Thursday, 29 September 2011

The lilac bracelet

I'm blogging a lot this week (blogging and hopping has pretty much been the theme of the week so far). This is a bracelet I came to think of when I saw someone had linked to my mini tut on Pinterest. Don't think I've shown it before. So I just wanted to write a little about it as it was one of those designs where I just went with a whim.

This is one of those "what if...?" designs. It's based on the basic "berries and vines" design, which I've done a few variations of before (it's in the link). For this variation I wondered what would happen if I added not one picot per section, as in my orange bracelet, but one picot on each and every seed bead. A bit fiddly to get some of the beads to fit, but this is how it eventually turned out.

A close-up:

I was keeping my fingers crossed that the bracelet would be just the right length so I could finish with a pink bead, not breaking up the pattern. And it was. The clasp is a simple bead-and-loop clasp, making it blend in with the rest of the bracelet.

It got its name from the fact that the lavender seed beads remind me of lilac blossom somehow. The colours where really a case of using what I had at hand. While I like a muted palette and romantic colours, I don't think I would've worked with this palette in this way otherwise.

It's a pretty chunky and heavy bracelet, but I think it's ok. Could probably develop the design idea more, but for a first test of my idea, I'm pleased with it.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

I love photo editing software

If you've followed this blog for some time, you know I like to play around with my photos and images in general. I don't show that many altered images, but if nothing else there was the BSBP preview where I had some fun with the pirate textures on Picnik. And perhaps you've seen in my blog roll that I enjoy reading Kim Klassen's blog (love textures).

One of the things I'd love to learn more about is digital art, creating images on the computer using my photos. When I began studying magazines on digital photography, in preparation for choosing and buying my first digital camera, I came to learn many things about using photo editing software. And I like playing around with my good old version (v. 2) of Photoshop Elements that I got when I bought my laptop. But these last years I've not had the opportunity to spend time doing that. For one reason, my laptop died so I've been without a computer of my own since then.

My favourite photo editing software is still PSE. I really liked using it to make digital collages, artistic editing of photos (read: e.g. using clone tool to remove whole portions of a pic), adding textures and layering images. Now I don't have access to PSE so I have to make due with other software for the time being. Lately I've mostly been using the free version of Picnik after a reading about it on Heather Powers' (Humblebeads) blog. But recently, I read about another fun little free software for adding textures and frames: Pixlr-o-matic. Don't remember who it was that blogged about it, I'm afraid. Anyway, I love all sorts of software for playing around with my photos so I had to give it a try. And this time I actually saved one of the results.

Above is the altered image, below the "original" (but cropped and adjusted) photo. Not a great photo. Tried in vain to capture the colours as they appeared in real life, but that door looks just ugly in the photo (that's why I wish the clone tool was free on Picnik)...

By the way, this is not exactly a complete list of all the photo editing software I have or use. If you're interested I can list them, mentioning such useful stuff like Neat Image (noise reducer) and IrfanView (resizing, cropping, batch conversions, light adjustments etc), but this post was more about Pixlr-o-matic than about photo editing in general. I probably have mentioned it all in an earlier post. Or was in a comment on someone else's blog? Anyway, if you want to have fun with your photos: why not give Pixlr-o-matic a try? It's nothing like creating with, say, PSE, but it's fun and very easy. There's even a frame with a skull you can use (I'm talking to you, sis!).

Monday, 26 September 2011

Horse chestnut leaf

Just a little picture as I wanted to say I've added some more photos to my previous post with the close-ups of the crackling and peeling paint.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Crackled and peeled paint *new photos added*

I've taken a little break from blog hopping and working on creations for my next two hops as it's been such a sunny and warm day today. For those of you that don't know me that means I was outdoors with my camera. Tailed by three kittens, which meant I couldn't leave the garden (the kitties are not allowed on the road). Which isn't as bad, not least considering we have a big garden, partially overgrown and left to its own. But sorry to disappoint you: no pics today. Apart from the last handful I took, which were not of changing leaves but of old paint.

The first photo, at the top, is of the wooden window frame around the barn window. The second one is of the metal windowsill. It's really, really close up, which is why the paint on the frame almost look like bark. Seen from a slight distance, the crackling is much more subtle. Notice how the crackling is finer the closer to the edge it gets.

The crackle on the sill is so much finer (you can see a bit of the frame in the shadow under it if you look closely). If the frame is like bark, then this is more like the lichen you can find on trees.

I want to do some pendants with crackled paint so this was unusually inspiring. I see peeling and cracked paint every day, but today it made me think more about how I want to work with the crackled paint techniques. I've got some crackle medium, the kind you paint over -- bought before I hear of this technique -- but I'm also thinking about getting Distress Crackle Paint and Lefranc & Bourgeois' transparent crackle varnish (and ageing varnish for the right patinated effect).

