Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Ninjis in the snow

So far I haven't shown many pics of our cats, my precious ones. But here is one of our little Ninjis. No, Ninji is not a common cat name in Sweden. Me and my sis have a complicated way of naming cats, relying on a spur of the moment or basing them on names or nick names from cats we've had before. Ninji got her name after sweetie Nino (a black-and-white girl with black spot under the chin), but don't ask me how Nino got her name as it was my sisters idea and the kitty got her name after I moved away from home to study at the uni.

Her brother of the same litter is called Randi (randig = striped, more common name) and her mom is Saken, a stray that found our stable comfortable. But she's so shy and afraid of human and some of it has rubbed off on Ninjis, but not Randi. Ninjis still likes to sleep in my bed, very close to me, some nights. Saken means "the thing" and it might not sound like a nice name, but it comes from us saying "vad är det för en liten sak?" ("what kind of little thing is that?") to her when we first spotted here in the stable. So we mean it in a friendly and loving way.

Because Ninji mostly intense black and the snow, of cause, is mostly shiny white the automatics in my camera found it hard to take a pic without the background turning bright white. So it's a failed photo, but a useful one if placing against a white background. Except for the part that here white neck/chest "disappear"...

What I should be doing...

As usually I spend too much time on the computer -- and I can't blame it all on my blogging. I should be working one some contest entries (due on the 28th), but I don't seem to be able too right now. I always procrastinate, but this time it's also about me not feeling very good the last weeks and -- to top it off -- the Olymics keep luring me to the telly in the evenings. The time I prefer using for beading.

Above you can see something I just want to make a necklace of, but I can't get it to work. At least not yet. I know that saying about 10 % inspiration and 90 % perspiration. Maybe ideas would come to me and problems would solve themselves if I just tried to work trough it, but right now I just don't have the energy or even a good starting point. Well, at least I have made the kauri shell pendant.... And the kauri shells and natural MOP beads seems to work with the premade bead mix (Toho Bead Cocktail: Pink Champagne).

But as I've said before: if there was a job as bead mix maker I'd love to have it. Just a pity they don't have any bead mixing contest because I'd love to participate in one!

Copper-lined light amethyst

Copper-lined (c/l) light amethyst is probably one of my favourite seed bead colours. Just look at it, combining a beautiful warm metal like copper with a lovely shade of purple. And creating a sort of rosy shade that is hard to capture on photo, reminding of sommer sunsets.

At first I only found it in czech seeds, but now I've also got some from Toho. A bit difficult to compare the two since they're not the same size, but the nuance is about the same. Perhaps the Japanese beads have a tad shinier copper lining. I love both.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Cute cat beads

I sort of collect cat beads (along with dragon and bat beads). I love cats so of cause I began buying cat-related beads and jewellery findings when I became a beader. Later I realised I rarely used my cat and dragon beads. They were too pretty. So now, instead of a bead stash I call it a collection.

The sweetie above is a tiny Peruvian ceramic cat bead from a mix -- or litter if you prefer that -- of fun cats in all sorts of colours. Yet another thing I bought with the money I won over at the R&T blog (which I've already mentioned).

Below is a Chinese porcelain cat I got from an eBay seller. The thing with these porcelain cats and especially the lucky cats/maneki nekos is that there always seems to be a diffent one: new posture, new colour, new patterns etc. I can never get one of each type of cat bead made. Every seller is bound to have a version slighly different from all the ones I already have. Which makes me want to buy that one as well...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Autumn flowers lariat

With half a metre snow covering everything, there's no sign of spring flowers around here. Luckily, I have a lot of flower beads to look at instead. (Though, I rather see snowdrops right now.)

This is a short lariat I made last summer from flowers and leaves I just had to buy for the lovely autumn colours. Or, the flowers I bought for the clear warm colours, the leaves I chose because they were on sale. And sort of matched the flowers with their green-and-topaz and black diamond hues.

