Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Challenge of Color Blog Hop

This colour challenge and blog hop is hosted by Erin of Tresori Trovati. In the beginning of the month, she presented the challenge along with a palette of twelve different colours. Each participant was to choose one of the colours to work with. You could stick with a favourite colour or go for something completely different and challenging. Then Erin, would select an inspiring colour palette, made by Jessica of Design Seeds, for each and everyone based on the chosen colour.

I decided to be daring and chose a colour I -- and many others with me -- rarely work with: yellow. [Are you surprised if I tell you that of 54 people, only two choose to work with yellow?] Felt a bit scary because I knew this could be really hard unless I got some very familar colours to go with it. I've mostly combined yellow with autumn tones or purple before -- and often opted for either soft almost pastel tones or dulled down nuances (with hints of brown, khaki, apricot/orange etc) when buying anything yellow. Never bright, sunny yellow. But I kind of thought that was the kind of yellow I would get when I made my choice-- and that would be a real challenge for me!

Then Erin sent the e-mail with the participant and palette list where she assigned me Sunny Flower to work with. I had mixed feelings when I saw my palette: the bright, cheery colours are not exactly me. The three colours in the centre felt "safe", like old friends, but the two bright colours on each end felt more daunting, more like unfamiliar territory. Just working with bright turquoise and yellow was a challenge, regardless of the other colours! Pairing such a bright turquoise with what I mostly see as autumn, not summer colours, was going to be tough. But then again, I did choose yellow to get a real challenge, I didn't do it with the expectation of getting an easy autumn-inspired palette to work with.

To prepare for this palette, I did two things: first, I tried the colours in different proportions in Photo Filtre to see how I was going to arrange the colours. That's my doodles above. You can see how I actually ended up with a design similar to the doodles, even it that wasn't my idea at the time. Then I sought additional inspiration at Multicolr Search Lab, working with not just the colours but also the proportions that I wanted to use. I like that tool: not only can you choose colours, but also the proportions of each colour you want in the pictures it finds for you. This is the mosaic of photos I used for my inspiration.

And here is -- finally -- the result of my long preparation and design process:

I knew pretty early one it was going to include seed beads: I'm a "colour junkie" who loves to buy seeds in every possible colour and finish so it was most likely in my seed bead stash I would find colours matching the palette. As mentioned before, I've also recenly rekindled my love for embroidery so it was an easy choice to make when I began sketching: it would be needlework and bead embroidery on ribbon. I've got a lot of satin ribbon as it's easy to find in many different colours -- though, turquoise and yellow ribbons were lacking in my stash. (And so was also a proper stabilizer, which made the ribbon pucker much more that I'd like...) Bought ribbon, forgot to buy fusible web.

From there, the actual design kind of grew of itself, evolving around what beads beads in the stash I could find in the right colours. I often end up modelling a challenge design around the beads at hand, but generally I prefer to design first and get the beads later. I did a few different sketches, but in the end it became something rather similar to my initial doodles. Though with one vine instead of two.

I have used all the colours in the palette (in one nuance or another), but the apricot seed beads used in the flower centres and buds looked very yellow once stitched and photographed, which is a bit unfortunate. While the colour palette is the same as in the image, it looks very different. Not just because there is much more turquoise in the bracelet. The transparent beads let some of the turquoise shine through, altering the perceived colour not least in the flowers.

The yellow ribbon was so bright and perfect for the challenge palette, it felt bad not to use it so I ended up adding it as backing. So what's lacking in terms of yellow on the front, is more than well made up for on the back.

 (The clasp is temporary: it's too heavy for the bracelet, but it's a pretty clasp so it'll stay until I find a better one.)

As for techniques, the vines is stitched in whipped back stitch and the leaves are lazy daisies stitched around beads (yes, I added the beads before the detached chain stitches, not the other way around which is more common). The edges are back stitched with 15/0 transparent turquoise blue beads and yellow thread to add an extra touch of yellow to the front. It was also done because I couldn't decide what colour to use for the beaded edge (once deciding just stitching something with the buttonhole thread used for the vines wasn't going to be working as intended) and once I was halfway done I regretted going with the bleak blue beads. But at that point it would be too much work to undo it all.

Synthetic satin isn't the best fabric to bead or embroider on, but I still do it. It would, how ever, been a good thing to stabilize the ribbon before beginning. Unfortunately I didn't, which is too bad as it probably would've made it easier to keep the ribbon flat and smooth. In some heavily beaded designs it doesn't matter so much if this happens, but here it's pretty visible.


While I'm pleased that I could make something with a palette that was challenging for me, I'm (as usual) less pleased with my result. I can see so many flaws in it: the clasp is too heavy, the ribbon is puckering too much, the overall design feels lacking in some element etc etc. But, yeah, I think it's ok. I like the colours and enjoyed stitching it. And that's perhaps what's most important about a challenge.

