Saturday, 31 July 2010

Button as pendant

When looking at buttons in the nearby craft and embroidery shop, I stumbled over this fun thing. Yes, it's a button made of a wooden ball with a simple wire loop bail glued to it. I bought one of them, choosing a mid-sized dark brown coloured button from the three different sizes and just as many colours available. Think it might make a fun pendant, an alternative to putting a wooden bead on a headpin. Not as cheap as using a bead and headpin, but you eliminate the problem with headpin "heads" being too small for the -- usually -- large holes in the wooden beads.

I'm not sure how easy it is to find wooden balls to make a few of these buttons/pendants yourself, though. That might be a cheaper option if you can find the supplies.

Friday, 30 July 2010

The essence of autumnal colours

More things I bought yesterday. I own too much synthetic satin ribbons already, but when I find a pretty colours I just have to get a metre or two. These ribbon are often fairly inexpensive so I don't ruin myself doing this -- and I hope the colours will be inspiring. Something I'm very much in need of right now.

Well, this time I was looking at the ribbon display and these three ribbons were sitting more or less next to each other. Thought they looked nice together so I grabbed the rolls. Now I have a couple of metres each of rich autumn colours: burgundy/auburn, chocolate and copper.

As it turned out, the ribbons all have different widths. I was only looking at the colours so while I did notice the difference in sizes I didn't really reflect on whether it was a good thing or bad thing. Hopefully it might come in handy when I make something with them. Right now I have no idea whatsoever what to make with them. Just a faint hope that the lovely, intensive hues will be inspirational, kick start my creativity somehow with their eye candy.

As I might have mentioned I also got bead mail yesterday and one of the items I bought happened to match two of the three colours, my half a mini hank of opaque tangerine picasso charlottes. I only ordered half a hank as I was afraid the tangerine would turn out to be an ugly orange shade I'd never use. But as I said to the seller, I'm sure that I'll be fond of the colours and be wanting more. Now I'm kind of wanting more...

But I'm really not sure I'll end up using the beads with the ribbons just because the colours match. I might not even use the ribbons at all as I fell anything but creative right now. I've got lots of ribbon to show that I buy them more for their colours or some vaque design idea then for actually making finished jewellery. Still, I keep hoping that even if I end up not making anything with these ribbons, I'll at less be inspired by the gorgeous intense colour combo.

Pewtersmith in the making?

Ok, I just have to explain one thing first: in Swedish we normally don't make any difference between tin (= tenn) and pewter (= hårdtenn, literally hard tin). Therefore I'm sometimes unsure whether to call something tin or pewter. As with this sheet of metal. Silver is called silver even when it's alloyed with copper to make sterling silver: tin is not called tin when alloyed with antimony and copper to make pewter -- but in Swedish it is. Therefore I sometimes write tin and sometimes pewter when referring to this metal.

So this was one of the things I got in the big parcel yesterday, a 100x166 mm tin sheet, 0,5 mm thick -- I choose the thinnest one as it was the cheapest... A soft alloy consisting of 92,5 % tin, 5,5 % antimony and 2 % copper. I've always been very fond of tin/pewter, not least due to it's long history. I've also seen some fab works by pewtersmiths over the years, which has also made me appreciate tin. I've been wanting to work with tin for years now. Who wants silver when you can have tin?

The necklace is not made by me. It's one my mom bought for me once, made by a Swedish artisan (don't know the name). This heart shows some of the things I'd love to learn: how to engrave or diamond cut pewter and creating a contrast between the shiny carved recesses and a mattened surface.

As with other pewter items, tin jewellery is often stamped. It increases the value to have a stamped year code, the word tenn (= tin, pewter) and the maker's own stamp. In this case, the artisan has engraved his or her initials. If making jewellery, I'd like to do that too. And not just because it increases the value. Pity these stamps are so expensive...

But I digress... Right now I'm sooo far away from making my own tin jewellery, talking about hallmarking and stamps is getting ahead of things.

I have a second piece of pewter jewellery too.