Flowers and put on headpins while the leaves are directly knotted to the cord. I've used three strands of dark brown vaxed linen, which was braided before the foral beads was knotted onto the ends on both sides, forming a heavy tassel. To prevent the braid from unravelling, I made an over-hand knot on both sides first, before adding beads. I also added groups of one flower and two leaves on both sides before making the lariat "tassels".

This was more of an experimental design so there are things I'm not completely satisfied with, but I like the colours and will probably make something similar in the future.

Bead blog recap week 7

This week on Manekis Pärlblogg.

Spring jewellery contest
New contest at Swedish bead shop Mixxit.

Chain necklace with interchangeable pendants
Simple tutorial on how to make a chain necklace without clasp. Pendants attached using lark's head knots.

Pin vise
A useful and somewhat versatile tool, not least used by wireworkers.

Keeping up with the blog
How you can follow the blog in different ways, from RSS subscriptions to daily e-mails and Google Friends Connect.

Woven fiber bracelets
"Weave" patterned wool or embroidery-floss bracelets -- a technique also suitable for children if they aren't too young. Also include variations using plastic lanyard lace or wire.

Horse-hair jewellery
How to use horse hair to make braided necklaces and, foremost, bracelets. Also includes examples of jewellery using horse hair for accents.

Coral -- sustainable or threathened?
Corallium, species of coral commersially used in jewellery, may soon end up on CITES's Appendix II. There are different view on whether this is a good thing or not -- even if coral is unethical to use in jewellery.

Ethical dilemmas for beaders
At the blog Jewelry & Beading, you will find a "mini series" devoted to ethical dilemmas beaders may face sometime, called What would you do?.

Beaded Treasures book review
Review of Robin Atkin's book Beaded Treasures -- Finger Woven Bracelets, Necklaces, Tassels & Straps.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Pink fish necklace

Playing around with a chain, I made a simple clasp-free necklace. And then it needed pendants. More than one as I wanted them to be interchangeable, hence why I used a lark's head knot to attach them. One of the pendants I grabbed from my stash was this wiggly cloisonnéfish I bought in one of those shops take sell all kinds of cheap stuff. I've had it since before I was a beader even. (And, yes, I can see that the enamel/paint on the fin is chipped -- a so-so fish is fit for a so-so chain [ugly colour].)

Curious about the necklace projects? Se more pics in my tutorial here.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Photos of a flower bracelet

Well, I was going to take a few pics of a new bracelet I made for my inspiration gallery at Fru Pärla, but then I couldn't stop taking more photos. So I ended up with a bunch of slightly more "artistic" pictures of it. Not all are great, but I just wanted to share the fun.

An earring display

So, I don't usually wear earrings as I don't have pierced ears. Therefore I rarely make earrings. The few I have made are displayed as seen in the photo above. I got a wooden circle with pierced-out scroll pattern on a sale at a craft shop. Originally, they're meant to be painted and/or embellished and used as ornaments for a window or wall. I figured the scrolled would make it useful as a display. As I've got both ear hooks, studs and clip-ons, a earring display fitting my needs would have to be versatile. And this one is.

Why so few pairs? Well, as I said, I can't wear ear hooks, but sometimes I use earrings to illustrate a tip, technique or point I want to make. And I'm too lazy to make a pair of something I can't wear. Sometimes I've also only had enough supplies to make one earring...

Monday, 15 February 2010

More brass blanks: Decopatch paper pendants

So... more Vintaj brass blanks and more decoupage. This time I've used Decopatch papers, which are rather thin (like printed tissue paper) so the dark brass shows through somewhat and makes the motifs blend with the background. Using a decoupage glue with a slight "antique" yellow tint made the blend even more effective. The glue is rather thick so applying it on the paper, the brush made marks making it feel almost like a painting.

I plan on keeping the pendant on the right as it is, but wanted to make something more with the square pendant. Using the decoupage as a background. At first I thought I might add one of my paper flowers, but after preparing it (dipping several times in different lacquers) I didn't feel it matched the pendant. Instead I began thinking about adding more brass. For example a tiny swallow charm, also from Vintaj.

