My First Bead Swap, Part Two: Doing the Bead Soup Blog Party

Welcome to Jewelry Making Daily, Bead Soup Blog Party blog hoppers!!!

First of all, holy cow! A few weeks ago I said I was so excited to do the Bead Soup Blog Party because it would be an exercise in creativity. Turns out, that old saying about stretching before exercising is very valid; when you exercise in a way you haven't in awhile, you're likely to hurt yourself!

The early stages of my design, in progress…

That's what happened to me when I was hours from the deadline (which was a day earlier than I thought it was) and still couldn't make up my mind on what my design should be. But let's not get ahead of ourselves . . .

What is a blog hop bead swap?

If you missed the background, here it is again: Basically, bloggers sign up to participate (There are over 300 this year, from twenty-one countries, five continents, and every state in the United States except three. Wow!) and are matched with a partner with which to swap beads and a special clasp. Then each person creates a piece of jewelry using the supplies they were given.

I wanted to participate to force myself out of my comfort zone and jumpstart my jewelry making, which has been neglected lately. This bead swap truly was a creativity challenge. It's easy to make jewelry with beads that you've bought yourself–bought with an idea in mind. But to be given jewelry-making supplies that are most likely not your standard fare stretches your imagination and forces you to think outside the box–which is the purpose of the swap.

Back to the Beads…


So my partner Lesley from Sweet Freedom Designs sent me a beautiful selection of Czech pressed glass beads in green and gold tones, along with some turquoise beads, some larger ceramic turquoise and gold beads, a similar large focal bead, and a GORGEOUS bead-woven toggle that she beaded herself. Lovely beads, every single one–and not what I normally work with, so I was psyched.


I sent Lesley a mixture of turquoise, aventurine, and coral beads, a large round carnelian loop focal piece, and a silver toggle clasp embellished with fleur de lis, in honor of my current home in Louisiana. (Who dat?) You can see what she made with it on her blog, Sweet Freedom Designs.

For my design, I got a lot of inspiration from our new eMags, and the beautiful clasp that Lesley made for me was the driving force behind my design. I wanted to create a piece that would showcase the clasp, because it was just as gorgeous as any focal piece could be and shouldn't be hidden in the back. Plus, I like necklace designs that are a little different and off-kilter, so I wanted the clasp to be worn at the front, on the side, or anywhere in between.

When I started adding some red and working on four "fronts," it felt better to me… closer…

Having a focal bead as well as a pretty clasp I wanted to focus on led me to the idea of making a multi-positionable necklace with four "fronts." I wanted to bring a little red into the mix because I love green turquoise, and gold with rich autumn red, so I used a large vintage acrylic bead wrapped in turquoise (actually a pre-spiraled piece that I removed from the small turquoise beads I sent Lesley) as one of the "fronts" and created a selection of red mookaite and red tiger's eye surrounded by turquoise beads on the opposite side for balance.

That created the four "fronts," but it seemed too matchy or symmetrical to me, so I moved a few things around and put a pretty filigree gold-plated component by Jill MacKay in between them, and accented it with a sliver of ribbon tinged with turquoise–another idea that I spotted in one of our eMags and wanted to be sure to incorporate. I love a bit of silk ribbon in a beaded design to soften it up.

I strung the whole thing on vintage brass wire which will hopefully continue to oxidize as the piece ages. That made it a little stiff, though, so in order to add some flexibility as well as sparkle, I incorporated two short pieces of vintage green crystal chain repurposed from the extension chain of a vintage necklace I disassembled long ago. I also wanted to bring some pearls into the mix because, after all, I am the Pearl Girl, so I used a few green freshwater pearls as well as some beautiful golden stick pearls wrapped in brass, copper, and bronze wires. I think they are my favorite part of the design. A few abalone beads tied all the colors together nicely. Here's the final piece.

Now to (Blog) Party!

Grab a snack (some soup sounds good…) and get comfy! Are you ready for a HUGE dose of inspiration and downright gorgeous jewelry? The final part of the Bead Soup Blog Party is the party. All of us participants are sharing our work with our lovely readers today, so I hope you'll visit Lesley's site, Sweet Freedom Designs, and tell her I sent you. I just took a peek at her blog and I'm AMAZED. She went above and beyond, making several pieces out of the beads I sent her, and her incredible talent is obvious in her collection of designs. When you're done there, settle in for some great blog hopping among the more than 300 participants. You won't believe all the talented people and gorgeous designs you're going to see.

Top designers in the industry and friends of Jewelry Making Daily are participating, such as JMD's sister site Beading Daily's editor Jennifer Chasalow VanBenschoten, my friend and lampwork glass guru Marcy Lamberson, my funny friends Stephanie Dixon aka The Dixon Chick and resin queen Barbe Saint John, fellow Interweave editor and contributor Michelle Mach, Totally Twisted author Kerry Bogert, Lorelei Eurto, Suzann Sladcik Wilson, Margot Potter, our tireless hostess Lori Anderson,  and hundreds more–362 to be exact! I hope you'll visit all of them in the coming days. Then I'd love to hear what you think about the blog party and the other jewelry-making blogs that you discover through it in the comments below!

Post a Comment