Monday, 31 May 2010

Earthenwood Studio's Ten days of giveaways

Today is the first of ten days with giveaways over at Earthenwood Studio Chronicles blog. This first giveaway is for a lot of recent Raku experiments together with a collection of mixed metal charms and beads. For you chance to win, leave a comment on Melanie's blog post, answering today's question.

All giveaway post will be found under the label 10 days of giveaways.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Bead blog recap weeks 20-21

I haven't updated Manekis Pärlblogg daily as I've done before so therefore I saw fit not to make a weekly recap now. Officially, the reason for the lost momentum is the approaching summer.

Lariats -- getting the right length and project tips
How to determine the best size for lariat necklaces along with tips on inspirational projects and ideas for how to wear them.

Crystal Golden Shadow Contest
American bead shop Mimi's Gem is holding a design contest focused on their best-selling Swarovski effect crystal Golden shadow.

Is i real silver? Tips on how to test your beads and findings
At UK Beaders Blog you can find a post on how to test if the silver findings you've bought really are sterling silver. My post adds a few tips and things to watch out for.

Bead Star 2009 & Beads 2010
Reviews of two of Interweaves special issues.

Robin Atkin's bead embroidery book free online
Robin Atkins celebrate that her first book, One Bead at the Time, has become 10 years old by making it available for free on her website. Also, she gives you the opportunity to win one of the last remaining paper copies of the book on her blog. Hurry -- you must comment on this blog post before June 1st for a chance to win!

Steampunk -- an jewellery trend with staying power
Steampunk has been around for some time now and as a trend among beaders and jewellery makers it's been in for the last couple of years. But the interest isn't fading yet: just these last months bead shops have added more steampunk-related products to their ranges and a steampunk themed beading contest is being held right now.

Laser engraved stone pendants from LillyPilly

LillyPilly has some beautiful stone pendants added to their laser engraved products.

Epoxy resin casting
Using resin in jewellery making is popular. Here you learn how to cast using epoxy resins.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Giveaway tip: Gorgeous czech glass beads

Last week I mentioned the lucite flower giveaway on Andrew Thornthon's blog. A gorgeuos floral mix with summery soft colours. This week he's giving away a mix of czech glass beads in equally lovely, but very different, colours. Anyone who's read my post on picasso finish can see why I love this one. I've mostly got brown/beige and green (and a few blue) beads in picasso, but I like it on those floral pinks and lilacs/purples too. Give them a nice contrast.

If you too want a chance to win these beads, check out this post on Andrew's blog.

Lucky Fridays? Island Flower necklace

So, last Friday I got an e-mail saying I'd won a candy giveaway. 1 kg (6 bags) of Gott & Blandat Sötsur, which I got yesterday. Today I opened my mail in the afternoon to find an e-card fron Rings & Things saying my Island Flowers necklace above was on of Polly's Picks in their Your Designs Rock Contest. That is, not an official prize winner, but I still get a (much appreciated) $50 gift certificate.

Polly's Picks are defined as "designs our editor especially likes despite the fact that they did not win a formal prize. These designs are often simple, practical and/or whimsical examples of how to use Rings & Things components well." This is the second time one of my entries have received this honour. In 2007, the first year I made something for this contest, my Oak Island jewellery set was picked.

This is a slightly different piece of jewellery compared to what I usually make. Flowers is nothing unusual, but the size and chosen material is. Also, to work with the larger focal piece, the necklace is somewhat longer than the princess lenght I mostly seem to prefer. Instead of taking inspiration from nature in my surroundings, this was a necklace that had me thinking of tropical islands with white shells in the sand by the beaches and brown coconuts in palm trees.

I made the flowers from shiny cowrie/cowry shells with the backs cut off, which made them easy to weave together using 20 G vintage bronze wire (coloured copper). I got the inspiration partially from those shell motifs with embroidery floss and an occasional bead that you can buy for embellishing clothing and bags, but instead of gluing the shells to a backing material, I chose wirework. Three flowers are wrapped together to make a larger focal piece (approx. 13cm measured from side to side). The focal piece is suspended using dark brown cotton cord that has been folded in half and slightly twisted to hold the two cords together (held in place by 'messy-style' wire wraps). To it has been added two pairs of 'leaves,' also wrapped with the same wire.

