Monday, 30 May 2011

A use for my lentil flowers?

It was during my photo session yesterday, taking pics of my Artisan clay necklaces shown here, that I glanced over to see my lentil and dagger flowers on the bead table. "I wonder...", my thoughts went. Could I use the flowers as embellishments on pendants? Like the ones in front of me. Have to try it out.

So what do you think? Try not to focus on the necklace chain, loose threads or the colours as it's just a matter of taking what I had right there and then. Maybe I now have an idea for my flowers other than just making rings or tiny brooches/pins (or stitching them to a garment of some kind)? I know it's not an original idea -- that's not what I'm looking to hear, but I hope it might be a nice idea, worth pursuing.

The green flower is a bit big for this particular pendant. The dagger versions -- using 8 or 11 mm small daggers -- look more proportionate: a focal point without overwhelming the pendant. Unfortunately, I can't show how it'd look with 8 mm daggers as I still can't find my apricot and bronze flower. I do hope it's not in the trash after all...

Don't ask me how I'm going to attach the flower. Haven't figured out any details yet. After all, I must find some new pendants as this one is already being used in a finished necklace. I have a lot of beads, but not many pendants so I'll have to see if there are any in my stash that would look nice with a flower perched on them. Ideally the pendant should be somewhat neutral in order not to compete with the flower as the focal point, but still decorative enough to enhance the flower.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

2x Artisan Clay: my may necklaces

So... I was supposed to blog about these a couple of days ago, but each day I've seemed to run into things that had to take priority over beading. Somewhat embarrassing forgetting deadlines. Putting it mildly. Well, better late than never I hope? Now at last you can see them, a couple of necklaces I made with the pretty crackled glass pendants from Artisan Clay. To see what Kristie and her design team made with these pendants and cabochon, check out this blog post.

These pendants feel like the perfect thing to frame and that's what I did, creating a RAW bezel using shiny petrol Gütermann seed beads. The bezel is embellished with amethyst charlottes and cinnamon luster hex cuts, which I stitched with an apricot red thread: the combination of the red thread and dark blueish beads underneath give the beads a special blended -- almost glowing -- tone that's hard to capture in a photo.

Normally you bezel cabochons, but it's almost just as easy to make a bezel on a pendant with loop. You just bead around and "through" the wire loop, which is a sturdy alternative to a beaded bail. Also, by attaching the middle row of beads to the loop it was easier to measure and fasten the bezel without having it sliding over the edge of the pendant.

The pendant is hanging from a doubled braided silk cord, which is space-dyed in dark green and blue. I choose the colour to balance the green and teal/petrol pendant with the purple frame.

For my second pendant, I choose a different approach. Here, I didn't want to obscure any part of the pretty pendant. Inspired by the black colour of the loop, I chose to work with blackened iron wire. I like to work with it, not least when doing designs inspired by nature. I think it has a certain dark romantic mood about it that I like.

This design is a variation of the links I made for this bracelet. I planned on doing double links then, but found it too time-consuming and dull. This time I didn't give up as easily. Still can decide whether I think it's too messy or just a pretty and natural tangle, though... I like the design, it's just that I wonder if I couldn't have executed the idea better. Hope you like it.


I really enjoyed working with these pendants. I've seen them many times and they've had a place on my ever-growing wishlist of beads and components I want to buy so I was really glad that Kristie gave me this opportunity. Thank you!


By the way, when I took these photos, I came up with yet another idea for the pendants. I'll show you what it was tomorrow.

New giveaways: books, beads and pendants

I can finally log on to my Blogger account (updated my web browser to latest version and cleared out all cookies, which fixed it all) and I'll take the opportunity to give a few tips on recent giveways.

First up is a fab giveaway from Andrew Thornton. He's giving away a dozen of his new art pendants. Four bronze, four copper and four fine silver-coated ones -- with a value of 220 USD. For your chance to win these beautiful pendant, check out his giveaway blog post here.

Next up is Barbara Lewis of Painting with Fire who's giving away a selection of torch-fired enamelled filigree beads. You also get to choose which colour you want so if the green beads in the pic isn't your style, you're free to pick another colour you like better. For your chance to win you must check out the preview of her book on, like it and comment that you've done so here.

And, finally, today Marcie of La Bella Joya announced she's giving away her copy of Sherry Serafini's new book Sensational Bead Embroidery. This book is on my bead book wishlist. MY very long wishlist. I like her opulent bead embroidery and I've heard good things about the book. For you chance to win this copy, head of to Marcie's giveway post here.

PS! Check out Lark Crafts for a couple of free projects from Serafini's book.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

All work, no play...