Now, don't miss all the other participants in this blog hop! You can find the full list of participants on Erin's blog. *edited to add: and now also here below*

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

After the storm

So here's a couple of pics of how it looked yesterday when I inspected what the storm Berit (or the advent storm as they called it in the papers) had done. Not as bad as Gudrun, but still some damages. Apparently the gusts reached hurricane strenght at times so it was a big storm. Well, after seeing all the photos in the paper, there's just one thing to say: I live near the sea, not by the sea and that makes a lot of difference -- not fun living right by the coast when something like this hits!

As I wrote yesterday it could've been (much) worse. The part of porch railing that fell was a bit murky so while I didn't expect to see that, it wasn't strange that it happened. And now there's a shortcut when you want to go sit on the porch, not having to go all the way to the steps.

 The miniture wind mill my dad got as a birthday present years ago blew down too. My sis discovered that in the middle of the night and salvaged the wooden railing, which had by some reason survived in one piece. The wings are really bent though, but nothing is in pieces so it should be easy to repair.

I did find some metal scraps that had been tossed around, but that's our own fault for not making sure it was all indoors (the person accumulating the scraps outdoors is still ill and had not been outdoors, the rest of us didn't think about it because we weren't there).

All the trees survived. Haven't checked the grove, though, but all in all it looks ok. I think many of the dead twigs and branches blew down earlier this year so there wasn't much left to fall, save the whole tree. So, thankfully, most everything survived the storm.
{If you want some pics of what it looked like in Skåne after the storm, here's plenty of them in the local newspaper, check out their website here, here and here. And probably a few more articles today. Like all the work to restore walkways, mend houses and remove fallen trees.}

Monday, 28 November 2011

The greenhouse


Feels like I haven't shown any photos from the garden or forest or anything in ages so here's a pic of our small greenhouse, which I just played a little with on I took it back in September on a foggy day so it was pretty dark and moody as it was. I made it darker by adding textures, soft focus, altering the colours slightly and adding a dark frame.

The greenhouses did survive the storm and generally it could've been (much) worse, but on side of the porch railing fell (the wood was a bit murky) and the miniture wind mill my dad got as a birthday present years ago blew down. The power did flicker a few times, but we never lost -- I'm so glad we have a great local power company that abandon much of the overhead power lines years ago! If you want some pics from the storm, here's plenty of them in the local newspaper, check out their website here, here and here.

the henhouse

I've got a pic of the far end of the old henhouse next to the greenhouse too. Sorry about the noise -- my camera don't handle poor light as good as i used to do (and even new, it's a model that doesn't perform well in dim light). With all the trees, it can get pretty dark down there were I was standing, even in early afternoons. Hope I didn't make it too dark. I wanted it dark and almost spooky, but not so dark you can't see the trees... I guess the photo would be better if I cleaned the noise -- Neat Image is a great software for that -- but apparently I was too lazy to do that. So not as pleased with this one as with the greenhouse. But it's ok at least.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

-- and some tulle too!

Double posts today again. I mentioned in my previous post today that I didn't just buy some cheap taffeta, but also some tulle. Originally I bought one piece of black and one piece of (what I thought was) white tulle, thinking I'd have a go at making these lovely flowers. The white tulle turned out to be baby pink -- the light in the shop and the properties of the tulle itself fooled me. So now I have to bleach or colour that tulle before I can do anything with it.

Getting back to the craft shop a few weeks later when passing by Väla, I also bought some shiny grey "bridal tulle", which is much finer than the stiff tulle I bought first. No idea what I'll make of the leftovers from the flower making, but I did do a few tests this week, trying to figure out the best way to embroider, bead and embellish tulle. These photos show the results of my little tests and doodles.

The colours aren't that great, but that's of cause due to the fact I just used was I found nearby. All of this will be ripped up so the tulle can be used for my projects later. Therefore I didn't bother to make the stitches neat and tidy or to think about the colour choices.

One of the first thing I did was to thread some novelty yarn, Red Heart Aurica, through the holes in the black tulle, thinking the style of the yarn would fit well as I would space my running stitches so that the coloured sections would all end up on the same side.

Thinking that my space-dyed bouclé yarn worked well when weaving it into a chain, I thought it might work with tulle too. Killing two birds with one stone, I decided I'd try to hem an edge using the yarn. I ended up making three rows of darning stitch, which probably would look better if the stitched section was longer.

I also tried one of my favourite stitches, feather stitch (kråkspark). As the tulle is a see-through net rather than an opaque fabric, you will see the "back" of the stitches through it. In this case, that makes the feather stitch look like leaves on a vine.

As you can see, I also had to bead a bit. All in all, there are three different beading techniques. The red fire-polished are stitched using running stitch. To fasten the beads and keep them in line, I then stitched through all of them a second time (not stitching into the tulle). Click on the first pics in this post for a close-up where you see exactly how the beads were stitched.

The green beads are stitched using tambour beading (sometimes called bead couture). As the tulle has such large holes, I could use a fine crochet needle rather than a tambour needle. Lesson learned: this probably works better if you use a hoop with a fixture so your hands are free to work with the beads on the thread and the needle.

