Friday, 30 April 2010

Walpurgis night -- time to celebrate spring

Tonight is Walpurgis night or Valborgsmässoafton as we call it here. Or Siste April (Last April) as it's known at my alma mater, Lund University. I'm not celebrating it this year and will not be watching the bonfires, but am taking the opportunity to wish all of you a pleasant evening.

Valborg is a pre-Christian festival that like many others was re-made into a Catholic day of celebrating. Thus it became part of the cult of Saint Walpurga (Valborg in Swedish). Today it's mostly seen as an informal, non-religious holiday celebrating the arrival of spring. In Sweden, the tradition to light bonfires began in the 18th Century in Uppland and have then spread to other parts of the country, though still today not all parts of the country have it. At the universities of Uppsala (in Uppland) and Lund, Siste April means many festivities and traditional outdoor university choir conserts. But though I studied in Lund for two years, I've yet to experience the Valborg spectacles at sight.

Singing is part of many of the more popular holidays. When singing on Walpurgis Night and May 1st it is said they "sjunger in våren", more or less meaning to welcome spring by singing.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Beads, bead caps or flowers?

When I first saw these filigrees, described as "cube drawn bead" and bead caps by the shop, I just had to buy them. Not because I had an inkling of what to do with them -- I was just attracted to the unusual shape.

The seller made an association to 19th century drawstring bags, myself I just keep seeing them as flowers. Despite being square while most flowers have round bells, I just keep thinking of "puffy" flowers like those you can find in water aven flowers, japanese lantern husks, turk's cap lily (martagon), lily-of-the-vally and many more.

Not yet sure how I will use them, but I just had to show them. Will publish some picks of the finished jewellery once I get the inspiration to use these.

PS! If I don't get any jewellery ideas, I bet they could be used as ornate miniture tables or flower pots, depending on which end you place down.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Old rose ox

Well, of cause I had to buy jewellery componants with such a pretty name as old rose ox. The shop describes the finish (a plating on brass) as "a TRUE DESIGNER finish featured at B'sue Boutiques. It's not at all your typical Copper Ox, though our copper ox jumps, headpins/eyepins, and chain will work with it. Pure copper or copper plate findings will also blend with this lush pinky-rose copper finish with a delicate hint of antique, buffed out to a shine!"

Can a copper -- and brass -- junkie resist that? Especially when the shop in question sells a lot of metal flowers? Of cause not!

Lovely shiny copper colour with just the right amount of antiqueing to enhance the details and give the pieces depth. And how does it compare to other copper-platings and antiqued copper? Below is a oh-so-hard-to-photograph sampler for comparison.

The rose and dapped filigree in the centre is old rose ox. The branch below is from this post -- as with the setting next to it it's heat-treated brass that has taken on copper hues. Closest thing I have to red brass (rödmetall). To continue clockwise: two lacquered solid copper beads with oxidized details: matt antiqued copper-plate fish clasp, TierraCast Antique Copper (plating, a lovely dark shine) leaf and flower, bright copper-plate toggle clasp, non-tarnish treated solid copper chain, TierraCast floral bead, matte light copper-plate filigree beads, TierraCast (I think) cat charm, copper ox brass cat charm, antiqued copper-plate and -- to finish it off -- vintage cat stamping with natural "gingerbread patina"

Of cause all sorts of copper mix well with other metals, but I still wanted to show a few examples I tried. Please not I chose the pieces because of their colours, not to be actually used with the rose.
Trickiest combo, and also the toughest to capture with the camera, but I do think russian goldplate (as well as yellow brass) could work. Proportions are probably the key here. Besides, I love russian goldplate. Will probably write more about that finish soon.

I've met American beaders that used to be pretty snobby when it came to pewter, but not least in Scandinavia, pewter has had quite a tradition and I have some lovely artisan pewter/tin jewellery. This is a rather cool finding -- to see the clever back, check out this post. Anyway, unplated pewter has a very attractive grey colour with just the right amount of shine. In this case I'd say pewter isn't the best combo, but still a nice and neutral choice.

The easiest option is of cause black or a dark gunmetal/black nickel. Dramatic, though sometimes a tad too hard, it's a colour that many will like. Not least useful if you want to introduce a third colour or more as black will go with everything. More or less. So: very nice and versatile, but for some maybe a forumla 1A choice.