This is a cast tin pendant, part of a series depicting the churches in Bjäre hundred (härad). As a kid I used to sing in the children's church choir in Hov so therefore I wanted to buy this necklace even though it might otherwise be more logical to buy the pendant for the church in the parish our hamlet lies in. Not being christian, that wasn't very interesting to me, I wanted it as a memory of the years in that choir.

Apart from the other above mentioned techniques, I'd also be interested in learning some easy casting methods. Perhaps never creating something as spectacular as the component and beads below, but having some fun water-casting (as in the old new year's eve tradition) and sand-casting. That last one is a small pewter button, one of the many Norwegian pewter buttons I own. I like the often folkloristic motifs that are used as the button often are made to be sewn to traditional or rustic knitted clothes.

But for now I only have one thing: this soft, pretty thin sheet of pewter. I must get a saw soon so I can at least cut out pendants and shapes. And my own drill -- being able to make holes is very useful. Don't have any gravers, but I have papers to acheive that matt surface I want. And I've got lead-free tin solder. Then I guess I must find a good book or online tuts for more directions. I'm usually self-taught, but if I had the money I'd love to take a course in pewter jewellery making.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A walk down memory lane

No piccies today. I've had other things to do so pics of my new loot have to wait. But I still wanted to mention today's events.

We went to the nearby village to pick up a much awaited parcel containing among other things pewter sheet, oxidizing liquid, steel wool and tin solder for me and leather scraps and a stone tumbler for my sis. And when there, after carrying this 10 kg package to the car a few km away and then waiting for a friend, we got an impulse to walk to a craft and embroidery shop we haven't visited since childhood. We used to have so much fun going there, buying craft supplies, embroideries and yarn. At least I think we did because the memories are fading. What I remember best is the storefront as we drive by the shop often, the main street in Båstad also being the road you have to take when going from Bjäre northwards. So I've passed by year after year without actually visiting the shop.

Felt very nice to visit it again today. Didn't buy much as I'd already spent much money, but I ended up buying some pretty satin ribbon I hope will inspire me with their rich colours, some beads on sale and a couple of old, old pamphlets about a craft that hasen't been trendy since the 70's or 80's: stocking flowers. And if I won't make any stocking flowers, the shapes are also used for making another type of flowers I've seen in one of my Japanese craft books where wire shapes (petals, leaves) are dipped in a tinted acrylic dip and then assembled. Don't have that particular dip, but a good thick epoxy resin will probably do just as well.

And unusually enough I didn't even buy one ball of novelty yarn. Not even one on sale. And I forgot to ask about crochet yarn for a necklace I'm making for mom (got the beads in the mail today). So: didn't buy much, but it was a very nice shopping experience.

The name of the shop? Broderi & Pyssel on Köpmansgatan 89 in Båstad.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Philosophy tags -- words, more words

I keep saying how I'm not really interested in word charms and beads -- and then I buy some... But I thought these Philosophy tags from Tim Holtz' Idea-ology line were kind of cool. They had a bit of old time feel about them with the font used for the numbers and a somewhat more "rough" style than most word/affirmation charms. And industrial or army type of atmosphere.

So therefore I bought a package and split it with my sis, who also liked these. Like with my Diane Hawkry word bead, I just felt that this time it was made in a way I liked. And as with my dream-create-inspire bracelet, I found a couple of words I liked, which didn't sound too bland, common or pretentious. At least not when I used them and when combining them -- of cause the words on their own are so common they're cliché.

'Wander' was the one word I haven't seen that often in this type of charms. I like to wander. And to daydream*, which is intellectual and imaginary wandering really. Unlike the journey, wandering has no goal and so the wanderer is sometimes seen as being less than the traveller, who doesn't walk about aimlessly, undisciplined.

...and then it makes me think of this one verse the whole time, "I wandered lonely as a cloud". I'm not from an anglophone country so Wordsworth's poem is not one I hear very often. It might be so well-known it's like a cliché to everyone who have had to read and analyze it in school. I haven't done that. I first heard about the poem in a cookbook of all places (a lovely book by the way, Sannas kokbok by Sanna Töringe). So for me it's still a "new and fresh" poem. And I still only know the first stanza, never really read the whole thing...