Also took a few shots of the barn wall with its old peeling paint, but I'm afraid they came out very blurry...


And because they were blurred, I thought I'd take a couple of new one. Of cause, I ended up taking a few more photos than planned. So that means more old paint for you.

And then there's the old barn door:

The other window on the same side of the barn (the long side facing east):

The red is paint from the wall. Someone was a bit careless when painting it, it would seem (window frames not painted at the same time). There's also rust stains where the paint covers a nail.

I've actually got a pic of the whole window too. Not the one those last three pics are from, but the one the pics at the top is from:

It probably needs a new coat of paint, or what do you think? Luckily, it's on the back so most people don't see this side. On the other side, facing the yard, there's only wood panelling for perhaps half a meter under the roof. The rest of the wall is concrete.

But let's return to the windows one last time. What side a window is on can make a huge difference. And it's the same for other parts of the house as well: the bargeboard on the short end of our outbuilding facing west is much more worn than the one facing east as weather and wind are tougher on that side. Anyway, here's a barn window that faces north:

Not as crackled and worn, but here in the shadow it's a easier for the algae to attach itself to the walls and windows.


As usual you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Unless I have too much to do, I'll upload some of the foliage photos next week. For those of you not interested in close-ups of old paint (I can probably find more of those in my albums too, perhaps there might even be some old pics somewhere in this blog).

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Bead blog recap weeks 37-38

Here is as usual my bi-weekly update on what I've been writing on over at Manekis Pärlblogg. From embroidery floss-and-chain bracelets, handspun beaded yarn and acorn jewellery to a caliper tutorial and QR code inspiration.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Autumn in pink and chartreuse

In the beginning of the month, I became fascinated with the horse chestnut leaves outside the window. They had just begun to change and displayed an amazing array or yellow-greens and green-yellows, colours perhaps more associated with spring than with autumn. It inspired me to write this post. Around the same time, I began seeing a lot of blog posts about the Pantone autumn/winter colour trends and became interested in pink as an autumn colour. Both finding pink outdoors (e.g. in those chartreuse chestnut leaves or blushing yellow pears) and playing around with pink in my autumnal colour combos in my beads.

These are some of the photos I took, inspired by these two unorthodox autumn colours. Some of the pics are perhaps two weeks old by now: outdoors, the horse chetnut trees are turning golden and copper instead of those zesty citrus tones they have here. And while I'm writing this, a sunshower is making the green-yellows and golden leaves glow and shine with such vibrant colours, I wish I had my camera nearby. Alas, it's not always easy to capture the intensity of the colours in weather like this (lot of sunshine, lot of rain, windy). And I don't want to get my camera wet. But believe me, it looks just glorious!

There's more than the chestnut trees changing colours, of cause.

I did a palette from that last pic so that you can see the different tones in it. Note the salmon pink: padparadscha as long been a favourite of mine, not least mixed with autumn colours like olive green, khaki, brown and copper.

For more yellow -- from soft velvet lemon tones to dark gold -- se my post from last year: White November, golden November. There's even some more chartreuse yellow and green. If you prefer red autumn colours, se A sunny October morning.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Hopping and hopping

I'm slowly working my way through the Bead Soup Blog Party list, following the same random pattern as last time. It all began slower than anticipated as my computer (or rather, my antivirus software) decided to act up the whole day. I turned on the computer around 1 PM and when I got off at close to midnight I'd only been able to visit perhaps a dozen or so blogs. *sigh* But I'm determined to do the whole list, it might just take some time. If I haven't visited you yet, I will some day soon.

And it hasn't deterred me from participating in blog hops either. That little bead mix above is what I'm about to start working with for Michelle Mach's fall challenge blog hop. Blog hop date for that one is October 4th. Which means I better get going soon!

I got one of the small kits Michelle offered besides the "standard" kits. I liked that idea of having smaller, cheaper kits available as not everyone might feel they can spend money on the big kit (not that the big kit was extremely expensive in this case).

That's not all. On top of that I also decided it'd be fun to join in the Sari Ribbon Party Blog Hop hosted by B'Sue. Thought it'd be a good motivation to try and do something with recycled sari ribbon. I like fibre and ribbons, but this type is one I've never got around to playing with yet. I've seen a lot of people use it, but it wasn't until now I got to add some to my own stash. That hop is on October 14th. (If you want to join in, it's not too late to sign up -- just check out the link.)

That's a lot of blog hopping this autumn! At least from my perspective, as I've never really participated in blog hops before this year. Too much hopping? No, hopefully not. I love seeing what people create, especially when working with kits, and it's always nice to find new blogs to visit. And deadlines are almost always good for my creativity. Sure, it can feel like a chore at times, especially with a huge hop like BSBP that takes a lot of time to finish, but it's often very inspirational and also fun to be part of an international community of people who share my passion for beads and jewellery.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

It's party time!

