Friday, 30 January 2015

Malin de Koning's Stacked Earring Challenge

Hello there! It's been a good while since I've had the time to take part in any kind of communal challange/blog hop. There have been a couple which I signed up for and then well and truly dropped the ball on. Oh dear. However, this one was a little bit different...Malin de Koning, a good friend from Sweden, sent a small group of us - Claire Lockwood, Heidi Post and Leah Curtis - a selection of beads to play with, and come up with earrings with. You can't really drop the ball when someone has actually given you a gift of beads, can you? So, on Wednesday I went for my usual lunch date with myself after my weekly acupuncture appointment, and pulled out my tools and Malin's generous bag of beadlings. Here's what she sent us:

And here's what Malin had to say about the challenge:

"The idea is that I give each of us the same set of beads. Beads that I believe would be nice to use in earrings. Nothing exclusive, and no art beads. Just a group of different beads that I myself believe can be used in fun and interesting ways in earrings in a stacked style.

I am longing to see how we all use the same things but in different ways. I am thinking we could all make at least one pair of earrings, but hopefully more. And that we are free to add our own extra beads and/or other components, if we at least use three (3) of the beads from my set in each design."

If you follow Malin's blog (and you should!), you will immediately be able to see her own inimitable sense of style and colour shining through her bead selection. I love that. There's no escaping your own style once you have found it!

And without further ado, here's what I created, adding a few of my own beads into the mix.

LOVE these wooden teeth beads!

(Oops...I broke the rules here.....only 2 of Malin's beads per earring....but that's 4 altogether...and 50% of the beads are from her, so hopefully you will let me away with it Malin!)

Mwah! More kissing birdies. 

If you've enjoyed seeing what I turned this little pile of loveliness into, then take a peek at what everyone else did too! I know I am looking forward to seeing what the same materials have become elsewhere.

Thank you so much to Malin for organising this really fun wee challenge. We should do it again sometime, don't you think? 

Claire Lockwood - SomethingToDoWithYourHands -

Leah Curtis - BeadyEyedBunny -

***Rebecca Anderson - Songbead -***

Heidi Post - ExPostFacto -

Malin de Koning - BeadingByMalindeKoning -

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Bunny Love

My original fur-baby bunny-boy Rufus, or Mr P as he is very, very affectionately known. His is as soft-hearted as he looks. Here he is, meeting Mr P2 (my ears are better than your ears!) and making me smile. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Up, up and away! my beautiful balloon! 

I've been hoarding this gorgeous ceramic balloon from Bo Hulley Beads for several months now - not that long in the world of hoarding, but still, I felt it was overdue for turning into jewellery. 

Sailing off to Germany later today...

Monday, 26 January 2015


Yesterday, I blogged about these delicious hand-woven beads from Sally Thake Jewellery.

Let's all take another look at them:


One of them snapped into a new design pretty quickly. 

Featuring more handmade beads from Something to do beads, some lovely lampwork artist (sorry, one of those spacers that lost it's set and so I have forgotten where it came from) and Jubilee

It's actually longer than it looks here, at around 28 inches, and slips over the head easily. 

 I'll be listing this beauty over in my etsy shop today. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Bead-buying in January - or not...

January is a very, very long month. Who's with me? Christmas has come and gone, Hogmanay similarly, we've all given ourselves the proverbial beating around the head over failing our new year's resolutions already by this point, and *still* there's almost a week left of January. And it's all made just a little worse by the fact that January is followed by February. It would be so much nicer if January was followed by, say, June or July, rather than dreary grey February. Or if I lived in the Southern Hemisphere. My wee cousin has just moved to New Zealand for a year - needless to say, her 'toes on the beach' shots on Facebook are rather tortuous.

Another aspect of January that makes it rather stinky is that it is TAX month for many of us here in the UK. Anyone self-employed has to get their return in and pay it by the end of the month. Ahem. As if January wasn't bad enough....HMRC, you are just rude, quite frankly. I can't say I would like to be doing my taxes any month of the year, but wouldn't they be just a little less painful if I could sit out in the sunshine to sort them out? (What's that you say? I can do them in August? I can sort it all out 5 months early al fresco style? Do my tax return early and not leave it to the last minute?? Tax return...early.....?!)

