Copper Diem’s Treasury Challenge

August 16, 2011 § 1 Comment


I had a family reunion this weekend which involved a 4 hour train journey to my mum’s, then a 2 hour car journey down South, and then all the way back up again yesterday. So you’ll forgive me for completely forgetting to post the results of Copper Diem‘s awesome Etsy treasury challenge, right? Right.

Here’s the treasury Amy from Copper Diem sent me:

A beautifully textured treasury in orange and teal – one of my all time favourite colour combinations! I loved the variety of texture in this treasury and wanted to pick up on that in my piece, along with the different curved shapes (like the bracelet and the swimming pool ladder).

Although I completed the piece very quickly, I still don’t think it’s quite finished. It’s a double bracelet that can be wrapped around twice, but I’m still not sure of the fastening and whether I want to make it a bit longer.

The beads are a mixture of Czech and Indian glass, freshwater pearls, seed beads, some wooden  and metal beads, ceramic ‘cornflakes’, and the two glass hoops in red are by HMB Studios. The whole thing is strung on some thick matte brown leather, and to space out the dangles I used antique gold jump rings and thick hoops. Threading all those on took a very very long time but I’m pleased with the texture it creates, and the weight of it is just right.

To save your scrolling finger I’ve decided to put the photos in this gallery format, which I think looks nice…might try it for some other ones too!

I don’t know if this is in the rules of not BUT a friend of mine, Emily, who is getting more interested in jewellery making (ok, so I’m encouraging the habit – and?!), doesn’t have a blog. So I gave her the link to the same treasury as me so she could make something in the challenge too! Here it is:

I’m really pleased she made this necklace. Great colours and sparkliness – and look at all the dangles! We didn’t compare notes on these designs and yet we both thought of putting pretty dangles and different textures together. Great minds think alike! It’d be great to get your thoughts on her work, and also so we can encourage her to start her own jewellery blog 🙂 Woo Emily!

You can see all the rest of the participants in the blog list below. Thanks to Amy for such a cool challenge and I hope she does another one soon! (Oh, and sorry I was late).

Copper Diem
Fuego, metal y color
Silver Nik Nats
Beads and Bread
Copper Penny Designs
Green Shoot
Wild Sally Road
Mamas Got To Doodle
Beads for Busy Gals
EBS Jewellery
Cianci Blue
Beads for Brains
Nicki’s Reef
Sweet Girl Design
Nicole Rennell


Bead Table Wednesday: BTWW 10/8

August 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

This week’s BTW has an extra W.

That extra W stands for WISH and it’s what I would love to be on my bead table this week! The bead table is looking a bit bare as everything has been put on hold for dreaded dissertation writing, so I thought I would take a little trip into dreamland…

I discovered the joys of online newsletters when I first started buying beads online: it’s a great way to get a heads up about discounts, cool projects, and all sorts of news about the ever-enthralling subject of beads. I signed up to the Beads Direct newsletter a while back and they haven’t disappointed in letting their customers know just how much they’ve got going on! They’re having a fabulously huge sale at the moment and I decided to feature some of my favourite pieces, mainly from the semi-precious selection. Think I must  be having an autumnal moment because they’re all shades of cream, browns, and black!

Mystic agate faceted round beads

Magnesite free-form slabs in inky black

Czech glass mix in dark brown (ok, so not in the sale but I liked it too much not to include it!)

Crazy lace agate pendant

Bowenite octagons (like tiny little landscapes)

Frosted tortoiseshell glass bead mix

Bowenite faceted nuggets

Aren’t they just beautiful? I can imagine these strung up with some leather cords and antique gold chain, with some gold and brown beaded beads inbetween. So far the Summer Sale from Beads Direct has been taking up most of my time…I need to explore the rest of the website and have a look at everything else!

What’s on your bead table – and bead table wishlist – this week? Check out the rest of the BTWs over on the Flickr group.

PS I have some wonderful earrings waiting in the wings to show you, but as they’re a present I’ve got to wait until the receiver has got them before I show them to the world!

Bead Table Wednesday: 3/8

August 3, 2011 § 4 Comments

It’s August already! I can’t believe it.

The weather here is humid, and occasionally thundering, so everyone is very hot and sticky. I wanted to take some photos of my works in progress and finished pieces outside and found that venturing out into our yard at 8am, before the sun had got too hot and there was still coolness in the air, was incredibly refreshing. And helped me take some great photos!

