Welcome to the Bead Soup Swap & Create reveal!
What is bead soup? In this instance, it’s a mix of different colors and styles of beads. For this bead soup swap, jewelry designers from all over the world were paired with a partner, swapped beads, and created pieces from what they were sent, tapping into their own bead stash. Having a partner send you beads helps push you out of your comfort zone and inspire creativity.
Per the rules, you *must* use the pendant and the clasp you were sent (although they do not have to be in the same piece) and are encouraged to use the accent beads, along with whatever you have in your own inventory. Participants are posting their work on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest today.
A list of the participants can be found by clicking here or at the bottom of this post. I hope you will take some time to visit these creative people!
My partner is Lisa Long, who describes herself as a jewelry designing, picture taking, renovating, fiber felting, art loving, witching, nature loving, book reading drink master. I had never chatted with Lisa before she became my bead partner, and I really enjoyed getting to know her. In my opinion, that’s the nicest part of any swap.
This is the bead soup Lisa sent me:
The handmade ceramic fish pendant is made by Michelle McCarthy, an artist whose work I’ve admired and purchased in the past — but never anything like this! Lisa also sent a sterling silver toggle, silver accent beads, various Czech glass, African beads with an iridescent coating, Greek ceramic spacers, and (missing on school photo day) matte glass disks. I am a sucker for Czech glass and the sparkling tiny tiny beads are my favorite.
When I created this design challenge, I hoped it would help me recapture the creative spark I used to have. I started making jewelry in 2003, but in 2012, I was waylaid by chronic Lyme disease and was out of commission until last year. Sitting back down at the bench after all that time, I faced brain fog and a complete inability to create. I struggled with that, and decided what I needed was some outside inspiration, so voila, design challenge time!
The first piece I made did not come easily. When I looked at the fish pendant, I had an idea, but that idea refused to work in actuality. I kept trying to force it to work and ended up completely frustrated and feeling creatively stunted. After a stern talking-to by my Rational Self, I let go of my plan and started pulling beads, wire, and chain based on the brown accents in the fish.
The airy copper chain made me think of bubbles (bloop bloop!), and I wired some of the Czech glass and Greek ceramic disks together and framed them in the chain.
I’m pleased with how this turned out and really, it’s much better than my original idea.
I used the last of the Greek ceramic in a pair of matching earrings.
Next I created my piece using the other required element, the toggle, and added the large Czech rondelles as well.
I LOVE this necklace — I love anything with dangly bits! I used a large lampwork glass bead I’ve had in my stash for ten years, shell beads I’ve had even longer than that, and made the chain by hand.
I made a pair of earrings to go with the necklace with two of the Czech glass beads and some Thai silver fish beads from my stash.
After I got the pendant and toggle sorted, I decided to use as many beads as I could from the soup Lisa sent me and create an ocean-inspired theme throughout. Some of the pieces incorporate just a few of the beads, with so many of them inspired by the tiny super-sparkly Czech glass. And when I say tiny, I mean tiny.
Fortunately, I can make wrapped loops like this in my sleep. There’s something very satisfying about the process.
This piece incorporated the rest of the large Czech rondelles. Even though I only had two beads left, I was determined to use all Lisa sent!
I found the Karen Hill Tribes silver shell charm, leather cord, and a cool length of chain in my stash. Simple but I quite like it. The ocean theme continued with a fish clasp I had on hand.
I love jelly fish as long as I’m not swimming with them and I decided I had to create my version out of beads. This necklace contains lots of the tiny Czech glass, a random lampwork bead I had in a drawer, a chalcedony oval, and delicate sterling chain. The fish clasp is like the one above.
The next piece incorporates the silver accent beads Lisa sent me. I added lampwork glass I made and a sterling silver focal that reminds me of a shell. This one also has a fish clasp.
Next is a bracelet, and I used all of the African beads Lisa sent. The cluster makes me think of a sea anemone and the colors of the Czech button beads, lampwork glass, and silver fish carried on the ocean theme.