The third technique used, which I did on the finer "bridal tulle", is just the good old back stitch. One of my most used bead embroidery stitches.

...and that's it. That's how far I've come, exploring tulle. Well, I have also cut a few pieces and layered in a collage (you can get some nice effects in colour and texture when layering tulle), but that isn't finished and won't be until I come up with an actual image to create.

Footnote: Seeing how hard it can be to gauge size from photos, below is a pic of the two tulles used with a ruler placed on them. The scale is centimetres.


Well, now I'm getting back to my needles, threads and beads. But not to keep working with my tulle. I have a much more urgent project that I need to finish first. I'll show it on Nov. 30th when it's time for the 2nd Annual Challenge of Color blog hop, hosted by Erin of Tresori Trovati. [I chose to work with... yellow!]


The good news: After days of cold, dark grey weather we got some sun and blue sky this afternoon
The bad news: ...because of the stormy weather. There's a class 3 weather warning (= warning for "very extreme weather with great dangers for the public", though it's nothing like a house-flattening hurricane or tornado or anything) here today -- bumped up from the measly class 1 yesterday -- so I've stayed indoors. Hopefully it won't ruin too much. [I just heard a small branch or something hit the roof and the power flickered just recently.]

The good news: after several falls and incidents my camera still works. I love it!
The bad news: I just discovered a chip in the lens today... [thankfully it doesn't seem to ruin my photos though -- lucky, seeing how I couldn't afford getting a new camera.]

But we should end with some good news. More good news would probably be that I've been pretty good at my disciplined penny-pinching so I have decided I can afford buying a couple of books and some ribbons. Yay! Recently I also bought half a metre of tulle and synthetic taffeta too so hopefully my future miniscule shopping spree will provide me with inspiration to do something with the fabric. So far the only thing I've done -- apart from oogling it -- is to take these photos.

Taffeta is woven using different colours in the warp and wheft, which create this lovely shimmering effect. In this case, the fabric is made using turquoise blue and milk chocolate brown threads. You can see this clearly in the pic below with the close-up of the cut edge. I really like the colours both apart and blended as in this piece of cloth.

With a bit of imagination, I almost think some of these photos reminds me of abstract landscape pictures. A moody grey sky against the brown earth. Or perhaps a blurred autumn forest against the horizon.

 Now, if I could only think of something fun to do with it... Perhaps sew flat ribbons and/or rouleau for bracelets and necklaces? Stitch it on some bead embroidery backing for a beaded cuff? Or just embroider a picture on it -- not everything I buy have to become jewellery. Guess it could make pretty jewellery pouches or something too. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them too.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Catching up...

I've been feeling a bit tired and under the weather lately and this week I've felt like I've been hopelessly behind and not had the energy to keep à jour. That means I know I've got e-mails I haven't replied to yet even though I should've, I've read (or skimmed through to be honest) blog posts I've wanted to comment on but never did, challenges that ought to be finished but aren't yet. And so on.

Anyway, I'm trying to focus now and will try to make an effort to write to those I should, work on my latest project (I'm hopeless at that start stage, really) and apply for some more jobs. Do something a bit more constructive than adding a new pinboard to my Pinterest -- "had to" add a Ribbon, Yarn and Embroidery Thread board -- and just generally be online doing nothing useful and turning off the computer to go to bed. So if you've been waiting to hear from me: I haven't forgot you and will write back soon. I've read everything -- mails and comments -- so it's just the "getting back" part I'm behind with.

PS! Tomorrow I'll show a few pics of what I've been dabbling with this week. Hopefully. [Then I really should work on some other pics I've been meaning to post months ago -- but let's not think about that for now. It'll only mean more bad conscience if I don't have the time/energy/motivation to do it next week.]

Monday, 21 November 2011

Bumble bee earrings

Fuzzy bumble bees

Double posts today. I found this photo of a pair of earrings I made a few months back. Made for a bee themed challenge and at the time I didn't have any bee related beads or other components -- and I wanted it to be a literal interpretation of the theme, not just using honey coloured beads or something as a symbol for bees. So what to do?

I gave in to my childish side and crafted these two fat bees (more bumble bees than honey bees). Using velveteen beads, dark yellow embroidery floss, butterflies cut from a ribbon, glue and some additional findings, I made this pair of children's earrings. A stash-busting last minute idea.

My ears aren't pierced so I've got different types of clip-ons, screwbacks and cuffs in my stash. These rings are a type of "clip-ons" for those occasions when you want something less clumsy. Super-easy to use and probably very easy to make yourself. Which is something I intend to try someday soon. (Read more about different clip-on earring findings here.)

Ick -- first try at polymer clay

polyclay inside-out beads

First, I should add that these aren't new. The pictures are new, though, and I don't think I've shown my polyclay beads and pendants to anyone before. Why that is, is pretty obvious: I do have a hate-love relationship with all sorts of clay, which I've written about before, and this was my first time working with polymer clay. The only clays I've worked with before have been saltdough and modelling clay as a kid and then dabbling with ceramic clay in art class in school as pre-teen and teenager a couple of times.

