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