I also made a tiny pendant, only partially covered by a blue and golden piece of decopatch paper. This is more a first try, not so sure I'll use it as it is right now. I think the paper I used above would blend better and make a smoother "fading" from paper to metal.

Blackening brass

When reading about ways of giving brass that gorgeous brown patina, I stumbled across a few short instructions of how to blacken brass (via B'Sue Boutiques). Kind of like how iron is blackened using heat and linseed oil. I think the instructions want you to polish the black away, which can be done rather easily, but I like the black surface. Just have to make it permanent.

For my experiment I used paraffin (mineral) oil, a small cat charm and an abused Vintaj blank. Both uncoated brass, though the later has been treated to give it a brown patina. I had already played with the blank and sanded it with coarse paper so not much of the original patina remained.

I think the results would be better and more lasting if I just bothered to clean the metal first... Though I like the uneven mottled colour on the brass blank. I held the pieces with pliers, hence the light patches around the hole/loop.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Whispered words -- my entry for Vintaj's February challenge

Now the entries have been published over at the Vintaj blog so I will show a couple of pics of my entry for the February design challenge, "Lover's Bouquet".

I got this idea last minute, but oddly enough I didn't send in the entry the last minute. One day before deadline -- that must be some sort of record for me! Anyway, I guess it's a bit conventional, but adding more to it didn't feel like me. Besides, I'm already planning what to do for the next challenge so hopefully I'll have more time for that entry. I like these challenges for two reasons: a) I love working with brass and b) I have a chance to win brass jewelry parts. I'm such a brass junkie...

So... Back to the necklace and the voting. Here is how I described my piece (text can also be found in the challenge gallery):
I wanted to make something romantic and serene with a vintage touch. An uncomplicated bouquet of flowers, like a whispered word of love -- perhaps from a shy lover or admirer. For the focalpiece I cut and bent a lovely floral Deco Vines Filigree apart and attached a few czech pressed-glass flower beads in a soft amber and pink hue. To that I added an Ornate Chain for a princess length necklace, saving one link to suspend the bead drop at the bottom of the filigree. The shape of the finished necklace reminds me of a patinated jardiniere.

Please check out the Vintaj blog to cast your vote, either for me (aiding me in my brass addiction, that is a noble cause) or someone else's entry that you like. I won't vote -- feels a bit odd doing that when participating plus I wouldn't be able to choose just one entry. I've got at least three different favourites this month.

*UPDATE: My entry finished third with just 1 % fewer votes than the runner-up. Thank you all, who took the time to vote for me!*

*SECOND UPDATE: If you want to learn how I created the filigree focalpiece, see Manekis filigranstomme. Text in Swedish as I've not yet translated the tutorial, but the instructions include several photos.*

Bead blog recap week 6

One thing I don't like about making these recaps is constant reminder of how time flies: already six weeks into the new year now! On the other hand: I also get a constant reminder that I'm not idle -- new posts to add here every week. From Chinese tigers to American seed bead hearts.

Reaming pearls without a reamer
Beading Gem's Journal has a tip for how you can widen pearl holes that are too small without using a reamer. Good tip if you need to use a few beads, but doesn't have your reamer with you.

Tips for theatre jewellery
At the Artful Crafter, you can find a few tips for making jewellery for actors on stage.

Year of the Tiger
Happy new Chinese year! Get inspired by the fact that we are now entering the year of the tiger. Or just look at my cute Czech lampwork bead tiger.

New from Vintaj
Some new products from American Vintaj Brass Co.

Bugle beads in squares
Projects using bugle beads to make filled or hollow squares and rectangles, both two- and three-dimensional jewellery.

Beaders and jewellery designers helping Haiti
Examples of how beaders and designers are raising money to help Haiti and bead shop encouraging their costumers to donate.

Belle Armoire Jewelry review
I got my hands on two issues of the jewellery-making mag. Here is my impression of them.

