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.