Fimo Professional


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A little while ago I tried the new Fimo Professional clay. I got the True Colours pack which included a great colour mixing chart which I imagine is going to end up dog-eared with use.

Spectrum beads by Cate van Alphen

Wow! The colours are fantastic!

The clay was wonderfully easy to condition, although I did wonder if it would be a bit mushy for cane work. We were enjoying some amazingly* warm weather at the time. Or perhaps it was because the clay was fresher? Either way it didn’t particularly matter for these beads as I was going for a blended tie-dye effect.  And I loved the colours so much I decided I didn’t really care.

I didn’t manage to figure out the reusable packaging and ended up with the same torn, flappy mess as before. However I have since found a video which should help ;)

Spectrum beads by Cate van Alphen

Did I mention I really loved the colours?

* This is English summer after all.

ABS July Challenge – Little Mermaid’s Necklace


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This month’s ABS inspiration painting is “The Little Mermaid” by Edmund Dulac. The problem that I had was that I knew exactly what I wanted to make…

The Little Mermaid painting

The Little Mermaid, 1911 by Edmund Dulac
Pencil, pen, black ink and watercolour with scratching out on paper, 30.8 x 25.2 cm

I wanted to use my polymer clay “Oceanic Artefact” pendant, on an organic ruffled ribbon, ENCRUSTED with shells and pearls, perhaps with a hidden vial of magic liquid.

hollow bronze polymer clay pendant

The problem was that it took me 3 weeks to get into town to buy the ribbon I needed… and then I couldn’t find my shell beads… but I couldn’t think of another design because I KNEW what I wanted to make! When I finally did get the ribbon, it didn’t ruffle like I wanted so I sewed up the edge with pale blue seed beads. Then it wasn’t as organic as I wanted, and the blue was too dark since now it was double. So I put some white glass beads inside the ribbon and by that time it didn’t really go with the pendant anymore.

blue ribbon necklace

Instead I used my little faux mother of pearl Amphora bead (which was going to have been the supporting hidden vial of liquid) as the focal.

mermaid necklace

The resulting necklace is quite pretty and sea foamy, but it is a bit more Disney Princess than I was aiming for. What I had in mind was a much more complex coral reef complete with sharp rocks and stinging anemones as a reminder of the pain in the original story. But now the time is up.

sea foam necklace

I suppose disappointment is also part of the story.

Big Bead Little Bead


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I’m happy to announce that some of my handmade polymer clay beads are now for sale at Big Bead Little Bead online bead shop. This is a UK based site which in addition to a wide selection of beads and findings, also features vintage and artist made beads. Here are some of my favourites from the Artist Made section.

owl beads

Polymer Clay Verdigris Owls by Claire Lockwood

Green pendant

Cancri Handmade Dichroic Glass Pendant by Annie Stapleton

paper beads

Paper Beads Green Glitter Oval by Spoon

decoupage beads

Pair Pink Gold Decoupage Pendants by Eryka Garbutt

bird beads

Emily and Ellie Handmade Lampwork Bird Beads by Marcy Lamberson

yellow swirl beads

Odd Banana Handmade Lampwork Lentil Bead by Carole Hughes

blue and yellow polymer clay beads

Polymer Clay Blue Patchwork Bead by Cate van Alphen (me!)

So, go forth and buy beads!

ABS July wishlist


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I’ve made an Etsy Treasury inspired by this month’s Art Bead Scene challenge painting. Enjoy the eye candy ;)

The Little Mermaid, 1911 by Edmund Dulac

The Little Mermaid, 1911 by Edmund Dulac
Pencil, pen, black ink and watercolour with scratching out on paper
12¼ x 9 7/8 in. (30.8 x 25.2 cm.)

Mermaid Art Beads

Inspired by the July Art Bead Scene challenge painting “The Little Mermaid” by Edmund Dulac. I’ve chosen a selection of sea themed artisan beads and components.