It's almost summer and I keep seeing all the usually signs like birdcherry and lilac blooms, fields yellow with dandelions, butterflies. All the things I enjoy to capture on camera. And to some extent I have done that, but another sure sign of summer approaching is the potatoe harvest and this last week I've been exhausted. Not least this Friday as we not only worked a long day, but also had to work with a new system with a different type of crates that had to be lined with paper. Well, I won't bore you with the details but it was several new things we had to learn -- and learn fast as we had to keep the speed up and work on a moving vehicle. Also, I'm a night owl so it takes days for me to adjust to getting up between 5:45 and 6:15 in the mornings when I usually get to bed around 1 or 2 AM...

Anyway, I want to post more things on the blog and bead more. And have time to learn some new techniques from the books I got last week. But I'm too tired or too busy doing other things. So while I want to post more pretty flower photos it'll have to wait. I'm focusing on a small project that I must finish today or tomorrow, though, so there will be jewellery pics soon. Other than that I hope for a less stressful week ahead as I'm getting more used to early mornings and the workload.

On Friday my sis and I went don't to the beach on one of the breaks we had (you can do that when working by the sea). Lovely day, but most people were still at work and the water was somewhat cold so we were more or less alone on the pier. It was a marvelous view with the light blue sea blending with the sky so that the Kullen peninsula in front of us seemed to float in some ethereal blue mist. The sea was still and the water clean, ranging from a slight green tint over tan sand to that harmonious blue. It was just so serene and purely amazing. And I forgot to bring the camera! Isn't that typical? Gah!

It does, however, mean I'll try to remember the camera another day and therefore I wanted to ask if anyone is interested in me taking some pics of the harvest. Like of the machine we're working one, what the fields look like now compared to what I showed in these pics etc. Let me know and one day when the weather is good and the day not too stressful, I'll dedicate the lunch break to show you a bit more of our workplace and how modern potato harvest works.

Bead blog recap weeks 19-20

Uhm, I ended up never blogging on Friday eventhough I said I would. If you are looking forward to more flower and landscape photos, I'm afraid that'll have to wait a few more days. This last week has been real hectic, but at least I remembered to do a recap this time.

Emboss leather with filigree

Vintaj shows you how to emboss leather with filigree and stamped charms like their fastenables using a scrapbooking tool known as a Sissix. A tool that can also be used to emboss metal in lieu of a rolling mill.

Beautiful ceramic pendants with recycled glass
Artisan Clay makes lovely ceramic components with crackled glass (which you will see an example of in this blog soon).

Leather stamping
How to stamp on leather using leather and steel stamps.

"Floating" designs with Fimo Deco Gel
Often resin is used to make bezels and pendants with motifs suspended "midair" in the bezel, here's an example of how you can use liquid polymer clay to create a similar effect.

Sparkling metal components
Coloring and painting metal components like charms and filigree for a personalized as well as more colourful design is popular. In this version, glitter is added for extra sparkle.

Filigree base tutorial

Step-by-step instructions for making the manipulated filigree base I used for my necklace Whispered words. To get a component in the right shape, I sawed and bent a piece of brass filigree. Tutorial is only for the base, not the whole necklace.

Ribbon-wrapped beads

How to wrap a basic bead with ribbons (or floss/yarn) for use in dimensional embroidery and more.

Beadmaille bracelet
Lark offers a free project from Cindy Pankopf's book Beadmaille where se adds chain maille techniques to off-loom beadweaving.

Bead looming with fibre

Different ways of adding fibre (yarn, ribbons) to you beaded loomwork.

The color queens want your questions
Bead colour experts Beverly Ash Gilbert and Margie Deeb have teemed up. For their new collaborative pdf-publication they want colour related questions from their readers to answer.

Book review: Bead embroidery. The complete guide
My review of my latest bead book by Jane Davis, a book on how to add beads to decorative embroidery stitches -- from basting and cross stitch to ribbon embroidery and smocking.

Fold forming
Fold forming is an interesting metalworking technique that's sometimes describes as origami with sheet metal.

Call for submissions: 500 Beaded Jewelry
Lark is looking for "excellent photographs of excellent, original beaded jewelry pieces" for their latest coffee table book in the 500 series. They are especially looking for a diverse range of contemporary beaded jewellery of all kinds from around the world.

ITS as paint

ITS, Image Transfers Soloution, can not only be used for image transfers. By adding pigments it can also act like a paint for non-porous surfaces like metal. For a beautiful effect, remove the paint from the raised areas before setting it so that only recessed areas are colorized.

Message bracelet contest
Swedish bead shop is hosting a new contest featuring their new leather lace. Add you own message using your choice of techniques and materials to their lace for you chance to win a gift certificate. Winner will be chosen based primarily on the message.