*Sadly daydreaming is still concidered lazy and rather unproductive by many so that may account for why I don't see that word in affirmation charms that often, but I disagree. And I'm not the only one. Of cause, it depends on how you daydream and some of what I see as daydreaming, others see as a contemplation or meditation, excersices to rejuvinate and gather new energy. Also, you can daydream while working if you like me have a somewhat tedious seasonal job like setting and picking potatoes: it's either that or talking to the others on the machine or work would be extremely boring and slow.

Sometimes I use that daydreaming time to design jewellery in my head of explore colour schemes. Or contemplating what beads to buy next week. Besides, you got to dream. It's like magic: it might not be real, but sometimes you need that little spark in life, either to cope or to get inspiration.

But if the word daydreaming sounds lazy to some, heck, then just call it visualisation -- that's very productive, at least according to the psychologists. Einstein, da Vinci, Beethoven -- they all daydreamed "about their area of success" according to Wikipedia.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

SoftFlex Trios giveaway

This is the last week of eight with the SoftFlex Trios giveaways over at SoftFlexGirl's blog. This time it's the new Festival of Lights mix that's on stake: high quality beading wire in the colours Dark blue lapis, White quartz and 925 Silver (from the Extreme range). All wires are 49 strand except for the silver wire with 19 strands.

This is really a winter mix with the dark blue together with white and silver. There's a pretty necklace by Jamie Hogsett in their project ideas page using this Trio. Perhaps gives you a better idea of how the wire look when used together.

Winners will be announced tomorrow (26 July) at noon so be sure to get over to the blog soon for a chance to win this package.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Beads with a secret (this is not your average bead bouquet)

So one might think I already own enough leaf and flower beads. And surely I must already have pink luster pressed-glass beads in these shapes. But I just had to buy these as I'm childish.

Ok, I'll probably have to explain that. These beads might not look like something that'd excite the child within very much. But then you haven't seen these pics. My flower and leaf beads as seen in the dark. Yes, they're glow-in-the-dark beads.

Unlike many other GITD glass beads these don't have as visible streaks and specks of greenish yellow so it's not as apparant in daylight that these beads glow in dim light or dark. And it's a rather powerful glow, at least if you "charge" them in full sunlight like I do -- then you don't need much for than a slightly dim corner of the house to start seeing that eerie shine.

Unfortunately, my camera is not that good with dim light or the dark so I can't get even a half-decent pic of what these actually look like when they glow myself, but I think the Bello Modo pics are very representative of how they look IRL.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Brass "imitation bottle cap charm" -- or, what happens when you glue two pieces of brass together?

Third post in one day -- blame in on my camera: I good in a good and story-telling mood during the photo session, which meant going from taking pics of just three or four motifs for my other blog to taking... well, I don't know, let's just say it ended up being a much longer session than planned. And that was not just because of the annoying winds.

Anyway, this little thing (19 mm across) above is what this post is about. It is the result of putting round and cog-shaped brass stampings/cutouts/blanks in the same zip-bag just because they're both made of brass and bought in the same shop. I was bored, didn't get any ideas for the projects I wanted to work on and I began fiddling with these brass bits. Of cause I soon put one brass piece on top of the other and that was how this one came to life.

At first the patterned "frame" of this bezel -- I guess it can work as a bezel of some sort eventhough it's shallow -- didn't show very well so I thought it needed to be oxidized. Not having the right stuff for it at home, I took out my brand new bottle of alcohol inks. Not having used that type of inks before, this became the perfect time to see if I could make an imitation patina that resembled natural or man-made oxide in the recessed areas. (While brass can be oxidized some metals can't and then it's sometimes useful to know how to make "faux patinas" like this.)

When the ink was wiped off, the patterned edges was much more visible. And that's when I began thinking it looked a bit like a bottle cap, especially a "smooshed bottle cap", the kind used for charms and pendants. And that's probably how I'll use it, to frame a pic of some kind. Too bad I didn't see any big cog brass blanks (other than the 25 mm ones) because I'd be fun to make larger pendants too in this manner.

Well, picture charm it is then. That just leaves the question of suspension. Drill a hole to make a pendant (without damaging the edge), add a flat bail to the back or something else like attaching a pin/tie tack to make a small brooch or rivet it to a ring base? Right now I don't really know what I want to do with it. But I'll probably think of something soon.