The necklace started out consisting of just one flower, but I felt I wanted to make something larger. (Not just because it was for an American contest.) So it became three flowers. The leaves might be a bit redundant, but I wanted to make something with a bit more embellishments than the usual 'Scandinavian minimalism' I so often lean towards in my designs.

The difficult part of this necklace was finding a matching clasp. I figured it best to make my own using the 20 G wire. But why make an ordinary hook-and-eye closure?, I thought, seeing a pair of small cowrie shells with large openings. So I attached the hook to one shell and used the other shell instead of an eye loop.

Your can find my necklace here in the R&T gallery where you also find all the winners and other Polly's Picks.

Monday, 24 May 2010

My Trios "colour experiment"

Trios is SoftFlex Company's name for their variety packages of three colour coordinated beading wires. There are quite a few to choose from right now, but being fond of creating colour combinations, I just had to play with the thought of what colours I would combine if I could make my own Trios. This is what I came up with.

Please note that I've only seen most of these colours on photos online, not IRL, so I can't be 100 % sure that all the colour combos actually look good together...

Patina: A mix inspired by verdigris on copper and brass. Can't choose whether to use Copper or Antique Brass (Metallics). A darker green would also work for an intense patina, this is more a matte old finish. Antique Brass is a colour I use often, even in copper jewellery, and it does look prettier IRL than in the pic.

Cherry Blossom/Neapolitan Icecream: A cute mix reminding me of pink and white cherry blossoms against brown branches. Or Neapolitan icecream, which is a mix of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate flavours. The topaz wire is browner than in the picture, but the pink might be a bit too bright for the mix.

Vintage Cherry Blossom: an "antiqued" version with bone instead of white and a different pink. Still, the topaz doesn't look as brown as IRL on this pic. Instead of the topaz, the brownish Copper would probably also look nice here. For when white feels a bit too "harsh".

Wilting Flowers: I wanted to make a colourful mix with the original grey wire. Ideally I'd want to use a light purple (lilac, lavender) and pink for more of a washed out, "transparent" pastel palette. Champagne, another colour I haven't seen IRL, might be an alternative?

October rain: More turquoise and browns, here with a hint of autumnal red. Turquoise is a sometimes forgotten part of the autumn colour palettes, but a greener turquoise is a better choice than a bluer hue, which is more for summer or winter. I written about it -- with many pics -- here.

Empress: Gold, royal purple and garnets -- this is a powerful and luxurious mix. Can't really choose between Red Coral and Garnet, though: a darker red gives a richer impression while a brighter red is more energetic and playful.

Spring wedding: White sheer spring flowers (apple or cherry blossom, wood anemones or bird cherry) with green leaves. Simple and soft. Similar in colour to the wedding napkin ring I made.

Horse chestnut: This is the Trio I forgot to add. Imagine a horse chestnut tree with creme white blossoms. I chose a soft palette with chrysoprase, but for a stronger green peridot might be an option. Also, I went with bone as white felt a bit too "crisp". Copper would probably also look nice as an alternative to the topaz wire, I keep using.

Colour I miss in Soft Flex's palette? A light purple, lilac, so I could make the pretty mix Lilacs from Purple Amethyst, Lilac and White wires. I would have liked to use it i Wilting flowers too.

I keep complaining about not having seen all colours IRL, which makes it hard to put together combos that will actually work, but I still wanted to give this a try. And it's just vanity: I'd be embarressed if someone actually tried these combinations out and they didn't work... And even more vain when I use colours I do know how they look, but I find the pics don't do them justice -- I just want to say "really, they do work well together!" Not trying to critisize the photographer when I say a wire is better looking IRL than in the photos on the website -- after all, it usually the case with computer screens.

All photos are borrowed from the SoftFlex Company website.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Lovely lucite giveaway

I know it's last minute, but I just had to tip you about this weeks giveaway over at Andrew Thornton's blog. I think the colours in that mix of lucite flowers and leaves are so pretty. Sweet and fresh like sorbet.

