Art Bead Scene October Challenge – Autumn Beads


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With the new Bead category for the Art Bead Scene Monthly challenge, I dared to look at this month’s inspiration painting…

“Autumn” 1944 by Milton Avery
Oil on Canvas, 27″ x 35″

I may not have any beading supplies available, but I can still make some polymer clay beads!

Autumn leaf beads by Cate van Alphen

I made a sheet of clay with blocks of colours from rust to cream and of course that magenta. I scratched in branching lines like the tree which I highlighted with white acrylic paint once I had folded cut out circles to form the beads. I also painted the edge of the beads with ultramarine acrylic paint to bring in some of the colour surprises of the painting.

Polymer clay beads by Cate van Alphen

I may have harmonised the colours too much. They don’t seem to pop as much as the painting. Maybe it’s because the bright yellow of the foreground is missing?

When I was finished making these beads there was enough clay for only two more smaller beads. Of course as soon as I have a pair of beads, I feel COMPELLED to make earrings.

Autumn leaf earrings by Cate van Alphen

They are pretty simple, but I only had my wire and those gold beads unpacked from making my Art Charms.

It feels really good to take part in the challenge again :).

Art Bead Scene on Pinterest


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Since I packed up all my beading supplies, I have really been missing doing the Art Bead Scene Monthly challenges. (I haven’t even let myself look at the paintings in case I was inspired!). I have kept my polymer clay stuff out, so I’m excited to see there will now be a board for beads as well as jewellery made for the challenge on Pinterest.

Pink and green retro lace beads by Cate van Alphen

Now all I need to do is make some beads that fit this month’s painting.

Big box, little box


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Where have I been this summer?

moving boxes

At the start of July we began buying a house, with an expected completion date sometime in August. So we enthusiastically began packing up our stuff, including all my beads. By September (when the solicitors were NEARLY finished doing their checks) my husband was made redundant. It looks like he will be getting a new job imminently, so things will be staying in their boxes while we plan our next move.

I did at least unpack my wire so that I could complete my charms for Jen Cameron’s Art Charm swap. Here they are all ready to cross the Atlantic:

Art charms packed

But what’s inside?

Art Charm teaser

Aha! For that you will need to come back on the 14th November 2014. See you then.

2014 Art Charm Swap


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I’ve signed up for Jen Cameron’s Art Charm Swap. Sign ups close today, so be quick if you’d like to join in and help support Beads of Courage.

Love, art charm 2013

In exchange for sending in 11 charms, you’ll receive 10 art charms back (one of them your own), and the last one goes to auction to raise money for Beads of Courage.

Mixing colour scales


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I love colour, but sometimes it’s daunting knowing where to start, so I have a little box of baked polymer clay tiles. This allows me to collect up a few colours and see how they look together. I scratch in the colour mix recipe before it’s baked so that there is nothing to interfere with the colour of the tile (e.g. if it was written on in pen afterward).

Yes, as a child I spent hours arranging crayons in a box!

box of polymer clay colour tiles

Box of colour tiles

These baked colour swatches also give me a place to start when I need to mix a new colour. Before going through Maggie Maggio’s colour tutorials I used to mix colours ad hoc, but now I have made some colour scales that are more systematic.

colour scale red, blue, yellow

I used Fimo Classic colours Carmine, Blue and Yellow for the above scale. (Of course I’ll need to start again now for the new Fimo Professional.)

The top row is the pure colour, and the lower row is 50% colour and 50% white. I have added 10% white to all the yellow before any other mixing (see my earlier post for details why).

blue to yellow colour scale

As you can see I work in percentages rather than the usual 2 parts blue to 3 parts yellow etc. This allows me to more easily calculate the quantities to mix based on how much of the final colour I want. I will endevour to share with you the secret weapon I use for this in another post shortly.

Patchwork, dangles and spangles


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Here are some of my latest earrings…

These earrings feature a pair of my handmade polymer clay patchwork beads.

Patchwork bead earrings by Cate van Alphen

Patchwork earrings by Cate van Alphen

These are extra long earrings with sliced kaleidoscope cane beads.

Long earrings by Cate van Alphen

Long earrings by Cate van Alphen

These earrings have crystal spangles, just to rhyme with dangles. :)

Crystal earrings by Cate van Alphen

Crystal earrings by Cate van Alphen

And because every day needs more sparkle.

September Sheep


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I have been making some more polymer clay faux cross stitch sheepiness for Sheepfest. Well, when you’ve spent a whole weekend making a cane, you simply have to!

Cross stitch sheep earrings by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep earrings by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep earrings by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep earrings by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep bag charm by Cate van Alphen

Cross stitch sheep bag charm by Cate van Alphen

I also made some matching pendants, but I forgot to photograph them before I took them to the Craftworkshop.

Baaa-ye for now.

Rustic stack beads


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I was inspired by Sonya Girodon’s necklace Skeleton Coast to make beads by stacking layers of polymer clay.

"Skeleton Coast"

I was quite pleased with my efforts at the time but unfortunately now that I look at them in comparison to hers they look horribly juvenile. Or maybe it’s just because I’m having an “everything I do is horrible” day? :(

Gradient stack earrings by Cate van Alphen

Gradient stack bead earrings by Cate van Alphen

Polymer clay earrings by Cate van Alphen

Earrings with dangle by Cate van Alphen

Anyway check out Sonya’s work, she even shares a tutorial for making beads similar to the focal ones in the necklace.


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