Olive Shimmery Swirlies Lampwork Glass Bead Set

Green Sea Horse...Raku, Artisan, Pendant

SEA MINTS...10 tiny sea glass pieces, white blue aqua green, glass beads, jewelry supplies

Ceramic donut and snail shell matte moss green teal green opaque cream black speckled OOAK organic large hole craft supplies jewelry making

Moogin Beads-  Floral oval focal bead- Lampwork glass- SRA

Two Labradorite Series Mini Beads

Turquoise White and Gold Genuine Sea Glass and Polymer Clay Primitive Window Bead / Pendant

Faux ceramic polymer clay  beads handmade beads

Patina Bronze Nautilus Clasp

Sea Horse Perfume Bottle with two sea horses

Organic lampwork focal bead - Emerald Pools

Organic bronze pendant, sea urchin pendant, Handmade urchin, Artisan bronze sea urchin - 1 pendant

Lampwork Mermaid Focal Bead - Pearl

beaded thread Silk ribbon Embroidery thread seed bead sequin thread purple olive green green quilting thread beaded yarn embellishment

Sterling silver toggle clasp - Japanese illusion shell - handmade

Grungy wheels. Large textured polymer rings.


Powered By Toastie Studio – Etsy Tools

ABS June Challenge


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When I first saw this month’s ABS inspiration painting I wondered why it was a photograph! It’s a lush botanical study by Marianne North.

Painting by Marianne North

Trees Laden with Parasites and Epiphytes in a Brazilian Garden by Marianne North
Oil on Paper

I made some red and green polymer clay cube beads and used them in a multi-strand bracelet with a mix of glass beads and stone chips. I wanted to create something lush like the painting.

bead strands

Then I made a polymer clay butterfly to add to the clasp so it would become a FEATURE when it twists to the top (as clasps are wont to do).

polymer clay butterfly bead

bracelet with butterfly

The butterfly is attached by one wing only so it can flit about a bit (and so you can move it out of the way to close the toggle).

multistrand bracelet

butterfly bracelet

ABS May Challenge – Go Rococo


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Last month I didn’t manage to make an ABS monthly challenge piece because I was working on my Bead Soup*, so I’m pleased to present one this month. The inspiration painting is from 1741, the Rococo era.

Capriccio Padovano, 1741 by Bernardo Bellatto

Capriccio Padovano, 1741 by Bernardo Bellatto
Oil on Canvas 19.3″ x 28.7″ (49 x 73 cm)

For my colours I used the periwinkle blue of the sky and, in place of the yellow ochre of the brickwork, gold (because when I think Rococo too much gold is not enough). Then I thought of the Rococo interiors and I made a pattern like fossil rich marble.

blue and gold polymer clay beads

I made a polymer clay focal that also functions as a toggle.

polymer clay focal toggle

It comes together as a necklace.

blue and gold necklace

But since I seem to get lucky when I make bracelets for the ABS challenges it can also be worn as a multi-wrap bracelet (cunning eh?).

polymer clay bead bracelet

blue and gold multi wrap bracelet

I can’t wait to see what they have next month as inspiration.

* I’m giving away a set of beads as part of my Bead Soup Blog Party reveal, entries available until the end of May.

Bead soup blog party reveal and giveaway


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Welcome to my reveal for the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party. To continue the bead sharing, I’m giving away a set of handmade beads (keep reading to the bottom of this post for details). Here is the lovely bead soup sent to me sent to me by my partner Wendy Chamberlain.

bead soup with embroidered focal

My first thoughts when I saw the delicious mix of purple beads and silver caps was “Earrings!” (I LOVE making earrings.)

But I cried, “The point of the blog party is to use the focal and the clasp…”

“But look, the beads are all in pairs. Earrings!”

It was obvious to me that the pretty clasp and the pendant belonged together in the same necklace, so I decided to make some polymer clay beads inspired by the embroidery on the pendant. That way I could make the necklace and still have the mixed beads to play with for earrings. :)

green and purple necklace

I also used some green dyed lava cube beads that matched the colour of the leaves on the pendant and some silver seed beads.

embroidered pendant

I love the texture that the crochet beads give.

bead detailfloral necklace

And then I made some earrings… 16 pairs in fact!

purple bead earrings

purple bead earrings

purple bead earrings

purple bead earrings

Thank you Wendy for the wonderful beads, and thank you Lori for all your hard work organising the party. Now have a look at what all the other participants have made, I know I will.

Giveaway Time!

* EDIT – Giveaway is now closed. *

embroidered pearl beads
Luckily I was able to stop making earring before I used all the polymer clay beads I had made, so I am giving away a set of 8 ‘Embroidered Pearl’ beads. Just let me know in the comments that you would like to be included in the draw (join in even if you are international). I’ll announce the winner by 1st June 2014.


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