Just two things I want to add before ending this post:

1. Yes, I know it's lazy to glue together metal that can easily be riveted or soldered. I prefer that too, but this was an experimental piece and I also felt glue might "fit the theme" if I want to use it as a resin bezel: gluing one part of it, why not glue it all?

2. It's really too shallow to work well as a picture bezel/frame so unless there's thicker brass "cogs" to be found it might be better to attach two pieces on top of each other to add depth. That would also enhance the edges without having to oxidize the charm.

Pretty little fire-polished drops

Before buying these top-drilled fire-polished chubby drops (7x5 mm) I'd never seen them. So of cause, when I then did see them for the first time in that online bead shop I just had to get some. They looked so cute.
As usual something I bought without any real plan for how to use -- I just buy beads because they're pretty, really. But I do use drops every now and then so I'll probably think of something soon. Until then they are in good company in my bead boxes.

But I did try one thing: I thought these might be the right size and shape to put in flower bell beads. Like this sweet white acrylic flower. (For these pics I just strung the briolette temporarily with a short piece of beading thread. I'll probably wire the drops in place for my jewellery. Or perhaps I should try and just string and knot them?)

Outdoor bead photography

So... I thought I'd go outside and photograph some of my beads and things for this blog. For some reason it's always slightly windy when I decide to do this, though I don't always notice until I actually get the beads out. Then comes along a gust of wind that does this... The white paper I use as background was lifted by a gust of wind and half a strand of pretty new shell pearls was scattered across the somewhat oil and gas stained gravel outside the bead room. Luckily, this time it was rather big beads and in colours that was easy to spot against the greyish stones and decaying leaves. Plus I'd actually counted the beads so I knew exactly how many to look for. A good thing because a few beads, not just seed beads, have actually disappeared from me when falling on the ground.

Anyway, before I continued my photo session I installed a bead collecting soft "safety net". Which doubled as a soft and comfy "rug" for my bare feet. Worked very well, stray beads rolled into the depressions instead of scattering and disappering. Plus the soft material meant I didn't risk denting or scratching the beads on impact either. Just too bad I put the front side down. Now it's a bit dirty to put back in my lawn chair... Well, I saved my beads and that's what counts.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

An evening in July

These aren't very new pics, I took them earlier this month but haven't got around to posting them until today. I've felt a bit busy and having a bit of a bad conscience about spending too much money on beads I just haven't feel I had the energy to write a good post. Well, actually I don't have anything special to say about these pics today either so I'll just let them speak for themselves. Views from a farmstead lawn.

First ones are perhaps a tad boring, at least in small size (click photos to enlarge). I just liked how the sun was shining through the grass and leaves.

Some day our neighbour is going to ask why I have so many pics of their place. What can I say? It's just in the way for my favourite view to photograph.

I've got some pics from a hazy eve in May that I edited at the same time as these pics, but that is something I save for a later date. Not least since half the pics are just "variations", different ways of cropping the original photo, so I have to cull the pics or you'll end up looking at a whole bunch of near-similar piccies of the same view over Svenstad and Hov...

(All pics aside I'll probably never call this a photo blog instead of bead blog -- not least since calling it a photo blog would add an expection I don't want my readers to have, that this is a blog with quality photographies. Nah, I'm just a beader and jewellery maker that occasionally snaps a shot or two outdoors.)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Latest giveaway from SoftFlexGirl: Jingle Bells Trios package

This is the next to last giveaway in the 8 weeks of beading wire giveaways hosted by SoftFlexGirl. And this time she's giving away a Jingle Bells Trios package with beading wires in the colours 24K Gold (from the more expensive Extreme line), Green Emerald and Garnet. Dark and rich Christmas colours indeed. I know not everyone wants to hear about winter right now, but it's never to early to be prepared, especially those of you that unlike me sell handmade jewellery.

