Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bead Soup Blog Party 2013 - Polychromatic Spree

So, this is my first year participating in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party, and it's been a real adventure. I've encountered new materials, colour schemes and textures, and adapted a bunch of old favourite tricks and techniques.

Agata, my partner this year, is a polymer clay genius, and she sent me a couple of truly gorgeous handmade focals. Faced with these, I did what I did best and panicked: I'd known I'd be working with a focal bead, but my normal technique of attaching a jump ring to one end and threading it onto a chain obviously wasn't going to cut it for a project like this. Okay, that was fine. I could cope. Yeah.

Ideas for each of the focals hit me more or less immediately and more or less simultaneously, but several weeks of dithering about the materials and worrying about the details ensued. I looked, I shopped, I worried, I shopped some more, I made at least six pieces utterly unrelated to the challenge and then I pulled my head out of my backside and got on with it.

Here are the finished pieces: I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed making them.

The yellow teardrop focal practically screamed to be a pendant, but I had a couple of concerns: firstly, that the light weight of the polymer clay would affect the drape, and secondly that it was just too obvious. I've always loved making big elaborate hair accessories, and this seemed like a natural alternative. I've teamed it with the faceted pink stone Agata sent me (I know these as Brazilian rubies, but they seem to have a lot of names) and aragonite, which I bought in specially as I wanted something relatively matte so the textures wouldn't war. To get neat edges on the barrette, I used glass magatamas which have since become my go-to bead for finishing hair accessories. Oh, and there's matching pink and citrine earrings that remind me of the rhubarb and custard-flavoured sweets you used to get when I was a kid.


Next up: the indigo doughnut and the Tibetan silver clasp. The clasp design is a favourite - I actually sent Agata an identical one, which led to a few moments of cognitive dissonance when I unwrapped my parcel! The choker is comprised of a double row of dyed amethysts (I deliberately sought out dyed beads for evenness of colour) held in position by frosted red Miyuki Tilas. I experimented a lot with different band designs for this, but in the end I decided to keep it simple and let the focal sing. Aren't those tiny leaves adorable? They remind me a little of the Black Rabbit scene in Watership Down, except, um, without the graphically-animated rabbit death, obviously.

...Moving swiftly onwards...

Finally, a bonus piece. The most perplexing items Agata sent me were a couple of three-ring silvertone connectors. It honestly wouldn't be a lie to say I lost sleep over what to do with these - the holes seemed to run the wrong way, and no matter how often I looked at them I didn't have any idea of how to make them useful. It's one thing not to particularly like a bead or component, but these were actively taunting me. In the end inspiration struck at 6am, in the form of the question I wonder whether they'd tessellate? Three hours and some unladylike language later (threading seed beads into hoops on wire is always rage-inducing), the answer was an emphatic yes. Of all the pieces I've made, I suppose this one is closest to my normal style - the haematite/amethyst/opalite combination is something of a staple for me, and I felt able to use neutrals and metallics in a way that might not have worked with the other pieces. As with the others, however, it was still a learning experience and still felt like a creative step forwards.

To see what Agata made from the beads I sent, check out her blog. I've been there already, and as always, I'm in awe of her creativity and technical skills.

Thanks to Agata and to Lori, and I hope to see you all next year!

44 comments:

inaurem said...

Sarah I've knew you will do something amazing with what I sen to you, but this is too much. I just don't knwo what to say! Incredible job and you used so many ingredients :)
I'm happy to hear that you challenged yourself :P

Ilenia said...

WOW! all so beautiful!
But I love the hairclip ^_^

Penny said...

Such fun pendants! I would love to see a picture of the barrette in use.

Perl - Eni said...

These pieces are absolutely beautiful!

Shalini Austin said...

I like them all but that hairclip Really funky! :-)

Sarah said...

Thank you! I'm seeing a lot of really awesome pieces this morning - what a great way to start the day :)

13 said...

The hair clip is a great idea and I love the colours. The necklaces look very elegant

Margareta said...