So unfortunately, there has not been a lot of bead buying this month. Some necessary restocking purchases, but none of the glorious, hedonistic, I-must-have-those-beads-now, feel slightly guilty afterwards bead binges. I've not had one of them for a while, to be honest, but not even a mini-splurge has happened in quite a while. I've just placed a couple of bids in one of those very dangerous lampwork auction sites, but I have promised myself I won't go above my initial bid. Not much over, at any rate....! 

However, one exception I have allowed myself this past week has been the purchase of these absolutely gorgeous handwoven beads from Sally Thake Jewellery. 

You probably know that I hand-weave my own beads,  but did you know there are almost as many versions of beaded beads (as they are known) as there are bead-weavers? Sally has designed this self-supporting pattern herself using round seed beads and the relatively new two-holed superduo beads (those long, almost diamond-shaped beads) and they are just as smashing as they look. Stay tuned to see what these will become...

PS I may or may not have a couple more of these on their way to me....oops. January is almost over, right? 

Thursday, 15 January 2015


Do you follow Pantone? It feels like this time of the year in particular, it's hard to avoid them! Check out my post over on Art Bead Scene all about their colour of the year, Marsala. What do you think of it? 

 I found some time this past week to play about with it. I'm enjoying it more than I anticipated!

You can pick up some of these pieces over in my etsy shop. Will you be embracing Marsala this year, be it in the home, in crafting or in fashion?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Muffin Tin Challenge

This post is a sneak peek behind the scenes here at Songbead Designs! One of my good beady friends, Heather of Humblebeads (also chief bead guru over at Art Bead Scene where I am a co-editor) posed a challenge for her fellow-jewellery designers a few years back, and this week revisited this challenge. I joined in, although this post is at least a week later than it was supposed to be! Ah well, better late than never, eh?! Basically, you take a muffin tin (or similar) and gather selections of co-ordinating supplies in each little section, and then create designs from each wee section. It's great fun and stretches you just that little bit more. 

I actually don't own a muffin tin (yes, I wish I was a domestic goddess, but I'm definitely not...), so my alternative....
...a random collection tea light holders. They did the job - Ikea's finest! The collections of beads I selected for each holder varied, but there was one (almost) unifying theme throughout....I'll see if you can guess, reading though.

And here are the results...
These earrings came together really quickly. The purple handwoven {song}beads are in my very favourite shade, and larger than most which I use for earrings. However, I had a random pair done and dusted, and I thought they went beautifully with Claire Lockwood's celadon leaves. The rustic Vintaj brass visually knits them together. 

This bracelet is a real mixture of beads which I've been hoarding for quite some time now. One of my favourite bead artists, Alison Sachs of Beads by Earth Tones made the majority of these, with the addition of a neat little ceramic house from Elukka and a pewter clasp from Green Girl Studios.

I don't quite know how this piece came together, but I'm so glad it did! It was one of those things that simply wouldn't have happened without this very specific way of working. A Humblebead bird, handwoven {song}beads by me, a pewter clasp from Green Girl Studios and stunning porcelain roses from Claire

 Happily, my little tea light holder for this bracelet had quite a few beads and bobs left these happened too.

 This bracelet, you could perhaps see as a cheat. Whilst I was scrabbling through my supplies to create the 'fillings' for the tealight holders, I realised I had the correct beads to recreate this design from before Christmas. It was one of those that I made the day before a craft fair and which then sold immediately, so I was keen to remake, not least because there had been a lot of interest online too! It's hanging out here, if you fancied taking it home ;-) Again, handmade ceramic birdie from Claire, and handmade polymer facets from Beads by Earth Tones

A sweet piece which was/is, quite frankly, a right bugger to photograph. Berries and leaves and blooms - oh my! I really like this one. It looks better in real life, and I may have another go with it and my camera at some point this week. Beautifully rustic ceramic leaf bar from Bo Hulley. 

Last, but hopefully not least, this sweet and simple necklace. I love long necklaces - the only length I would ever consider wearing (I really don't ever wear necklaces), and they are so versatile as well as comfortable. Two more wonderful ceramic artists - Petra Carpreau and Kylie Parry - along with Czech pressed glass and faceted brass. I think this could be a really special piece for someone, with any luck. 

