Saturday, 27 November 2010

Bead blog recap weeks 46-47

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Van Gogh glass

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

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Destashing -- again!

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

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

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

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Flint for jewellery

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

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

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


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


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

White November, golden November

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Van gogh glass

Friday and Monday I've got some fun mail. The result of spending my birthday money on a few small orders. Yesterday I got scales and anodized aluminum tags from Canada and a few bits and bobs from the UK. Last week I got this. Van gogh glass mosaic tiles.

I've been meaning to buy van gogh glass for ages, it feels like. I think it looks gorgeous with those lovely rime-like patterns. The pattern is the result of applying glue chips on clear glass and then cover it with metallic paint in one or several different colours. This does make the back of the glass somewhat delicate and it's a pretty boring dark grey/black colour. But it's a lovely glass, even if you do have to be more careful when working with it compared to e.g. stained glass where the colour is inside the glass.

My tiles are 1x1,5". Not sure how I'll use them yet, but I thought that'd be a useful size and shape so I asked the seller if she could cut them like that. Perfect for a pendant, really: not too large, but still big enough for the pattern of the glass to really show.

Only downside... Now I'm temped to buy more coloured and patterned (art) glass... This could get expensive... There are so much lovely glass if you happen to find an art glass supplier. Glass is truely an amazing and diverse material!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Vintaj November challenge entry

I haven't participated in the Vintaj blog challenges for ages, it feels like. But this Friday I sat down and told myself I just had to do something this time. The result was this bracelet, which I haven't named yet.

The theme of the challenge was wandering journey and at first I had a few very diparat ideas I mused over, but in the end I put them aside and instead found a new approach to the theme. For someone who's never been outside Scandinavia, what is the longest journey I've made? Apart from the usual strolls around here and the hikes in school, when do I wander the most? Well, in my dreams of cause. In dreams, everyone can travel far and wide. During night -- and sometimes also day -- we can make the most fantastic journeys and wander along magical paths. Not through the world outside, but the universe inside.

For the dreamy quality, the soft air of reverie, I choose to work with romantic "rose opal" tones. Pink is not a colour I use very often, but I've accumulated some light pink opalescent beads lately and they seemed perfect for this. I used picasso finish Czech glass beads, where the brownish finish blended well with the Vintaj brass components. The rows of dreamy beads and brass flowers are held by two swallows, birds that also fit the theme. Not just soaring high in the air, wandering freely above our heads, but also because of their annual great travels: migrating to Africa in autumn and returning to us here in the North again in spring/summer. They travel far and free -- like we can do in our dreams.

If you like this bracelet and want to vote for it, you find the poll here. Votes are always very appreciated. Don't forget to check out the other lovely entries as well. Unfortunatly, it's one one vote per person so you can just vote for one of your favourites. Last day to vote is 19 November.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Bead blog recap weeks 44-45

Well, once again I'm back to posting recaps every forthnight instead of weekly. A week just seems to pass by so fast and sometimes I don't write more than five posts a week. So I'll go back to posting these recaps every other weekend and see how it works, if I forget to write or if the posts get too long.

So, anyway, what's happened these last two weeks? Several tips on challenges and contests, techniques spanning from filet beading and rosette bead embroidery to engraving, how to make organza flowers, what shellac is used for and more.

Filet beading
Filet beading is an off-loom beadweaving technique by Ann Benson that imitates filet crochet.

Shellac is used for many things. Jewellers use it as an alternative to glue when finishing knotted pearl necklaces and it can also be used on brass and other metals to prevent oxidation and verdigris.

Bead Mavens challenge
Bead Maven has announced their first challenge, to make a piece of wearable art inspired by the theme: Ice Queen. Read more about the ice queen challenge here.

String Art Necklace
Make jewellery components from string, shaped on jigs inspired by string art. A fun project.

Dreamcatcher-inspired jewellery
How to make jewellery -- mostly necklaces and pendants -- inspired by the dreamcatchers first made by the ojibwa indians. In wire as well as string and leather.

Rosette applique beading
How to do a type of circular bead embroidery, mostly associated with North-American indians. Includes links to templates as well as tutorials on the technique.

Aventurine -- spelled without a d -- is a type of quartz named after a glimmering glass by the same name. It can be found in bead shops in different colours such as green -- most common -- purple, blue and brown.

Bead crochet a schmoo
A schmoo is a fun fantasy creature by Lydia Borin, which you create in bead crochet.

Organza flowers with melted edges
How to make a type of fabric flowers sometimes called burnt organza flowers. Same technique can be used for other synthetic fabrics that melt when heated.

