Wednesday, 29 December 2010

White Christmas

Well, considering the harsh winter last year and how early winter and snow came this year, no one really wished as hard for a white Christmas as they used to. Usually, about one in ten Christmas eves are white where I live. And, no surprise, it was snowy this year. And windy.

But winter also means beautiful days and, as long as they're really cold, sunny days. With lots of photo opportunities. These are a few pics I took last week. The first ones I took on Tuesday, winter solstice. The pic above is of our neighbour's house as seen through the high grass, which constitutes a rather unkempt part of our garden. It is unkempt as it used to be pasture for some of my grandpa's hefers so we never mowed it. Last year our ride-on mower broke down and it's too tough to mow by hand. So now it's even more unruly than before.

In old Norse mythology, the world tree was an ash. The first woman (she was created before the man) was made from elm wood and the first man from ash wood. This is one of our ash trees by the entrance. Said to be at least 100 years old and still bear marks where an angry farmhand tried to kill the tree. He cut into it after hitting it with his cart wheels one time to many. Of cause it was the tree's fault, not his for driving the horse carelessly. He cut the wrong way so the attempt failed.

And our beloved birches, also covered in rime. Lovely, gentle trees. Look as beautiful covered in frost during winter as when budding in May and with their yellow leaves falling in autumn.

I also took some pics on Monday, the day before when not everything was frost-clad. The sun was shining and it snowed very gently. As the sun shone through each tiny snowflake, it looked like it was silver or crystals falling down from the sky. So hard to capture with the camera, though.

Monday was a snowday and towards the West, the sky was cloudy and blue. That special sort of blue you find in snow clouds, which drapes along the horizon and heralds snow the same way there's no mistaking thunder clouds in the summer.

I really alternates right now, between the cloudy snowy days and the crisp, cold and sunny. I like that. As long as the wind is calm so it doesn't turn into a blizzard. Rather a cold and white winter that the usual dark, rainy and dull winters we otherwise get. The biggest problem is when the temperature hovers above and below zero with snow turning to slush turning to ice -- and then starting over again. This is winter as its finest.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Bead blog recap week 50

This was my last week blogging on Manekis Pärlblogg for this year and this is the last recap of 2010. A couple of exciting techniques, colour, and a challenge tip are among the things I round up this year with.

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!
Seasons greetings to all of you that read and follow my blog. Thank you for your interest in my posts and your kind feedback. See you again in 2011!

My new colour blog
On the new community Nätverket Inspira, I've chosen to dedicate my blog to colour and discuss everything of interest for a beader, from inspirational colour schemes to theory.

Pearl embroidery
In the 16th and 17th century, following the birth of the renaissance, it became more common for royalties and nobility to wear gold and pearl embroidered clothes. Here are a few tips on bead embroidery techniques for sewing faux or real pearls onto fabric. Includes historical portraits with pearl-encrusted gowns.

Wine glass and mug charms
Wine glass -- or mug -- charms can be fun and easy to make as well as useful. Here a bunch of inspirational ideas for how to design your own charms using different techniques. Also includes a fun idea for display.

Electroforming (and electroplating)
Electroforming as a technique that can result in stunning designs. I does include working with electricity as well as dangerous chemicals, though. The process is the same as for electroplating metal jewellery parts, but deposits a much sturdier, thicker layer of pure metal.

Vintaj January challenge
The theme for the Vintaj blog design challenge this time is New Beginnings. Read more about it here. Last day to enter is Jan 7 (noon, local time).

Saftey first!
Jewellery making can mean working with potentially dangerous tools and/or chemicals. Always make sure you know the safe way of handling the tools and items you use. Includes links to good articles, listing potential hazards.

Colour of the Year 2011
Pantone has announced their colour of the year: deep pink Honeysuckle (se pic above). AkzoNobel (Colour Futures), who works mainly with wall paints, have choosen a citrus green-yellow, lime twist. A third company announced wine as their colour of the year.

Torch-fired enamels on copper
It's much easier to enamel on copper than on silver, e.g. you can torch-fire it, which means you don't have to buy a kiln. Learn this exciting and popular technique to make your own jewelry componentes, from focal pieces to spacer beads.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Recipe: Peanut chocolate

I'm somewhat buzy right now, but I thought I'd share a simple recipe for some chocolate sweets. Inspired by the fact that me and my sis agreed on making Christmas sweets this weekend. No pics of the finished chocolates I'm afraid. We love using white chocolate for this, but all types work well. You can even make two batches using different chocolate and mix them.

