Sunday, December 13, 2009


I made this necklace a while ago for a competition "Australian Designer of the Year Awards 2007" organised by Beads etc... magazine, and it came first in the wire work category. The piece was designed around a couple of gorgeous labradorite cabochons I had, which I teamed up with chalcedony and labradorite beads, Swarovski crystal stones and beads, and small sterling silver beads. The components were wrapped using sterling silver wire. The pendant depicts the carriage Cinderella rides in. In Chinese, Cinderella is known as "The Grey Lady", hence the blue-grey colour scheme. The piece looks much prettier in real life with all the sparkly crystals and silver, and the labradorite cabs have beautiful flashes of blue. It's hard to capture the colours in the photos.


This is a necklace I finished today for this week's Year of Jewellery Challenge on the Australian Beading Forum, the theme of which is "Geisha". I've only just come back 3 days ago from overseas and have tons of washing and housework to catch up on, but I could not resist making a piece, as this theme has brought back some fond memories.

I've been to Japan twice, and on both occasions we saw Geisha performances. The first time was in a small private dinner tour with just my husband and I, our tour guide, and a Geisha and her maiko. It happened to be our first wedding anniversary that day, and the whole experience was magical. When I came home after the trip, I was obsessed with Geisha for a while and bought all the books I could find on Geisha. The second time I was holidaying with my husband and parents, and we saw a stage performance. When I think of Geisha, I think of cherry blossoms, Sakura, its scent and colours, its petals falling down in slow motion, and a Geisha holding a paper umbrella walking beneath the trees towards the setting sun.

I got the pattern of the cherry blossom petals from a Japanese beading book by Kumiko Mizuno, and it was done in brick stitch. Made up some leaves using similar techniques, and assembled the whole piece with pearls, cloisonne beads and Swarovski crystals. The pendant is detachable and has a brooch pin attached to its back, so it can be worn as a brooch as well. I would've liked to make a few more blossoms but ran out of time (the closing date for this challenge is today). You can click on the picture for a larger view. I hope you like it as much as I have enjoyed making it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Gypsy Dancer

Made this necklace last week for the "Year of Jewellery Challenge" of the Australian Beading Forum. A theme is announced every Friday, and the participants have up to Sunday the following week to submit a piece. I started by drawing a gypsy girl with colour pencils. Then took a picture of it, reduced it in size, made some coloured and black and white copies, and turned some into cabochons with polymer clay and resin. For this pendant I used a cab without resin, and made a bezel and decorated it with polymer clay, brass stampings and Swarovski crystals. Assembled the whole piece with more beads and chains. When I have time, I would like to do a different and maybe more elaborate version using one of the coloured cabs and seed beads.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ying Ying the little owl

Made this wire wrapped pendant a little while ago using a charoit cabochon, Swarovski crystal beads and stone, and steling silver wire and beads. In Chinese, owls are called "Mao Tao Ying", and as I didn't like "Mao Mao" or "Tao Tao", I decided to call him "Ying Ying". Because of the shape of the cab, he became a rather chubby little owl.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Vintage poster pendant

Here is another necklace I finished using one of the resin paper cabochons I made a few weeks ago. The picture in the cab was from a reprint of a Chinese vintage poster. Beaded a bezel around the cab, made a few little polymer clay roses, and added metal stampings, Swarovski rivolis and stones, and different beads. It's difficult to photograph the cab well because of its glossy surface. I just love anything from the 1920's-40's era from China, especially memorabilia from Shanghai. (If you would like a larger view, just click on the picture.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Emergence of a Fairy

I made this piece for a competition a while back. The story behind this was a little creepy. For a couple of months prior to the closing date of the competition, I kept having an image in my mind of a young girl looking out of a window with an emotionless face and with her hands pressed on the window. The image was so strong that I felt I just had to translate it into something. Anyhow, made the pendant with silver clay, polymer clay and wire, and assembled it into a necklace. A couple of months later, I heard on the news on TV that a young girl was abused by her parents, locked up in a room and eventually starved to death. When the reporter interviewed the neighbours, one neighbour said that she had on occasions seen the girl looking out of the locked window, with her hands pressed on the glass. I know this probably was just a coincidence, but it did give me goosebumps when I saw the news. I named this piece "Emergence of a Fairy", to symbolise the fact that the girl's spirit had been set free and she flew away and lived happily ever after in a fairyland. This piece came second in the metal clay category of the 2008 Australian Jewellery Designer of the Year Awards organised by Beads etc... magazine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lately, I've been playing with paper. Made these cabochons using Japanese washi paper, prints of Chinese vintage posters, polymer clay and resin. Beaded around some of them, glued bails on a few, gave some away to friends, and have a few left to play with. I think the resin actually accentuates the colours of the paper and makes them more vibrant. I think I'm addicted to making these at the moment.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Tale of Davy Jones Locker

I made this piece originally for a challenge on the Australian Beading Forum, the theme of which was "Davy Jones Locker". I took the theme quite literally, and tried to imagine what a lost soul would see as it sank towards the bottom of the deep sea. It would drift through different layers of the sea with water in different shades of cold blue and green. There would be worldly treasures - diamond, sapphire, emerald, peridot, citrine, pearls, silver and gold, but there would also be signs of death, despair, darkness, and passage of time. It would be a choice between good and evil, a fine line between attraction and repulsion. If the soul was overcome by desire and lingered on, before it realized, it would be chained to Davy Jones Locker, forever condemned to the bottom of the sea.

