Monthly Archives: April 2013

Mad about Monet – April Art Bead Scene challenge


For as long as I can remember, Claude Monet has been my favourite painter. The first time I went to France, I made it a point to see as many of his paintings as possible. I was transfixed by his Nympheas series in  the Musee de L’Orangerie – I saw them again a number of years later and they were as stunning as I remembered.  I trekked across Paris to visit the Musee de Marmottan Monet, a traditional Parisian “hotel” (mansion) with an impressive collection of Monet’s work. One afternoon, I took the train out to Vernon to visit Giverny, Monet’s home that is surrounded by the most amazing garden that was the inspiration for many of his paintings. It was late June and the garden was in full bloom – I spent a glorious few hours wandering around admiring the profusion of flowers. A number of years later, my husband took me to Montreal for my birthday to see an exhibition of photographs taken at Giverny at various seasons during the year.  As far as I’, concerned, there’s no such thing as too much Monet.

So when I saw that Art Bead Scene had selected Monet’s Walk in the Meadows at Argenteuil” as the challenge for April, my imagination kicked into high gear. The colours are luminous and the pastoral scene conveys the essence of a sunny summer day in rural France.

By happy coincidence, I had an unfinished multi-strand bracelet in greens and blues. Using my favourite technique, I wrapped wire and seed beads around a piece of subtly dyed JodyPoesy ribbon. I had fashioned a clasp using a hand-made lampwork bead my mother brought me back from Australia as a button and made a loop at the other end with the ribbon. I left the ribbon ends loose and added beads on the end to make dangles – a ceramic bead from my hoard of Gaea beads, a glass bead I made myself in a bead-making class, a brass “coin” and some tiny grey beads from FusionBeads.

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That’s as far as I got – the bracelet was on top of my bead box, unfinished, for months. But when I saw the Monet painting, I immediately thought of the bracelet and decided to finish it.

At my favourite local bead store, I found some 5mm preciosa bicones in emerald-green. I made a “chain” with wire-wrapped loops and wired it to the ribbon strand.

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I wanted to add a third strand (3 is my favourite number), but I wasn’t sure what to use. I experimented with several different colours and widths of chain, but nothing seemed to work. I found a small piece of simple brass chain in my supply box, but it was too short. I experimented with adding a double strand of seed beads in a complementary colour to the chain, but after scattering the beads all over the floor for the third time, I abandoned that idea.

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I spent the afternoon in my garden (much smaller than Giverny and without the huge pond). When I came back to the bracelet, I picked up some of the waxed linen thread that I recently received from Rebecca Anderson. I “discovered” waxed linen last week when I was working on my Bead Soup creations and I’m hooked. It’s a bit tricky to unknot, so careful planning has its rewards. I played around with the thread and knotted on a couple of faceted czech glass beads that also came from Rebecca. I swapped out the little grey beads that I’d originally tied onto one of the ends for an orange enamel bead from Gardanne Beads and tied a couple of other small beads onto the waxed linen thread.

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Voila! my homage de Monet.

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I probably would have finished the bracelet at some point, but Monet’s painting did inspire me to try new colour combinations and experiment with textures in a new way.



The big reveal – Bead Soup #3


I am very excited to be participating in Bead Soup for the first time. It is organized by Lori Anderson, who in addition to being a very talented jewelry designer, has an indomitable spirit that she continues to share with others through her blog, despite on-going health issues. Not only has she paired up over 500 beaders for this most recent version of Bead Soup, but she makes an effort to visit every blog in all three reveals and leave a comment. I’m still making my way through Reveal #2…

My partner is Marina Kosavic. She sent me an eclectic mixture of beads in different shapes and textures, including several polymer clay beads that she made herself.

Bead Soup from Marina

Bead Soup from Marina

My first piece was a multi-strand bracelet that features the flower toggle that Marina sent me.

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I started off by wrapping a piece of my favourite hand-dyed ribbon by JodyPoesy with wire and seed beads. I was careful to add the jump rings on either end before I started wrapping it with the wire, but one of them came out and it took quite a bit of fiddling to get it back one.