Finally, I wanted to show a softer alternative to black. The browns in this patina -- Vintaj brass of cause -- works well with the antiqueing, but isn't as hard as black can be. Think of it as using brown mascara instead of black, gives sort of the same effect but softer. As the patina is more matte than the buffed old rose ox, it works especially well as a neutral background. The shiner metal will always stand out paired with something matte so the brown brass should be thought of as background only when designing.

Please respect my copyright

I love taking pictures and I enjoy sharing them with you on my blogs and the forums I am a member on. But I invest a lot of time and effort into these, especially as my camera is old and adds so much noise. So I don't really want to see my pics on other websites without any credits. To be honest, unless you are blogging about my blog or have my expressed permission, I really don't want to see my pics stolen for use on other websites at all.

I'm a very resonable person and if you have a non-commersial/personal/charity website or blog I'm more or less always willing to let you borrow my pics if only you ask me first and give credits (linking to my blog). I don't want to watermark my photos just because of a few people that don't know the difference between my stuff and your stuff or have the creativity to do something original.

And for all those of you familiar with copyright laws: you don't have to display a copyright symbol or write a copyright statement in order for text and pictures to be protected by law. They are automatically protected the moment they are created. But if you don't believe it I will now add a copyright statement. They are so definite I have tried to avoid it, but to no avail (please not I have a copyright statement on my other blog, Manekis Pärlblogg already).

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Bead blog recap week 16

If this week had a theme it would've been flowers. Also, I made an index of all technique and bead-making posts, making it easier to find all posts on the same subject.

Faux pearls in pc
How to make faux pearls using polymer clay and pearlescent powders.

Soumak as wirework
Soumak or snärjväv, as it's known in Swedish, is an ancient weaving technique -- used in Persian rugs as well as Scandinavian tapestries -- that makes lovely effects woven in wire.

Biwa and stick pearls
I only recently discovered that I kind of like biwa/stick pearls. Read more about the origin of the pearls and their name as well as what type of pearls are called biwas today.

Linking lucite leaves
Two cool necklaces made from lucite leaves, linked together.

Layered flower pendants
How to make layered pendants made from lucite/acrylic/resin and metal flower components.

Flowers from beads
Use beads as petals, wiring or stitching them together to make flowers (as in the photo above).

Kundan flowers
How to make flowers using sew-on stones (kundan) and a few beads. Mostly used to make floral arrangements and other home décor, but they could also be used for jewellery (compare the wired flowers above and briolette flowers).

Techniques by theme

An index of all the technique posts made, sorted by "theme": wirework & chain maille; torch; metalwork (other); Patina and finishes; resin & plastic; off loom beadweaving; loomwork; bead embroidery; other beading techniques; bead crochet & knitting; knotting & braiding; other textile & fibre techniques; clay (ceramic, metal, polymer etc); misc. Also an index of all bead-making posts. Note that "project and patterns posts" are not included.

New British bead magazine
Britain has gotten yet another bead and jewellery-making magazine, called Creative Beads & Jewellery.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Just bragging a little...

I've shown you my Marsh marigold necklace (only centrepiece shown above), which I entered for the Vintaj blog design challenge. It didn't win the vote, but today when I checked my e-mails, I got the message that my necklace had been chosen as Editor's Pick. The motivation, as stated in the blog post, was:

We were inspired by your golden wire wrapped flowers around our Branch and the clever use of the Violet Sprig Fastenable as the closure! Your color palette, improvisation, and written inspiration for you design sealed the deal.

I was such a lovely surprise! I've been feeling a bit under the weather lately so this really cheered me up. While I did run into design problems, especially when wiring the branches together, I fully enjoyed making this necklace. So it was fun to see that others liked the result as well.


And for those of you who also wants a chance to win or get to become Editor's pick, check out the newest Vintaj design challenge Daffodil Walkway (due May 7th). You can read more about rules etc here.

The colour of hellebore

There are few flowers as beautiful as the hellebore and we've got one in our greenhouse. I recently took some pics of it, when I realised it would match my latest bead order in colour. I love many colours, but it's the mauves, lavendars, lilacs, purples, eggplants, burgundys etc that I keep coming back to. Shades of violet and shades of red (chestnut, hazelnut, antique rose, sangria, maroon, burgundy, redwood).