Anyway, I am pretty pleased with the results of this challenge. Ok, so I didn't play along within the given time frame, but I enjoyed myself, and I am also quite happy with what I came up with. Once I'd filled my candle holders, the process was quite smooth and straightforward, also - the pieces really came together with ease. A worthwhile exercise that definitely bears repeating! Thank you Heather for organising this fun challenge. 

Oh, and want to see what happened when I took part in this challenge a few years ago (thank goodness that even given the January light, my photography is very much improved!)? Here's the link...Enjoy!

Saturday, 10 January 2015


Earrings....I love 'em. Cannot get enough of them. 

A day goes by without my putting some in my ears, then it's a wasted day. 

Luckily, I love making them too! So quick to whip up, yet so satisfying too. And there's plenty of scope for artistic expression too. It's like a painter with a teeny, tiny canvas. 

I'm on a real earring kick at the moment, as you can see from these pictures. All created in the past week (and not the only ones!)

I think these last ones are my favourite. I'm always a fan of a decorated earwire, and I'm so pleased that the very tiniest of my handwoven {song}beads can be created with large enough holes to decorate these long and elegant earwires. What do you think? I have plans for more of these!

If you're also an earring fan, most of the earrings in this post are available in my etsy shop

Friday, 9 January 2015

Thought for the day/week/year

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook (not sure who to credit the original with so if you know, do pass the message on to me!). 

I like weird people. How about you? 

Thursday, 8 January 2015


Although I whole-heartedly embrace asymmetry within most of my work, the one thing I can't quite wrap my creative mind around is mismatched earrings. It's not that I don't think that they work, it's more that I don't think *I* can make them work. 

Here's my one real foray into mismatched earrings so far:

Not terribly wild!

So when I saw Something to do's ceramic spikes, I genuinely had no idea of turning them into earrings. Some kind of cluster pendant, perhaps. 

But instead, they demanded to become these. What do you think? Have I made the mismatched thing work? I'm on the fence....but leaning towards *whispers* loving them...

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Love (Even) More

I wrote last week about my (sort of) New Year's resolution to take better care of myself. Part of my wishing to do this is actually so I can take better care of other people - to become a better partner, a better daughter/sister, a better friend....a better human. (Bear with me. I'll stop sounding so pretentious by the 2nd week of January, surely!)

Heather Millican's words were apt to begin the year with, and I made this companion piece for my earrings. Love myself more - love those around me more.

The earrings are mine, but the bracelet is ready for its forever home. Rather like my resolution, and that image of Janus from a few days ago - the balance between caring for oneself and caring others. You need both - at least, I am finding that I do. I will continue to try at any rate!

On another note, today Helen and I magically turn our civil partnership into a marriage. All it takes is  a couple of signatures and a meeting at the registry office, but it's like the tardis - so much more than its exterior belies. We've come through such a lot over the past (almost) 5 years, but we're still here. I can't wait to continue our journey together. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Love Light

I spoke on Friday about my new year's resolution to take better care of myself - not (hopefully) in a guilt-inducing manner, but in a gentle, kind and above all holistic manner. I think this thought was on my mind when I created this bracelet. 

I've said this before, but I am an absolutely terrible hoarder. I'm not quite ready for 'The Hoarder Next Door' yet (thank goodness - please somebody shoot me before they come knocking at my studio door) but I have the most ridiculous stash of beads. I know I'm not alone with this, and that does make me feel a little better, but really, it's time that some most of my beads saw the light of day, and fulfilled their beady destiny. The two art beads featured here are 'only' 2014 acquirements (I have beads going back....WAY back...and back....and back......) but still, they are both beads that have been preying on my mind for some reason. Kylie Parry's beautiful blue firefly in particular - Kylie does previews over on Facebook for her very, very limited edition bead collections, and I spotted it there and knew it had to be mine...You have to have fingers of fire to snag any of her beautiful handmade ceramics, so I was extremely lucky to pick this one up, exactly the one I was after. It's been to cafes on working dates with me, to and from craft fairs, it's been down to England with me for Christmas, and then finally, it's found its home with Something to do's heart. Something about the word 'here' - I loved the idea of this glowing firefly being drawn to the heart, and the quietness and stillness of that word. 


Can't you feel the quiet flutter of her wings? 

Putting Kylie's firefly with Claire's heart put me in mind of one of my favourite Abba songs. (Yes, I love Abba. No apologies.) This bracelet has a much quieter feel than the song, but the title and some of its joyful spirit are definitely there. Love light. Drawn to the light of 'here'. 