Romantic patina'd bronze butterfly wings

These lovely bronze clay wings from Artisan Accents by Staci Louise are finished with a colourful, matte patina. Pictured in the photo above.

Swedish bead shop map updated -- but flawed!

I have finally updated the map of brick-and-mortar bead shops in Sweden, but due to technical issues the map, or rather the information on each shop, is jumbled and flawed. Please have patience while I try to find the time to fix these issues. Currently, I'm on my own working with the map and updating it takes a lot of time. Add technical issues and a hectic work schedule to that and it's a sisyphean task right now...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Fantastic giveaway at Art Bead Scene Blog!

It's almost two weeks since I wrote something here last. Haven't forgotten the blog and nothing out of the ordinary has happened. I'm just slightly busy as the potato harvest has started this week and I'm focusing on "offline stuff" like work, beading and other things that had to be done. Planning to show some photos tomorrow, though.

Until then I just wanted to tip you about a fab giveaway over at Art Bead Scene Blog. It's a mouth-watering big stash of art beads and other jewellery supplies in celebration of the magazine Beads 2011. Don't miss it!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The bouclé chain necklace

I made this necklace for the Vintaj monthly challenge, but never submitted it as I didn't think it was good enough. The focal is a boro glass cab that I set in a "Whimsical Spray" Fastenable riveted to a brass blank. The cab is a little bit too fat for the setting in my eyes, but it's not too big to be securely fastened. I just wanted the prongs to show a little more.

Anyway, the part I was pleased with was the chain. I've woven space-dyed rayon bouclé twice through a ladder chain (also by Vintaj). A very simple technique, but I really like the result. Especially when being careful to let the yarn/floss "wind" between the links when you weave the second layer. The result remind me of braided cords (e.g. a simple kumihimo braid) and if you don't overdo the weaving, the chain will still be subtle and flexible. I think the wavy texture of the yarn works especially well here.

The variegated thread makes the weaving more visible and also pick up several of the colours in the cab. So far so good. Only thing I worry about is that rayon is notoriously frail compared to many other fibres and bouclé is a very loose type of yarn, meaning there's both an issue of snagging and of abrasion when weaving, but also when using the finished piece. I do hope the yarn is heavy enough to stand up to some wear and tear because I like this chain.

Bead blog recaps week 16-18

I kind of forgot to do any recaps last week and when I realised I thought it just as well to leave it all for this weekend. So here's three weeks of posts from Manekis Pärlblogg. Includes a few contests and challenges.

Bead and pearl museums in the world
A far from complete listing of bead and/or pearl related museums around the world. Some of the museums are just focused on beads while others include bead, e.g. glass or jewellery museums. More tips, updates, corrections etc always appreciated as I've just found most of them by googling.

Simple woven chain and cord bracelets
Make fun and easy bracelets by weaving colourful cords through the links of a jewellery chain.

Suzahlsa summer contest
Design contest from Swedish bead shop Suzahlsa. The theme is Sun, wind and water (for those of you not Swedish, that is also the name of a song by Ted Gärdestad).

Operation Tackle That Bead Stash
OTTBS is a British blog and project about dealing with the bead stash rather than just buying new beads for your projects.

Donut designs
The shape of donuts, with their big centre hole, makes them a bit special to work with and many don't really know what to do with them. Here you find a collection of projects that use donuts in different ways, using different techniques and materials.

May challenges
New designs challenges for a new month from Vintaj, Art Bead Scene, La Bella Joya and OTTBS. The painting above, Flaming June, is one of the inspirational palettes in the current Margie and Me challenge at La Bella Joya.

Design contest focusing on feathers
Swedish bead shop Stareyes has announced a new design contest with feathers, the latest big trend, as a theme.

Silk is a popular material in jewellery making, from knotted pearl necklaces to mixed-media sari silk ribbon bracelets. Includes discussions on vegetarian-friendly silk and environmental impact of sericulture.

Mix your own copper clay
There's a tutorial on Instructibles for how to mix your own copper clay using pure copper powders, corn starch, xanthan gum, water and glycerine.

Diamond stitch and double diamond stitch
How to make this pretty bead-weaving technique, including several variations.

Epoxi coated butterflies for jewellery
At the blog Resin Crafts, you can find a way to strengthen and preserve feather butterflies so they can be used in jewellery.

International handmade art charm day tomorrow
April 27th was international charm day.

Make bead links with beading wire
SoftFlexGirl shows you how to make bead links and rings using scraps of flexible beading wire.