Viva Mexicana! from TierraCast
About TierraCast's new product line inspired by Mexico: Dia de los Muertos, milagros and talavera pottery.

Hugs & kisses
How to bead the type of patterns known as hugs and kisses. Includes links to several different projects.

Knot and braid in new Swedish bead contest
Swedish bead shop Caraga announces a contest on the theme knotted and braided jewellery.

Seed bead hearts
Lots of links to projects, making flat or dimensional hearts (singles or chains) of seed beads.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Vintaj and Karen-Marie Klip

What would I have done if I had not gotten all those Vintaj blanks? I'm having so much fun experimenting with them!

This time I wanted to use my sheet of laser-cut paper motifs from Danish Karen-Marie Klip. As I was mostly just experimenting I didn't bother too much with the designs, I just wanted to see what the mix of dark brass and thick off-white paper would look like. So I simply cut out the leaves and glued them to the metal using decoupage glue. Rather fiddly as I don't have any tweezers -- special fine tweezers can be found among the papers in my Panduro shop, but it wasn't until I started using the tiny paper motifs that I realised it would be sooo much easier had I not thought the tweezers where too expensive and not that important...

Any way, here are my first three pendants, waiting to be sprayed with a matte sealant. Photo is a bit blurred, but I hope it's not too bad. I really liked mixing the brass with the sweet little cut-outs and will probably keep experimenting with it.

Rose in filigree

I'm having a bit of a Vintaj theme this week, I feel. Here is another pendant I've made using my last natural brass filigree piece I have in my stash.

Here is yet another way for me to use my blanks from the giveaway. I selected a large round pendant and decoupaged a cutout from one of my favourite scrapbook papers, Paul (SCRB 256) from Calambour onto it. I pierced a hole in the paper so I could still use the hole in the blank.

When dry I put some 0,5 mm Vintage Bronze wire through the hole and pushed the wire ends through a hole in the filigree piece. I then wrapped the filigree "petals" around the blank. Because of the wire, the filigree is a tad off-centre, but not so much it's annoying. The filigree not just added a frame to the floral motif, but added interest to the back of the pendant.

Ideally I would have wanted to use a different style of filigree, but I had to use what was in my stash. I'm still pleased with the results though.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Behind a bead photo II: the bling ring

I wrote about hugs & kisses, the bead technique/pattern, at my other blog and so I had to have a pic to illustrate the post. Only thing I had was a ring I made years ago with my then-new siam 2xAB 6 mm bicones. And at that time I'd used black Illusion cord, one of the few cords I owned back then, to make it. Not stored in the best of ways -- none of my selfmade jewellery is -- the cord had been bent and flattened into an odd shape. Didn't look good for a photo. I didn't even take a pic of it that way as I wasn't planning on writing this post...

So what did I do? Once I used a narrow torch as a ring mandel, photographing a bead ring. This ring was not large enough for that. But large enough to fit over a Gütermann bead tube I borrowed from my sis. First, I put the ring over the tube as in the pic below, but I did not like having the blue seed beads and plastic tube in the background.

But Illusion cord can be stretched and by doing that -- but not so much it damaged the ring -- I could place the ring around the wider lid of tube. A lid about the same height as the ring. Turning the top with the sticker down I got a simple and unobtrusive "ring display" for my shot.

"Trick sennit" bead bracelet

Making a loose "trick sennit" is my favourite way of getting that feeling of twisted "ruffled" necklaces or bracelets without actually having to twist the strands. I found the instructions at the website of the International Guild of Knot Tyers and soon realised it would be useful for my beadwork. It doesn't require twisting or braiding strands without fastening the first, making it a simple method you can't go wrong with. You can divid the strands into three (as I've done above) or weave through each and every strand. You can weave a couple of times for a loose style or keep working until you get a tighter braid.