This next piece took the most work. I wanted to make something that invoked the idea of tangled seaweed and ocean floor grasses, or maybe even nets or wicker fish traps. I made these tangled beads from scratch. I wrapped 20 gauge wire around and around a mandrel, then ran it through a liver of sulphur bath to patinate. I brushed off some of the patina for depth and using 26 gauge wire, “sewed” on my favorite sparkling beads from Lisa, and finally used pliers to twist the tangles up even more.
I love Green Girl Studios pewter beads, and I had been hoarding this seashell pendant for years, waiting for the right inspiration to do it justice. To carry on the seaweed/net idea, I ran various lengths of 2mm link chain and more of the tiny sparklies through the bottom of the pendant, which is double-sided (how cool is that?). The chain element was something I originally wanted to do with the fish pendant, so I was quite happy that idea translated into another necklace!
I dug into my stash and found multi-faceted aqua ora beads and I added two lengths of sterling silver chain — one patinated, one not. Using bright silver as well as oxidized metals nods to the play of light on the water above as you swim beneath the surface.
I added a Thai silver starfish clasp to tie it all together.
I used more of the tiny sparklies, aqua ora beads, and two toggles (liberated of their bars) to make matching earrings.
This piece would never have come to fruition without the inspiration of the bitty Czech beads Lisa sent (thank you, Lisa!).
My final piece continued my love affair with those sparkly Czech glass beads (I wasn’t kidding when I said they were my favorites!) and I really wanted to push myself to use as many as I could. I also wanted to use the remaining silver beads Lisa sent. Digging through my stash for more ocean themed components, I found these sea urchin lampwork beads made by Magdalena Ruiz and made a long necklace.
I was able to match up the colors in the large sea urchin bead with 3mm dark turquoise glass, 4mm matte brown glass, and 8mm Swarovski crystals. Lots of work, lots of links, and totally worth it.
In the end, I only had these beads left over….
… and I already have plans for them in the near future!
Thank you so much for reading! Please visit the participants below!
The Bead Soup Swap & Create Reveal will be on Saturday, April 10th!
Lori Anderson, hostess
It has been years since I made jewelry consistently, about eight years since I had an active web site. This is probably the worst possible time to relaunch a business that is absolutely not essential, but being creative IS essential to me personally, so who knows! I wear jewelry every day and I never leave the house, so maybe there are others who might enjoy what I create.
I’m *almost* finished building my website, with new logos and cross-marketing for Instagram (@thesumofsmallthings for daily life, @loriandersondesignsjewelry for the pretties) and will put these new pieces on it, but if you’re interested, drop me a line!
Want to be alerted when the online store opens? Visit lorianderson.net and sign up for notifications!
Comments are welcome!
The 2021 Inauguration was incredibly moving and so very important. I was captivated by the National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman. I’d like to share the transcript and video of her inspirational words.
When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast, we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it, somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one. And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect, we are striving to forge a union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
So we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another, we seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: that even as we grieved, we grew, even as we hurt, we hoped, that even as we tired, we tried, that we’ll forever be tied together victorious, not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one should make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in in all of the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. That would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy, and this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can periodically be delayed, but it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us, this is the era of just redemption we feared in its inception we did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves, so while once we asked how can we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us.
We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free, we will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, our blunders become their burden. But one thing is certain: if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left, with every breath from my bronze, pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one, we will rise from the golden hills of the West, we will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution, we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states, we will rise from the sunbaked South, we will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in every known nook of our nation in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful, when the day comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it, for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.
Today was truly a great day to be a woman.
For many years I hosted the Bead Soup Blog Party, an event that at its height had over 500 jewelry designers in almost every continent. It was an event that fostered many friendships and business relationships and helped shake the cobwebs from creative minds. It’s been a while, but I am happy to host a new design challenge that will take place over Instagram, Facebook, and personal blogs.
I recently stumbled upon the works of poet Pablo Naruda. I’m usually not a reader of poetry, preferring my poetry in the form of music, but while reading an otherwise silly book, I stumbled across Naruda’s words and fell in love.
Love is a strange thing. When trying to define it, I immediately think of the extremes of first love, new love. Enduring, romantic, familiar, affectionate — all types of love.
