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.

IMG_7637

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, Swaps and exchanges

A torn and bleeding heart

I’ve talked about Bead Swap USA, the bead swapping group I belong to, in the past. It’s a great group and I have met some wonderful people through it. Recently we had a swap for Valentine’s Day of handmade (by us) pendants and charms. My swap partner was Lennis Carrier, from Windbent,  who has become a good friend, although we have never met in real life!

Lennis is, hmm, not a pink hearts and flowers kind of girl, so I knew I would have to be creative here, and I spent a lot of time searching Etsy and Pinterest for different ideas. I knew I had hit the jackpot when I came across the Etsy store Chocolate Rabbit, who has a fabulous selection of downloadable images with spells and potions. I decided to make Lennis a spell book using the images.

To make the covers I hammered out some copper sheet to make covers, antiqued them with Liver of Sulfur and then glued the book front and back images onto them. I then sealed them with several layers of matte finish Mod Podge. I wanted to give them a crackle finish, but couldn’t lay my hands the right kind of crackle medium, but the Mod Podge did add to the old look. I also rubbed Renaissance Wax onto the bare metal so it was protected from further tarnish. I used jumprings to put the book together. It’s a big pendant, about 3 inches by 2 inches!

Cover collage

Inside the book I used kraft paper to make pages, and glued tiny love spells to the pages.

pages collage

While I had the copper sheet out, I also cut a heart from it, hammered it to give it some texture, then cut it in half and stitched it up again using copper wire. Again, it was antiqued with LoS. A tiny blood red glass briolette hangs from the bottom, hence the name: Torn and Bleeding Heart.

torn bleeding heart

My final set of hearts for Lennis used some textured porcelain charms I made in Mum’s studio about a year ago. These had been fired but not glazed. I rubbed Gilder’s Paste in a patina blue-green shade onto the front, back and sides, wiping it back a bit so the white showed through here and there. I went over the top with some more Gilder’s Paste in a bronzey colour and then after they’d dried I sealed them with a matt spray sealer.

patina hearts

I have a whole pile of unglazed porcelain charms and pendants to play with, and I want to try a few different things with them, including using the Swellegant system of metal paints and patinas. I’ll do another post when I have some results!

Beads

Christmas gifts for the family

Since I started making jewellery a couple of years ago, I have made jewellery for various family members as part of their Christmas gifts. This year, I made bracelets for my Mum and my Mother in law, as well as my sister and my sister in law.

The two bracelets for Mum and my MIL Sue were very much in the style of the bracelets I have been making recently, combining Czech and other glass beads with brass or copper findings to make a simple colourful bracelet. I really love the two-tone smooth nugget beads I used in these bracelets—I got them from a local bead shop that sadly is going out of business (so I bought as many as I could get!)—apparently they are West German glass. Mum’s uses green and orange tones, while the one for Sue was made using soft lavenders and plums.

Mum and Sue collage

The bracelets I made for my sister and sister in law I strung onto waxed linen rather than beading wire for a more organic look. My sister’s contains little chips of amber and some copper beads, while the one for my SIL has bright pops of red highlighting the earthy green Czech beads.

Em and Heidi collage

For my husband and my brother in law, I made cufflinks, using vintage-style scrapbook paper. My brother in law is half South African and half Australian, so I used images of old maps to make his pair, while my husband’s pair has a musical theme. It’s the first time I’ve played with resin since I took a class a little over a year ago, so I was a bit nervous, but it seems that it worked well.

cufflinks collage

I ran out of time to make my daughters some jewellery, so that will be our school holiday project!

Oh, and I must show you these! My mum is a potter and in the last year or so she has been dabbling in bead and pendant making. For Christmas I received several little baggies of beads from her, and they are so sweet! I also have a bag of tiny porcelain owl beads from Mum that I want to play with this summer, perhaps adding a sheen of gilders paste to perk them up!

Mumbeads collage

Thanks Mum! I can see some lovely collaborations in our future!