 I'm no natural clayer. More a painter than a sculptor when it comes to creating. I like to work on a canvas, be it painting on an actual canvas, embroidering on cloth or weaving beads on a thread. While it most certainly can be dimensional, not least my beadweaving, it's not about moulding a material or chiselling away bits and pieces of it. I draw with threads and beads or piece beads together like it was Lego, I shape but I don't mould and manipulate like you do with clay. But sometimes I'm inspired to work with it nonetheless. It has its uses and there are many interesting techniques to try.

The beads above are made after instructions by Irene Semanchuk-Dean in the book Making Beautiful Beads. She calls the Inside-out beads if I'm not mistaken, which explains pretty well how they're made. It's a rather fun and very simple technique, perfect for clay newbies and kids. Like children's inkblot paintings, but in 3D.

As you can see, I haven't mastered the technique for smoothing out the edges and seams where the different clay pieces meet. One thing I did learn, on the other hand, is not to use white clay unless you're 100 % sure the work surface is clean. If there is just one pin-size speck of darker clay or one tiny glitter particle it will end up on the white clay... D'oh!

polyclay pendants

 I also used ultrafine glitters, metallic powder, liquid Fimo and copper foil on some of the pieces. You can only see the foil and silver powder here as I wasn't pleased with the other pieces. Too fugly to show...

The cat pendant and silver charm have stamped images. There was probably a good reason for adding the pawprint to the kitty image, but I wish I hadn't. Other than that, I'm pleased with the colour I mixed for it (using chocolate brown, white and a smidge of yellow, I think) and the chocolate brown frame. I also like the finish I got using Fimo silver powder.

The copper crackle cabochon is one of the pieces I was pleased with. Sure, it's a bit uneven, but I really like crackle effects -- and this one was so easy to do. Normally, instructions call for a pasta machine, but I just used an acrylic roller.

I will add another, bigger pic of the cab later. That photo shows off the copper foil better, but I couldn't add it now as the photo is on another computer. *photo added*

So there you have it, my first venture into the world of polyclay. I haven't touched it since -- and that was perhaps two year ago I made those. Clay probably isn't my thing. And now other clays have become more interesting in my eyes. Clays that don't require oven baking and clays that also work as adhesives. So why even bring all this up then? Well, I guess it's because of this. Pehaps I should give pc another chance? (Though I confess that a resin clay challenge or hop would've been much more exciting and inspiring for me personally.)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Bead blog recap weeks 45-46

Once again, here's a summary of two more weeks of posts at my other blog, Manekis Pärlblogg, with themes ranging from crackled pendants and hinges to projects for your serger and new challenges/hops.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Recipe: 3 x chocolate sauce

[I have no useful photo, sorry. But, hey, it's chocolate
sauce -- you all know what that looks like, right? To 
tempt you, I insert a pic of my chocolate cream instead]

Internet is dangerous: you can sit down to check one thing and then when you look up again it's hours later. One thing leads to the other. While I can spend hours looking at jewellery and beads, one thing that really captures me is recipes. I can suddenly get an idea for something I'd like to bake -- I bake and make desserts rather than cook -- and go off searching for fitting recipes at Google, Matklubben, Pinterest etc. Especially the latter two can make me forget time and space. And sometimes when I don't look for recipes, I'm inspired to share some of my favourites here on the blog. Like I'm doing today.

Hope you enjoy them!


I like chocolate. If you didn't already know that (perhaps from looking at the list of recipes on this blog). When I don't have any delicious chocolate ice cream -- like Berte Glass Kladdkaka -- and have to make due with vanilla or pear, I of cause have to add chocolate sauce instead. As a kid, mom would make a nice sauce with cream, cocoa powder, butter and sugar, but nowadays I prefer chocolate-based recipes.

Note: Different countries have different types of cream. By whipping cream I mean what we in Sweden call vispgrädde, a thick cream with 40 % fat. Two of the recipes below are from UK and aussie books, translated into Swedish. What type of cream was used in the original recipes, I don't know. 


Creamy chocolate sauce
A lovely, rich sauce! Use your favourite quality chocolate: a recipe is never better than the chocolate used. I prefer making it with Odense 36 % milk chocolate. Next time I make this, I'm thinking about adding some Nötcreme. Or why not try to add a spoonful of peanut butter or Nutella?

180 grammes chocolate (white, milk, dark, flavoured)
15 grammes unsalted butter
6 tablespoons whipping cream
(3 tablespoons golden syrup if using dark chocolate)
2-3 pinches vanilla sugar

1. Break or chop the chocolate in pieces.

2. Put all ingredients but the vanilla sugar in a heat resistant bowl (e.g. steel or glass) and place over a sauce pan with simmering water. Don't let the water boil: the steam can ruin the chocolate if it touches it and the chocolate can react badly to being melted too fast.