Some of these pieces I am thinking of submitting to a magazine. Erin had a fantastic post on her blog the other day about submitting to magazines (her work was on the front cover of Stringing – well done Erin!) with some very helpful advice. So, with that in mind, I am not showing the whole piece this week, just some small snippets – not all of these are for a magazine but enjoyed the macro too much to not show all of them like this.

Amazonite stick with embellishments

Crazy ball pendant

Czech glass: yum yum yum. Cannot get enough of these beauties!

Those peanut beads look huge!

Iris and flowers

It makes such a difference taking photos outdoors with the early morning light, rather than indoors. Will try and do this from now on for all my jewellery. Although maybe not in winter when it’s snowing!

There’s three challenges on this month – one I am taking part in already run by Amy over on Copper Diem where she has selected Etsy treasuries for her readers. You are sent the treasury and then respond to it in jewellery! Very cool idea.

The other two are Operation Tackle That Bead Stash, with this mystical palette:

And Art Bead Scene, who have this oh-so-cool cycle-centred art!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the BTW photos over on Flickr. Hope you’re having a great August so far!

Bead Soup Blog Party

August 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Oh! What’s that?

On the right hand side there? That purple box thing…what is it?

I’ll stop being an idiot now. I’m getting far too excited but it’s because I’ve just signed up for my very first Bead Soup Blog Party run by the incredibly talented and also incredibly foolhardy Lori Anderson. If you click on the button it will take you to her blog page all about the Bead Soup.

The Bead Soup Blog Party runs twice a year and involves the following:

Sign up between August 1 – 3: you must have a blog to participate.

August 5: Lori partners everyone up with another beading blogger (see what I mean about foolhardy?)

By August 17: you send out a collection of bead soup to your partner, which must include a focal bead, a interesting clasp, and some coordinating beads

You then photograph your beads that you receive, make something, and then everyone reveals their fantastic makes a month later on September 17 and you take about a week to tour round all the blogs. I’m very excited because, at last count, there are 150 participants from across the world! I’m looking forward to reading new bead blogs and interacting with some new beaders – in fact, I may have already started putting together my bead soup (because I’m like that).

If you’d like to take part you still have another 2 days to sign up, so get on it.

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!

Bead Table Wednesday: 27/7

July 27, 2011 § 4 Comments

This post is more of a recap than anything, although it does have a completed piece which I photographed in some previous posts.

Last weekend I took part in a local handicrafts show. It was the first time I’d entered my work into a real life competition (rather than on a blog!) and I dreamt up a specific piece just for the show. I worked really hard and used a lot of techniques I’d  never done before, including encasing buttons like cabochons and freeform bead weaving. Here’s the final piece:

And some closeups of the little details on the clasp:

…and on the peyote stitched tube that holds the chain together:

I entered three pieces into the show: this one, last month’s ABS necklace I made, and then a pair of traditional-looking cream and lilac earrings. There were a couple of other entrants who had made some sweet strung necklaces.

When I went round after the judging, I saw that my earrings had got second prize, which was really good. However, I did feel disappointed that I had worked really hard on the colourful piece above but hadn’t received any prizes. Maybe it sounds like I’m a bad loser but it was a little disheartening! The piece that won was a tiara with crystals and pearls – traditional but well made. I think this was a case of not judging the audience properly, instead putting in a piece that was maybe a little too outlandish for the show. But I’m pleased I made it and I think it looks fabulous just the same. Plus the whole show was great! Originally it was an agricultural show but has grown to include lots of other things, like handicrafts and stalls for local producers and businesses. They had a show of prize animals, including llamas and baby kid goats which were adorable! Him Indoors also enjoyed himself:

Not sure how safe it was to pet the cow…but they seemed very gentle. They also had a display of vintage cars (loved them) and engines (also loved them). It was a very fun day and instead of worrying about the prizes, enjoyed everything else!

Lately I’ve returned to working with beaded semi-precious stones. Here’s a little preview of one of the pieces, but I want to wait until later this week to reveal them all!

There’s pearls, Swarovski, some beautiful Czech glass from Yashma Creations, strawberry quartz and a piece of … I can’t remember (and I only went in the shop today)! I will find out. It’s getting warmer here and my brain is frazzled (American readers, it is in no way as warm as it is in some of your states…I am just a weakling when it comes to warmth!)

