Bead Soup: The Big Reveal!

September 17, 2011 § 85 Comments

Hello again!

I’ve had a lovely break and now, I’m ready to get back into jewellery making and blogging. What better place to start than with the big bead soup reveal?

Here’s what Ana sent me:


A beautiful concoction of blue, yellow, texture and cool beaded beads! I have to say straight away, though, that I didn’t use the clasp…I know, I know, that’s the whole point! But I was just stumped as to what I could do combining the clasp and the bigger beads, as I don’t tend to wear multistrand pieces. So my next post-Bead Soup challenge is to make something with that clasp!

Here’s what I did make:

First up was the satin cord dragonfly that Ana’s boyfriend made. As it was already attached to a metal ring, I thought this would be best as a key ring or bag charm. I paired it with some bright ceramic beads in the tones of the bead soup for a playful look.

Next were Ana’s beaded beads that combined different textures and colours. I wanted them to be the focus of the entire piece, and as they were quite  chunky, thought they suited a necklace best. I used yellow agate donuts and a combination of crystals, seed beads, and the blue glass beads in the soup alongside the beaded beads to create this fresh, zingy necklace. It has a great spring feel and I think that I’d wear it with a plain white or navy tshirt to set off the colour contrast.

This long, simple necklace was next, using some of the cane glass beads from the soup. I wanted to pick up on the yellow and blue colour theme but using this mustard cord, brass wire, and beads with a little more depth gives it less of a bright and more of a sophisticated edge. Very simple but highlights the beads and the different textures perfectly.

This bracelet was the final piece I pulled together from the soup (although I still do have loads of beads left!) After the bright and sophisticated pairings before, I went for something a little darker and more moody: a contrast of matt blacks and sparkling blues. The lucite flowers are wrapped using antique gold findings, and the toggle clasp is in the same colour. This piece really draws out the different bead surfaces – smooth, sparkling, rough, matt, and metallic – and it a little more interesting that a simple strung bracelet through the little explosions of flowers.

This bead soup was my first one ever, just like Ana. I really enjoyed it and found it challenging but in a productive way. I normally steer away from very vivid colours together but the yellow and blue really popped, and I found myself pushing my design skills to think of other colours that blue could be paired with without becoming just a ‘backdrop’. What I like most, however, is that I’ve now used beads in these designs that have travelled all the way across Europe, and when I wear them I will be thinking of Ana in Slovenia, and all the other bead soup partners across the world who must think the same!

I can’t wait to go through all the blogs to see everyone’s soups, although with over 300 to look at, it might take some time…Check out what Ana made with the bead soup I sent her over on her blog. PS It’s awesome.

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Works in progress: Sea Anemones

July 29, 2011 § 4 Comments

As I’ve started creating more seed bead work, whether it’s weaving or embroidery, I’ve found myself wanting to experiment and push myself more into creating unusual, expressive work.

Recently I’ve been working more on one off pieces using semi-precious stones. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy semi-precious cabochons in the size I want, because of the work that goes into making them so perfect. Instead, I use tumble stones from a local gem and crystal shop which are a lot cheaper but still as beautiful (I especially try to pick out ones with irregularities). I’ve been making the pendants into necklaces: every time I stop and think, ‘Will this go on a bracelet?’ but I can’t ever stop myself from a little more embellishment here, a few more stitches there…and soon it’s too big and has to go round my neck!

Stone: merlinite (also known as dendritic opal) This is one of my favourite pieces of jewellery I’ve ever made!

Stone: still can’t remember… But pink and grey is one of my favourite colour combinations

Stone: sodalite – again with pearls, Czech glass, etc. This time with an asymmetric stringing sequence

I’ve been calling these anemones because they remind me of the tiny jelly-jewel-like creatures you see attached to rocks by the sea. Creating them is organic too, as I put all the coordinating beads together and then experiment with balancing the drops, frills and beads across the pendant. They seem quite fussy and ornate but when they’re teamed with simple clothing they add a little bit more detail and complexity to an outfit.

As you can see I’ve done three already and sort of getting into the habit of a particular style (which I like) but it’s never good to repeat things too often. So I’m going back to doing some bead weaving and stringing, and then will come back to this. In week 9 of Heather Powers’ ‘Inspired by Nature’ challenge the theme is urchins – so I think I will make something then, a little more spiky and punk perhaps! I’d like to join in with some of her challenges before then (dragonflies are so cool!) so may see some other bits before then.

Hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my new pieces: as always, I’d love to hear what you think!

Margie and Me June Challenge

June 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

I really like both the palettes for the Margie and Me challenge this month. You can see both and read more about the challenge over on La Bella Joya’s blog.