3. Stir every now and then until the chocolate melts and the sauce is fully mixed.

4. Add the vanilla and serve -- the sauce should be eaten whilst warm as the sauce will harden when it cools down.

Yields about 3 dl sauce.


Snickers sauce
If you love Snickers and milk chocolate, this is the sauce for your ice cream. This one is really heavy and sweet so you only need a small amount for each portion. Even if you just love chocolate sauce, I suggest not doing too much of it the first time. For a less sweet peanut chocolate sauce, see Nigella's recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae -- our new favourite!

4 Snickers bar
2/3 dl milk
1 3/4 dl whipping cream
100 grammes milk chocolate

1. Chop the Snickers bars and chocolate into pieces.

2. On low heat, stir the Snickers in a sauce pan with the milk and cream until the candy bars are melted. Add the chocolate and keep stirring until they too are fully melted.

3. Let the sauce cool slightly and serve lukewarm.

Yields about 5½ dl sauce.


Klasse Kock's chocolate fudge sauce
Klasse Kock (kock = chef) was a character in the TV advent calendar one year. He shared recipes suitable for younger cooks and later some of those recipes and many more were published in books. One of them was called Klasse Kocks godisbok. My sis bought that book and this sauce, called Cool Kolasås, became a favourite. You can probably use a few drops of vanilla extract instead of vanilla sugar if the latter isn't available where you live.

1 dl sugar
½ dl golden syrup
1 dl whipping cream
50 grammes butter
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

1. Mix all of the ingredients except the vanilla sugar in a sauce pan.

2. Let it boil gently at medium heat for 10-30 minutes. Stir every now and then.

3. Add the vanilla sugar and stir well.

4. Serve warm or cold. (Don't boil too long if planning on serving the sauce cold: the sauce hardens a lot when it cools down).

Tips: in the original recipe, the sauce should be boiled for 30 min., but my experience is that the sauce will be too hard if boiling that long. Depending on how fast the sauce thickens, you might want to let it boil for just 10-15 minutes. Keep in mind the sauce will harden when cool if you boil for too long.


PS! My own "Pinterest collection" of recipes can be found here. Warning: lots of chocolate and peanut butter!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Autumn leaves

It's Sunday and I'm as usually spending the weekend writing a week's worth of posts for my other blog so today will be more pictures than words. As it's (still) autumn I thought the colours and theme in these old photos was fitting.

This is a handmade boro glass cab surrounded by hessonite garnet chip beads. Like a lot of beaders, I'm not a big fan of chips, but I like how they can feel like autumn leaves sometimes. So I figured they might look good with an autumnal cab like this one. This is how far my ideas for this cab has come.

It's almost like a flower, a chrysanthemum of some sort, in that flat cab. Love it!

Friday, 11 November 2011

And the winner is...

Today is 11-11-11. That means it's finally time to reveal the winner of my giveaway. But before I do that I just wanted to thank you all for your lovely feedback and your congratulations. I really enjoyed reading all the nice things you took the time to write. Thank you so much!

And now for the winner. Congratulations...

It seems my little bead mix will be travelling to Canada if I'm not mistaken. Skye, I hope you will like it and be sure to let me know your address as soon as you have time.

Once again, congrats to Skye and a big thank you to all the rest of you for participating! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Winter beads: opal apollo Toho Hybrids

I love seed beads. In all their different shapes, sizes and finishes. One of my favourite types are the Toho Supernova Hybrids, seeds from Japanese quality brand Toho that have been custom coated in the Czech Republic by an American importer. There by combining the even sizes and big holes of the Japanese beads with the fantastic Czech finishes.

I don't have that many colours of the hybrids, though, as these beads aren't cheap. And some finishes are more -- much more -- expensive than others (that also includes e.g. Toho's own marbled gilded finishes). The last colour I bought for my little Hybrids stash must have been the opal apollo gold. Frosted or not (I've got both), it feels like a good winter colour. Not colours I normally use so they will also work as a kind of personal colour challenge. [But it'll have to wait as I'm working on this colour challenge at the moment. I picked  bright, sunny yellow in a moment of bravery -- challenge in deed...]

Apollo gold -- aka capri gold -- has been a favourite bead finish of mine for years. On clear crystal it looks like copper (see the beads in the front in the top photo), but on other colours and when frosted (used on matte beads) it can look more golden. As with many finishes it also alters the perceived colour of the glass. Like in these magatamas, which are acutally a milky white, but coated they seem blueish.

I'm thinking they might be good for a christmas project. Christmas as in a project to delve into during the holidays, not a christmas themed project. Hope there'll be some snow by then because that'll really set the mood, working with these colours. [Shouldn't have said that: now there's a christmas song stuck on repeat in my head...]

Still haven't chosen any colours to go with it. I will probably either stick with neutrals, focusing on the hybrids and just adding more golden matte metallics, browns etc, or add a little colour such as a nice not too cutesy dusty/antique pink. We'll have to see. Since it's the colour that I fell for, I don't want to use it as merely accent or drown it in an elaborate colour scheme. Just a simple, clean winter design. Inspired by nature, of cause.