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For the next strand, I used the rice-shaped beads from Marina, paired with small silver spacers from my stash. The third strand was constructed with some little green nuggets that I found in one of my bead boxes – I have no idea who I purchased them from, but they went very nicely with the ribbon and the rice bead strand. I included a little silver flower bead that came with my Bead Soup on the strand since it complemented the clasp. Finally, I added a length of texture silver chain.

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Of the three pieces I made, I was probably most comfortable with making the bracelet. However, I was surprised how long it took me to put it together – a good part of a day and a half. Making the individual strands was easy but combining them on the clasp was a challenge. I took the nugget strand apart at least 3 times to get it to match the length of the other sections. It also took me more time than I anticipated to attach each strand to the clasp and get the crimp beads pulled tight. It was a bit frustrating at time but good practice.

I really like the finished bracelet. Although the colours are muted, it reminds me of spring. I also like how the different textures work together. I’ve already worn it several times and expect it will be one of my staples as I break out my spring and summer clothes (can’t be too soon!)

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I really liked the long jet beads that Marina sent, but I had no idea what to do with them. I thought about making a multi-strand necklace and adding the heart focal at the bottom.

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I also wanted to incorporate the red/grey polymer bead into the necklace. While I was visiting my local bead store, I noticed a bib-style necklace that used similar beads, but paired together and separated by jump beads. I bought some heads pins and some oval jump rings and decided to see what I could come up with. I wanted the focus to be on the necklace so I used a magnetic clasp decorated with black trim that I found on the sale rack at Michael’s (one of those, “it might come in handy someday” purchases).

The first iteration was pretty simple. I used some of the silver metal beads from my Bead Soup and put them on a head pin with the polymer bead. It turned out to be the same length as the jet beads and I used it instead of the bead link sets on one side.  It picked up the grey in the heart focal and the red added just a touch of colour.

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Putting the links together took some time but was relatively easy.  Attaching the jump rings and making sure they were tightly closed was harder – I definitely need to continue to practice working with jump rings. I decided the necklace was a bit bland, so I took it apart and made a second shorter strand of links, including the one with the polymer bead and attached it above the focal. I think it adds more visual interest.

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My final piece is a necklace that uses another of the polymer pieces made by Marina – a round black circle with white dots. There are two of them and I toyed with the idea of using them to make a pair of earrings. But they are quite large and since I have a fairly narrow face, I tend to wear smaller earrings. I had given up on using them when it occurred to me to use one of the hoops as a basis for a pendant. I happened to have a roll of black waxed linen thread that I bought several years ago but never used. I started playing around with it and knotting it around the bottom of the hoop to make a fringe.

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As luck would have it, I recently won some beading supplies from Rebecca Anderson of SongBead, including a length of turquoise waxed linen thread. I mixed one piece with the black thread and tied some of the glass pony beads that came from Marina, along with some plain silver balls to the ends. I fashioned a bail out of some oxidized brass wire and strung the focal bead from two pieces of leather – one black and one silver. I had planned using bead ends to finish the necklace, but I couldn’t find any, so I just tied a knot in back.

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While this necklace was the easiest of all my Bead Soup pieces, it was also the one that was the most different from anything else I’ve ever created. It’s simple but fun. I wear a lot of black and the necklace will dress up even a simple sweater.

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I really enjoyed my first Bead Soup experience.  It was an opportunity to connect with a larger community of beaders and to try new techniques and push myself creatively. While I didn’t lack for ideas, I did discover that I need to work at mastering my basic bead-making techniques, especially making wire loops, connecting jump rings and crimping. I’ve certainly used all of these techniques before, but I don’t feel I’m very proficient at any of them. As a result, it can take me a long time to finish a piece of jewelry. But this time, I didn’t have the luxury of putting a project aside when I hit a snag – I was working to a deadline and had to keep going.

Not only did I learn a lot, but I got to meet Marina. I used some of everything in my Soup, except the wooden beads, the green thread and some round black beads and a small polymer clay heart. A challenge for another day.