And as far as I'm concerned, those colours can be used not just for yuletide-inspired jewellery. Garnet and gold would be very luxurious together for example and not that "christmas-y". Add some amethyst purple (wire or other supplies) and you have the colour combo I named Empress in my "Trios colour experiment". Dark red and green might sound very much a christmas colour combo and the same thing with "christmas tree green" and gold, but it really depends what colour you mix it with. So this could me a mix both for those of you that love christmas and those of you that don't. (Myself, I'm a bit curious to win as the mix feature gold wire, I've never used or seen any of the 'Extreme' wires IRL.)

To read more about the giveaway and to participate, click here to go to the giveaway post.

Bead blog recap weeks 27-28

Wow, you can really see that the heat has got to me when I'm barely blogging at all. (Of cause, I also spend more times outdoors even if I can't stand the heat.) So for these last two weeks there are only a few post. Promise I'll get back to my old schedule in Mid-August. Just have to re-design the blog first and do a few adjustments to get it all clean and sparkly for the autumn season.

Puzzle rings
How to make your own puzzle ring and some stories about its origin and modern use, including some entertaining but probably not true stories about the purpose of these so called Turkish wedding bands.

Celadon is a new light green custom coating on Swarovski crystal, presented by E. H. Ashley.

Swedish bead shop contest
Mixxit is another Swedish bead shop that has announced a summer-themed jewelry design contest.

Stainless steel wire for the jewellery maker
Steel wire is not a new material for jewellery makers and "vagabond crafters", but now it's easier to find steel wire especially provided in sizes and shapes that are useful for jewellery makers. Beadalon is selling stainless steel wire in round, half-round and square shapes with sizes ranging from 20 to 26 G. (Please note that steel is harder to work with than soft metals like copper and silver.)

Vintage beads -- definitions and pitfalls
Vintage is popular, but popularity can lead to problems as the famed word is suddenly applied to many different things. Some of which are not what you are looking for. This post discusses definitions of vintage and antique as well as mention such descriptions as "vintage-style", retro, "from old stock glass", "from old molds" and trade beads. Also includes a few tips on what to think of before buying vintage and ending with a short text that very briefly broaches the issue of ethics dealing with antique beads.

More contests
Last minute tips. Sorry, these are too late to participate in now.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


Just thought I'd show you this, a bracelet inspired by late summer and autumn when the rowan trees begin to turn from just green to a lovely green and orange-red as the berries ripen.

I entered this into one of the monthly challenges at the UK Beaders Forum. The theme that month was Harvest Festival and I couldn't really think of that time of year without thinking of rowanberries, eventhough I myself prefer just watching them, not using them in bread or jelly. I liked the result and it seems others did to as I was graced with winning the challenge (you can see part of the stuff I bought with the gift certificate from Jencel here).

I'm constantly interested in trying new beads, materials and techniques. The rowanberry bracelet is an example of just that, inspired by Melody MacDuffee's graceful, filigree-like twisted wire jewellery. My personal style, though diverse, tends to lean towards the romantic with inspiration from nature and old fairy tales or mythology. Two great sources of constant inspiration. Again, my bracelet is a good example not only of how nature inspires me, but how I keep associate my jewellery with natural features. It was not intended to look like clusters of rowanberries, but when I saw the bracelet forming in my hands I soon realised it looked just like the branches of all those trees I'd been watching since late August, when the berries really were more orange than red.

It was just pure chance that I hade used the silver-lined burnt orange seeds and that orange coloured copper wire. I actually chose them for my first try to make a MacDuffee-inspired bracelet as I felt it was two colours I rarely use and wouldn't mourn too much if they where spent. So I took the two colours of wire and beads I felt I could use without feeling bad about it if it didn't turn out well. And then it just happened to turn into something I feel very special about. While it might not look like rowanberries in trees to everyone it does to me. It was something special about the colours, exactly matching the shade I'd recently seen in the trees while spending the last real summer days picking potatoes. Those beautiful rowan trees that I can find everywhere here. By the road, in the meadows amongs the juniper and rocks and in the groves. It was a special nuance and once I had begun thinking how much the bead and wire colour resembled the rowanberries, I couldn't see anything but them in the bracelet growing inch by inch between my hands.

PS! The bracelet is also featured in the UK Beaders blog where you can read a little about both me and the bracelet.