Peanut chocolate

100 g peanut butter (we prefer crunchy)
100 g chocolate (milk, dark, light, white -- which ever you prefer)
1 dl roasted and salted peanuts

1. Begin by rinsing the peanuts in water rubbing them with a paper towel to remove some of the salt. You don't want to remove all of it as it balanses the flavour, but it can be too salty if you use the nuts straight from the package. Rubbing will not remove as much salt as rinsing. Make sure you dry the nuts if rinsed.

2. Melt the peanut butter and chocolate in a bowl in you microwave or a water bath on the stove. Stir every now and then so the two ingredients blend.

3. Add the peanuts and stir.

4. Using a couple of spoon, drop the peanut chocolate into small cupcake cups and store cold.

Variation: You could also pour it into a baking pan lined with bakery paper or greaseproof paper and put in the fridge to cool down. When hardened, you can cut the chocolate into squares with a knife. Store in a box with greaseproof paper between each layer. I prefer using cups as the sweets, especially if using white chocolate, are soft and melt easily. With a cup your hands don't get sticky.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

2x giveaways

I've got two giveaway tips today. First out is Andrew Thornton, who's giving away some lovely goodies by lampwork artist Cindy Gimbrone: glass beads, a glass link, a bronze and one fine silver component. For your chance to win check out this blog post by Andrew -- and don't forget to read about how to get bonus points in the draw.

For the second "blog candy", I'll switch languages as this is a Swedish giveaway. Hobby och Hantverk ger bort ett spännande paket av hobbymaterial från Ranger. För att delta i utlottning ska du blogga om den (med bilden ovan) och bifoga länken i en kommentar till detta inlägg på butikens blogg. Sista dagen är 23 december.

Good luck! Lycka till!

Bead blog recap weeks 48-49

Next week is the last week I'll be blogging on Manekis Pärlblogg for this year. I'm in need of a vacation from the computer and feel I must focus more energy on my creativity and my own jewellery making. Of cause Christmas time also means I have many other things as well to do, which keeps me from taking the time my blogging needs. But, I shouldn't get ahead of myself. Right now, we'll focus on the last two weeks of blog posts instead. From blog feedback and new bead communities to miniature perfume bottles and games.

A round tuit
Telling the (short) story of the fabled round tuit and link to a free pattern so you can make your own.

Terra -- a new custom coating on Swarovski

E. H. Ashley has presented a lovely, new custom coating for their Swarovski crystals. An earthy finish with brown and pumpkin tones and hints of light peach and copper.

Edible cookie necklaces
Via The Beading Gem's Journal, I found this colourful and fun recipe for "cookie beads" that you can string for a bigger version of the classic candy necklaces.

Feedback wanted

I'm looking for feedback on my blog. Something you dislike? Something you like? Something you miss? Leave a comment -- with name of anonymously -- or send an e-mail.

Handcrafted Jewelry Studio interactive e-mag

Interweave is lauching an interactive e-version of their special publication Handcrafted Jewelry. The e-mag is called Handcrafted Jewelry Studio and features videos etc as well as more traditional text and pictures.

Bead Maven spring challenge
The Bead Mavens have presented their latest challenge: Vernal Visions. Read more about it on their website and blog.

What's a UFO -- and what to do with them?

UFO stands for UnFinished Objects, something that's common among beaders. Discusses how you can work through your pile of UFOs and a few suggestions for how to avoid being overwhelmed by them.

Virtual jigsaw puzzles for beaders
My bead-themed virtual jigsaw puzzles on the JigZone website. Same as I've already shown on this blog.

Art Bead Scene December challenge
This month, ABS is not only letting you be inspired by two different works of art (with fairy motifs), participants can also take part in a blog tour at the end of the month if they blog about their enty (or entries: you may enter twice this time).

Bead storage
A discussion about things to think about when you're about to buy or in other ways aquire a storage solution for your supplies. Tips, examples and links to others who's talked about the same problem.

Alkemi winter beading contest

Alchemy is the theme for the latest contest presented by Swedish beadshop Smyckestillbehö Key word is contrasts. This time there are two categories to enter in: general or seed beads.

Beadz II online game

Free online games are addictive. This one is about popping beads on strings -- and the beads really do look like pretty, shiny pearls. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to bead or combine colours?

