Saturday, September 17, 2011

Let the Festivities Begin!

To learn about the Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) click here.

To see what my partner Ambra Gostoli made with the Bead Soup I sent her, click here.

To visit the other 362 BSBP participants (I know, right?!!), click here.

First, tusen tak (a thousand thanks) to Lori Anderson, the hostess of the Bead Soup Blog Party, for her inspiration, creativity, organization, and encouragement. Thank you so much for inviting me to your wonderful party! I had a terrific time Lori, and am already looking forward to the next one.
My second tusen tak goes to my delightful swap partner, Ambra Gostoli. Ambra, I am so glad you were my partner! I may have banged my head on my bead table a time or two, or seventeen, trying to figure out what to do with that incredible focal, but I love, love LOVE all of these beads, and the way in which the beads pushed me to design and think in a different way. I really appreciate this gift, which is so much more than just the beads themselves. Thank you.

And now, for the unveil…

I completed two necklaces, and have stuff pulled for 1-2 pairs of earrings, as well as for that bracelet I mentioned. Pictured are the finished necklaces, as well as the Bead Soups for the other projects. I will be working on these pieces in the coming weeks, and will be posting pics here, so do check back!
The first necklace is swingy and slinky, and VERY different from my other work…and I like it VERY much!
Ambra’s oval jasper beads play very nicely with my lemongrass green beads, don’t you think?
I used Swarovskis in chrysolite satin to pick up the greens in the jasper beads and add some sparkle, especially at the back of the necklace, where the sparkles draw attention to Ambra’s lovely handmade clasp.

I also used the chain and the two copper filigree pieces Ambra sent, as well as some square copper spacer beads.
If you look closely, you’ll also notice that I used sterling silver wire crimps (because that was all I had). Is it just me, or do they “fool the eye” a little, and make it seem as if the beaded sections are kind of floating between the filigree?
The second necklace is MUCH more substantial in visual AND physical weight. As you can see, I re-did the focal, using the dark purpley-blue beads. I included a faceted freshwater pearl, a nugget of blue goldstone, an iolite rondell, purple velvet Swarovskis, and the afore-mentioned purpley-blue metallic beads.
I decided for a focal this big and gorgeous, the rest of the piece needed to big and gorgeous too, so I made sections of 2x2 chain (good thing I had a stash of copper jump rings, no?).
I took Ambra’s bowenite beads, and wrapped them with both copper and annealed steel wire, and accented with purpley-blue metallic beads and more purple velvet Swarovskis.
I needed another element to tie it all together, and pulled a few of my favorite books off the shelf for some ideas, and found these coolio wire orbs in A Charming Exchange, by Kelly Snelling & Ruth Rae. I used annealed steel wire and copper wire to make the orbs, and decorated them with some wood grain stone beads (that seriously could be twins of the bamboo agate), more faceted freshwater pearls, and more Swarovskis.
OK, that works, but what about the clasp? It needed to be as substantial as the rest of the necklace. Sharilyn Miller’s book, Bead on a Wire, came to the rescue – I made two of her big spiral hooks, and shaped them so they would hook together and lay nicely against the back of the neck.
Next up is the Bead Soup for the earrings. I think I have enough stuff to make two pairs.
And finally, here’s where I’m at with the bracelet.

Yikes! I forgot to take a pic of the headpins I made to go with this bracelet. I made about eighty copper wire headpins the other day, and now I’m thinking maybe I should go make more. But not right now. First, I have a show to get through, and then I have a whole lotta eye candy to go look at and comment on!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wheat- and Corn-free Brownies

Remember that wheat and corn-free four flour bean mix recipe I posted a while back? Here's how I use this mix to make the tastiest brownies. I apologize for the lack of a photo - as soon as I make another batch, I'll get a pic and upload it.

When baking with wheat- and corn-free flours, I have the best results when I use stoneware baking pans. Mine are from The Pampered Chef, and are treasured components of my kitchen equipment.

Makes 16 large brownies

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups four flour bean mix
1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Use a medium saucepan on low heat to melt the butter and chocolate.
  3. Remove from heat; stir in sugar.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla beat lightly just until combined.
  5. Stir in flour and nuts.
  6. Spread batter in pan.
  7. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool. Cut into bars. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9.10.11 Class: Basic Wire Jewelry Techniques

The first wrapped loop. (tidy)
Linda and I had a great time during my Basic Wire Jewelry Techniques class today. It was just the two of us, so Linda got my undivided attention. (I hope she didn't mind.)
Linda's second wrapped loop, which was supposed to be the "sloppy" one.
Here are a few pics of Linda's work today. I think she did a fabulous job, even though her "tidy" wrapped loop turned out "sloppy," and her "sloppy" wrapped loop looks mighty "tidy" if you ask me, lolol.