Thanks for dropping by. Please check out Marina’s blog to see what she made with the Bead Soup I sent her. Of course, there are lots of other creations to check out too. Enjoy!

Adlinah Kamsir
Agi Kiss
Alenka Obid
Alison Sachs
Amanda Tibbetts
Amy Sims
Ana Cravidao
Andra Marasteanu
Andria Poole
Angela Perkins
Anja Schultz
Ann Sherwood
Anna Nordeman
Annita Wilson
Arlene Dean
Astrid Boyce
Barb Fernald
Betty James Hoppensteadt
Birgit Klughardt
Bonnie Coursolle
Brandy Thomason McNair
Brenda Sigafoos
Carmen Lau
Carol Wilson
Caroline Dewison
Cassie Donlen
Catharine Temaluru
Catherine Turrell
Cheri Reed
Cherrie Warzocha
Christa Murphy
Christina Hickman
Christina Stofmeel
Christine Hansen
Christine Stonefield
Cilla Watkins
Cindy Cima Edwards
Claire Lockwood
Colleen Vinthagen
Dagmar Liebisch
Dana Fowler
Danielle Kelley
Deb Fortin
Dee Elgie
Denise Milward
Diah Anggreni
Diana Gonzalez
Diane Valasek
Dita Basu
Donetta Farrington
Doris Stumpf
Elizabeth Bunn
Elizabeth Drake
Elizabeth Jones
Elizabeth Stolarczyk
Ema Kilroy
Erin Kenny
Evelyn Duberry
Fay Wolfenden
Francesca Watson
Gen Smith
Ginger Davis Allman
Giorgia Rossini
Hannah Annear
Heather Otto
Heidi Kingman
Ildiko Jarai
Iveth Caruso
Jackie Locantore
Jacqueline Keller
Jane Pranata Lim
Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Tough
Jenny Vidberg
Jessica Klaaren Http://
Joanna Matuszczyk
Joyce Becker
Judith Johnston
Judy Riley
JuLee Wolfe
June Butt
Karen Mitchell
Kari Asbury
Karin King
Karin von Hoeren
Karla Morgan
Kathrin Lembke
Kathy Stemke
Katja Benevol Gabrijelcic
Katy Heider
Kay Thomerson
Kelley Fogle
Keren Panthaki
Kimberly Idalski
Kirsi Loponen
Klaudia Tóth
Krista Quantrill
Kristina Hahn Eleniak
Kristina Johansson
Laney Mead
Lara Lutrick
Laura Guenther
Lauren Potts
Laurie Vyselaar
Leah Tees
Lena Adams
Lesley Watt
Leslie Wayment
Linda Kropp
Linda Newnham
Linda Younkman
Lisa Boucher
Lizzie Clarke
Lora Bright
Lorelle McIntyre
Lori Anderson
Lori Finney
Lucie Bouvier
Malin de Koning
Marina Dobrynina
Marina Kosovic
Marion Simmons
Marita Suominen
Marjolein Trewavas
Marsela Schroth
Martha Aleo
Mary Govaars
Mary K McGraw
Maybeline Tay
Mea-B. Uebler
Melissa Trudinger
Menka Gupta
Merja Sundström
Merja Syrjämäki
Michelle Buettner
Michelle Escano
Michelle Wigginton
Milla Hope
Miranda AckerelyMowse Doyle
Mrs M Makes
Nan Smith
Natalie Davidson
Natalie Moten
Natascha Marty
Nikki Banham-Hall
Noemi Baena
Norma Turvey
Pam DeBoer
Pam Hurst
Patti Pruhs
Penny Houghton
Penny Mills
Rachel Van-Walsh
Rebecca Sirevaag
Regina Santerre
Regina Wood
Roberta Fauntroy
Rosanagh WatsonRose Johnson
Rosemary Cheslock
Rossana De Gaspari
Sabine Dittrich
Sam Waghorn
Sandi James
Sandra McGriff
Sandra Wollberg
Sandra Young
Shai Williams
Sharon Palac
Sierra Barrett
Silke Gröber
Siobhán Keogh
Stefanie Teufel
Stephanie Stamper
Sue Hamel
Sue Rennie
Susan Kennedy
Susan McClelland
Susanna Lehto
Suse Stelljes
Susie Hibdon
Suzann Sladcik Wilson
Tara Plote
Terri G.
Terry Carter
Terry Matuszyk
Theresa Frank
Tina Bosh
Tina Noonan
Toltec Jewels
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Audrey Allen
Cindy Wimmer Muse
Cynthia O’Toole
Deb Floros
Debbie Jensen
Erin Honeycutt
Kaushambi Shah
Lisa Lloyd Harrison