So with that humble stash of purples and reds in mind, it might not surprise you when I say how much I love the colours of our hellebore.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

April flowers

While I'm writing this it has begun to snow outside the window. The air is thick with big snowflakes, as is common when the temperatur is above zero. They say the ash cloud has cooled down the temperature and so this afternoon it's down to only 4 degrees. April weather in deed...

But, let's go back to yesterday. When the sun was shining and the sky was blue. And my latest pic of new spring flowers. Our first violets have bloomed and the daffodils have begun to colour the lawn yellow.

I've forgotten the name of the blue flowers below... [But with some help (see comments) I've now got a name for you: Squill.] They are alreay beginning to wilt. I've just forgotten to take pics of them earlier...

And from purples and blues to the white flowers of spring. The daisies bloom the year around almost, but they are not as pretty in last winter as they are during spring and summer.

And then, of cause, the most spring flower of them all: the wood anemones. No good pics, I'm afraid, but the season has just begun and I will (hopefully) get a couple of more chances to photograph them.

From these pretty white flowers we move on to the bright and yellow: Yellow Stars-of-Bethlehem, daffodils, lesser celandine. Oh, those celandine look a tad like they too could've been the inspiration for my Marsh marigold necklace, don't they?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Why rivolis?

I'm not much for sparkle and bling, but still I've taken rivolis to my heart. So why is that?

I think the major reason for my recently (slowly) growing rivoli stash is my love of colours. Crystals can be found in a variety of colours and finishes. Up until now, getting my hands on all of these colours have meant buying bicone beads (the cheapest shape). But I don't always end up using them. Then I discovered rivolis -- or, rather, I discovered that they were great samplers. Rivolis are, compared with other cut crystal stones, cheap and buying a stone instead of a batch bicones felt like a good alternative. I still get to admire that gorgeous nuance or finish I fell for, but without having an ever-growing stash of unused beads that take up space.

Also, the size meant I got "more" of the colour/finish in one rivoli compared to a dozen beads. Add to that the fact that some finishes not look as good on beads as they do on pendants and stones with defined "fronts" and "backs" (just compare the beads and pendant in this pic of crystal heliotrope).

A second reason is probably the fact I find these stones so versatile, they can be set in many different ways, using beads, wire or pre-made settings. The pointed back is a bit of a challenge at first, if being used to working with cabochons, but on the other hand, it is an important part of the cut, adding depth and enhancing the sparkle.

As I said I'm not a big fan of really sparkly jewellery. Or, well, I can appreciate a sparkling piece of jewellery -- it's just not my style to make or wear. I prefer more sublte sparkles and shimmers. Like dewdrops. Not surprisingly I love charlottes -- and prefer fire-polished beads to crystals.

With rivolis I can "concentrate" that sparkle to one point, which is so much more my style. I think it enhances the sparkle and make the stone look so clear and fresh.

To conclude: with rivolis I can get a gorgeous sampler and a concentration of colour I don't really find in beads. They give me many design possibilities and suit my style. When I first saw rivolis I didn't really fall for them, didn't really get why so many magazine projects used them. Then I got my hands on one...

OK, do you want one last rivoli pic? What about a slightly odd one: 18 mm custom coated Swarovski stone in a finish called peacock.

Bead blog recap week 15

A week that began with a brad link tutorial and ended with news of a new bead mag being launched in the UK.

New British bead magazine
Creative Beads & Jewellery is a new mag for beaders and jewellery-makers with an aim to cover a wide variety of techniques.

New generation discover traditional beads in Ghana
CNN reports of the Ghanaian "bead renaissance" where a new generation Westafricans have made the domestic beads trendy. Ghana has a very long tradition as a bead-making country and now the government see potential in the bead-making as well, both as a tourist attraction and as a lucrative export commodity.

International Charm Day
April 28 has been proclaimed International Charm Day, a day to celebrate handmade art charms in different ways. Check out the International Charm Day blog for more info and giveaways.

Colourful enamelled toggle clasps
C-Koop Beads make copper clasps with colourful enamels. Something for a beader that loves colour. C-Koop also make enamelled charms and beads. FusionBeads have a nice selection of them.