When I first began beading I was a snob when it came to plastics, but since then I've found fab plastic beads and components that are a far cry from the "dollar store" and toy shop cheap crap. This type of lucite flowers combine so many things I love: matte finish, naturalistic floral shapes, a sheer feeling and sweet colours. I guess you can boil that down to just one word: romantical.

A winner will be drawn tomorrow, Monday, at midnight (EST) so hurry over and leave a comment (and blog/twitter/write about it on FB) if you too want a chance or two to win this pretty floral mix.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

More rivoli eye candy

If you love rivoli you should definitely check out all my posts tagged rivoli. Not too long ago I wrote Why rivolis? where I wrote down a few of the things that has gotten me buying a whole bunch of rivolis by now -- and it also included a small collection of my rivoli photos so far.

I forgot one thing, though, in my list of what makes me buy these stones: when looked at or photographed straight on, the facets form a flower shape. So lovely! Just too bad bezeling the rivolis sometimes obscure the point of the petals so it no long looks anything like a flower...

Anyway, here are som pics of my latest additions to the stash:

Peridot glacier blue. Blue is not normally my colour, but I just wanted something with a summer feeling and this was it: like blue and green ocean water or a clear blue sky over a lush lawn or field.

Not really my colours either, though I prefer "duller" blues like montana to brighter ones. But I was just so curious about how rose sphinx would look. Would you believe this stone is actually rose coloured? Amazing now much a coating can change the appearance without being opaque. This is the one with the metallic blue-green back I've shown here. The front is blue with hints of green and if you tilt the bead you can see some rose and peach tones deep down in the crystal.

Ah, my tiny 12 mm crystal titan. Again, just a colour I wanted to see with my own eyes, not least as the shades have differed between the various pics of this effect I've seen online. Like a lighter version rose sphinx almost, but without the hint of rose tones.

And this stone that's a warmer version of crystal volcano (more or less) is rose cathedral. Not as much purple and blue as in crystal volcano, but more red, orange and rose tones. Lovely warm tones and I understand why many beaders like this effect.

So rose sphinx and rose cathedral are based on the same pink stone. So is this one, rose citrine. When looking at it my first thought was ametrine. If you love the colours in ametrine, you'll love rose citrine. A pretty colour blend with soft tones.

Soft are also the pastel tones of crystal vitrail light. Soft like water colour or thin flower petals with hints of lilac, pink, aqua and baby blue. The photo in the beginning of this post is a (slightly dark) sideview of this stone.

And yet another rose stone. This is rose starlight, which has a metallic coating on top of the stone that makes it hard to capture. Pinkish and purple on the surface with hints of yellow gold. And if looking "into the stone" it has a tone of old rose. Below is a second pic, which capture the golden shine better.

Most of the stones are 18 mm and I do prefer 16 or 18 mm as they show the colours better, but some stones I've only found in 14 mm. Better than nothing I suppose, but I'd love to have e.g. rose starlight or topaz glacier blue in larger stones.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Pretty rivoli backs

I just love coated glass and crystal beads. So recently, when I again could use my Visa online (stupid bank) I got some yummy rivolis. There will be more pics soon, but for today I just wanted to show two of them that have one thing in common: the coating looks just as pretty on the surface as through the crystal.

Many times the coating is not pretty on the surface -- exceptions being e.g. satin, aurora borealis, metallic blue, dorado and glacier blue -- and might even be coated with a different coloured protective finish and so it's applied on the back of a stone. The pretty changing colours are seen through the glass or crystal, not on it. But these two rivolis are bound to be used in a setting that will show both sides as they're equally pretty.

First up is the rose sphinx (yes, this rose coloured crystal does look mostly dark blue). The front of this rivoli can be seen in the beginning of this post. The back is shown above. The first thing my sis said when she saw me flip the stone over was "oh, I prefer that side!". Needless to say, my sis loves blue and not least these metallic blues.

Next is a stone I had no idea could be so pretty on the back. Because I do have crystal vitrail light facetted cabochons, but they are covered with a bronze coating on the back so I didn't see what I saw on my rivoli. The front has soft pastels, almost like a water-colour painting, but look at those gorgeous rose, peach, copper and purple tones on the back (pic below). Should add that the colours are not so intense IRL, the colours are correct but slightly lighter than they might appear in my photo. Very pretty, nontheless. I'm tempted to use this side as the front instead!

