Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bead Soup Blog Party 2014 - An Embarrassment of Riches

Hello, and welcome!

This post is going to get very long, very quickly, so I'll start with the really important stuff so it doesn't get lost along the way.

Firstly, the most important thing of all: my partners - Lynn Jobber of The Creative Klutz, and Jackie Ryan of Kydo Jewellery. They're both very talented, and I know they'll have come up with some beautiful pieces for you to admire. I honestly felt slightly overawed when we first got in touch, but now the dust has settled I'd like to think I've done justice to the gorgeous materials they gave me - you can see the original soups in the post below this one.

Two full soups is a lot of beads, and I made a lot of pieces. I know people have a bunch of blogs to get round today, so what I'm going to do is post a couple of group photographs to give a general idea of what I'm up to before I discuss each piece in more detail. That way, if anybody's short on time they can take a quick look, hopefully say hello and move on without having to hear about my design considerations for every pair of earrings.

So, without further ado...

This is the bulk of what I've made over the past however many weeks - I did make a few more sneaky pieces this morning after these photos had been taken, but they're on display further down. The top photo shows pieces made mostly from Lynn's soup and the bottom from Jackie's, although with so much nice stuff there was inevitably a bit of an overlap.

Want to know more? Keep reading.
 *****


This was the first piece I made for this year's challenge, and it may still be my favourite. In the fortnight or so leading up to me receiving my soup from Lynn, I'd fallen head-over-heels in love with hexagonal netting - it's simple, it's versatile and you can dress it up or down as much as you want. Oh, and it looks like flowers. What's not to adore?

Lynn's gorgeous ceramics were a million miles from anything I'd ever worked with before, but dammit, I wanted to live up to them. The big shapes and bold contrasts made me think about cartoons and tattoo designs, and I knew I was never going to get away with being timid on this one. Out came the hexagonal netting, therefore, in the form of fifteen individual flower links that eventually got stitched together with the ceramics, some glass druks and a silver-plated heart clasp to echo the focal.

When I look at this piece, I feel proud, I feel brave, I feel competent. It's a good feeling, and it's one that has permeated my entire BSBP experience this year.

*****


Lynn sent me a lot of handmade materials sourced from Etsy, including this beautiful copper toggle clasp. Once again, I ran into my usual problem - that of scale. Partly it's budgetary constraints, partly it's because I'm naturally quite self-effacing, but I'm not used to making the really big, showy pieces.

I knew more or less immediately that I wanted to use the clasp on a multi-strand piece; once I'd decided that, a lot of my subsequent design considerations were based around the fairly limited range of copper spacer bars on the market.

Oddly enough, in the end I dived right back into a couple of my beading happy places - gem chips and rainbows. Top to bottom, we have amethyst, apatite, jade, citrine and some of Jackie's gorgeous almandine garnets. It's stupidly heavy, was fiddly and frustrating to make up and requires a far more elegant neck than mine.

I still kind of love it, though.

*****


Since I was introduced to Jackie, we've been in more or less daily contact. I love her outlook on life, and I love the way our beading styles are poles apart in some ways but remarkably similar in others. I love Swarovski pearls and gem chips, and I feel on comfortably familiar territory with them.  I teamed Jackie's pearls and aquamarine chips with aventurine, malachite, silver plated spacers and about half a reel of loom thread, and this was the result. After the design challenges I faced with the previous two necklaces, this 54" long piece was a reminder to myself that sometimes it's okay to just relax and do my thing.

*****





The beautiful blue-green leaf here was made by Jackie's daughter Lara, and as usual, I found myself suffering from horrendous focal anxiety. Not really much to say about that; I dithered, obviously, and worried, and took the leaf and the lampwork beads to Hobbycraft to pick seed beads that I thought would match and then decided didn't match and then concluded probably did match after all. It only really came together when I decided to surround the pink Swarovski pearls with blue topaz chips, and the colour scheme seemed to fall into place. 

I finished it off with the handsome gold-plated S-clasp Jackie sent, and I like the final result - I think it would make a nice addition to a fairy costume, maybe.

*****




One final necklace - I made the pendant last week using an opalite round and the blue lamp glass heart Lynn sent, but couldn't for the life of me work out what to do with it. Inspiration struck early this morning, when I snatched up some of Jackie's hand-dyed silk ribbon and eventually found a suitable clasp. Simple, I know, but I'm not sure it needs to be anything else.

*****




One quick bracelet made from the Ugandan paper beads Jackie sent, plus some little serpentine rounds and Tibetan silver tubes taken from the charity shop necklace I dismantled to send Jackie her tree agates.