New bead community welcomes beta testers
Nätverket Inspira is a new community for beaders and jewellery makers. Right now it is only a beta version, which is being tested by volonteer members. You can also become one.

Miniature perfume bottles
Beads can be use for many things. Some dollhouse and miniature makers use them to make the prettiest little perfume bottles. I'm thinking of making some for a charm bracelet. How would you use them?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Flower charms with stamen

A simple way to make flowers with stamen is to take some ball-end headpins, make loops on them and attach to an eyepin before putting the flower on it. Well, here I wanted to use my thin copper headpins and instead of using the more common method I just outlined, I pushed three pins through the hole of the bead, distorting them a bit so the flower wouldn't slide all the way down to the ball ends. Then I finished it off by making a messy wrapped loop using all three wire ends.

I think this is a very simple technique, though it can be a bit messy wrapping three wires instead of just one. Sometimes I make a wrapped loop with all three wires, other times I just loop one of them and wrap the rest around the first wrap. As the wire is relatively thin, I worry that just one wire is too fragile.

The colour of the two flowers at the top is tanzanite celsian while the last charm (it's two photos of one charm) is tropical topaz, a blend of brown and olivine green. I'm especially fond of the latter, eventhough the colours are something you'd probably see in leaves rather than flowers.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Bead puzzles

Do you like jigsaw puzzles? I once stumble upon JigZone where you can have fun with virtual jigsaw puzzles, either choose one from their extensive gallery or make your own by uploading a small pic. I've made a handful of puzzles myself. Four out of five have bead motifs. As you can see below.

Click on the puzzle of your choice and you'll be redirected to it over at the JigZone website. There you can choose the number and shape of the pieces by clicking 'Change cut'. I chose not to embed them as I did with my Aquilegia puzzle as it's hard to fit it into the blog and it can make the blog slow to load.

Click to Mix and Solve

Click to Mix and Solve

Click to Mix and Solve

Click to Mix and Solve

Have fun!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

My favourite winter photos

I've taken many winter photos, but I think my favourites are these two I took in January 2007. It was a really windy day, very different from the more gentle winds this Monday, as the snow was swirling in the air. I had to keep my back to the wind at all times, both to be able to see anything and to keep my camera from being covered in snow. Not the most pleasant of days to be outdoors -- there was probably even a warning not to drive anywhere that day -- but I got my reward.

November snow

It began snowing again last night and it's pretty much been snowing all day now (can't really see anymore as it's dark outside as I write this). So what better day to show snow pics?

They say this winter will be as long and cold as the last one. And this year it began early with snow already in November. The first snow I've already shown, but since then it's gotten much colder (down to -10, which is unusually cold for November in Skåne) and the snow that's fallen haven't thawed away the nex day like it did that time.

I took these photos in the beginning of the week. Monday to be precise. It was a sunny but windy day (hence the sun: the wind swept the clouds away). One of those days when the roads are ploughed in vain as the winds coat the asphalt in snow as soon as the snow plough has passed by. I guess I enjoy photographing this drifting snow as it can look spectacular as a frozen moment, but can be horrid to walk or drive in.

First just a photo that shows how much snow we have: it's hard to really capture the snow depth on camera. Even when photographing a huge snowdrift, it can look tiny crammed into a two-dimensional little photo.

We've got a word for this type of weather phenomena: snörök. It doesn't seem to have an equivalent in English. The online translator suggested "gusting snow weather conditions".

Because we live close to the coast and it's mostly relatively open farmland around here, this "gusting snow" can be a big problem. I also causes the snow to be very unevenly distributed with bare patches next to snowdrifts that'll reach you to the waist. I also causes lovely patterns on the snow and sometimes spectacular drifts.

These snowclad juniper bushes are a good example: on one side the snow wasn't more than a few centimetres deep, on the other side I stepped in snow up to my knee. Photographing the landscape with stubble fields barely snow covered.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Bead storage -- a snapshot

I haven't blogged here in ages it feels like. And I haven't even uploaded my winter pics, which I've said all week that I'd do. Well, you will get those tomorrow. Today I just wanted to show a pic I took to illustrate a blog post I wrote on organizing beads, or rather: how to plan for a new storage solution. This photo shows the interior of one of my Raaco Handybox drawers that I like so much. They come in a "module" where you can store four seperate "drawers"/boxes with secure lids and a handle so they're easy to carry. A tad expensive, but I like them.