So, which side do you prefer? And which one would you use as the front? I still feel odd letting the "wrong side" be the one facing, but on the other hand the colours are too pretty to be hidden by a setting or other components/embroidery backings.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

My first resin rings

I found a pair of "old" resin rings I've made some time ago. Some of my first tests using epoxy resin and "resin powder", actually. Which would explain the sloppy work -- don't check for resin drops on the outside of the bezels...

Anyway, this first one is a simple ring where I cut out a rose from one of my favourite scrapbook papers. I had -- and have -- no special epoxy resin so I just used the common epoxy glue you can find in the hardware store. Non-yellowing according to the manufacturer. Looking carefully you can see some tiny air bubbles as I didn't know how to get rid of them.

I do prefer epoxy resins especially made for jewellery making, not least since those doesn't begin to cure as fast as epoxies intended as adhesives. But when you want to try something new you make due with what you have. Which was the thought behind the ring below as well.

This ring is made from japanese paper and UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamels). I wanted to try this as I'd just read about JudiKins' Amazing Glaze and thought it'd be fun to try. But I couldn't buy it at the time so what to do? Well, some time ago I'd bought some UTEE as I wanted to make some cool paper beads I'd found instructions for. That didn't happen as I don't own a heat gun, but I had read that you could melt UTEE in a melting pot -- so surely you could melt it in the oven too, as you would with Amazing Glaze?

Melting Amazing Glaze in the oven was fun, but I fear I'm not as steady on hand as I should in order to work with powders like this -- more than once I dropped my rings and bezels on the floor before I even got them into the oven. This ring I dropped directly when taking it from the oven and before the plastic powder had had time to harden...

As you can see in the close-up above the resin also "leaked" through the paper, but that is not as obvious when looking at the ring IRL.

Nowadays I've found another favourite that doesn't require mixing as epoxy does or handling powders and work with multiple "firings" as UTEE does: Gel du Soleil 1-part UV-curing epoxy resin. For some things I can't use it, but for resin bezels like the ones above I love it!

(There's also another brand of UV-curing resin: Lisa Pavelka's Magic Glos, which I haven't tried.)

Bead blog recap week 19

Yet another week of bead blogging have past. This time I've blogged about everything from DIY spiky silicone beads to nickel safety.

Nickel safe -- who can you trust?
All jewellery sold in the EU must comply with the nickel regulations, but not all beads and components made are nickel safe as they might be manufactured in countries outside of the EU, such as the US or China. When buying beads and findings, can you really trust that the products are nickel safe? Not even if buying from European bead shops can be 100 % "safe".

Which laws apply?
Depending on whether you have a company or buy as a consumer, different laws apply. Same thing with whether the seller is another individual or a company. And when shopping from abroad, you have to follow that country's laws. Konsumentköplagen, which gives the best protection for buyer, only apply when a consumer buy from a company in Sweden or the EU.

Shell pearls
Shell pearls are lovely pearl imitations made from shell and coated with a pearlescent finish.

Make personalised toggle clasps
The new Patera toggle bezels have space for you to add paper or other embellishments to your clasps.

Glass tile and cabochon pendants
How to make picture pendants or charms using glass tiles or glass domes/cabochons. Includes many different variations.

Origami jewellery
How to fold paper into unusual jewellery or beads.

Spiky silicone beads
An Italian tutorial on how to cover beads with dabs of coloured silicone. Includes a few other tips on how silicone can be used in jewellery or bead making.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Decoupaged wood beads bracelet

This is another decoupaged piece of jewellery I've made using Décopatch papers (no 287). Normally I really, really dislike elastic jewellery, but as I didn't have any good clasps I choose to string the beads on elastics so I at least could finish my project (it's a long overdue project made with beads I got from Fru Pärla).