The colours of the bracelet in the photo might need a few comments as well. I got a colour challenge to use a mix of yellow, orange and dark pink (rose). It toook a while for me to find matching colours -- it's not a combo I normally use -- but I think my mix of carnelian chips, smokey topaz gold luster cubes, and dk rose lined lt topaz luster 11/0 seeds turned out better than I could wish to hope for.

Sun shine through the snow

This afternoon, snow tumbled slowly through the sky while the sun, low on the horizon, shone. In this late winter I'm working on a necklace for Vintaj's february challenge. Snow outdoors, flowers indoors. A last minute idea resulted in some last minute shopping. Not sure about the result yet, but I wanted to show a detail of the "lover's bouquet" entry.

I wanted to add a bead drop to the filigree, but of cause it had no loop in the middle. My first thought was to suspend the drop between the two vines on the sides, but I realised it was a bit too messy and when for the simple solution: add a jump ring and suspend the drop from it. I had no oval jump rings so instead I used a link from the chain. Not only was it the perfect size, but I do think it blends with the filigree in a way an ordinary ring wouldn't -- and it ties the components together visually (I hope).

It's by no mean an original idea -- I've used it before and I've also seen others do it. Still, a tips for those of you that haven't seen it before.

PS! Now you can find a pic of the whole necklace here.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Hearts or leaves?

For today's post over at my other blog, I began stitching a version of Dustin Wedekind's Chains of Love. As I wanted to use larger beads than the usual 11/0 I had to try and find some 8/0 in my stash came up with two matching colours. Both green. So my hearts look more like leaves -- something I like, though. And it only goes to show how much color is part of how we perceive a shape. Make them in red (as in the original chain) and there's no doubt they look like hearts. Make them in green and I won't be the only one seeing a chain of leaves.

According to Kate Smith green can be associated with love, see her article The Color of Love -- Green or Red? at Sensational Color.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sparrow's compass scroll pendant

Remember the Vintaj blanks I wrote about earlier, the ones I got from a Vintaj blog giveaway? Well I've been playing some more with them.

This time I was looking for a way to use my lovely Sparrow's compass (23 mm). I didn't want to link it, glue it or just suspend it with a jump ring or bail. The latter would also mean it wouldn't hang the way I wanted. Yesterday I found that one of my blanks was the perfect size to use as a backdrop to the compass, also providing a hole for suspending the pendant. As said, I didn't want to glue the compass in place so instead I got the idea to take a large four-petal bead cap and use it to capture the compass, similar to filigree wrapping.

I flattened the bead cap and rolled the tips of the petals inwards. Slightly tricky, but not difficult to add the blank and compass. And a result I'm pretty pleased with. I added scroll to the name as I thought the rolled up petals reminded of paper scrolls.

February snow

We got even more snow this week (up to the windowsills in some places) so of cause, when it was followed by a sunny day, my sis and I grabbed our cameras and went for a stroll. Mimi met up with us, but fled home when a car came -- the high walls of snow along the road made it impossible for her to escape the car so she ran in front of it all the way home. Luckily the driver was very understanding, driving slow and not stressing her by honking or anything like that.

Temperature keep going up and down, resulting in two layers of isicles hanging from our roof.

We soon gave up walking through the snowy fields and lawn as the snow reached us above the knees -- and at that point we were walking on snow, not the ground, som the actual depth of the snow was bigger. But first we stalked some birds up in the trees (thank god for 12x zoom).

If the views look new it's because we followed the road instead of walking across the fields as we usually do.

As you can see, we are always out rather late in the afternoon so this time we were hoping for some great shots of the sun beginning to set over the peninsula of Kullen, or more precisely over Kullaberg.

Going closer, we could capture the pink, orange and yellow tones better. Notice the boat in the first pic below?

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Bead blog recap week 5

New week, new posts.

Pearl hearts
With Valentine's Day coming up, here are a few tips for making hearts of freshwater or faux pearls.

Miyuki's Tila Bead
Miyuki has announced a new 2-hole bead, especially made for use in bead-weaving.

Contests and challenges
Art Bead Scene blog has announced their February challenge and a reminder about Rings & Things' Your Designs Rock contest.