*****

Hair accessories now, and there's a lot of them; give me something that looks as though it has to belong on a necklace, and nine times out of ten I'll try and put it on a hair accessory. To reiterate: this is because focals make me nervous. First, a couple of hairpins made from focals donated by Lynn and Jackie respectively.





Not the best-lit photos in the world, unfortunately, but both of these were stitched into place. The top one features a Swarovski fire opal round, while the bottom one has amethyst and goldstone accents - I was forced to resort to Superglue and I feel like such a cheater! Either of these would tuck in nicely at the top of a bun, I think.

*****




I adored the lampwork headpins Lynn sent me from the moment I saw them, and I thought they might look nice as decoration on a gem chip barrette. Here I've used smoky quartz to highlight the rich reds of the glass, and added a bit of copper scrollwork made on my trusty but woefully-underused wire jig.

Wrapping and trimming the headpins was the single most terrifying part of my Bead Soup experience this year, hands-down; I knew if I messed it up they'd be unusable. In the end, all I could do was control my breathing and press on through the fear.

...I've bought myself more lampwork headpins as my post-party beady treat.

*****




Jackie sent me some gorgeous vintage brass chain; it's heavy, it's handsome and it's ludicrously tactile, so I had it on my desk and was playing with it a lot. Chain is yet another material that's outside my usual beading repertoire; I'm dimly aware that you can attach it to clasps and focals and hang stuff off it, but the subtleties escape me entirely. 

Mucking about with stuff, though? I can do that, no problem. Which is what got me dangling the chain through a barrette blank and liking the way the metals felt together in my hand, and then wrapping the chain around a couple of times and deciding it looked okay, too. Hmm. Maybe I was onto something.

This one was actually harder to make than it might look. The main problem was attaching the chain to the barrette at either end. Luckily, the blanks have holes but the placement isn't ideal. Once I had the chain in place, I then used brass wire and chrome diopside chips to wrap either end to add a splash of colour. The shiny steel of the base still shows through, which I think gives it a kind of steampunk vibe.

*****




One last hairpin, which I finished Friday morning. I loved the coral rondelles Lynn sent me, but I just couldn't find the right project for them. Eventually I came up with the idea of using them with tiger's eye rounds to make the base for a beaded flower, as a sort of larger-scale version of what I'd been doing with seed beads and o-beads. Once I had the base in place, however, I realized there was no way thread would ever hold things stiffly enough.

Cue one trial-and-error lesson in what can and cannot be done with copper wire. I made the base ring first, then the glass pearl petals (thanks, Jackie!) before adding a centrepiece of Swarovski pearls and a faceted garnet. After that, it was just a question of deciding a hairpin would make a suitable base and then wrapping it into position. 

I'm still trying to work out whether it might be worth replicating for my sales table at the local craft fairs. This one, however, is staying firmly with me.

*****
Finally, the earrings. Not really a lot to say about these other than that they're mostly drop earrings, some designed to go with various necklaces, some not. They were quick, they were fun, and they showcase a bunch of beads I couldn't fit in anywhere else. Oh, and some of them feature hexagonal netting because I've now reached the point where I pretty much always have a few spare netted flowers laying about the place.









In conclusion: If I had to pick one word to describe the way I've felt about my bead soup experience this year, it would have to be exhilarated. I've worked with materials I'd never normally be able to access, and used some old favourites in very different ways. I've made use of familiar techniques, learned new ones and generally jumped in and out of my comfort zones like a kid splashing in puddles. In short, it's been a blast - huge thanks to Lori for making it all happen, and most especially to Jackie and Lynn for sharing the journey with me.

Click here for Lori's blog and the full list of participants!





















63 comments:

peacockandlime said...

Very cool! I love all of the hair accessories - something completely different! It would have never occurred to me to use the soup pieces that way. So creative!

Sarah said...

Thank you!

Basically I'm just a very small girl at heart; I just want to be a princess and put jewels in my hair ;)

BluMoon said...

Sarah, I love what you have done with all your soups, wow you have been so busy. The brass focal made me smile that ended up as a hair ornament, I think it would look great with hair piled high, almost like the antique Chinese ones I have seen on Pinterest. the necklaces are lovely I love the seed bead flowers you make, the black ones in the first necklace go beautifully and it looks very elegant with the red. I think you have made some really cool things and I have enjoyed being your partner in this bead soup. Even better, it is so nice to have made a new friend, I am enjoying our daily email chats. Thanks Sarah for being such an awesome partner and friend.
Jackie

fulgorine said...

Your rainbow bracelet is spectacular!