Shadow and light

I was in a philosophical mood when planning this post and it ended up being about one of the most fundamental contrasts: shadows and light. I nature just as in beadwork, this contrast adds depth as well as mood. In beadwork and jewellery one can use textures and oxidizing to add shadows. One can use polished metal and sparkling crystal to add rays of light. While matte dark beads or other materials absorb the same light. And one can use transparent beads or plique a jour to let light shine through the work.

Something that makes a big difference in the mood this play between light and darkness creates is what position the one is in relations to the other. With the darkness and shadows in the front and light further away there is a "light in the end of the tunnel", you pass through the dark to enter something warm and inviting. A beacon guiding you through the dark. Or it can give you a feeling of gazing in on a hidden treasure, peeking through a keyhole. You are on the outside looking in, but while it might be a secret garden or lost paradise, you are not necessarily looked out, it might just be the gate to the paradise welcoming you in.

With the opposite, standing in the light looking towards the shadows there is a different feeling, one of facing the unknown, not knowing what lays hidden beyond the border between the light and the darkness. It is wilderness, looming and possibly dangerous, so different from the open, light and controlled fields and meadows. That juxtaposition is often visible in art and seen as just what I mentioned above: shadows as the unknown, the wild, the uncontrollable, the dangerous, the threatening; light as the controllable, the cultivated, the known and harnessed, the familiar, the benign. A classic dualism in e.g. theories on man's relationship with nature. Or rather the two natures: the one controlled by man and the one not in control.

But of cause, the shadows don't have to be scary, they can also invite you to an adventure into the darkness, wilderness, the unknown. You know there is another world behind that curtain of shadows, if only it is a wild of dim light, bird song, new smells, leaves under your feet and a buzzing animal life. It is inticing, exciting.

There is another type of light-shadow mix in nature as well. A most beloved one: the sheer shadows under a not too dense forest or grove with light shining down through open spaces between the leaves in the canopy. This is the perfect place for humans to live, shielded but still open, and thus it is said by some that we by instinct are attracted to these surrounding. We love these places because there is something in our genes saying this is the place to be.

If we get closer to the flora, we also see this play between the dark and the bright in the flowers. Which is a great thing for a photographer as it makes it easier to capture the beauty of the flower, of the colourful and delicate petals, without the background competing for attention.

And, as above, you can use backlight to make petals and leaves appear luminous and more sheer -- this is how plique a jour and transparent beads can work.

Of cause there is another thing to the mood shadow and light create that is not just about their positions: proportions. What is most dominant? Much light makes the darkness less frightening, much shadows give a darker mood. And as mentioned above, the intensity also makes a big difference: is it light shadows as with the darkness below the oaks and aspens or the dark, dense shadow under a rock or an unruly forest? A light shadow is the shade protecting you from a harsh sun while a dark shadow is cold and eerie. A sharp light also intensifies the shadows unlike a soft light.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Autumnal colours and mermaid pendants -- two giveaway tips

It's way too hot here today -- close to record heat in Southern Sweden -- to be on the computer, but I thought I'd write about too last minute tips on two very nice giveaways.

First, the Cornucopia Trios beading wire package giveaway from SoftFlexGirl. This is a yummy new trio in autumnal colours: bone, butterscotch imperial topaz and red jasper. This week's question to answer is related to comfort food and two of the three colours in this mix remind me of a few of my sort-of comfort foods: dubbelnougat and "duo" hazelnut/chocolate creams (like Nutella, but with two different creams in the jar). Mmmm, yummy -- and by that I'm referring both to the creamy "sweets" and the beading wire colours. Me wants!

If you want to enter you need to hurry, though, as a winner will be presented tomorrow around noon (in the USA, so late afternoon/early evening or something like that over here).

Over at Andrew Thornton's blog you have a chance to win a lovely mermaid pendant by Tammy Powley (a name you might recognize from one of her many books or the website A very pretty pendant for anyone who likes mermaids and fairytale motifs. As with the SoftFlex giveaway, the winner will be picked tomorrow (Monday June 12th), though a few hours later; at midnight. So make sure to pop over soon if you don't want to pass up this opportunity.
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