I don't store all my beads in these, but most of them except my seeds. The system is a sometimes complex mix of sorting by material, shape and colour. My basic glass beads, e.g., are sorted purely by colour while flower beads in glass as well as all dragon beads and cat beads (regardless of material) are kept in one container. As you can see I also have seperate containers for metal flowers and acrylic/lucite flowers. Wooden beads are separated between patterned/embellished and plain beads.

To fit the system, I've had to place the Japanese millefiori beads (vintage glass) in the same space as my likewise Japanese tensha beads, eventhough that means mixing materials. In the bottom left container, you see the same mix of materials. There, I haven't mixed beads with the same origin and motifs, but added an eclectic mix of "natural" materials: clay (ceramics, porcelain), bone, horn, nuts and seeds. And some Japanese wallpaper beads and hand blown silvered glass beads -- those really should be in the tensha/millefiori mix instead. That'd make more sense.

And please don't ask me about the system regarding the plastic bags in the (Czech) glass flower container. Ususally, I collect beads in the same colour in one bag, but sometimes I mix colours that look good together or flowers in the same style. And sometimes I just place them in whatever bag seems best if I don't have any empty zip-lock bags nearby. As long as I can find my beads, I figure that structured but slightly random system works. As long as I can see the logic behind what beads are coupled with which, it doesn't matter if it looks totally random to everyone else.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Bead blog recap weeks 46-47

I feel like I'm not blogging much right now, perhaps partially as the sun sets so early and that leaves the computer/laundry room rather dark and dreary. It almost drains my energy sometimes with the dark wallpapers and small window (facing north). But, anyway, I hopefully will get in the mood to blog again soon. And today I got to give you the latest recap of the writings on Manekis Pärlblogg. From van Gogh glass to odd types of jewellery.

Unusual types of jewellery
There are many types of jewellery for different parts of the body, from the most common (necklaces, bracelets, earrings) to the somewhat lesser used but still wellknown (e.g. piercings in various body parts). And then there are people who seek make more unusual jewellery, like elbow decorations or beaded eyelash jewellery.

Destashing again
As I mentioned on this blog earlier, I'm destashing again. Click on the banner in the column to the right to read more about it.

Pewter castings -- no loops, but many possibilities
Rings & Things is selling some pretty cast pewter focal pieces. They don't have any loops or holes, but since pewter is so soft it's easy to drill your own holes. You can also manipulate them somewhat. Or why not solder (using tin solder), glue, colorize, stamp, engrave or in other ways personalize them and use in your work?

Nobel banquet jewellery contest
Swedish bead shop Sirlig has announced a new beading contest where you should make a piece of jewellery worthy of the Nobel banquet.

Shop, link, review, show & tell -- many ways to win free beads

There are several ways to win or earn free beads. I often mention design contests and giveaways, but there are also many other ways. Shops, bead makers and bloggers offer gift certificates and beads if you in some way do something for them. Like review their products, publish a pic of jewellery made from their products, link to them etc. Some shops have drawings from orders costumers made and others draw random winners from newsletter lists. Shops sometimes also have contests and quiz where you can win without having to design and make something.

Stone tumbler -- not just for stones
A tumbler can be used to smooth and polish stones, regular gravel as well as real gems. But this is a more versatile machine that some know. You can use it to make tumbled glass ("faux sea glass"), smooth sharp edges on glass or broken china, give a soft finish to ceramic beads and pendants, sand polymer clay beads, polish and work-harden metal -- including metal clay -- and finish a LoS patina.

Craft contests
Mostly, I mention contests aimed at jewellery makers and beaders, but don't forget that many craft contests also may be of interest for beaders. Like the christmas ornament contest by ICA and christmas craft idea contest by Creativ Company.

Christmas contest from Sparklingdesign
Swedish bead shop Sparklingdesign is hosting a design contest on the theme Christmas, Advent and Lucia. Must include at least one red bead.

Bead a penguin
Beaded penguins can be very cute. Here is a few links to penguin-themed bead projects, free and for a fee.

New Bead Soup Party
Lori Anderson is hosting a new Bead Soup Party -- read more about it on her blog.

New date on Vintaj December challenge
The new date for the last monthly challenge this year is Dec. 3. The theme is Traditional Christmas.

Misan's Wonder and Lacy's Stiff Stuff
Misan's and Lacy's are two types of backing used to embroider beads on. Both are nonwoven synthetic felt materials, but there are a few differences such as Misan's being sold in different colours and being made from two layers of materials unlike the white-only "single ply" Stiff Stuff. Also explains what Ultrasuede is.