Well, we'll just see what happens in December. Right now I'm still focusing on autumn colours. And freezing a bit so I'm in no mood to work with cold colours even if I didn't have another project in need of my attention.


PS! Don't forget it's the last day of the giveaway today as I'll pick the winner tomorrow. I will accept entries up until the drawing, though, so you'll probably have until noon CET tomorrow to comment for your chance to win.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Recipe: Super-simple white chocolate fudge

It's a grey Monday so why not brighten up the day with some chocolate? For more chocolate, check out my other recipes too.

This easy-to-make treat is somewhere between a chewy chocolate truffle and soft fudge. In the original recipe, which I found here, chopped gummi bears are added. I've never used that myself. The first time I made this fudge, I added dried blueberries in half and kept the rest plain. Once I added shredded coconut (as seen in the pic above). Next time I'll probably add lemon flavouring and perhaps also some liquorice. In other words: stick with the plain recipe or just add anything you like. Chocolate morsels, nuts, nougat -- anything.

340 gram white chocolate
1½ dl sweetened condensed milk ( ½ jar)
½ pinch salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla sugar

1. Line a 20 x 20 cm pan with baking paper.

2. Chop the chocolate and melt in a glass bowl in a water bath. (The water should simmer, but not boil.)

3. Stir in the condensed milk and salt.

4. Add vanilla sugar and any additional ingredients of your choice. Stir well.

5. Pour into the pan and let cool in the fridge for about 2 hours.

6. Cut the fudge into squares using a knife or scissors.

The fudge will last up to two weeks if stored cold and covered.

Tip #1: I know vanilla sugar isn't common worldwide -- the same way vanilla extract isn't common in Sweden. You can easily make your own [it's pretty much vanilla seeds or vanilla aroma mixed with powdered sugar] or substitute with vanilla extract. You can't always substitute the two, but in this case it should be fine. One teaspoon vanilla sugar equals one pinch of vanilla extract, according to Dr. Oetker.

Tip #2: You can also melt the chocolate in your microwave oven, there is a risk the chocolate will cool before the batter is completely mixed. Don't add all the condensed milk at one time as it will cool the chocolate too fast, but once added work quickly so the chocolate doesn't harden before all the ingredients are added.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

WIP: Feather stitch bracelet

Feather stitch (kråkspark) is one of my favourite embroidery stitches. This is however the first time I've tried my hands at beaded feather stitch. What finally made me get around to this project today was my decision to write about this technique in my other blog (due to be published this Tuesday).

Here you can see the pitfalls of working in poor light -- and not focusing that much on the beads you pick up... I've used my beloved marbled Toho seed beads, but it's just that some of the beads are less marbled and much greener than the rest. A natural variation that isn't that much of a problem in beadwoven designs, but here I think it just sticks out. But I'm not going to rip it up so I better learn to like it!

The bracelet in made from a reversible 10 mm wide satin ribbon with one olive side and one chocolate brown. I then let that colour scheme choose the colour of the thread and beads for me. The reason I use synthetic satin ribbons for many of my bracelets is simple: it's so easy to find in different widths and colours. You can find them in bead shops, craft and scrapbooking shops, haberdasheries, fabric stores etc. I prefer ribbon to fabric as I don't have to hem the edges but just the ends when making bracelets.

This is still a WIP mostly because I'm not sure what kind of clasp I want to use fot it. Nothing too heavy, of cause. Perhaps just a small snap fastener. It's very descreet and lightweight. Or a small hook and clasp. Will have to think about that while looking for my snaps.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bead blog recap weeks 43-44

It's once again time for a recap of the last two weeks of writing at Manekis Pärlblogg. This time you'll find the usually monthly update on current bead or jewellery-making challenges as well as how-tos for making carved wooden hearts, double hair combs, lampwork cabochons, metal blank journals and more.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

It's time: The Birthday Giveaway

I've been saying for a long time that I want to do a giveaway. I've won several giveaways over the year so I feel it's only right to give some back. Besides, it's just as much fun to give as it is to get. As today is my 30th birthday, it felt like a good day to do this.

For this giveaway I focused on doing something personal. This isn't a big giveaway, nor does it include expensive and exclusive things. Instead I wanted to add some things found or made (i.e. etched or tumbled) by me to the store bought beads. Here's a list of everything the lucky winner will get:

  1. Dyed freshwater pearls ("dancing" nuggets)
  2. Bronze tags
  3. Old Swedish copper coin
  4. Bronze coloured plastic sequins
  5. Mother-of-pearl bead with motif etched by me
  6. Onyx pendant with butterfly motif etched by me
  7. Hand-painted (not by me) faux pearls
  8. Sea glass from the Bjäre coast
  9. Tumbled grey flintstone from Bjäre
  10. Crackled agate leaf pendant (as seen in this post)
  11. Tumbled glass pebble
I hope you like it. There might even be a little extra bonus if the winner wants it, I'm not sure yet (it'll be yarn or cord related). As it is right now, I don't sell anthing I tumble or etch so this is an unique opportunity for you to get your hands on some of my beads and pendants. Do click on the pictures for a better view. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to e-mail me.