Spring…at last?!


According to the calendar, spring officially arrived almost a month ago. But until a couple of days ago, I didn’t see much evidence that winter was over. We still had snow and the temperature was stuck in the single digits. Until last week, M was still wearing his snow pants to school without being asked.  And the parts of my garden that weren’t still covered in snow, were a study in brown – dead leaves and dirt, punctuated by stray branches and wayward pieces of garbage.

However, despite another snow storm late last week, spring seems to finally taking hold.  Almost overnight, crocus and other early spring flowers are sprouting up in my backyard. Harbingers of spring indeed.

First crocus!

First crocus!

More crocus

More crocus

Almost ready o bloom

Almost ready  to bloom

Another early bloomer (but I can't remember its name)

Another early bloomer (but I can’t remember its name)

Even the tulips are starting to poke their leaves out of the ground.

Tulips - on their way

Tulips are on their way

Tulips - what colour?

Tulips – what colour?

Since the front garden only gets early morning son, progress is slower than in the backyard.  But sometime today, one of my miniature  irises bloomed. There’re only about 6 inches high and very short-lived. But they are so pretty – I always enjoy them, no matter how long they last.

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Early iris (yes, that’s snow in the background)

Early iris

Early iris

Seeing my garden come back to life has lifted my mood. Last week, it was as heavy as the winter coat I was still wearing. This week, everything seems a little brighter. We’re due for a couple of days of warm, damp weather. Even if the mercury does drop at the week, I know that this time next week, I’ll find more little treasures in my garden.

No means no – discussing sexual violence with our sons

Collaborative artwork made by 138 young women

Collaborative artwork made by 138 young women (Photo credit: ctrouper)

As a parent, I’ve been greatly disturbed by several high-profile cases of young women who have been sexually assaulted and who have also had to deal with images of the incident being shared via social media. Not surprisingly, these cases have touched a chord with the public and prompted a great deal of debate. Much of the discussion has focused on the role of Facebook and Twitter in accelerating the dissemination of the images and how it has contributed to re-victimizing these young women. But in listening to various experts opine on the radio and television, I realized that it’s not about Facebook. It’s about sexual violence.

It’s not just that the alleged perpetrators in these cases, most of them young men under the age of 20, seemed to think that it ok to sexually assault a young woman.  It’s also that friends and family, and in some cases, didn’t seem to grasp the underlying dynamic.  In reporting on the guilty verdict of 2 young men in Steubenville, Ohio, a reporter from a main stream media outlet (a woman) went on at length about the impact of the verdict on the lives of the perpetrators. At best, the victim was invisible; at worst, she was to blame for what happened to her.

As a mother of an 11-year-old boy, I find these events very frightening. As a feminist, I want to believe that I have raised my son to respect and value women and girls. M certainly has lots of strong female role models in his life – his cousins, friends, aunts and grandmothers are all strong and independent. And the men is his life – his dad, grandfather and uncles – set a good example in terms of how they treat and relate to women. We’ve discussed Rhianna and Chris Brown on several occasions – maybe it’s because Rhianna is his favourite singer, but according to M, Chris Brown is a “douche”.

But I know that M’s world view is also shaped by lots of things outside my control. He may not be on Facebook (yet), but he does play video games and listen to dance and rap music. I’m under no illusion that all the images he sees and all the lyrics he hears convey a female-positive image.