Bronze is a name given many types of alloys, some not even including the signature metal, tin. In findings, bronze and antique bronze is sometimes used as a descriptive name. Apart from that, you can find red bronze, which is brass, as well as the not-at-all-bronze alloy white bronze.

Angel bear
Japanese bead shops Kiwa and Parts Club have patterns for making beaded clothes and accessories to keychain teddy bears. This Christmas pattern is of a red dress with angel wings on the back.

Van Gogh glass

Van Gogh glass is a lovely art glass: glue chips are applied to clear glass and dried, which result in fern-, feather- or frost-like patterns, then coated with metallic paints.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Destashing -- again!

I thought I'd just write a quick note before I have to get off the computer. I reorganized my bead stash and in the process I culled a handful of beads, findings, chain etc, which I've now added to my destash blog. Thought maybe I could sell some and get a few extra -- and well-needed -- bucks to buy myself a christmas present. What sort of present? Why, beads and jewelry-making mags/books of cause!

Just e-mail me if there's anything you're interested in buying. Materials range from plastic to czech glass, tibet silver to rose quartz. All pics, prices and descriptions can be found here.

Note: I can only accept payment to my bank account, hence it's probably just of interest to my Swedish readers and visitors here.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Flint for jewellery

As a kid, I used to collect flintstones. We don't have that much flint on our land, but the clay soil further South are packed with them. That meant I could find so many lovely stones when visiting my grandparents in Vejby. Often, when going home, I'd filled the floor of the car beneath my seat with chunky stones. My granddad once ploughed up a flint axe, which he gave to me as I was so fond of flint. After that he found half an axe, which I also got. Can you imagine what a treasure a stone age flint axe is to a small child?

These last few years, I've taken up flint collecting again. Now I do it with a vague idea to use the pebbles and shards in my jewellery. I no longer look to find the biggest chunks, now I prefer smaller pieces more suitable for pendants and I'm also pickier, discarding stones that don't have an interesting shape or colour. Luckily, fields that are ideal for potatoes are also rich in flint around here. So we -- my sis and I -- simply search for pretty stones during the breaks while we set or pick potatoes.

The stones above are some that I singled out from my new and old collection as my sis planned to tumble a new lot. Ever since the first lot, we've said the next one (after the glass tumbling) wouold be flint. So right now these stones and tumbling in a rubber drum along with a bunch of flints my sis has found.


Wondering what the first lot of tumbled stones look like? I haven't got any pics yet, eventhough it was weeks ago since they were finished. The reason is mostly that we've done other things and then it's been about deciding which beads we want to keep matte and which ones we want to give more of a high polish. Besides, it was our first try so the stones aren't perfect in any way.


PS! The flint pendant you found in this post isn't made by me or anything like that. The flint does however come from my grandparents' fields and has been cut and polished by a lapidary hobbyist nearby.

White November, golden November

Yesterday it snowed almost all day and all night so right now it looks like this outdoors. It is still not subzero temperatures so it's very damp and during the day, most of the snow turned into slurry. But after sunset, the snow got a little colder and I had the first snowball fight this year. Well, fight is not a very accurate word: it was me throwing snowballs at the cats. Not as mean as it sounds -- I just throw the balls in their general direction and they try to catch and chase them. Anyway, this was our youngster Knatti's -- pictured below (best pic I've got of him...) -- first real snow sighting so he was very curious.

But the snowfall also reminded me of some pics I said I'd post. Pics I took on the last day of October and first day of November. Pics that are very different from the one above. Taken when it was still mid-autumn and the leaves where changing.

Yellow is not a colour I use very often in my beadwork, at least not as the main colour. But it can be very pretty and there are so many different types of yellow: the bright warm yellow that is the sun, the fresh yellow that is a sour lemon etc. I like the autumn yellows, the silken or velvet soft yellows you see in the changing leaves. It's gentle and restful for the eye. Very different from the strong, bright yellow tones you see during summer.

Below you'll find some of the photos I took of all the yellow leaves in the garden at the end of October/beginning of November. In some places blended with more orange and red tones, in other places mixed with still green leaves (the bamboo is an evergreen).

So many lovely, soft shades of yellow -- I really ought to make something in yellow one of these days. And I truely mean something where yellow makes up the majority of the palette, not just acts like an accent as it usually ends up.
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