I hope you've been looking forward to today. It's the day of the big reveal. 362 bloggers from around the world showing what they've made with their bead soups. For a full list of participants and links to their blogs, please see Friday's post or the BSBP site.

Every participant has been paired up with a partner to swap a mouth-watering and inspiring batch of bead soup to. Each soup had to include a focal and a fancy clasp -- which were mandatory to use -- and some matching beads and components. My partner was Sue of Hello Gorgeous in Wales, who sent me this lovely and challenging soup, which also included candy from Pwllheli (which I ate before I thought of taking photos of the whole package!) and dragons: a coaster and pin. I love dragons.

What I especially liked about my soup was the blend of things I like and things I don't use very often. I love autumn colours and -- this I hadn't told Sue -- soosho/tri-colour jade is one of the relatively few stone beads I really, really enjoy working with. On the other hand, the beads were big. I often go for the more dainty sizes even if I wish I would try bigger beads sometimes. So that was a big unusual, trying to design with larger beads than normal. The focal had colours and patterns that really spoke to me. It's not the type of focal I usually work with, but I fell for it instantly. And finally, the silver clasp. I rarely work with silver. A price issue of cause, but also because I prefer the colour of brass, copper and blackened metal. I also rarely work with this type of big focal toggle clasps -- and it was the clasp that was the toughest thing to design for.

I ended up making two pieces as I felt the clasp would do nice as a focal itself. It might have worked in the same piece as the shell focal without the two trying to overpower each other, but I made the easy choice of separating them into two projects. First I made a necklace:

For this necklace, I linked the "jade" rounds with oxidized brass heart links. While I knew pretty much from the start that I wanted to link rather than string the stone beads, it took a long time before I settled with this design. I tried so many things, but in the end I felt it was best to keep it simple. And anyway, battling with my natural impulse to work symmetrically (which I wrote about here), it still took some time to do as I kept reorganizing the order of the beads. Again and again. Ending with a compromise of sorts: it's a very tame asymmetry in colours in that necklace.

I also linked the focal to one of  the heart links. The focal has an oxidized brass rose tied to the centre hole and a bead dangling from the bottom to add weight and stability.

I added twist threads to either side of the bead chain for two reasons: 1) I ran out of beads and brass links. 2) I didn't want any big beads in the back. It's not comfortable -- and I had found some silky thread in by yarn and ribbon bag, which matched the shell focal perfectly in colour. Fearing adding other beads would disturb the design, fibre felt like a better solution than adding beads and links in a different shape and size.

I'm not sure whether I'll keep the ends dangling like that. At one point I wanted to just have the twisted cord and use it as closure, tying a nice bow in the back. But the beads are so heavy I feared the silky cord just wasn't going to work. Instead I added crimp ends and a simple little brass s-hook. I still have the cord end, which I can tie over the clasp. But should I keep them or not? What do you -- who actually reads all this text, not just look at the pictures -- think? I'd love to hear it.

With this design it's really hard to get a good photo unless you hang the necklace up. On a model or something else, just not lay it flat. That's also why there's a towel in the last photo: I needed something with pile to keep the beads from rolling away.

So that was the necklace. What happened with the clasp?

Oh, how many times have I re-made this one? At first I found the perfect beads. At least when it came to material: the vesuvianite looked fab against the silver. But I only had some chips and no idea incorporating them worked. Moving on. I wanted really bad to use the smoky beads eventhough I didn't have to. I think that hampered me as I focused on just using semi-precious when it really isn't something I use very often. Then finally overcame that hurdle and opted for fire-polished, reflecting the facets in the quartz beads. But, again, didn't really work. In the end, I got back to just using the only smokey quartz beads I have in my stash, interspersed with sterling silver beads. And I lost one of the bead soup beads in the process. It disappeared without a trace! I've looked everywhere. Well, I guess the cats will find it sooner or later...

Before I end, I must show Goch. He's the dragon I got from Sue and of cause he wanted some bling too so I gave hime a necklace made from a scrap of gold-filled dainty chain and an abused gold-plated crimp cover. (The coaster he's sitting on is also a gift from Sue.)


Wondering where to go next? My suggestion would be the fabulous and generous hostess of this blog party, Lori Anderson, and my likewise fabulous partner Sue Hodgkinson. Below is a pic that will give you an idea about what Sue had to work with. A complete list of participants can be found on Lori's blog.