So this morning, in between pancakes and the news report, I asked  M if they had discussed the most recent case reported in the news at school. He said they hadn’t but it was clear that he knew what I was talking about. I asked him if he understood what sexual assault was and we talked about whether it was ok to hurt a girl that way, even if she’s had too much to drink – it’s not ok, Mom. When I asked him what he would do if he was at a party and saw someone sexually assaulting a girl, M said he’d tell an adult. Same thing if he saw something on Facebook (he did remind me that he’s not on Facebook).

It wasn’t a long conversation – less than 2 minutes. It won’t be the last. It may not be as easy next time – as he gets older, he may be increasingly reluctant to talk to me about anything, let alone such an uncomfortable subject. As his parent, however, I need to get beyond his discomfort and mine and talk to my son about difficult topics, including sexual assault. I want to help him understand that no always means no. If necessary, I want him to be able to stand up and tell others that sexual violence is unacceptable.

So we’re starting the conversation, my son and I.

Cupcake birthday card


I have a couple of young friends who have birthdays in the next few weeks. I made a cupcake card for my sister-in-law a couple of years ago and remember that it was a bit of struggle getting the “cupcake wrapper” to stick to the card. However, I decided to give it another try.

I worked out the wrinkles on the first card, so the second card came together fairly quickly (less than an hour, including making a die-cut that I didn’t end up using.

Step 1:

Cut a piece of plain card stock in the desired size and fold in half – mine were both about 6 inches by 4-1/2 inches.

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Cut a piece of patterned scrapbook paper in a slightly smaller size than the card. I wanted to add a decorative border on the top and bottom, so I added an extra inch to the length, so the edges would be close to the top and bottom edges of the card.

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Affix the background paper to the card – I use a glue stick.

Step 2:

Cut a 3 inch by 5 inch strip in a coordinating piece of scrapbook paper, Score and then fold. I have a scoring board which makes it quick and easy, but you could fold by hand.  Make sure you have an edge on either side (as opposed to an inner fold). This is the “wrapper”.

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For the “cake”, cut a circle, using a 2-inch round punch.

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Cut off about a quarter of the circle.

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For one of the cards, I added a decorative brad at the top of the circle; for the other one, I added a candle sticker.

Step 3:

Arrange the 2 pieces on the background paper. If the wrapper is too big, smooth out the folds and cut to the desired size.

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Use foam dots or squares to attach the circle to the background.

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On the wrong side of the paper, glue along the outside edge on both sides – this will give you a fold on either side.

Pinch about an inch at the bottom edge on both side and glue.

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Run a piece of clear double sided scrap booking tape down the outside edge on both sides.

Dab a generous amount of white glue to the top and bottom on the wrapper.

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Position the wrapper to fit the circle, making sure to pull the bottom edges in slightly. Press down on all sides.

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To make sure the top and bottom edges stuck to the card, I put a light weight object over it for a few minutes (my white glue bottle was heavy enough). If it still isn’t sticking, you can add some extra glue – I used a wooden skewer to poke the glue under the card.

Step 4:

Stamp a salutation on a narrow step of coordinating card stock – if you wish, decorate the edges (I rounded the corners on one and pinked the edges on the other). Attach to the card with foam double-sided glue dots.

Cupcake card number 2

Cupcake card number 2

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Cupcake card number 1

If you want, you can decorate the inside of the card.

Pop the card in an envelope and send it off to the birthday girl (or boy).

Links include: Think Pink Sundays at Flamingo Toes ; Monday Link Party at Craft-O-Maniac; Motivate Me Monday at Keeping It Simple; Making Monday Marvelous at C.R.A.F.T. ; Made by You Mondays at Skip to My Lou ; Market Yourself Monday at Sumo’s Sweet Stuff; Get Your Craft on Tuesday at Today’s Creative Blog; Tuesday To Do Part at The Blackberry Vine: Take-a-Look Tuesdays at Sugar Bee Crafts; Wednesday Wowzers at oopsy daisy; Flaunt It Fridays at Dotted Line Crafts; The Cure for the Common Monday at Lines Across My FaceSix Sisters Stuff – Strut Your Stuff Saturday