I decided to go for the brighter, ice-cream coloured palette because I love these colours anyway, and also because we just got some great new size 9 seed beads in at work in the exact colours of the palette! In making the piece, I wanted to evoke some of the shapes of the houses in the picture above, and also the feelings that immediately come to mind when I think of Miami: brashness, glamour, glitz, and a bit trashy. And I do love all of those things!

I used pastel coloured opaque and pearl finished seed beads in a peyote triangle stitch to create a small pendant, and combined it with ceramic cylinders (as seen here), brass wire, chain, and polymer clay beads.

I made the polymer clay beads myself by making round beads, baking, and then sanding into hex shapes when cool. I made wirewrapped links for all the beads, and also made large connector rings using brass wire that was hammered and sanded. I really like the pendant’s hanger which is just made from shaped wire with seed beads and wrapped loops at each end. Very simple technique that looks striking when combined with other elements.

I wore the necklace out in a simple outfit with a coral pink t-shirt and jeans for a press event. Although I didn’t use the greens and blues from the palette, I did get seed beads in those colours so would quite like to attempt making some more Miami-themed jewellery in time for summer (if it ever arrives here!)

Hope you like my Margie and Me June entry, and don’t forget there’s still time to take part. The final reveal of all the pieces will be June 28th…yes I know I’m early but what with moving I wanted to make sure I made it! Don’t forget, I always like to hear people’s comments on the jewellery I make so leave one here or tweet me @ebsnare. Over the last few days I’ve got some good feedback and I do really appreciate people taking the time to tell me what they think about my work (good or bad!).

Purple and Copper, Pearls and Hearts

June 20, 2011 § 4 Comments

There’s quite the collection of freshwater pearls sitting in my bead stash. Since I discovered what beautiful colours, different sizes, shapes, and textures are available, I’ve been collecting them whenever I spot a string I like. I’m particularly drawn to irregular shapes, bold colours, and any with that fantastic pearl sheen.

However, pearls can also be a little tricky to incorporate into designs. They seem, sometimes, to only really work with other pearls, or on their own and very simply, or in traditional one-string jewellery. And that’s a bit dull for me! Here’s one of the ways I’ve incorporated pearls recently – in a richly-coloured bracelet using my recently-revisited-favourite colour, purple.

The bracelet has two strands: one beaded strand of copper spacers, purple freshwater pearls, bronzey-purple peanut beads and Indian glass beads. The second strand is a copper chain with peanut beads on extra links to form small charms. The key charm is recycled from a high-street charm necklace, and the lilac rectangle is Czech glass. The heart shaped toggle (which I think is wonderful) came from Kerrie Berrie Beads in Brighton (you may remember it from this post!)

I don’t have any purple clothes as, because of my colouring, it makes me look either jaundiced or about to keel over (lovely). Instead I teamed the bracelet with a taupe coloured skirt, similarly-shaded jersey top (not seen), tan coloured plaited leather belt, mushroom coloured bag, and this great purple and gold scarf tied to the strap, which picked up on the rich purple tones of the bracelet but still let it be the centre of attention.

The pearls add another fantastic texture into this bracelet’s mix, alongside the copper, etched glass, and shiny peanut beads. I’ve got some turquoise pearls in a similar size so I may well repeat this style but with a slight change of colours.

What do you think of the bracelet and the way the freshwater pearls are used? Do you like pearls at all? If so, what’s your favourite way to use them in jewellery designs?

Have a good Monday (is it Friday yet?!)

Operation Tackle That Bead Stash – June

June 16, 2011 § 5 Comments

Another piece finished far before the end of the month – have you seen my piece for the June ABS challenge? I must be feeling ill or something…or super productive!

This month’s colour palette for Operation Tackle That Bead Stash was a combination of blues and silver:

I do use silver sometimes but not a lot when making jewellery for myself, and the blues I immediately thought of when looking at this veered away from my usual turquoise and teals into royal and dark blues. I struggled for a little while as I wanted to combine beadweaving with some strung pieces, and eventually came up with this necklace.

The small pendant is made from porcelain and comes from Two Scoops; the other beads are Czech firepolish in a cornflower blue, royal blue freshwater pearls, white pearl-finish seed beads stitched into a peyote tube, and silver plate findings.

The unusual chain originally came from a pendant I bought at a street market in Brighton – I think it might be from the 1960s or early 1970s. I also tried out a new peyote technique for making the tube which worked a lot better than tubular stitch…but not very exciting so won’t blather on about it here! Immediately after making this, I thought ‘Oh. That’s not very me’, and then as soon as I wore it…it looked ace! Paired it for the photo with the washed lilac-blue tshirt I made, and with a bright royal blue jersey dress for work. It also looks very cool with a grey and white striped men’s shirt, worn over the top of the buttoned up collar.