Berry Beads new product from Miyuki
Preciosa Ornela's got farfalle, Matsuno's got peanut beads. Now, Miyuki is also presenting a "double-drop" bead shape and they choose to call their version Berry Beads.

Metal Clay Mania -- Bead Unique contest

This contest from American bead mag Bead Unique is now closed.

Artbeads Mother's Day Contest

...and so is this contest by bead shop However, you may now vote on your favourite amongst the entries.

Guest bloggers on Manekis Pärlblogg?
How would you feel about guest bloggers on my bead blog? Perhaps you even want to write a blog post yourself? Let me know what you think!

Bead looms
There are many types of bead looms, from the most simple DIY cardboard or shoe box looms to big tapestry looms and handmade quality products.

Why crystal and glass stones are foiled
Crystal stones like rivolis are often foiled, adding sparkle and intensity to it. See the difference your self in my photos of foiled and unfoiled clear crystal rivolis.

Letter stamps with runes and cyrillic letters offers new letter sets for stamping metal and leather. Instead of the regular Roman alphabet, you will find the futhark and the cyrillic alphabet. Rune stamps can be bought as a set of 24 or by the piece.

The difference between chocolate and cocoa
Chocolate and cocoa pretty much sound like the same thing, right? But as a bead colour, chocolate is a (dark) brown with a touch of red, while cocoa is a light neutral (used on pearl imitations etc). Note: as a web colour, cocoa is the same as light chocolate.

Gilded marbled

Gilded marbled is a nice finish from Toho, but you can also find similar finishes on e.g. Czech glass beads. It's a partial -- marbled -- gilding on a coloured bead. Toho also make other marbled colour.

Argentium and Reflections Silver
There are several alternatives to sterling silver that offers an alloy that doesn't tarnish or gets firescale the same way traditional sterling can. Argentium is the most well-known.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

"Grey looks best with colour!"

Beads Direct is having a competition for bloggers and writers, focusing on the always very handy tool to sort a bead shop's selection of materials by colours. This inspired me to write an English version of my musings on the beauty of the colour grey. My original text can be viewed at Inspira.

In its purest form, grey is a mixture of black and white in varying proportions. As neither of these colours are part of the colour wheel, grey is strictly speaking not a neutral (i.e. beige or brown hues that work with all colours), but acts like one. That means a grey bead looks good with any colour you like. While working with nothing but the greyscale can result in beautiful jewellery, adding colour can really do wonders. The title of this post is a quote from a women's magazine, styling tips for the grey-haired ladies, but it is just as valid when talking about beads.

Warm and cold greys
Grey can be perceived as either warm or cold as many grey hues have a touch of other colours. Steely blue grey feels cold while smoky grey with its yellow-brown hues feels warmer. This will affect what beads and nuances will work with it. Even if grey is a neutral, it doesn't necessarily work just as well with all colours.

Dark grey or gunmetal can be a softer alternative to black in cases when black would feel too harsh. In the same way, a light grey can be used instead of white where the latter would feel too bright or crisp. Metallic dark greys like gunmetal/haematite often feel elegant and dramatic, making them perfect for party jewellery. Yes, the finish of the bead determines how we perceive the colour: a metallic haematite or steel grey feels cooler than a silky soft moonstone or matte silver grey. The same way, a transparent bead will feel lighter -- and might loose its colour when placed next to other colours -- than an opaque or opaline/translucent bead.

Those are a few basic things to consider when working with grey. Now let's get to the fun part: pairing grey with colour. We start with a few of my personal favourites.

Is there anything soft and harmonious but still eye-catching as light grey paired with turquoise? You just need a drop of turquoise as a focal point -- the same effect you can see in many photos and images where a person is portrayed in near greyscale, but keeping the colours in his or here intensely light blue eyes.

Other types of blue also look very nice with grey, such as sky blue opal, lavender blue and teal. Note how the opaline beads above feel almost dreamy paired with the soft moonstone chips. The teal bead would probably look better with some matte grey beads -- I once saw a drawing of an animé character with dusty grey hair and big teal eyes. Looked fab!

And while we're at it: more blue. Here I've used a muted darker greyish blue (montana blue) for a very difference mood compared to above. It is almost monochrome. To the right are some medium blue beads with silk lustre.

Another colour that goes very well with grey is pink. Soft, almost neutral pinks as well as popping bright rose hues. Some pink nuances feel warmer than others: fuchsia feels much cooler than tea rose. The intensity also varies greatly from muted dusty pink to eye-catching hot magenta. Compared to purple, one of my favourite colours, it feels sweeter and sometimes more gentle. A soft pink paired with grey is perfect for the vintage look, while metallic dark grey and fuchsia are considerably more dramatic.