The love I keep forgetting about is the love of self; not a conceited, narcissistic type of love, but the kind of love that gives you strength and peace.
“Self-care” is a word I heard a lot about in 2020, and holy cow but it’s important. It’s a shame it took an apocalyptic year to bring self-love to the forefront.
My goal in 2021 is to keep taking care of myself on a deeper level than upping my skincare game and enjoying a walk in the woods. I want to take care of my soul, feed it, nurture it, love it. With a strong spirit, seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be surpassed. I expect to get banged up and bruised along the way, but if I sit still and do nothing, how can I love anything — or anyone?
What is your fundamental goal for 2021?
Once upon a time, I wrote a blog.
I loved writing, but I lost my way, stumbled, fell.
Lyme disease tripped me up and pushed me flat on my face as surely as if by a schoolyard bully . Six lost years were only part of it.
A side effect of neurological Lyme is short term memory loss and it’s daunting, let me tell you! I still can’t reliably string words together in a meaningful way, so having conversations can be like pulling teeth. Reading books is more difficult, as I constantly have to reread what I’ve just read, completely lost and unable to remember the plot. I read a lot of books, but two days after I read anything, I often pick up the book as if it were brand new. Frustrating!
As I started rejoining the world, I discovered something more troublesome. I’d lost my creativity.
I’d sit at my work bench and stare at beads and wire and couldn’t make a single piece of jewelry — and this was my livelihood for a long time. Nothing was meshing, nothing inspired me. Lack of inspiration flooded over into lack of drive, and in turn a lack of motivation. Why try if I couldn’t complete a thought?
Then I turned fifty. Fifty hurt in a special, sneaky sort of way. “But you’re fifty,” a voice whispered whenever I thought about trying something new or revisiting the tried and true. I felt I was too old now to accomplish anything of worth.
I tried to settle into this new life, a life without the things that used to define me. I had won the battle against Lyme disease, but I’d lost so much in the process.
Worst of all, I’d lost myself.
Then came that moment you read about, see in the best movies, daydream about. While tackling yet another book, I ran across the words “soul sickness”, and it brought an immediate moment of clarity. This was what I was feeling. Soul sickness.
Sickness I understood. When I began thinking about the very center of my being as unwell, I found that another word for my soul sickness was “regret”. I felt like my life, my soul, had changed so irrevocably, all I was left with were the regrets of things I thought i would never be able to accomplish.
I’m happy to say that way of thinking is a bunch of angsty crap. Garbage. Dangerous, even. What was I doing regretting things?
I realized that if I sat around moping about what could have been, I was missing out on all the things that could BE. We get older every single day, and unless it’s our time to travel to the Great Unknown, time is going to pass no matter what we do. What we do while waiting is what makes life richer, more rewarding, and keeps our soul satisfied, satiated until the next dream, the next opportunity on a different road.
We can make life choices. What we can’t make are the outcomes. Outcomes are capricious things. As humans, we can make all the plans we want as long as we realize we have no control over the outcome. Things will happen. I mean, 2020 happened! That beast came in and messed up the carpet and ruined all the furniture. 2020 was the tick that bit me, coming back for an unwelcome visit, ruining peoples’ lives in the process. It was a real bastard with long term damaging effects, and I wanted his stink out of my house.
There are many things I learned in 2020. I learned the best laid plans can go awry and there’s not a thing you can do about it. So instead of waiting for the familiar road to reopen, I picked another path.
This road redirected me to new possibilities. Not certain wins, but possibilities, and the possibilities are truly endless.
I am healthy.
I have dreams.
And I have time.
No more regrets, or I’m wasting my life! I’d like to think “regret” is just a word for another chance to try something. And I’m all in, folks, I’m all in. My dreams are fluid things, not written in stone, after all.
I’ll try jewelry design again and see where it leads. I’ll start making beads again and see if the spark is still there. I have language books waiting to be opened, a cello that needs tuning and revisiting. I’m writing this blog as a way to document the many little things in life that sum up to a great life lived.
I hope you’ll join me!