If you want a chance to win this giveaway just write a comment answering this question:
Give me some positive feedback: say something you like about my blog.
It can be a detail you like, your general impression, something about the layout or the content, anything. It doesn't matter if you're visiting the blog for the first time or are a long time follower, I'd love to hear what you think.
You can also say something about my other blog, Manekis Pärlblogg, if you prefer that. (Constructive negative feedback is also useful, but hey, it's my birthday after all so let's just focus on the positive today.)

Bonus point: If you are a follower (of Wild roses and blackberries or Manekis Pärlblogg) and/or share this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, forum etc you may add a comment saying so for an additional chance to win. Why? Followers because it makes me happy to see that people like the blog and followers are a visual reminder of that. Sharing because I believe in "the more, the merrier" -- and maybe by doing so you'll give me new readers and followers. Please note, you may only add one extra comments per person, no matter if you both follow and share or share multiple times.

You have one week from today to enter this giveaway. I will draw a winner and publish the name on Nov. 11th.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

To oil or not to oil

I've vinegar etched a few more MOP beads this weekend and today I wanted to see what would happen if I oiled one of them. Sometimes the etched matte surface looks great, other times the contrast between motif and etched background feels too harsh. Remembering that I'd read about treating seashells with mineral oil to bring out colours and add a subtle shine, I dabbed a few drops on one of the less successful beads and rubbed it into the shell.

The image is slightly less visible than it was before being oiled, but I think it turned out nicely.
This image wasn't the best to begin with, I should add. (I forgot to take a "before" picture so all you can compare with is the unoiled bead at the top of the post, sorry.) This bead is freshly oiled. I'm not sure how much it will change once the oil has really soaked in and dried. If it does change significally, I'll update this post and let you know.
I'll probably be a good method for some of my etchings, especially when the matte background feels too "dry" or white. But other will probably not need any oil. Not for aesthetic purposes at least. Another option I haven't tried is to lacquer the shell. Many MOP pendants and beads I've seen lately have been lacquered, which gives them more of a shine, but I'm not sure how a lacquer or sealant will affect the etched and unetched areas.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Earring findings for non-pierced ears -- an overview

Last week I wrote about some of my clip-on earrings and mentioned how I don't see clip-on design ideas very often, save on japanese jewellery-making websites. It's like everyone assumes that people either have pierced ears or, if they don't, they aren't interested in wearing earrings. The late might be the case for some, but not for everyone as there can be many reasons for a person not to pierce her ears -- and I also believe some of those not wearing earrings would change their minds about clip-ons if they saw the different findings available today. Clip-ons don't have to be chunky, painful earlobe crushers. Some are very dainty and "earlobe-friendly". And if you don't like any types of clip-ons, why not give in to the ear cuff trend?

As promised, here is my introduction to some of the clip-on earring findings and ear cuffs available today. It is by no means an exhaustive listing, but rather showing some of the options you can use. For some findings, I don't have any photos of my own so I will be referring to a few bead shops that I know have a wide variety of the findings I'm writing about.

First out is of cause our old friend:


The classic clip-on earrings are probably the type most people think of when talking about earring findings for non-pierced ears. Wellknown for often being painful to wear as they press hard against the earlobe in order not to fall off. There are ways to alleviate the problem. First, some clip-ons are designs as the pair above with holes you can fit rubber cushions into. Second, there's a little tool called Comfee Key you can use to tighten or loosen the tension. You can find it e.g. at B'Sue Boutiques.

These clip-ons come in different versions. Some are big and chunky, others are more dainty. They can have a flat pad for you to glue on flatbacks and other components on, be fitted with settings for stones, have beadable perforated discs (aka mesh screens, sieves), have loops for bead dangles etc. Some are especially made for being soldered. For examples of different designs, see Jan's Jewels and Perles & Co. Below is an example of a slightly unusual old silver clip-on model.

Clip-ons are available in precious metals and plated basemetal.

Adjustable clip-ons

These are pretty much just a variation of the clip-ons above. Because they have a folded "tab" on the back, you can easily adjust the tension of the earrings by bending the pad back or forth. It is not recommended that you do this too much as it can weaken the metal. When worn, they can look similar to leverback earrings, making it less obvious it's clip-ons. I have seen them being referred to as "pierced look" because of this.

They can come with a loop, as in the picture, pad, cup-and-peg or cup. See examples at Fire Mountain Gems and Rings & Things.

Screw-back earrings

Screw-back earrings are my old favourites. I first saw them in some vintage costume jewellery as a kid and they were such a great option to the trendy 1980's clip-ons I had at the time. Best thing about screw-backs is that it is easy to adjust the tension -- no tools needed (great for jewellery buyers who don't have tools at hand) and you can do it over and over without weakening the structure.

