Challenge of Travel blog hop – visiting New Zealand


I am excited to be participating in my first ever bead blog hop, Challenge of Travel. Organized by Erin Prais-Hintz of Treasures Found:Inspiration is Everywhere, the blog hop is a whirlwind tour around the globe, with stops at numerous countries in 5 geographic areas.

The rules were simple – select a region that you don’t live in and choose an “inspiration” nation from within that region. Erin kindly offered to select a country for us, but I decided to pick my own.

I decided on New Zealand in Oceania. I’ve never been, but friends and family who have been lucky enough to visit NZ, rave about it. The scenery alone is worth an airline ticket – beautiful beaches, lush forests and mountain vistas.

English: Relief map of New Zealand

English: Relief map of New Zealand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking down on Browns Bay and beach from the ...

Looking down on Browns Bay and beach from the point to the south (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cape Maria van Diemen

Cape Maria van Diemen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cascades Park, Waitakere, Auckland, New Zealand

Cascades Park, Waitakere, Auckland, New Zealand (Photo credit: Sandy Austin)

Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand (Photo credit: Sandy Austin)

I generally design a bracelet or a necklace around a specific bead or component. This time, I started with texture. Wool.

Sheeps Eyes

Sheeps Eyes (Photo credit: James @ NZ)

NZ’s is known for having lots of sheep and wool has traditionally been one of its best known exports.

I happened to see a blog post on Art Bead Scene about Heather Powers’ upcoming beading retreat, Back to Nature, which featured an amazing felted and embellished leaf. I got out my big bag of wool and started playing around. Making a felt bead is easy – roll raw wool together with hot water and soap until the fibres stick together and you have the shape you want.

I started off making a leaf, to reflect the forests of NZ. While it was the right colour, the shape didn’t work for me. As I was digging through my supplies for more green roving, I discovered an oval-shaped bead that contained all the colours. Suddenly all my creative neurons started firing.

Two felt beads – choices, choices

Once I decided upon the focal bead, the rest of design came together very quickly. The felt bead was much better suited to a necklace.

Design in progress…

As much as possible, I wanted to use natural, rather than man-made elements, to reflect NZ’s physical beauty. I considered using Paua shell, which is comes  from New Zealand. When my mother visited there a few years ago, she brought me back  a lovely pair of Paua shell earrings.

Polished Paua Shell 3/4

Polished Paua Shell 3/4 (Photo credit: Kenno_mcdonnell)

Wandering around my local bead store, I found a package of bone rondelles that seemed to fit the bill. I also bought some wire and seed-beads, but everything else came from my own cache.

When I showed my husband the original design, he commented that it needed some bronze, to reflect the Maori culture.


Maori (Photo credit: Nokes)


maori-carving6.jpg (Photo credit: rowanf)

I hadn’t contemplated incorporating indigenous design into the necklace but I embellished the felt bead with size 10 seed beads in brown iris. The design is totally free-form – I followed contours of the variations in the colours of the bead. Against the green, the seed beads really stand out. I needed to be able to attach the bead to the necklace, so I made a wrapped-loop bail and over wrapped the top of the bead to give it a bit more texture.

Close-up – felted bead

In addition to the bone rondelles, I used two similar but not identical beads made by Gaea; an enamel filigree bead from Gardanne and a glass rondelle from Kelley’s Beads. I didn’t want the necklace to be completely symmetrical, so I played around with the placement of the beads. Since there was already a lot going on, I decided to keep the clasp simple and fashioned a simple S-clasps with 20 gauge wire.

I am really happy with the end result. The necklace will go perfectly with my new green dress and funky suede boots.

Thank you for joining me on my first bead blog adventure. Thanks to Erin for organizing such a wonderful voyage. You can check out Erin’s Nepalise-inspired designs and follow other participants here:


17 responses »

  1. I love the necklace with the clay, bone, and enamel bead. I think the felt leaf is cool too. How sweet would it be if the leaf came on and off? I see it worn short on leather cord, at the neck… Just thinking out loud.

  2. I love how you incorporated the wool into your design! I have never made a felted bead and enjoyed reading how easy it is to do (well, at least you say it is easy…I can be a slow learner at times!) Your color choices were perfect – lovely job!

  3. How perfect! I loved hearing your design process and bonus points for hubby’s input (I usually just get some form of blank stare nodding). I too have a stash of gorgeous wool roving you are really tempting me to go play with.

  4. Susan, I have been amazed at each stop along this Challenge blog hop! Though three participants visited New Zealand, each of you has captured the nation’s beauty and spirit in completely unique projects. I just love your beautiful green wool bead; somewhat serendipitous that it was right there waiting for you all along! Those seed beads you applied added a wonderful colour and texture contrast. The finished necklace is a wonderful design to honour your chosen nation.

  5. This is such a great necklace! I love the different textures and I love the felt bead. Now I want to learn to make some! How insightful the input from your husband. Sure wish I had someone like him to give me feedback and input! I do love the simplicity of the piece.

  6. What a great necklace! I am inspired that you used the wool and the bone and even brought in the copper/bronze color for the Maori peoples. I love the organic nature of this necklace and its earthy color scheme. I hope you had fun on your first hop, Miss Susan! I sure did learn a lot I didn’t know about New Zealand and would love to travel there one day! Thank you for joining me on the journey around the world, Miss Susan! Enjoy the day. Erin

  7. Pingback: Bead Soup – an introduction « Mistheword

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