Sarah said...

@Fulgorine Thank you! That piece is actually a choker - about 17 inches of sore shoulders and cursing ;)

Karin G said...

So many beautiful pieces, so much fun and different techniques! I loved reading about all your creations.

Jeanne @ Gems By Jeanne Marie said...

Sarah - I feel the same as you when it comes to Bead Soup - It's so much fun to receive materials that are so different from what we usually would pick. I love the way it stretches our creativity.
And you certainly did stretch! I love th necklace with the ceramic pieces. As well as, the multistrand with that gorgeous copper clasp. I'd wear the long aventurine necklace in a heartbeat! All are beautiful!

catseatdogs.com said...

Wow, what an abundance! You had lovely soups to work with and I love that you make such are variety with them. Beautiful work.

coffeeaddict said...

love the multi-strand necklace with chips. Definitely something I would have done to use the large clasp.
What an original way to use chain with the barette! An interesting technique I'd like to try myself!

Sharon Driscoll said...

Oh wow - there's something new I haven't seen - the hair accessories are wonderful, as are the many other pieces you created. Great job.

roomforchange said...

You had not one but two lovely Soups! Well done for making such lovely things from them. Your comfortzone just got a whole lot larger! Fantastic!

EB Bead and Metal Works, LLC said...

Wow Sarah - I love what you created and it is awesome you got outside of your box :)
I love what you did for all of your pieces but I think I love your hair accessories - those are things I don't see often and I love what you did with each of them!
Awesome goodies you created!

Tammy Adams said...

Wow, you were very busy indeed. Lovely pieces, each an every one.

Andrea said...

Amazing! There are so many pieces to drool over! So unique and creative!

bairozan said...

Beautiful creations! It is obvious you've had fun with your soups. I would've never thought of hairpins but these are a very special adornment!

glassbead, isinglass design said...

Goodness, you got busy with all your treasures! Nice~

Noemi said...

I have just fallen in love with those hair accessories. Specially the first one. I love the idea of using those focals to decorate your hair. I must try to make some!

bailaora said...

fantastic multistrand bracelet and hair accesories!!

Lesley said...

What a vast and varied array you made form your soup and such lovely pieces. I really love your first necklace but then I am a little biased (as I made the ceramics set)so I'm really please you enjoyed working with it and you showed it off so very well.

Ginger Bishop said...

Holy Cow! You have created an an entire collection of pieces. I love the rainbow clip necklace.

Bobbie said...

What a busy lady you've been! What fun to see hair accessories as part of the hop -- very unusual, and very creative!

Cynthia said...

Wow! I love the hair pieces, you did a fantastic job with your soup.

*~Corrie~* said...

I love the hair pins and the rainbow bracelet :-).

Annica said...

What great results! I thought one soup gave me enough to think about - you had two. Goodness Sarah - you have done a wonderful job! The first necklace is my favourite, but they are all lovely!

moonsafari said...

I love love love that rainbow peace! Right now I'm in a kind of rainbow craze and this piece is just stunning!

Schmuck der gut tut said...

Great! My favorite is Number Two! Beautiful!

Becky Pancake said...

Sarah you sure did justice to both of your soups. The necklace you made with Lynn's beautiful polymer rose pendant is beautiful. Kudos to you for stepping out of your comfort zone and doing a multi- strand bracelet. That is what the BSBP is all about.You showcased the leaf pendant wonderfully. Good color choices on that one. You should not be nervous about using focals , you did really well with them in this challenge. I really like the purple swirly lampworked bead earrings. Great job.

ingetraud said...

I love all the pieces. Great job! Now I want to learn hexagonal netting.

Deb Fortin said...

Holy smokes you've been a busy lady.
I so admire anyone who does bead stitching , it's so NOT my thing to do.
Love the hair accessories too but with very short hair again not something I do .
congrats on taking on two partners, lot of goodies but lots of expectations too. you done good!

Ginger Davis Allman (The Blue Bottle Tree) said...

Okay...LOVE LOVE that rainbow necklace. LOVE.

Kelly said...

Holy cow, you've been busy! I really like you're first necklace too - the heart pendant is very sweet. However, all of it collectively is lovely. Way to think outside the box by making hair adornments. Clever use of your soup, no doubt!

Charis Designs said...

The rainbow piece is to die for- my favorite by far. I love your creativity with hair pieces- never would have thought of that. Christie

Ahowin said...

Very beautiful design, they are all so pretty.

Krafty Max said...

I like them all, but the first one with the netting flowers just speaks to me!! I really think you did an amazing job!! Can't wait to watch what MORE things you create!! ~KM

Sheila said...