Linda's bead link.
We covered a TON of information, and Linda can practice the skills she learned today so she can make the coolio linked filigree bib necklace she found in the magazine.
Linda's "tidy" spiral, with the beginnings of a wrapped loop.

For the necklace, she'll need to make lots of bead dangles and bead links. Too, she'll be opening and closing jump rings to connect the bead links for the necklace part, and filigree squares for the bib part, as well as bead dangle embellishments for the bottom of the filigree bib.

Linda's "sloppy spiral - I LOVE how this one turned out.
Linda, thank you for taking my class. I had a delightful afternoon, and I can't wait to see where your skills take you!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Cooking with Ambra's Tasty Bead Soup

Playing around with the art charm bracelet and my bead soup.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve earmarked a few of the stone beads that Ambra sent me for one of my mixed media art charm bracelets. I’ll add one of the bowenite beads (the one with the most ochre & rust colors on it!) and a few of the jasper beads to add interest and meaning to the bracelet.
Scrumptious, don't you agree?
I’m playing around with other colors too – was swept away by the combo of deep blue purpley metallic matte beads with the ochre yellow of the bamboo agate – isn’t this delicious???

Soft greens and pinks pick up the variegated colors in the jasper beads and could make for a very feminine piece.

Playing on the olive and peachy tones in the jasper and bowenite beads works too!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

My Bead Soup is here!

Everything except the copper filigree elements...doh!
One of the filigree elements.
And you are going to be amazed! Ambra sent me a gorgeous bamboo agate focal bead, along with chunky faceted bowenite beads and softly mottled jasper beads. Ambra also sent me a length of copper chain, two coppery filigree stars, and an elegant copper clasp that she made herself (which I think is the very coolest – I’m such a handmade dork, I know, right?).
Ambra's clasp - this, the bamboo agate, and the filigree pieces are my favorites!
Bowenite beads and the coolio copper chain...
I’ll be using one of the bowenite beads and some of the jasper beads in one of my mixed media art charm bracelets – this one is for me, and one that I’ve been planning for a long while now – sage and olive greens, ivory, and copper. I love the idea that Ambra’s beads will be on this bracelet, and I am excited to be FINALLY putting this one together. I'll post pics of this tomorrow.
The OMG fabulous bamboo agate focal...
The bamboo agate is really lovely – and ginormous – and way way WAY out of my comfort zone. I have no idea how I’m going to show this piece off. I tried using wire-wrapping to frame the stone, but the wire kind of distracted from the beauty of the stone, and didn’t add to it.
The delightful jasper beads - love the colors in these! I've got some dyed freshwater pearls in cream, peach and sage green, which I think would play very nicely with the jasper.
I desperately want to make the agate into a chunky mixed media not-quite-a-choker necklace – but that would require drilling another hole in it. Did some research – bottom line, yes, it IS possible to drill it, with a diamond bit (which I do have) and with a steady stream of water...or else…(cue dramatic music)…if there isn’t enough water, it could cause the stone to break. Gah! I’m not going to experiment and take a chance on hurting this stunning stone.

The current incarnation of the bamboo agate...
My current experiment is with wrapping it at the top with fine gauge annealed black steel wire and copper wire, accented with freshwater pearls and a Swarovski…it looks OK, but I’m not enchanted with it (probably because I’m jonesing to do the mixed media thing with it). What do you think?

And a close-up from a different angle...

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Ambra and the BSBP

I'm loving the juicy greens Ambra used in this necklace!
This is my first BSBP, and I’m thrilled to be part of the fun. My partner, Ambra Gostoli, is an accomplished and creative jewelry designer. I love her fresh take on wirework, her inventive style, and the delightful way in which she plays with color. (Ambra took all the photos in this post.)

Ambra's creative wirework paired with sunshiney colors make this a playful summer bracelet.
You can see more of Ambra's work at her DaWanda shop, Chic and Frog.

"Jaw dropping and drooling on my keyboard" is how I describe this pair of red-hot earrings by Ambra.

What in the world is a BSBP???

The BSBP is the Bead Soup Blog Party, the brainchild of Lori Anderson. Lori dreamed up the BSBP as a way for jewelry artists to connect with each other and make new friends, while providing each of us with a fresh opportunity to stretch our creative wings. Once signups are complete, Lori pairs up participants and the pairs swap Bead Soup (main ingredients are a focal bead, a nice clasp, and coordinating spacer beads).

Once each participant receives her or his portion of Bead Soup, the creating begins. Each participant posts to her or his blog pictures of Bead Soup, progress, and finished Bead Soup projects, and on September 17, 2011, a virtual party takes place, with everyone visiting and commenting on each others’ blogs.