s chosen to send all of the participants something from Sharyl McMillian-Nelson, who works with both polymer clay and metal (hence the name!), with each of us receiving either one or the other, plus some coordinating beads. Sharyl has recently opened a new store online to focus on her polymer clay and metal components, called Metapolies. You can find it in two places, Etsy and Artisan Component Marketplace, a fantastic new online market for beautiful components (stay tuned, as I have plans to write more about this site soon!).

These are the polymer clay charms I received, a pair of long rectangular matchstick-shaped charms that are the colour of nougat, with soft purple stripes across them. I do like the asymmetry of them, enhanced by the purple stripes that continue across both matchsticks. I also received some clear faceted crystal rondelles, but in the end I didn’t use them as to me they didn’t really go well with the organic shades of the matchsticks.

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Because they are made of polymer clay, and therefore so light, I decided to make earrings with the matchsticks. I softened them further using a Czech glass table cut flower, and used waxed linen to tie the two components together and then to the Vintaj brass earwires.

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Thank you Lisa for sending me this challenging pair of charms, and thank you Sharyl too! And as this is a blog hop, here is the list of participants. Please pop over and have a look at their blog posts!

Your hostess: Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist

Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes <– YOU ARE HERE!

Jo-Ann Woolverton, It’s a Beadiful Creation

Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn’s Creations

Shaiha Williams,   Shaiha’s Ramblings

Toltec Jewels, Jewel School Friends

Heather Richter, Desert Jewelry Designs

Marybeth Rich, A Few Words from within the Pines

Kim Dworak, Cianci Blue

Karen Grosset Grange, Ginkgo et Coquelicot

Ann Schroeder, Bead Love

Lisa Prewitt Knappenberger, LiRaysa Designs

Carol Briody, A Beads Life

Miranda Ackerley, MirandAck

Kari Asbury, Hippie Chick Design

Susan Anderson, La Main Tresor

LeAnne Loftus, First Impression Design

Leithleach Seodra, Alainn Jewelry

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Swaps and exchanges

Beads of Courage charm swap preview

BoC Art charm swap 2014I’m waiting on tenterhooks for my charms to arrive from the 2014 Beads of Courage Art Charm Swap and Benefit Auction. It’s my first time taking part in this fundraising swap, auction and blog hop, which is organized every year by Jennifer Cameron, a lampwork glass artist based in Indiana.

Beads of Courage is a program based in the US, which enables seriously ill children to collect beads representing milestones and procedures. The organization behind it runs a number of different programs, including commissioning special beads to be made by artists each year.

Jen’s Beads of Courage Art Charm Swap is a benefit for Beads of Courage, involving a big group of jewellery designers and bead makers from the US and around the world. Each participant provides 11 art charms made with handmade components such as lampwork beads or ceramic, polymer or metal clay, or mixed media. One charm is kept aside to auction off on eBay, and the remaining 10 are distributed to nine of the participants plus the original maker.

Each year Jen chooses a theme word—this year it is SOAR—to provide an inspirational starting point for making the charms. I thought about the word for a while, and its clearest meaning for me was to do with birds soaring through the sky. I decided to go with a mixed media approach, and my charms involve polymer clay as well as images under resin. Are you intrigued yet?

Now I can’t reveal my charms until November 14th, even if they arrive tomorrow, but on that day I will show you what I have made, and also what I received, as well as provide information about the auction.

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges, Giveaways and contests

ACM contest

One of the Facebook groups I follow—Artisan Component Marketplace—recently held a contest for jewellery designers. The brief? To design a piece of jewellery using a component from one of the many artisans who are members of the group.

I happened to have a pair of polymer clay “sinkers” made by Kristi Bowman languishing in my stash, and this challenge was the perfect opportunity to use them. I chose a couple of Czech glass table cut flowers and wired them together, and wrapped the join between them with sari silk, inspired by the creative ways Kristi Bowman uses sari silk in her own designs. The dangles are hung from a pair of Rebecca Anderson‘s Deco Rose earwires in antiqued sterling silver to make a sweet pair of earrings.

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Much to my surprise, I won second place in the contest! Thank you to Artisan Component Marketplace, the judging panel and to Kristi Bowman for the delightful sinkers, and the inspiration! And I’m looking forward to receiving some new components from Kristi, courtesy of the $25 gift voucher I won!

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.

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Tiny Flowers: We’re All Ears March Challenge

This month’s inspiration from Earrings Everyday ‘s We’re All Ears earring challenge is a sweet little pen and watercolour illustration from Beatrix Potter’s book The Tailor of Gloucester.

March earring challenge

Pen and watercolor by Beatrix Potter
from The Tailor of Gloucester from the collection at the Tate Museum

My earrings inspired by this image feature a pair of polymer clay matchstick charms from Humblebeads, which have been painted by Heather in a tiny floral pattern that to me resembles the stitching in the picture nicely! I topped them with a pair of Czech glass flowers from the Paintbox kit I received through the Curiosity Club, and dangled them from Vintaj brass earwires. I did have ambitions to use waxed linen cord in a lovely shade of magenta instead of wire but I just couldn’t get them to look right. Best laid plans and all that! In any case, they are quite sweet.

Tiny Flowers Earrings

Go here to see what everyone else has made this month!