Friday, 16 September 2011

BSBP partner list

I had trouble adding the list when I wrote the BSBP reaveal post, mostly due to lack of time really. But now I'll try to inset the whole list as a seperat post. So here you go:

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Bead Soup Blog Party on Saturday

Today is the day I put as my BSBP deadline, e.i. the day my project would be finished so I can take photos and write a blog post in time for the party on Saturday. So how did it go? As usual I'm always doing these things last minute, having thought my design over both once and twice -- or more. And as usual I respect my deadlines. I've finished my necklace. Pretty much did that yesterday, but I have to add a clasp and will rearrange the order of the beads. Again.

I'm slightly annoyed with myself that I always work symmetrically. As you've seen in the soup reveal post, I have been working with tri-colour jade and my immediate impuls was to line up the different coloured beads symmetrically -- and my second impuls was to do anything but creating two mirror images on either side of my focal. So it's been a comflict between trying to move past my comfort zone and the fact that my asymmetrical design didn't look as good as the symmetrical (being more experienced working with the latter). On Saturday you'll see if I managed to work with an asymmetrical pattern or not...

I'll also be spending the evening making a bracelet with my clasp. I think I've finally found a design, albeit a simple one, that I can feel satisfied with. I'll talk more about that this weekend, but I was kind of painting myself into a corner for a long time with that one as I was determined to use all the beads Sue gave me and sticking to the same type of materials -- eventhough the former wasn't mandatory and the latter was only my own silly whim. As so often is the case, the highest demands are the ones we put on ourselves, not the ones others place on us.

By the way, I didn't originally plan on posting that odd pic above as the BSBP sneakpeak -- after all, it's not like with the soup sneakpeak where the beads had to be disguised as you already have seen these in a previous post -- but I happened to find the pirate textures on Picasa on just had to have some fun with them. Here's a version I made with another of the textures:

You can have a lot of fun with texture. I wish I had more time (and a better computer) to play around with textures and effects. Right now I've got more practical issues that needs to be solved when it comes to my photos of this particular necklace: how will I get those big round beads to lay nice and cooperate with the flat heart links? For this shot, I more or less suspended the necklace around the back "wall" of my set-up -- I use one of these (thank's to a giveaway by Pearl and Modahaus at The Beading Gem's Journal) -- but I can't do that when taking a photo of the whole necklace. It just doesn't look as good on a flat surface as hanging. Well, if I dig out some of my old Tack-It (häftmassa), I might at least keep the beads from rolling because my tables aren't perfectly level.


And before I end this, a reminder. Here's what the soup I'm working with looks like:

And this is the soup my partner, Sue of Hello Gorgeous, is working with:

Don't miss the party on Saturday! I'll be scheduling my post to publish in the morning, Central European Time (UTC +2, seeing it's actually summer time still, CEST).

Monday, 12 September 2011

Giveaway ponderings (input wanted)

I've been saying for some time that I want to do a giveaway, but for different reasons I have so far not had even one measly giveaway on this blog. I know I don't have to do it. There's no law or code that says I must. And I don't have the money to do something big or spectacular. Nor do I know at all what I want to offer. But I want to give away something.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Maneki's bead blog recap weeks 35-36

How time flies. I feel like I've had very little "compute time" this week. Won't bore you with tales of house cleaning, apple picking (tall trees, we shake down the apples -- it can hurt sometimes), shopping etc, but I will tell you that I ate the most delicious gräddbulle -- according to Wikipedia, it would be called something like "chocolate-covered marshmallow treat", though I'd never call that fluffy foam it's filled with marshmallow -- I've ever dug my teeth into. It was my most expensive too, but it just goes to show that you get what you pay for. If you're ever anywhere near the Väla mall outside Helsingborg, make sure you don't miss Gräddbullerian!

Anyway, what I was going to write about before returning to my BSBP project (no, it's not finished by far yet), was the latest update of what's been happening on my other blog, Manekis pärlblogg ("Maneki's bead blog"). Many challenges and contests this time, but also colour inspiration and a few fun projects.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Summer in September

 Earlier this week I said it was definitely autumn now, but I spoke to soon it seems because while it was 15 degrees (Celsius), chilly and rainy, then, today it's been nothing but sun and temperatures around 25 degrees. So warm that it felt nice and warm eventhough it's been very windy.

And while I did see one white butterfly the day after I declared it autumn, the sun today brought out a few more that were still alive. And there's still some summer flowers in full bloom. Ok, flowers like the Himalayan Balsam/Policeman's helmet, which you can see above, normally bloom in september so it's late summer flowers that have either a long or a late flowering season. So perhaps it's not autumn just yet -- I got another summer day just like I wanted -- but it most likely is one of the very last days of summer today.

I'm not complaining, though. I like autumn. But I can't deny it was a pleasant surprise, waking up to a "bonus" summer day. What a lovely way to end a week.
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