Saturday, 10 October 2015

My Favourite Autumnal Palette

I have found this year, that I have a favourite Autumnal palette. Orange, purple, turquoise and a sort of mossy green. Here are some of the things I've made over the years in these tones:

You can see from these that I sometimes the turquoise veers towards the cobalt blue, and that I like to add in a bronzy gold/brown too, but this is definitely a palette which I return to again and again, particularly during this time of year. Rich, Autumnal tones, but with the vibrancy that I crave when I look at your more typical earthy Autumnal palettes. 

I returned to this palette again last weekend:

Sometimes, beads arrive and you just fall in love with them. Sometimes they speak to you straight away and say - use me now! This was the case with these gorgeous lampwork dahlias from Pasion de Vidrio. Ronald makes the most gorgeous lampwork beads, although he's currently taking a break from his art. Thankfully, I stocked up a bit first. (Yes, I bet you were worried that I would run out of beads. To quote my friend Keirsten, I needed fresh beads. My other ones had gone briefly stale.) Simply pairing them with Humblebeads' gorgeous disc beads (they fell together on my work top - I'd love to say that it was my intuitive way of working that brought them together but alas, I fear it was just my messiness and lack of organisation!) meant that I had a pair of earrings in my favourite Autumnal tones:

Friday, 9 October 2015

Jana Filípková's Astonishing Beads

I told you the other day that I had to share some of the most especially awesome beads that I've bought over the past few months with you - some lampwork glass from Jana Filípková. 

This set, specifically. Aren't they amazing? The detailing, the depth of pattern and colour. I recently made my first lampwork beads and honestly, I can't quite fathom these at all. They are simply astonishing.

I snagged this set a few months ago, and I couldn't believe them when they arrived. Jana describes her work as 'painted' with glass stringer, which of course they are (painted with MOLTEN GLASS) but what I love about the butterflies (see?!) in both of these sets is that they have such an illustrative quality to them. Really, it would be amazing to even be able to 'draw' a crude butterfly with little or no style with 0.5mm molten glass stringer, but to be able to create a drawing with such style and character - well, my mind is blown. I've used 2 of the large petalled vocals, but I haven't quite worked up to any of the butterflies from either set yet. Bead intimidation...

This set is on its way to me. Just look at those colours....throw in a little turquoise and I'm in Autumnal-platte heaven. I'll let you know when they arrive!

Oh, and by the way, whilst writing this post I realised that Jana also has an etsy shop! I know that Facebook auctions are 'the thing' these days, but I love an online shop. Nice to have fixed prices and be able to stroll through sold items too. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Black, gold and green - and a little softness too

When I posted a picture of this bracelet, one of my good friends (Claire) said 'super colour combo - one of those unexpected ones that you do so well' which was of course, an enormous compliment coming from someone who kind of knows what she's doing with colour and components herself, ahem! I almost feel like I'm cheating when I accept compliments like that though - I'm so led by what's in front of me. This bracelet was actually a reworking of one from a couple of years ago (not sure I ever took a photo of the original, sorry) which for some reason I made for an approximately 12" wrist (not quite, but you get the picture!) and had needed re-doing for some time. It was sitting on my work tray, along with a new set of astonishing lampwork beads from Jana Filípková (I must show you the rest of the set sometime soon - really and truly, astounding), and somehow the fun spottiness of the vintage black acrylic, and the playful shimmering sparkliness of Jana's glitter ball seemed like they wanted to go together. It also helped to balance the bracelet nicely too - those large acrylic beads are actually very light, and the smoky frosted sea-glass-esque rounds on the other side are on the heavy side by comparison. The large glitter ball did the trick, weight-wise. (And psst - there's another butterfly on this bracelet too...!)

I had some of the acrylic rounds left over from shortening my canklet-style bracelet, and so decided to turn them into some simple earrings. I don't often work with black - I'm not entirely sure why, I do wear black both in my clothes and make-up, but somehow I really don't like it in home decor or beads. Too harsh; too stark. I knew these beads needed softening for them to work for me, but as these rounds are on the large side, I felt that adding beads onto them wasn't the thing to do here, despite this post. I tried flattening out a couple of etched brass bead caps but they didn't look right, and then I remembered Lorelei Eurto's vintage tin bead caps that I splurged on a while back. Still have a small cache of them left over, pleasingly! These lovely floral ones - pinks, peaches, greens and cornflower blooms on a yellow base - gave the black acrylic just the right feel, and tapped into their vintage feel. I also had exactly the right weenie lampwork beads from Julie Wong Sontag in a soft, etched lemon yellow, to decorate the earwires. 

Both of these sold the same day I shared them, so perhaps I should work with black more often....!

Monday, 5 October 2015


Why did the butterfly flutter...oh, you know the rest! These past 2 weeks, I seem to have developed a real thing for butterflies. Don't know why - yes, I am often drawn to 'things with wings' but butterflies can sometimes be a little saccharine - a bit 'wee girly' and sugary for me. Certainly to be the focus of a piece. But somehow, they've ended up in my designs again and again, whether I like it or not recently. I've also seem to lost all ability to make anything other than earrings. Whatever - I'm going with it. Often, I find my earrings can be cute but a little pedestrian, so I'm quite enjoying creating slightly more exuberant earrings for once. Let's see where this takes me.