Great work with the 3ring connectors! That's my favourite piece :-D

coffeeaddict said...

I love the hair clip design because of its originality and the last necklace is just stunning. Great work!

Cory Tompkins said...

Nice job! Love the "bonus" necklace!!

EB Bead and Metal Works, LLC said...

Wow - love that hair piece and love that it was something different from jewelry! Love the last piece you created even though there was much swearing it turned out great! What great and fun pieces!

m.e. said...

Souper pieces
The hair piece is Awesome !

brandi said...

~clever and unique are these pieces you have created...wonderful job...much love light and blessings~

YaY! Jewelry said...

What in interesting mix of colors and styles. Kudos to your work! Very fun. Kristin Oppold

PiPa said...

What a beautiful work, the barrette is so original!

Janine said...

Love what you made with your soup. Especially the last one!

bailaora said...

very inventive projects!congrats!

Jo-Ann said...

I love how you faced the challenges the soup served you. Everything is beautiful!

Audrey BĂ©langer said...

Lovely work, my dear :)

Jeweled Inspirations said...

Wow! I loved the hairclip! Very nice!

jelveh Designs said...

love it, you did the polymer clay justice by your designs...

Diah Anggreni said...

Incredible.......

Cynthia said...

You came up with some lovely pieces.

Pat Haight said...

I really love what you did with the last necklace, I think I would have been totally stumped☺
I love the idea of the hair clip. Very cute♥
Gorgeous pieces;~)

kathy stemke said...

Very interesting hair clip. Love the last necklace too.
kathy

Liz E said...

I loved your post. Inspiration comes at the most unlikely times. Your muse was looking out for you, because what you did with those silver tone connectors was sheer genius!

Maire of Thistledown said...

I love your work, especially how you used the silver spacers!great job!

Nan Smith said...

Very nice work! I love what you did with the last piece. Very imaginative and stunning result. Great soup!

Designed by Vera said...

Hairpiece.. who would have thought!!!! Now it has me thinking about some focal pieces that just don't want to be a necklace! You did a great job!

Micheladas said...

I love the hairclip. beautiful job on all the pieces.

Becky Pancake said...

Good job Sarah on your barrette. My favorite is the indigo doughnut necklace.

Ginger Bishop said...

I love the polymer clay focals you were sent. I love what you did with the first one. I bet it wold look great with several hair colors.

Francy said...

very cool!

Shaiha said...

I just loved hearing about how you struggled with the focals and came up with such amazing designs.

Francesca Watson said...

That hair piece is really terrific! Great work!

Jean A. Wells said...

LOL - first of all, I love your description of your creative process - very similar to mine. I recall that once when I was in law school facing final exams, I was just not interested in studying at all and that is when I chose to sort nails into sizes.

Now, for the jewelry. It's wonderful. The necklaces are fabulous and I love that you made a barrette. I believe this is the first barrette I've seen in Bead Soup.

Great job.

Libellula Jewelry said...

I love how you made the component you weren't used to work for you! Nice job. :)

A Polymer Penchant said...

beautiful work! I love that you chose to do a barette, always fun

Kepi said...

Very very nice,

ACBeads said...

All designs are very beautiful. My favourite is the last necklace. Have a nice weekend.

CraftyHope said...

Making a hairpiece with that focal was totally inspired. I bet it looks so cool when worn!! You did a nice job with all your pieces, despite your freak-out. I hope you've had some time to take some deep breaths and enjoy hopping. :) It's all good!!

Elizabeth Drake said...

Great work! I'm glad you challenged yourself. I hope you have some hair left...LOL My favorite piece is, of course, the one you had the most trouble with. I think that last piece outshines the others. How cool...

Bobbie said...

What a great idea to make a bold hair accessory with that focal -- wish I had nice, thick hair to wear it in! And boy, could I empathize with the cursing that seed beads can bring on...

Patricia Johnson said...

Nice job...you rose to your own challenge. My favorite is the hairpiece!