Bead Soup – ready, set, make


Today is the Big Reveal for Bead Soup 2014. It’s also my birthday. What better way to celebrate than checking out the great designs from all the Bead Soup participants?

Kudos to the amazing Lori Anderson, who organized 500+ beaders from around the world for this year’s Bead Soup. I was very fortunate to get Shalini Austin, as my partner. Shalini, who lives in the U.K., sent me a cache of lovely goodies, including a number of components she’s made herself, including a long strand of kumiho cord.


Plus this stunning wire-and-pearl tree of life pendant.


The colour palette Shalini sent me was bright red, green and yellow – a perfect antidote to the long, cold winter and a dreary, rainy April. Never having worked with kumiho cord before, I was eager to try it out. For me, that’s the essence of Bead Soup – pushing yourself creatively and try something new, whether it’s a different colour combination or a different technique. Not to mention making new friends.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know Shalini and I’m excited to see what she created with the ingredients I sent her – please be sure to check out her blog and see for yourself.

In terms of making jewelry, bracelets are my go-to. I started off by wrapping a piece of hand-dyed ribbon around the kumiho cord and then over-wrapped it with wire and seed beads. I’ve used this technique numerous times, but the effect is completely different with the cord.


Finishing the bracelet was a bit of a challenge (thanks to the ladies at my local bead store for pointing me in the direction of the necessary supplies) – it took a few tries before I got the end caps glued on properly. The seed beads really pop against the red ribbon. It’s a fun piece for summer – chunky without being too bulky.


Next up was a necklace. There aren’t a lot of rules to Bead Soup, but you are supposed to use the focal and the clasp. I spent a fair amount of time trying to come up with a design for a necklace using Shalini’s fabulous Tree of Life pendant, but I couldn’t land on a design that would do it justice (to be honest, I couldn’t even land near a decent design). Rather than throw in the creative towel, I used one of the silver flower links as a focal and combined the red felt balls with the red freshwater pearls and some of the antique sliver components, including the big S clasp from Shalini.


With the exception of the chain, some wire, and several Swarovski crystals, everything came from my Bead Soup package.


I wrapped a small piece of red wire around the S-clasp, just to add to the visual interest. The necklace has lots of texture and movement and will be a nice addition to my spring/summer wardrobe.


I don’t usually make earrings – I find them too fiddly. However, I came across Claire Lockwood’s tutorial on Art Bead Scene for a pair of wrapped column earrings. While I loved the earrings, I was particularly taken with her unique use of bead caps. My bag of metal goodies from Shalini contained a number of bead caps in different shapes and taking my inspiration from Claire, I started playing around with them. I ended up creating two pairs of earrings – a coordinating pair for my red necklace, which features a single bead cap covering a pearl and a twisted circle.


For the second pair of earring, I put the bottom of the two square-shaped caps together.. As it happens, I’d been experimenting with making tassels, using embroidery thread. I had some dark pink thread for another project and I used it to made a little tassel for the bottom of each earring and added a small matte crystal on top (they just happened to be on my craft table).


In another happy coincidence, I had just bought a pink shirt that included the same shade as my new earrings.


My final project was another necklace. The inspiration for this one started with a leftover piece of wire. I’ve always like to play with wire; even before I started making jewelry, I used to unwrap paperclips and roll them into different shapes. I arranged 3 of Shalini’s felt balls in order of size, poked a hole in each and randomly wrapped them with a length of lightweight wire. Since I was already on a tassel-making spree, I make a long one out of dark blue embroidery thread, added a decorative touch with a bit of wire and connected it to the felt beads to make a pendant. I hung the felt bead/tassel pendant from a wire necklace in the same shade of blue as the tassel from my stash (again, serendipity in action). Simple but fun.



Thanks to Shalini’s generosity, I’ve got lots of “leftovers”. I’m definitely going to work on making a necklace with the Tree of Life pendant – it’s too pretty to hide in my bead stash.

Since it is my birthday and it’s just as much fun to give as it is to receive, I’m going to give the felt ball and tassel necklace away. Just leave a comment with your email address so I can get it touch with you (I’ll mail it anywhere in the world).  My attempts to install Rafflecopter were unsuccessful, so I’ll have to go with the old-fashioned method and draw names from a hat.

Thanks for dropping by. Here’s a link to the full list of Bead Soup participants – enjoy!

(I’ve updated the link so you can go to the full list of participants – I apologize for any inconvenience).








45 responses »

  1. OH WOW! Susan these are beautiful! I love what you have done with the Kumihimo braid. And that red necklace is something VERY special!

    You have left me with a BIG SMILE on my face. I am so glad Lori partnered us.

    And Happy Birthday! xx


  2. I would have puzzled over those felt balls, but it seems you knew just what to do with them. Each of your pieces is gorgeous but I especially like the ones with the felt balls. I think you need to get more 🙂 The Kumihimo bracelet looks so comfy and pretty.
    Liz at Bead Contagion

  3. I see you managed to create many pretty goodies. Love the tassel touch, especially the pink silver one… so ethnic and so elegant at the same time. Bravo!

  4. Phwoar! What a glorious riot of colours and joy! Each piece seems to have its own little happy dance. I bet you had so much fun making these pieces. Oh and happy birthday too xxx

  5. The wrap around the kumihimo was fabulous! I really liked the flower link as a focal, though I bet you could have designed around the tree too! And the wire wrapping around the felt beads was so perfect! Nice work!

  6. You seemed to know exactly what to do with the challenging but colorful components you got. I found myself going”Aha, thats what shes doing “on the wrapped kumihimo bracelet, thanks for putting in a bit about your technique

  7. Hello Susan, I love your designs – especially the earrings! I so pleased to hear you found some inspiration in my earring designs! I do like that hot pink in the tassel particularly! I also like what you did with the first bracelet, wrapping the sari silk over the cord – very inventive.

    You mentioned that you’d like to buy one of my bracelets. Yes, it is for sale. If you are still interested, you can contact me using this email address: Thank you!!

  8. Beautiful jewelry with a touch of sun and summer! The bracelet is my favorite, it is so inspiring I think I should try something a bit like it.

  9. Hope your birthday was wonderful. All your pieces are so fun and colorful. I especially like the tassel earring with the silver. I think the tree of life pendant would look good with a simple silver chain. It is such a stand alone piece.

    • You’re absolutely right, but that seemed a bit too simplistic for BS. I do have some ideas for a relatively simple necklace with the pendant – still in the thinking stage.

  10. Your designs came out marvellously, Susan! I just love the look of fibre with metal, sort of the two ends of the spectrum, as I see it. So glad you let your Muse have free rein 🙂

  11. Wow, those felt beads look awesome in the designs that you chose for them! Loved the tassels and the decorated kumihomo bracelet as well. Very creative!

  12. That would have been a challenging soup for me. I love what you did with it. The pink tassel earrings are my favorite of the group, but all of your pieces are so creative and nicely made. Well done!

  13. What a bright and uplifting array of colors in your pieces! I think the way you hung that wire flower was too cool, but those pink and purple tassel earrings are beautiful. And, I’m not usually a big fan of pink. Nicely done.

  14. The kumihimo bracelet is my favorite! What a creative idea to wrap it with fabric and once again with beads and wire, I love the look of it! The red necklace is a combination of bold and moderate. I love the tassel earrings and the last pendant is just unique!

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