Here in Butterfly Dance, I've stacked a whole heap of elements together. Pressed glass, recycled glass, Fallen Angel Brass, Vintaj Brass, Gunmetal caps, more pressed glass, copper hoops, vintage brass butterfly charms, handmade lampwork rondelles (some of Julie Wong Sontag's infamous 'weenies'), and my own oxidised silver earwires. I love how the butterflies are framed by those copper rings - and I love the real mix of metals. Even the brasses - the three varieties here are each so different, and each a naturally developed patina. Brass really is a beautiful and under-appreciated metal. I'm also usually not particularly keen on brass and copper - something about the yellow and orange tones being too close to one another - but the 3-tone brass, the gunmetal, the oxidised silver - I think it's safe to add the copper in there too, it only adds to the multi-mixed-metal-ness. You can find these for sale in the shop

Admiral are a pair I am particularly pleased with. I received these gorgeous wooden buttons as a lovely little gift from Claire who owns Smitten Beads, as part of a challenge she offered up in her shop. They really are rather special, don't you think? Now, as I said before, sometimes my earrings can be a little, well, safe. Simple. Pedestrian if I'm being particularly hard on myself! When I have a long craft fair, or a short deadline, then I definitely go into earring-making machine mode. I don't make earrings that I don't like or wouldn't wear, but I don't make earrings like these or these or these. Also, I don't/can't call my earrings things like I Rose From Marsh Mud. I would really like to, but I call my earrings things like Butterfly Dance. You see - 'safe'! I am just not edgy [nor do I know enough about poetry!] I guess - *sigh*

Anyway, I digress. Quite often my earrings have 2 or 3 parts to them. And they are simply stacked. Here's a good example:

Don't get me wrong. I like these. I like the colours, shapes and contrasting textures; I like their neatness. They're some of my favourites from my Summer earrings haul. But they are simply stacked - there's no engineering, so to speak, to them. And quite often when I try to wrangle a non-beady/round element into a pair of earrings, which of course have to hang 'just so', they droop limply and unconvincingly and simply don't work. 

But here, as you can hopefully see, the buttons hang just as I wanted them too. And the slim chains swoop down below, the leaves don't tip as they could, but hang down nicely - all in all, I'm rather pleased with these. More cute lampwork from Julie Wong Sontag, by the way. 

This last pair for this post are a pair which I *think* I may have to keep for myself. There's something about this combination of turquoise, darkly textural brass, this particular shade of red and the polka dots that I find hard to resist. I love that the holes in the centre of Helen Chalmers' discs have plenty of room for several slim-gauge wire wraps. I've used 0.6mm wire here and as you can see, they comfortably allow 4 passes at least per disc. This allows me to suspend them facing outwards, which, as Helen's beads really do stand looking at front-ways (sideways?) on, is a lovely bonus. These earrings also have a little touch that I've been adding to quite a few pairs recently - the embellished earwires. I used to do this relatively often but sort of fell out of the habit - I've been stalking reading a favourite blog recently, right from the beginning (a trick I picked up from Julie), and was reminded just how much I like decorating earwires - and so have resolved to do it more often. Julie's tiny lampwork beads are just the perfect size for this. If I do decide to sell these, I'll pop a link back here, but in all honesty, I think they'll be staying with me! 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Rustic Autumn

A few weeks ago, I added these to my etsy shop. I also wrote about them here, over on Art Bead Scene. I thought you might like to read about them too, and get a peek into the creative process behind them. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Pinch, punch - it's a Sale at Songbead!

Pinch, punch - it's the first of the month! There's nothing that spurs me on to make than sending lots of lovely jewellery out into the world - so help me out! I'm having a sale today and tomorrow - you can take 20% off everything in the shop right now with coupon code PINCH20. Just enter it at checkout (any problems, just let me know). Enjoy!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

It's a wrap for the wraps

Frequent readers will know that earlier this year, I was struck down with an addiction to making wrap bracelets. This actually culminated with being featured on the front cover of October's issue of Beads and Beyond:

Pretty much my own personal wrap de resistance.  I was given the words 'Ode to Autumn' to work with (a Keats poem, I was ashamed to not know, although I did recognise it when the penny finally dropped) and certainly, that idea of an Ode or Song was my inspiration here - the idea of a wrap bracelet (which can be worn as a necklace too) seemed the perfect response to this idea. I hunter-gathered as many Autumn art beads as I could, co-ordinating accompanying beads (ceramics, copper and my favourite Czech pressed glass) and spun this wrap together. I'm not sure I have anywhere to go from here, so my wrap-making compulsion seems to have ground to a halt. 

I did however have one left in me for the West End Fair, and here it is. One of my current favourite colour-combinations at the moment, royal blue, sky blue and sunny yellow. A dash of orange in this one too, thanks to the awesomely ridiculous hands of Mindy Moogin MacGregor

Beautiful lapis coins echoing Mindy's amazing lentil, wooden teeth, Peruvian opal discs (more lentil-echoing there) and some sunny, pressed glass rounds. It's a fairly happy piece, I'd say!

You can find Aztec for sale here


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