Colourful non-metal toggle clasps
More colour and more toggles. Toggle clasps can be made from a wide variety of materials, some of which can have lovely colours. Why not consider including clasps made from tagua, wood, boro glass, gemstone, ceramics or shell in your designs?

Bezel lace -- make romantic bezels without a torch
I love bezel lace -- a simple way to make bezels for those pretty rivolis and gems without having to solder. Now Rings & Things sell brass lace, while Ezel Findings and Rashbel offer ribbons in sterling silver.

How to etch glass and stone beads
With etches (liquids or creams) you can give a lovely matt finish to beads made from glass or stone -- or why not etch motifs?

How to make links and spacer bars from brads
Brads are fab jewellery compontents that can be used as connectors, spacer bars and more in your jewellery designs. The English version of the tutorial can be found here on this blog.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

How to make links and spacer bars from brads

~*~Instruktioner på svenska hittar du här. ~*~

I've already shown you my brads bracelets. Today I thought I would show you how to turn brads into jewellery components, using only a pair of round-nose pliers. In my example I will use clamshell style brads from Vintaj. You can also use studs or Decorivets, provided they have two peripendicular prongs to loop.

Here you will just find instructions for how to make the links -- how you want to use them in jewellery is up to you. Be creative! For a couple of examples, see my brads bracelets in the link above.

Supplies needed: Brads

Tools: round-nose pliers, nylon jaw flat-nose pliers (optional)

1. Start by looking at your brads. Do they look like the one above, with two prongs protruding straight from the sides of the brad: go directly to step 2.

If the brads on the other hand looks like the example below, you need to straighten the prongs first. Begin by bending out the prongs from the centre. Then use your fingers to pull the prongs straight, as in the brad to the right in the pic below. You can also use nylon jaw pliers to straighten the prongs, especially useful if they are hard.

Now it's time to begin making the links. I will show two different variations: one with loops on the back -- suitable for making spacer bars -- and one with loops on the sides, which is a better option if using the link as a connector.

2. Spacer bars: Grab the tip of one prong with the jaws of your round-nose pliers and begin rolling it inwards so it forms a loop. It can be tricky grabbing hold of the outermost tip without the pliers sliding. Don't give up if this happens. You may want to keep the jaws slightly away from the tip for better gripping, but not too far as the loop won't get a nice round shape then.

4. Keep rolling the prong until you reach its base and the loop rests on the back of the brad.

5. Repeat steps 2-4, looping the other prong. Check that the loops are equal size: as when making loops on wire it's important to begin the loops at the same point on the jaws of the pliers for the loops not to end up with different sizes.

6. Your component/spacer bar is now completed.

7. Connector: To make a connector, loop the prongs as in steps 2-4 above, but instead of rolling the prong inwards and under the brad, you will roll the loop outwards (as indicated by the pic above).

8. Keep looping until you reach the base of the prong. In this component, the loop should end up on the middle of the brad, as seen in the pic above. Repeat with the second prong and your connector is finished.


NB! Brads are not originally made for jewellery making and are not necessarily regulated by the same laws with regards to contents. If you are allergic or will be selling your brads jewellery, it's wise to check them first, not least for traces of nickel (within the EU it's illegal to sell jewellery that isn't nickel safe). Some embellishments on brads are not very durable -- that is also worth keeping in mind.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Marsh marigolds: My entry for the Vintaj blog April challenge

The theme for the Vintaj blog design challenge this month was "Spring Riverbed" and the word that immediatly popped up was kabbeleka, marsh marigold. This is a spring flower that thrives in wetlands and one that I have the pleasure of seeing each year as we got a few plants by the edge of our fen. Here, it blooms in May, but in e.g. Southern Denmark and Germany it buds already in April.

When making the necklace I saw a picture in front of me: the flowers stretching along the edge of the riverbed of a small creek, shaded by trees. The centerpiece of my necklace consists of two different branches wired together -- "debris" fallen into the creek -- and around it grows the flowers, accompanied by a few riverstones (= freshwater pearls).

I had no good clasps to use so I improvised, using a fastenable and hook. Also a way to keep to the floral theme of the piece.

If you want to vote for my necklace (big thanks if you do!) or any of the other entries, please go to the Vintaj blog and cast your vote by April 16.
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