I thought my favourite decoupage paper looked pretty good mixed with the caramel brown wooden beads. On the first close-up you can even see how the graining slightly showns through the thin paper. I left one side free so the bracelet can be worn with some beads facing up and other facing down if one prefers that.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Pink anemone brooch

I really like these lovely big acrylic/lucite flowers. That's why I bought this one eventhough pink is not my favourite colour.

This just a very simple brooch I made by knotting the acrylic flower to a large coconut button -- it had a perfect curve for letting the flower nest in the middle -- and then adding a few matte crystal long magatama beads in the centre. I think it suits the season with its soft spring colours.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Bead blog recap week 18

Fimo doll 17mm Cherry x1
Fimo doll 17mm Plum elfin x1

This week was a short one too, due to me being away on Friday to visit my father in hospital. Aren't the Fimo dolls in the pic above very sweet? If not too sweet for your taste, you can click the pics to go directly to the Perles & Co bead shop.

Tea dyeing
You can use tea to dye many of your bead supplies: the silk or cotton cords, pearls, white bone beads, paper, MOP pendants etc. Check out my own tea dye experiments, using green tea and fruit teas as well as black tea, here.

Crystallized changes names
Swarovski has during the last years sold their beads and components under the brand Crystallized -- Swarovski Elements. In June they will drop the Crystallized and just be Swarovski Elements.

End cones as pendants
End cones are not only useful for finishing necklaces, they come in many pretty shapes that can make the focal point of a pendant or charm.

May challenges
New monthly design challenges from Vintaj and Art Bead Scene Blog means new chances to win lovely beads and jewellery components.

Fimo dolls and frosted gold
French Perles & Co have added some very cute doll's head beads made in polymer clay to the shop (click pics above). While American Kabela Design has added a new finish to their collection (sold by e.g. FusionBeads): Stardust, a frosty white "wash" on gold plated brass. Includes link to post on how to colour your own brass.

Jewelry Making Daily
Helen Driggs' Flashcard newsletter for Jewelry Artist/Lapidary Journal has been a personal favourite. Now it becomes part of Interweave's new community Jewelry Making Daily, similar to their Beading Daily site.

Spun tin and copper threads
Spun tin -- or pewter -- thread is a special type of metallic thread used not least in Sámi embroidery and braided bracelets. While tin is the most common version, you can also find copper and enamelled copper threads as well as "gold" thread. Includes a short description of how the threads were made in old times (has been used since at least the Iron Age). I have written about the threads in English too on this blog -- check out this post. Note that it's not the same text in both posts.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

A lovely siamese

I haven't really been in the mood to write much lately, but of cause I could never abandon my blogs. So what do you do if you're not in the mood to write something special or edit flower pics to upload? Well, you find a pic or two of a special bead and do some bragging.

This is my most expensive bead and I haven't even told my family what it costed (20 USD) as I don't think they'd understand why one would pay so much for such a simple thing as a bead. Or maybe they would? Because they do understand paying for quality and beautiful things and this really is a marvelous bead.

The siamese is made by Laura Mears as part of her Animal Totems series. It's a hollow porcelain bead with hand-painted details. Very lifelike and just adorable. I chose a siamese with a typical colouring. Not that I'm especially fond of siamese cats in particular, but I really liked the colours.

This is a rather unique necklace -- normally I just keep my most expensive and exclusive beads in my "treasure chest", taking them out only to drool over them and pat them. My preciousss. But there was this colour challenge where I was challenged to make something using purple, brown and beige. And the cat was perfect so put her/him on an "antique gold" hatpin and added a lavender/mocha silk ribbon. Very simple, but a nice way of keeping the focus on the focal piece.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

I finally bought some tin thread -- now what shall I do with it?

I finally got around to buying some "real" tin thread. I already have the copper version and at a sale I also got some black enamelled copper thread. Tin thread isn't exactly cheap so I have putting off buying some for years. But now I just couldn't resist it anymore.

If you're not Scandinavian I suspect you wonder: what, then, is tin thread? Well, tin thread is a literal translation of Swedish word tenntråd. Sometimes it's also called pewter thread, seeing it's made using a tin alloy -- in Swedish tenn is used both for tin and pewter so different translations exist. But unlike most pewter alloys used in jewellery components, tin thread has a pinch of silver in it: 4 % silver to give it a nice shine. Of cause it's also nickel-free. The thread consist of a fibre core around which thin tin/pewter threads are spun (see close-up below). The sizes can be confusing: it is not the actual width of the thread, but the width of the core, that is measured...

