Mmmmmm!! {bead} Soup!!

The online jewelry community is an amazing place, filled with some of the most generous, talented, creative, mind-blowingly original and inspiring people I have ever met. One of those people is Lori Anderson, hostess of the crazy popular annual Bead Soup Blog party (and author of a recent book about it). I have wanted to participate for several years, but never got myself together in time… until this year.

Now, if you’ve been part of the swap/hop/exchange community in jewelry-land for any period of time, you’ve undoubtedly signed up for something that turned out to be a huge disappointment – your partner never sent you anything, your items never got promoted, no one commented on your blog post, or something. Let me tell you that this has emphatically not been that experience.

For starters, when I found out who my partner was, I actually clapped my hands with pleasure. Lori paired me with someone whose work I know and admire, and I felt a little star-struck. The wonderful Michelle Buettner has a real artist’s eye, and not only makes beautiful and unusual jewelry but also dabbles in art photography – I have loved reading her blog in part because of the terrific photos that always accompany her posts. She is probably best known for her love of pearls (she is GIA pearl certified) but she is also fond of textiles, glass, and metalwork in her pieces.

To be honest,  I was a little intimidated about putting together a bead soup for her – I wanted it to be really, really special and something that she would enjoy working with. So I dug into my personal stash and pulled out some of my very favorite things for her. (I was not smart enough to take photos of my soup before I sent it, so if you want to see more about it, head over to Michelle’s blog – she took lots of photos!)

Apparently, she did the same for me. Just LOOK at all the stuff that poured out of the box when I opened it!!


Shel not only sent me a gorgeous bead soup, she sent me a THEMED gorgeous bead soup, based on the five “C’s” of her home state of Arizona. (I didn’t know Arizona had five “C’s” and now I’m wondering if Texas has an alphabet theme I should have looked into. I’m a slacker!!) The five “C’s” are: Copper, Cotton, Cattle, Citrus and Climate.

For the copper “C”, Shel sent me a gorgeous focal and some wonderful findings, a number of which she made herself:

Bead Soup Party 2013

Bead Soup Party 2013

I have to confess that I am completely in love with those earwires – they are surprisingly lightweight but have a great visual presence. I am going to have to revisit how I make my own earwires. And that focal! I am debating with myself about whether to try a little resin in that perfect opening in the front – I have an idea that I’m dying to try but I’m nervous about possibly ruining it. We’ll see.

For the cotton and cattle “C’s”, she sent me some recycled sari silk, waxed linen thread, and leather cording:

Bead Soup Party 2013

Aren’t those colors and textures yummy?? I have been intrigued by how other artists are making use of textiles in jewelry but have never gotten up the courage to give it a try – obviously this is my opportunity!

For the citrus and climate “C’s”, Shel got very creative:

Bead Soup 2013

The clay beads are intended to represent Arizona’s dry climate, while the gorgeous Flower Jasper beads represent pink grapefruit for the citrus. The colors and textures are wonderful, and as an extra special “climate” representation, Shel included two nuggets of genuine Sleeping Beauty Turquoise – I was floored. They are SO beautiful!! And I was very touched by the tiny bottle of crystals she sent – they are from an area where Shel and her family go camping, and these are from a batch they found on their last trip. The little bottle isn’t intended for use in my reveal piece, but was just something special and personal Shel wanted me to have.

My mind is already turning over ideas about how to use this wonderful soup! Thankfully, I have a little time – our reveal date isn’t until April 13, and I can promise I’ll be reminding you about it as the time gets closer. Don’t forget to head over to Michelle’s blog to see what I sent her!

So how’s that for a great start to the week??! Hope yours is filled with good things too!

7 replies
  1. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    Yep I told Michelle and I am telling you. You are both so wonderful and I am thrilled you were paired for this party!

  2. Mary Ellen Merrigan
    Mary Ellen Merrigan says:

    I love your commentary about the pieces…and really relate to your intro about the online community. This is my first Bead Soup Blog Hop and I am blown away by the community…also loving looking at the posts leading up to reveal. Who knew people would send such wonderful packets!


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