Love that you made hair accessories, but wow do I love that second necklace. It's so dreamy!

Nelly May said...

What an amazing array od eye candy! Am totally in love with your rainbow piece. Wowee!

sheilaposter said...

So much to compliment you on. Thank you for doing the hair modeling. I was especially intrigued by the hexagonal netting stitch, I'll have to check it out

sheilaposter said...

So much to compliment you on. Thank you for doing the hair modeling. I was especially intrigued by the hexagonal netting stitch, I'll have to check it out

sheilaposter said...

So much to compliment you on. Thank you for doing the hair modeling. I was especially intrigued by the hexagonal netting stitch, I'll have to check it out

Audrey BĂ©langer said...

So many pieces ! So productive, my dear ! I have to say, however, that my favorite has to be the rainbow bracelet. It's such a clever use of gemstone chips, and it looks so nice ! Everything is wonderful, however :)

Linda A. said...

I'm a huge fan of the rainbow piece! I'm sure it was heavy, indeed, but worth it! =)

Linda A.
http://fromTheBeadBoard.blogspot.com
http://cherryOnTopDesign.co

Barb Fernald said...

You sure did a LOT of beautiful work! I am fascinated by the hair accessories. It's so fun to see a really different use of the beads. Bravo!

anafiassa said...

Everything is simply lovely! You were quite prolific with your soup, and I love everything that you created! Hurray for hair accessories! :D

Louise said...

Sarah: Such a great group of jewelry and accessories. I love the hexagonal netting, that will be something I look into making with my seed beads. And the hair pieces, you may have started a whole new trend to revisit barrettes. Love it all. Thanks for visiting my blog and your nice comments. :)

Marsela said...

WOW - I love your multi-strand piece. It's gorgeous!

Rain Hannah said...

I love your pieces but you know what I really love? This that you said, "When I look at this piece, I feel proud, I feel brave, I feel competent. It's a good feeling." When I read that, I was all, YES! You go, brave competent creatively awesome girl. Rock out with your bead soup, you did an awesome job.

Esfera Jewelry said...

So many pretty pieces. Absolutely love your second piece (multistrand). Great job with both soups

Dini Bruinsma said...

Those hair ornaments are really very ♥beautiful, the 'little crown' is my favourite! There are a lot of ♥details to see in your work...

Terri said...

Wow! You were able to create so many wonderful designs. And how cool is it that you were able to even make some hair pieces! Really Soup-er!

K said...

I love your hair accessories!!

beadrecipes said...

What a lovely eclectic collection of pieces you made. Love the hair accessories!

PiPa said...

Many cool pieces in here,I love the leaf focal so that necklace really caught my attention and also the chain barrette is wonderfully original.

Freestyle Elements said...

Sarah, I love the hair ornaments, what a creative use of Bead Soup! Your soups were amazing, and your creations were gorgeous! I know the multi-strand choker gave you fits, but it is my favorite piece. Great job!

Elizabeth said...

Wow!! You sure put your wonderful soup to great use!! i love the hair decor and all of the earrings!! Great job!!

Jo-Ann said...

Love the variety of pieces that you created. Fab!

kathy stemke said...

You made so many wonderful items with your soup! I LOVE the hair accessories! Beautiful.

Christine said...

You made so many lovely pieces from your soups - great job!

Divya N said...

OMG you have done so much :) gem chips and rainbows piece is my favourite of all though. Your hair accessories are great even though personally I am terrified of my hair getting caught in them when I wear them

Andra Marasteanu said...

wow, you were very busy and inspired! I love all the pieces you've made, especially the multi-strand necklace (which is beautiful and an excellent idea, by the way! I will use my chips stash for some multistrand necklaces with a big focal handmade toggle clasp in front! This is the way I would wear your necklace too! The clasp is just too fabulous to hide it!), the hexagonal netted flowers (they're delicious; never tried the stitch but it's a must)- the first necklace is gorgeous- and, ohh, the hair accessories are fantastic, you're very good at this! It was a great pleasure to read all your adventure through the both bead soup!

Janice said...

What a fun eclectic collection. I love all the hair bobs you did. Very creative! Makes me miss my long hair.

Cassi Renee said...

Wow! What a gorgeous bunch of designs. But I have to admit I am totally taken with the rainbow bracelet --that is just so cool!

Shalini Austin said...

Looks like you had a lot of fun with your soup :-)
Lovely work, specially the hair accessories :-)

Vivi Magoo said...

You’re an amazing designer! I love it all but especially your hair adornments! Beautiful!