Tin thread is used in traditional Sami embroidery -- since at least the Middle Ages -- as well as in a type of jewellery where tin thread braids are stitched onto reindeer hide. The jewellery is often called a traditional Sami handicraft, but isn't as old or traditional as many think. Not like the tin thread embroideries. In Sweden this type of jewellery, mostly bracelets, is made by non-Sami and Sami crafters alike.

Making these bracelets was popular when I was a kid (80's, early 90's), I remember, but though I wanted to try it, it was considered too expensive by my parents I guess. We had a help teacher in our class that was part Sámi -- not very common in Southerns Sweden where I live -- and she had one of these bracelets as well as other hand-crafted Sámi jewellery and embroidered accessories that she showed us. I also think it had a certain rise in popularity during the 70's as well, but I'm to young to know that for sure.

A few years ago tin thread braiding again became in vogue, but this time it was more about colour. Instead of just natural or dark brown or black dyed hides, craft stores began selling dyed stips of hide. And there was also a wide variety of colours in the threads, not just the traditional tin threads, but enamelled spun copper threads. But the "tin thead bracelet trend" seem to be constantly evolving because in the latest catalogue I got from craft store chain Panduro, the red, moss green, black and blue was gone. Instead there was silver and lilac hide -- lamb, not reindeer -- matched with the silver-grey tin thread. They pitched it as"folklore gone glam". Of cause, there was still the more traditional dark brown and black reindeer hide too.

I do not know how many more years it will be trendy for crafters and hobbyist jewellery-makers to make these bracelets, but I do know that it never really falls out of fashion: there are always a few people making these, especially in the North -- not least as long as there are foreigners interested in buying "exotic" jewellery or wanting "genuine" souvenirs.

I'm not sure exactly what I will do with my threads. Perhaps I'll make something "traditional", perhaps I'll try to add more of my style to it or perhaps I will just not use it for braiding or embroidery at all. Though it might look nice, using some in bead embroidery?


How to make tin thread braided jewellery

Were you reading this, looking for instructions or tutorials for how to make "saami bracelets" yourself or tips on where to buy tin thread? I've written about all of that HERE.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Bead blog recap week 17

Pearls, shells, flowers and colourful filigree -- with the days getting warmer and Walpurgis once and for all signalling that spring is here and summer is just around the corner, it might be time to think about summer jewellery.


A trade name for clinochlore, seraphinite or serafina aptly describes the beautiful silvery feather-like patterns in this grey or green stone.

Wire netting with beads
Netting or looping is a pretty wirework technique that can be combined with beads. Eni Oken has a couple of projects with pendants with beaded edges and Czech crafter Lubomir Dunaj -- check out his website here -- uses a variation on the technique to create a pretty beaded bird.

Cowrie shell jewellery
Cowrie or cowry shells have been used in adornments since the dawn of mankind. Today the shells are mostly associated with hemp macramé, surfer-style jewellery and other casual beach styles. But cowries can also be used for more formal designs, which not least Zayunu by Design shows in her bridal collection.

Wire roses
How to make pendants and other jewellery with roses made from wire. Here can be found examples of many different styles and sizes.

Swedish bead meeting already full
On Monday night beaders could start booking places for the popular October get-together PUSS (meaning kiss in Swedish). Already by noon on Tuesday all the 100 seats were taken. PUSS was the first national bead get-together arranged in Sweden in 2007 and has since become a much longed for and appreciated annual event.

Dyeing plastic beads and lucite flowers
Acrylic beads and flowers can be dyed at home. But be patient as results can vary. Plexiglas, Perspex and Lucite are all trademarks or trade names used for acrylics.

Sunny enamelled filigrees
Ezel Findings has launched a new line. While they are most known for their luxurious cz-spangled sterling jewellery components, their new line consists of brightly coloured brass filigrees. Perfect for those colourful and casual summer jewellery designs. The filigrees come in many different designs and twelve different colours.
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