Screw-backs come in two versions: with or without hinges. Hinges are useful if you have thick earlobes as you don't have to "push" the earring onto the ear. Unhinged versions are useful as they don't have a mechanism that can sheave or break down. Apart from this variation in design, there are several different models to choose between. Findings with loops, as the earrings on the left in the photo above, are the most common, but the screw-backs can also be fitted with pads (for glueing on flatbacks etc), cup and peg for half-drilled pearls and beads or stone settings. Some also have decorative fronts like the violet earrings in my photo. Just check out all the different versions at Jan's Jewels.

Earring converters

There's a special type of clip-ons and (though less common) screw-backs made for converting ear studs into earrings for non-pierced ears. You can read more about that in my post Örhängen -- från stift till clips. It's in swedish, but you'll find links to international websites for pictures of the various converters available for clip-on users.

Hoops with spring closure

This type of clip-ons can often be seen in Japanese beading designs. They look very similar to hoop earrings, making them perfect for people who what a "pierced look". They come in different sizes and colours/platings (including pink!) and some have a loop at the bottom for adding dangles. I've used these as a base for wire-wrapping as well as for just dangling beads off. Only downside to this design is that the spring gives a rather loose tension, meaning the earring will fall off if you add beads or components that are too heavy. Stick with lightweight beads and simple designs is my advice.

More than once I've been asked were to find these elusive clip-on hoops. In the US these are sold by e.g. Fire Mountain Gems. In Sweden by (Panduro used to have them too; some of their retailers might still have a few in stock if you're lucky).

Open hoops

Now, these are the simplified version of the hoop clip-ons above. As there is no mechanism these are much cheaper -- and it should'nt be too hard to make them yourself at home. They come in different sizes and colours (silver- or goldplate). Just as the hoops above they work best with simple, lightweight designs. You can't really adjust the gap much, though, so the fit might not be perfect depending on how thick your earlobes are. You can find these at Fire Mountain Gems (and used to have them too).

DIY clip-ons

As clip-ons usually work using hinges and springs, it's not as easy to make your own clip-on earring findings as, say, earwires. I have seen two wirework clip-on designs, though. Check out Wrapture and WigJig. Some DIY ear cuffs (see below) could probably be used in a similar fashion.

Magnet earrings

I've never used these. The principle is simple: each earring consists of two magnets, placed on either side of the earlobe. The magnet in the front has a flatback, image or other component glued to it. These are often sold as "perfect for kids", more small children should never play with magnet as they can cause problems if swallowed. Use magnets that are suitable for earrings: some supermagnets are so strong they will be as painful as the good old clip-ons. Tips for how to make magnet earrings stick better can be found on eHow.

Ear cuffs

These are the classic old ear cuffs that you can use as is or combine with piercing earrings (many times connected with thin chains as in this tutorial). Cuffs are worn by people who have pierced ears as well as those without as they aren't necessarily a substitute for piercing earrings. Cuffs are clamped to the helix (= edge of the ear), not dangling from the earlobe.

You can buy them readymade (as in the photo) or make your own from wire or metal strips. There are many tutorials for making your own ear cuffs, from the most simple unadorned rings to richely embellished cuffs covering much of the helix. Embellished ear cuffs are sometimes called ear vines (also used for a kind of piercing earrings) or ear wraps. A few suggestions if you are looking for tuts:, The Beading Gem's Journal and BellaOnline.

The cuff in the photo has a small hole for adding dangles or connecting to an earring.

"Around the ear" cuffs/ear wraps

These have been trendy this season. Just like the cuffs above they are called either cuffs or wraps, though wraps and vines are also used for similar designs for pierced ears. "Behind-the-ear" cuffs can also be called bohemian wraps. Unlike the smaller cuffs that clamp on to the edge of the ear, these are positioned behind the ear and can -- depending on design -- look similar to piercing earrings. Sometimes they are especially designed for either the right or leaf ear (as with the cuff in the photo).

They can be bought readymade or you can make them yourself. Tutorial can be found at e.g. WigJig [I used that tutorial -- but without the aid of a jig -- for these ear cuffs], Semi and If forging your own earrings, this style of ear wraps can be used to make some seriously cool earrings. Just check out these dragons!

Apparently, this type of earrings were used even in Ancient times. In the big Hollywood movie Alexander, Angelina Jolie's character wore several different models like these bead earrings and these metal earrings. The jewellery used in the movie is supposed to be historically accurate, I've been told.

As the ear cuffs wrap around the ear, do they work if you wear glasses? Yes, I think it works as they sit tight against the ear (especially if they are costume made for your ears) unlike the glasses. Just don't use/make a cuff that is too thick.


That's the end of my little introduction to "non-piercing earrings". Do you think I missed something? Did you learn something new? Please feel free to comment, adding your own tips and ideas as well as general feedback. If you have any questions I'll do my best to answer them. I'm not anywhere near an expert in the field, but I like to try different clip-ons and cuffs so hopefully I can be of some help.
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