Book review: Making Colourful Wire & Beaded Jewellery
Review of Linda Jones' book.

Imitate crochet with beads
Tips on a bead-woven collar necklace imitating a classical pineapple lace crochet.

Electronic bead magazines
Tips on online mags, CD collections, and bead and jewellery-making magazines that offer electronic subscriptions.

News from Swarovski and BeadSmith
New products recently announced by Crystallized Swarovski components (spring/summer 2011) and BeadSmith. Also wire jewellery-making trend according to Jean Campbell of Beading Daily.

Book review: Make jewellery from beach stones
A review of Danish book Smykker af strandsten by Karen Hørmann & Anette Ib.

A few tips on beaded hedgehogs, from seed bead critters to sparkling swarovski animals.

More design contests
Both Vintaj's February challenge and Swedish bead shop Frost08's design contest focus on love and romance.

Wire cutters
Wire cutters are one of the most important tools for beaders and jewellery makers. Here are information of different types of cutters and things to consider before buying a new cutter.

Friday, 5 February 2010

I want tila beads!

I was about to get off the computer last night when I suddenly got this idea into my head that I would check out Miyuki's website as I hadn't done that in some time. And what do I find? Miyuki just announced they're making a new bead shape: the tila bead. I got so excited!

I have a soft spot for 2-hole beads eventhough I don't use them that often. Mostly because I find I just string or link the beads like in my Victorian Amethyst set. But the tila beads are different: they're especially made to be used in bead-weaving and the photos are very inspirational. Just look at the one above -- don't that pic just make you drool and wish the beads were available right now?

And as that wasn't enough, Miyuki also offers more durable galvy beads, Duracoat galvanized, that I'm eager to try out as well. Then BeadSmith tempts me with their new bead mixes Bead Soup Hearthy, which mix lovely Miyuki beads with another favourite of mine: czech pressed-glass beads. (And if you didn't already know it, Miyuki also make the pretty long magatama beads I used in my Golden Glow crochet bracelet.)

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Pearl angel

This is a photo I took when I wanted to illustrate a post on "pearl names". I thought the female angel was a perfect symbol, seeing most names I found were European and here pearls are symbols for purity, femininity, female virtues as virginity and humility, salvation, god's grace and "the word of God".

It's mostly nuggets, but I do prefer round beads, keshi and some other odd shapes like certain biwa sticks. The butterfly-shaped coin pearls are rather cute too. My favourite are the tiny button pearls, though. Love them!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

White opal can be pretty

As I mentioned when showing my "chubby snowflake", I'm not a big fan of Swarovski's white opal (or any white opal for that matter). To me it just look like someone has poured water into an almost empty glass of milk. But since I have lately come to love opal glass I have found one thing I like about white opal: It looks lovely when coated.

Above is an oval fancy stone in white opal volcano that I just had to buy after seeing it for the first time. And I was not disappointed! Not too long ago I was given a package of bicones in white opal starshine. Plus I have a small chaton in white opal sky blue. Such pretty blues (and I don't even like blue that much).

Now I just want to find other white opal stones with coatings! Both custom coatings and genuine swaro coatings like golden shadow or satin. What would for example vitrail, heliotrope or tabac look like on this colour, I keep wondering.

And plain white opal? Sorry, still don't like it.

To pretty for my clasps?

I made this "filled net" bracelet to illustrate a post on Manekis Pärlblogg. Because of that I just used what beads I could find enough of, hoping to find a colour of seed beads that would match the 4 mm rounds. The result was this silver-lined "padparadscha" grid (7-drop netting) with pearlcoated beads in creme, soft red and green. A lighter version of the Christmas colours.

My only problem right now is that I can't choose what clasp to use... None of my clasps or buttons feel right and I don't fancy making a seedbeaded one. Hopefully I'll get some inspiration soon.

*UPDATE* I ended up doing a "bead and loop" closure, using a beaded bead type of thing made with the same beads as in the netting.
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