I’ll be revealing some more finished pieces later in the week. Meanwhile, have a look at the other BTW photos over on Flickr!

Bead Shops of Britain #3

July 22, 2011 § 6 Comments

Welcome to the third Bead Shop of Britain post in my monthly series! I had to visit this lovely bead shop twice to take photos as I lost the first batch: that’s dedication (and a love of beads). This month we’re in Nottingham, at the Nottingham Bead Shop.

You can just see from the picture above that one aspect of the Nottingham Bead Shop I enjoy is their interesting and constantly-changing window displays. The first time I visited it was a steampunk, wirework, brass spectacular; this time colourful flowers, wooden beads, and pearls for summer. The glass windows are an excellent opportunity to show off some of their wonderful beads.

The shop is bright and has the classic wooden separators for the beads, as well as lots of demonstrations of local artists work (in the glass cabinet) and handmade jewellery adorning the shelves. As well as the main shop they have a basement room which services wholesale customers – excellent prices! – and an upstairs workshop room. Everything is well-organised: including a very good idea (ok, this is nerdy but I do think it’s good!) of placing a red dot in some compartments. The red dot means this is old stock, or stock that won’t be reordered – so if you’re a bead artist, you know to buy it all NOW rather than wait til next week as it might be gone!

I think that The Nottingham Bead Shop’s speciality is Swarovski and seed beads. Their range of 11 Delicas, including hex cut and some tiny wee size 15s, and their selection of seed beads and small beads for beadwork (like 4mm pearls and Czech glass druks) is amazing. I’ve found it hard to get a range of the really small seed beads at a good price except for at bead shows, so visiting Nottingham always means I get to stock up! They also do a great deal on the Delicas: buy 5 tubes and get the cheapest free. Hooray!

Their Swarovski range is magnificent and includes regular bicone and round shapes, Swarovski pearls, pendants, buttons, headpins, and chain. Phew! They also have a lot of unusual Swarovski colours alongside the regular range. Alongside these they have a varied selection of glass beads, including the beautiful hensha (think that’s right) beads above, and also unusual beads including African paper beads and some ceramic and wooden pieces.

Because of the concentration on certain aspects of beading, The Nottingham Bead Shop doesn’t have a vast variety of chain and cording but does (helpfully!) have lots of magazines and books on the subject – something I’ve found lacking in other bead shops. They have a good selection of findings and charms, including Vintaj and Trinity Brass, as well as being able to purchase all of these singly or in packs. They have some cool bead mixes which are sold in different box sizes, and selected mixed media equipment (like shrink plastic and resin) which again, doesn’t often appear at traditional bead shops!

The Nottingham Bead Shop is also great at maintaining and developing a relationship with magazines and their customers. They have different loyalty schemes where you get stamps for purchases, and their workshop clients receive 10% off their beading goodies. The workshops themselves cover a good range of basic skills and specific makes, which I think is essential for encouraging new and repeat clients. Their relationship with UK magazines is brilliant, as I often see their shop or staff members mentioned as the designer for a piece. One of the sales assistants told me that they all contribute equally to these ventures, and to making items for display, and the eclectic mix of tastes really shows in the variety and range of products and projects that the shop comes up with. Love it!

In my bag:

Tubes of mini-cubes, size 6 seed beads, and bugles in blue-greens and iris

Size 11 delicas in forest green, hex cut purple iris, grass green, turquoise, and pale blue lined

Part of the sale section: semi-precious drops (I think these are rhodonite)

African paper beads in grass green

Rivolis in red, blue, jet, and vitrail at a very good price!

I also had lots more purchases from my first visit, including Swarovski bicones, ceramic beads, findings…but couldn’t photograph them all!

The Nottingham Bead Shop/Mail Order Beads, recommended for:

Swarovski crystals in all shapes, colours, and sizes

Seed beads to satisfy your every need

New ideas and excellent projects for different jewellery genres


Hope you enjoyed this month’s Bead Shops of Britain post and you feel inspired to visit the Nottingham Bead Shop (or its online equivalent). Next month…I haven’t decided yet, whether to keep close to home or venture further afield. Either way, there’ll be beads! Have a great weekend.