So that leads onto a little question for you: What do you think of photo shots with the jewellery paired up with different outfits? Quite a few bloggers take some great photos of themselves wearing their jewellery, and from this post and the ABS Challenge post I do think it works. So would you like to see more interesting jewellery and outfit combinations? Or do you prefer the plain jewellery shots where it is the centre of attention? I’d really like to hear your thoughts!

You can see the rest of the Operation Tackle that Bead Stash Flickr pool here – and there’s still time to tackle your blues and silver bead stash before the end of June!

ABS Challenge: June

June 14, 2011 § 10 Comments

I can’t believe I’ve actually managed to complete the Art Bead Scene June challenge before the end of the month! Wowsers.

Here was the original inspiration:

Ophelia by Odilon Redon, c. 1900-1905

I blogged about some of the colour palette ideas I had and then I promptly didn’t decide to use any of them, instead going for the murkier, darker colours of the painting. I wanted to concentrate on the strong lines of the painting, which I think I did, and also I did include some mixed media to echo the different textures and swirling imagery of the plants, Ophelia, and the pond. What also came to mind with this painting, and with the idea of woman, melancholia, and a sort of lovesick-madness, was the Dusty Springfield song, Windmills of Your Mind.

I’ve always loved this song as it so succintly captures the twisting, turning, out-of-reach revolutions of unrequited or lost love, and it sprang to mind as soon as I saw the circular, spiralling lines in the Ophelia painting. It was quite hard to photography with the transparent pieces and different textures so apologies for the not-very-good overall photo!

This is another one of those pieces, like the May ABS bracelet, that I’m very pleased with and feel it really reflects me and my personal style – quite eclectic but tied together in unusual ways. The art beads are the large teal-coloured ceramic dimpled round in the centre, the small duck-egg blue ceramic round to the left, both by White Clover Kiln; the white and translucent yellow-coloured glass disc hanging as a central charm, from HMB Studios; and the small mustardy coloured polymer clay charm at the bottom which I made as an experiment and happened to go exactly right with the colour scheme.

Since I’ve been making lots of beadwoven jewellery lately, it also seemed wrong not to include a seed-bead item even though I know they don’t count as art beads! Other beads are: yellow agate donut, white shell charm, matt black lucite drop, teal-grey acrylic donut, 1960s brass and black stone charm, yellow wooden cube beads, matt teal and metallic-grey seed beads, and antique gold findings and chain. It’s a short necklace because the drops are so long and it means the textures get shown off to their best effect. There’s also a lot of movement in the piece which was designed to echo the dynamic of the painting.

It’s called ‘The Ever-Spinning Reel’, taken from the Dusty Springfield song and evocative of the tangled madness of Ophelia and Odilon Redon’s dramatic, winding portrayal of her.

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream
…Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Check out the rest of the June ABS Challenge entrants in the Flickr pool here.

Bead Table Wednesday: 1/6 Planting seeds

June 1, 2011 § 9 Comments

There’s something quite therapeutic about making jewellery with seed beads. It might be the concentration, or the rhythmic stitch patterns, or maybe the accomplishment of making a tiny piece of sparky, beaded art at the end of it! Either way, the beaded buttons from the last BTW have now morphed into these:

And I also tried out some experiments using grey-purple seed beads and dangles:

Size 9 matte grey-metallic-purple-bronze mix seed beads in tubular peyote stitched rope, Tibetan silver clasp, Czech glass firepolish and flower beads

I really like how this experiment turned out. You can’t see it very well in the photos but the tiny seed beads are this great mix of matte grey and metallic shades that pick out different colours, including a soft, murky purple colour that’s matched in the Czech glass flower and the inside of the firepolish beads. The clasp is quite big but it acts more as a feature than just a finding, and feels more secure than a tiddly little lobster clasp.

With all jewellery, but especially at the moment I feel it when making seed bead jewellery, it’s that each piece teaches me more than the one before. My skills improve and I am more open to trying new stitches, such as Ndebele/herringbone stitch, and am more able to improvise without worrying it will go wrong. I’m starting to work out how things are made, and being aware of when a piece ‘feels’ like it won’t work. It feels pleasant to teach myself ways of doing things (with a little help from Bead & Button!) and to appreciate the work of others because I have built an understanding of techniques and time needed to create these tiny pieces of art. Like with any skill or craft, you plant the first seeds in earnest and then, eventually, start to see them grow.

Check out the other BTW photos over on Flickr!

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