Challenges from Frost08 and Art Bead Scene
The November challenge from Art Bead Scene Blog is centred around the Klimt painting Tree of Life, Stoclet Frieze. Read more about it here. Swedish bead shop FrostNollåtta is also having a challenge with a romantic theme.

You can engrave in several different ways, using traditional gravers or modern pneumatic gravers as well as using electric handheld engraving pens or micro motors/dremels. If you have enough money, you might even use automatic engraving machines.

Anodized aluminum tags
Canadian chainmail specialist The Ring Lord have recently begun making and selling tags -- round or dog tags -- in anodized (= coloured) aluminum.

Wrapped necklaces and bracelets

How to make a bracelet or necklace by wrapping yarn or string around a core -- this is a type of bracelet I first learnt how to do in school (se pic below).

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I love ceramic beads

I have several favourite materials that I use. Some are constant, others come and go. I rediscover old loves and find new ones. When it comes to beads and pendants, two materials I do like a lot are ceramic/porcelain and glass. I guess one big reason is that you can get it in so many different styles and -- most of all -- colours/finishes. And as I think I've made pretty clear by now, colours and finishes fascinates me.

Like with glass, ceramic beads and pendants can come in so many different styles, finishes and price ranges. I like both cheap and expensive ceramic beads, but I prefer those that have more of a personal touch. Those that are hald-sculpted or hand-painted. Those that have a bit of personality and individuality. As with glass, I love looking at different colours and finishes. With glass you add colour to the actual glass or cover it with a surface effect. With ceramics you've got glazes and paints that alters the look of the bead. And that I love, seeing all the different faces of ceramic and how the choice of glaze or paint determines the whole look of the finished product.

As with other beads, I prefer it when they aren't too shiny: I want to see the colour and shape, not just reflected light. Not just because they're hard to take pics of, like the Lumina inspirations bead above. Most my ceramic or porcelain beads have a matte or silky finish. But as you can see, there are some exceptions.

One type of beads I often enjoy buying are the peruvian ceramic beads that you can find in so many different shapes and sizes. From tiny cartoon cats like these to "faux raku" pendants like the dragon in the first pic. Also, they're reasonably priced. There are so many motifs available too that you can find something for everyone, from pirates and Einsteins to cakes and chocolates to flowers and animals.

In the first pic you can see a pair of maneki neko beads as well. Chinese lucky cat porcelain beads that I sort of collect. There are so many variations of these, I seem to keep finding new ones. Most of them are small, but I have one that's 47 mm tall.

But I do wish I could afford buying more beads and pendants from artisans. Not all of them are, after all, as expensive as my beloved siamese cat by Laura Mears. Her porcelain beads and pendants are divine! The pendant above is from Clay River Designs by the way. They do shiny ceramics, which I said I didn't like that much, but I do like their designs. Also, they have a couple of lovely glazes on their chiclet beads.

In the first pic you can also see a word bead by Diane Hawkey. Love it and hope to get a chance to buy more from here in the future. She does cat beads so of cause I love her work. Not everything she does is to my taste, but I think it says a lot that her work made me buy a word bead. I normally don't like word beads.

But there are even more clay bead makers on my wishlist:
  • Earthenwood Studio (AKA Melanie Brooks) have some really nice pieces. Gritty steampunk as well as lovely leaves -- and cats. She's got some pieces with lovely glaze effects like the crackled white on a dark background.
  • Gaea has something I really, really like: crackled glaze beads. It's like adding patina to metal, crackles add a feeling of age as well as interesting surface to ceramic glazes. She also have some pretty flower and leaf pendants and fun Day of the Dead pieces I like. And I'd love to buy some of here cool ceramic-and-metal clasps.
  • The same way I like crackled glaze, I fancy crushed glass fused to ceramics, like in pendants and cabs from Artisan Clay. She also does some gorgeous smoke fired pendants/donuts. Smoke fire is probably going on my list of favourite finishes on ceramics.
  • On my wishlist you can also find Elaine Ray bezels. She's got some nice beads and pendants too, I just happen to really like the bezels.
  • As I often find my inspiration in nature, it's probably not surprising that I fell in love with some of Mary Harding's pendants years ago. Apart from th gorgeous pendants featuring naturalistic flora, she also makes toggle clasps I want.
  • Recently I found another ceramic artist to add to my "fan list" via the Beads of Clay blog, Norwegian Lise Nilsen of Trollsmed. Love her crazy donuts with their uneven shapes and sometimes multiple holes. As well as her "sun crosses" (solkors).
  • Natalie Pappas (NKP Designs), on the other hand, is a clayer I stumbled upon a couple of years ago and fancied one of her crackled decal beads. She makes a lot of other types of beads too.
  • I also have to mention Emma Ralph. She makes beads in ceramic clay, polymer clay and lampwork glass. Mostly the two latter and she's well known for here PC work. Of her currently available ceramic work, though, I especially like the Autumn leaf charms and heart buttons.
  • ...and then I almost forgot Golem Studio. Some of their designs are too, well, colourful and buzy for me personally, but they do cat pendants. I prefer their simpler designs like the "stick kitty" and tiny bat pendants. They also make a pendant featuring both a bat and a cat -- that's two out of three of my favourite animals! And cute flower pendants/beads.