Purple is on the border between warm and cool colours on the colour wheel. This means you can get many different effects when adding purple to grey. Some shades work best with dark grey/gunmetal while others look their best paired with light or smoky grey. I'm afraid the picture above doesn't really do the combo justice -- purple and grey look fab together!

Both pink and purple also come in muted shades. When a colour is muted it means grey or black has been added to it, dulling the colour. This can be useful when wanting a harmonious colour combo where the colours blend in with the grey. A picasso or satin/hematite finish can help make a smooth transition from the other colours to grey. The result is a soft colour combo that still has a little more happening than in a fully monochrome bead mix.

Moving from pink to peach, we find more soft and neutral colour combos. One nice example can be seen above: moonstone ranging in colours from peach and salmon to creme and grey. Grey can also work with "pure" neutrals like beige and tan.

Or why not add apricot or orange to your grey beads? A trickier combo than those above, but you can pull it of if choosing the shades wisely.

Like purple, pink and blue, you can find muted nuances of green that work almost like shades when placed next to grey. In the photo above, you see seafoam and mint opaline beads with a picasso finish on the left. This combo makes me think of mist and fog when mixed with soft light grey. Darker greens like olivine and jade works better with dark grey.

Of cause, you can just a well use brighter greens. Like teal, they look vibrant against grey, but don't add the same attractive contrast as turquoise or blue in my opinion. By the way, there are better shades of green than these you can use: this is actually a colour combo I've seen it in workwear. Not a personal favourite.

A colour that we shouldn't forget is red. Pure red and black is often used for the combination's dramatic effect. For a similar effect use gunmetal rather than black. Burgundy or wine also looks very elegant and sophisticated together with dark grey.

Together with muted yellows, browns and oranges, red (or orange-red) and grey look good in autumn-themed jewellery. Adding a bit of transparent grey like black diamond to the autumn colours is a nice touch, reminding of the season's mists.

And what about metals? Grey goes very well together with copper. Better than the picture above might have you thinking. If I'm personally to pick a metal to go with grey beads, it would be copper. Pewter, silver, titanium, steel etc are grey or white, meaning they blend in with the beads. Something many prefer.

There's one colour missing here. Yellow. While I personally find it difficult to mix grey and yellow, others do. The golden metal flowers above are an example of that. But other than that, I'm probably not the right person to try and persuade you that yellow and grey is a fab combo...

So... That's it. A cavalcade of examples of colours you might want to use with your grey and/or gunmetal beads. Find anything you like? Maybe even a colour you don't normally use with grey yourself? I hope my examples have made you think about ways to use all your lovely grey beads. Grey might sound dull and dreary, but it's a colour with great potentials!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Lentil and dagger flower v. 2.0

I've made two new versions of the flower in my previous post. They're really fun to make, even if it can be a little hard to maintain the tension sometimes, but I'm facing a lentil bead shortage now... I rarely use lentil beads so I more or less never buy them -- and not any large quantities when I do. I wanted to make another flower using the same lemon and fuchsia beads in the other post, but one of the beads disappeared, leaving me with just four beads left. That's one short. I also don't have many colours of 11 mm daggers. Isn't it typical, getting ideas that mean you have to buy more beads in order to realise them? No matter how many beads you have, of cause you're missing the one you really need!

Anyway, the new flowers. Late last night, when I'd gone to bed already, I started thinking about alternatives to using dagger beads. Aha -- don't I have some tip-drilled leaf beads that would be approximatly the right width to fit between the lentils? Testing them today, my thought was confirmed.

Due to the lentil shortage I had to choose between dark bronze or green lentils so I ended up with an all-green flower this time. Note how I didn't bother to check what direction the leaves were facing: they are slightly asymmetrical so had I flipped them all on the same side, the design would've looked slightly different.

I also have a zip bag of tiny 8 mm daggers that I wanted to try out. They're just 3 mm shorter than the daggers in the original flower, but it's enough to alter the design as they just barely stick out behind the lentils. Here, I did something you should try to avoid when experimenting: changing two parameters at the same time. First, I used 15/0 seeds instead of 11/0 (also adding an extra bead at each lentil hole). Second, I added smaller daggers with a smaller width. Still turned out ok, though.

As with the green leaf flower, I didn't add a drop or other bead in the centre. Think they look nice without one too so if I don't have the perfect bead, I'm not adding one. Although, they might look a bit more finished with a centre, or what do you say?

By the way, want a pic of the back of the flower?

Note on scale: All lentil beads are 6 mm wide. The size of the daggers (or leaf beads) determine the final size of the flower, which the tiniest being barely 2 cm wide.
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