You can find this sweet piece here

PS As an aside, when I first got to know this song, it connected very definitely with a specific person at that point in my life, not that they knew. Not someone I'm in touch with much anymore, but isn't it funny how songs retain those connections years on? Like a particular scent or taste, songs take you right back to where you were when they first resonated with you. And no, I'm not telling you who ;-)

Friday, 2 January 2015

Love More

So, how's 2015 treating you all? We've had one day for sleeping in and (possibly...!) feeling a little ropey, and another in which to blink and start to take it all in. It's just another day, another week, another bleary winter's morning of course, but who doesn't reflect a little at this time of year - who doesn't spare even one teeny tiny thought about how life could be different/better/happier? 

Even with the knowledge that the numbers don't mean a thing, I can't resist pondering what has been and what is to come. I try to steer clear of those wild resolutions that inevitably end in disaster by the 8am on the 3rd of January (go running every day! meditate each morning! lose half my body weight in time for my birthday in April!) because - let's be honest - they always DO end in disaster, which in turn leads to the inevitable disappointment, guilt and my own non-altered body-weight in wine and chocolate. 

For that same reason, I am not a fan of choosing a word for the year. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the exact same reason that I dislike sweeping resolutions. A few years back, I tried choosing 'Calm' as my word for the year. What followed was an emotionally intense and decidedly non-calm year. Every time I found myself in a situation where I could do with feeling a little calmer, instead of feeling the power of my chosen word washing over me, I instead felt doubly panicked and stressed by the fact that I was unable to conjure up this emotion by simply calling upon MY word. I had carefully selected it - why wouldn't it cooperate? Instead, I not only had my very stressful year to content with, I also felt like a failure because I hadn't managed to magically imbue my year with calmness. Of course. 

My second reason for disliking this 'word of the year' trend is this: one word? Really?! I don't know about you, but I need more than one noun for 365 days. Even calm - sometimes you need excitement, and spontaneity and silliness. So no, picking one word isn't the way to go for me. (I know it really works for some people though, and this is no disrespect to them - I'm glad it works for you if this is the case!)

Having said all of that, I have decided on a few things which I intend to focus on in 2015. Focus perhaps isn't the correct word - things I am going to try and centre my life around these principles a little more this year - and what I really mean is from now on. Hopefully centring on these things doesn't mean I will ditch them come 2016.

First is taking better care of myself, not just in the usual diet/exercise/beat yourself up with a big stick way, but in a more holistic way. I had a very long conversation about this with a dear friend on Hogmanay, a conversation which may or may not have been lubricated with some rather free-flowing prosecco, about how this way of life could - and should! - relate to both of us for the year ahead. Mind, body and spirit - I need to be gentler and kinder and more patient with myself. These last 5 years have been challenging, to say the least, but hopefully the tide is turning. I know I have to be an active part of that change, however. High levels of stress and anxiety always end of coming out in a physical expression as they are in me, but hopefully with a little kindness, calmness (that bloody word again...!) and gentleness, I can ease myself back into a more comfortable place, both physically and mentally. That's my lofty aim, at any rate. If I WAS going to pick a word, then it would (possibly) be holistic. But I'm not going to. Definitely not. 

My other resolution, if you will, is one I feel I can absolutely stick to. It's one that I actually WANT to stick to, and I think that's an excellent start.

Make more jewellery. 

I have other aims for the next year for me and Songbead (branding, cohesion, website, wholesale), but that simple thought - make more jewellery - is enough to begin. I need to bring things back to being creative (see above paragraph about taking better holistic care of myself!) - being myself. It's positive starting place, and something I feel I can stick to and enjoy.

And begin I have - start as you mean to go on! So much easier when your resolution is 'make more jewellery,' as opposed to 'eat only kale during January'. Here's a glimpse of some of what I've made this year already (over in my etsy shop too):

Believe it or not, this very apparent colour scheme was not in any way deliberate! And if you look back at my previous post, reviewing some of my favourite pieces of 2014, you'll see that turquoise and orange/coral/red are the two colours that leap out - at least, they are to me. So it's a true January set - the two-faced Janus, looking forwards whilst simultaneously looking backwards - the God of beginnings and transitions. I'm ready for both. 


Related Posts with Thumbnails