I know there are many more clay artists out there that does beads or other jewellery components I'd love. I shouldn't make my already look list even longer, I guess, but I'll keep looking for new "clayers" to admire and to my list. And hopefully some day afford to buy something from.

I could've finished the post there, with the list, but I have one more kitty to show you. This little ceramic charm -- actually a key rings that I removed the ring from -- is the only item in my collection made by a Swede. I bought it at Fredriksdal in Helsingborg, but I'm unsure of the name of the potter. Googling it, it seems like Greta Pott might be the person behind the charm.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Ceramic pendant giveaway

Originally I'd planned to write about my love for ceramic beads and pendants this week, but I got sidetracked (or something). So I'm saving that for next week. Together with the leaves I also promised to show. Anyway, it turns out I'm writing about ceramics this week anyway because Andrew Thornton is giving away some lovely pendants by Pam Cresswell of Indian Creek Studios.

Aren't these rustic pendants pretty? If you too want a chance to win these lovely jewellery components, check out Andrew Thornton's giveaway post. Don't forget to follow Pam's blog and/or blog/tweet/write on FB about the giveaway for extra chances to win.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

November harmony bracelet

This is a simple bracelet I made for a beading contest at the Swedish bead shop Sirlig. The theme for the contest was harmony and I got some last minute inspiration this weekend when I ventured outdoors to photograph all the lovely yellow leaves (I'll show those pics another day).

Late October and early November is a quiet and subtle time in nature. The fog dull sounds and sights as well as dim the sun light. The colours fade and there is cold moisture everywhere: fine drops in the air that condensates on leaves and stems. Nature is preparing for the winter sleep. It is like the cold drops of fog drain the colours from the last flowers, leaving the petals bleak and transparent. Still, yellow and orange leaves cling to the trees and litter the ground, but it's the paleness of the world that dominate your senses. There is a special feeling when you walk through a wild garden or forest on a Sunday afternoon in this weather and in this season. There is harmony in the quiet day, void of any sounds natural or manmade, but also a certain melancholy. It is a farewell, but also a retreat. A time for rest and recovery.

I wanted to try and capture this mood in my bracelet, using only the beads I have in my stash (and the few hours left before the contest deadline). I used greenish opal glass beads with a picasso finish as a symbol for the watery aspect, the cold drops of water that cover everything and saturate the air. The beads are knotted using pale green silk. To that I added a matte acrylic flower i dusty teal and a pale yellow-green acrylic leaf. Reminiscent of the last, fading flowers. The clasp is hidden behind the flower.

It was difficult to get a good picture of the oval beads. The opal glass is mottled, mixing swirls of translucent with more transparent glass. It almost looks like two different colours of beads when it's not. And I fear that detracts a bit from the harmonious feeling I wanted to convey. But I hope you still think it looks nice.

Organza flower brooch

I mentioned making this brooch on a forum, but didn't have any photos to show. Well, now there are a couple of pics. It's my first assembled "burnt organza" flower, though I've made petals before that I never got around to stitching together.

This is a really simple flower. I cut about a dozen irregular circles in four sizes from a wide Mokuba organza ribbon, melted the edges over a candle and then stacked the ruffled petals. Then I stitched a few white opal seeds to the centre and added a brooch pin to the back. I can't decide if I think it looks like an old-fashioned rose, a peony or a ranuclus flower.

I only had white organza to play with. It looks nice, really romantic wedding style, but I want to use other colours too. Want to make more substantial and less ethereal flowers, if you know what I mean.

There are many places online where you can learn to various kinds of "burnt" organza flowers: Little Birdie Secrets, Engageology, Reese Dixon, Cut Out + Keep, What You Make It, You Can't Take It With You. Sew4Home have both instructions and templates. Mad Mim have three different tuts: The Burnt Edges Criss-Cross Flower, The Burnt Petal Flower and The Burnt Edges Circle Flower. And then there's YouTube of cause with videos like e.g. How to Make a Pretty Organza Flower and Rayon/Organza Flower Technique. In this one a Cuttlebug is used to cut the circles -- saves time when you don't have to cut them yourself.

I've got a few other styles of organza flowers planned. Not sure how they'll turn out, but I have a semi-finished chrysanthemum. Inspired by a ribbon flower project by Helen Gibb.
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