This piece was designed around a dichroic glass cabochon which I bought a few years ago from an American artist Donna Cason. Because of its colours, I'd always wanted to make it into something dark and eerie. When I saw the challenge theme, I immediately thought of it. Made all the skulls, seahorse and the man's face with silver clay. Also made two smaller cabochons using enamel and silver leaf on copper to try to match the dichroic cab. Added shell beads, pearls, Swarovski crystals and silver beads. The different components were wrapped with sterling silver wire, patinaed with liver of sulphur, polished then assembled using a combination of sterling silver and base metal chains, and beads. Despite the deep patina, it's actually quite sparkly in real life because of the crystals. This piece was awarded first prize in the wire work category of the 2008 Beading Extravaganza Competition in the Sydney Bead & Gem Show. It was also a finalist in the 2009 Bead Dreams Competition.

Lydia's possum

This is an enamel pendant which I made for our lapidary club, to be included in the club showcase for an upcoming statewide lapidary competition. The actual enamel piece is quite small (see the photo with the coin). The enamel was applied on a piece of copper using various techniques including cloisonne and overglaze painting enamels. Then added a silver clay leaf and 2 opal cabochons, and wrapped with sterling silver wire and patinaed. The picture was painted from a photo of a baby possum my friend Lydia had. Lydia was an amazing lady whom I used to work with. She was a volunteer animal rescuer. One time she was asked to look after a tiny baby possum whose mother was killed by a car. She kept the possum for several months, feeding it around the clock (she used to bring it to work stuffed in a sock in a basket). Eventually she had to release it back into the wild, and she was quite sad to see it go. She took many pictures and gave me a couple, from which I did two oil paintings, one for her and one I kept myself. Lydia was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through operations and chemo- and radiotherapy, but the cancer kept coming back. I had never heard her complained, and she would always try to come to work. Even when she was having radiotherapy, she would go and have the treatment in the morning, then came back to work in the afternoon. She was strong and inspirational. Lydia passed away a few years ago, aged 50. This is in memory of her.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Morgan le Fay - A study of the complex character

This is a necklace I made recently for a challenge "Ladies of Camelot" held by the Australian Beading Forum. I chose to do Morgan le Fay because she was one of the most complex and fascinating characters in the Arthurian romances. I did a Google search and found some interesting articles, including a thesis written by Dax D Carver. It was suggested that the character originated from the Goddess Modron in Welsh mythology. Throughout the Middle Ages, her character was transformed from the Great Mother Goddess of the Celts to an enchantress to one of the most infamous characters in literature, as a result of demonizing of old pagan deities by medieval Christians. She was both a goddess and demon, fairy and human, heroin and villainess, healer and destroyer, feminine and masculine. She had been portrayed as a lustful malicious queen, an evil enchantress. However, behind her hatred, lust, jealousy and hideous appearance, I like to think that there was also love, nobility, admiration, and beauty. I wanted to make a piece that encompassed the different facets of her complex character, and showed both the beautiful and evil side, with a touch of Merlin's magic.
The necklace is a mixed media piece combining bronze clay, enamelling, wire wrapping and a little seedwork. I used bronze clay and moulds to make the gargoyles, assembled them into pendants, added patina, and set a Swarovski stone in the main pendant by wire wrapping. Made the two oval green cabs using silver foil and enamel on copper plates. I used mainly gold filled wire, which I then patinaed with liver of sulphur. One thing I have learnt is – it’s very difficult to add patina to gold filled wire. I had to use quite concentrated LOS and left them to soak for quite a while. As a result, my house stank!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Rose Garden

This is a piece I made a while ago, which came second in the metal clay category of the 2007 Sydney Bead & Gem Show competition. The inspiration of the central pendant came from a pair of antique cuff links I saw in a shop, the structure of which was quite interesting with a two tier base. The design of the cuff link, however, was rather Art Deco and totally different from my piece. The central and four side pendants as well as the bead cap of the tassel were made with silver clay. The central red stone is a faceted garnet set in bezel setting. The green stones are cubic zirconium. Each rose has a small clear cubic zirconium set in its centre. Each of the four side pendants is composed of a dome-shaped "cage" made with silver clay, encasing a black onyx cabochon. The tassel is made up of small garnet beads and Swarovski crystals. The whole piece is actually quite sparkly in real life because of all the cubic zirconium and crystals, but couldn't capture that in the photos. This piece was also a finalist in the 2008 Bead Dreams competition.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Madam Rose of Shanghai - enamel pendant

I have always had a fascination about Shanghai especially anything from the 1920s to '40s era. This pendant was made with a piece of copper which I cut out, then applied various enamel techniques including cloisonne and painting enamel. I have lost count of the numbers of firings I've done on the piece. I wanted to create a piece that's both reserved and sensual, vintage yet modern, with a strong Oriental feel. In my mind, Madam Rose was a beautiful, strong and independent woman from Shanghai in the 40s, but because of the restrictions and limitations imposed on women at that time and the economic difficulties in the immediate post war period, she had to resort to using her beauty to survive. The pendant measures just over 6cm long, and will be the centre piece of a more elaborate necklace, for which I have picked out some stones and beads as shown.

Madam Rose grew up in Nanjing, and was studying at the university there when the war broke out. Nanjing was bombed, and she escaped to another city and eventually reached Shanghai just after the war. She tried so hard to find a decent job but as she had no relations there, she was bullied to the point that she contemplated suicide, until one day, a well dressed middle age woman approached her and asked if she would like to work for her to entertain guests at her parties. That's when her life as Miss Rose and later Madam Rose began. She was transformed from a naive young lady to a calculating woman - her beauty was irresistible, and she knew exactly what she wanted and how to get it. She danced with rich business men, high ranking officials and colonels, in exchange for monetary and business favours. She started her own clubhouse, and invested her money in government bonds. She wore the finest silk cheongsams, diamonds, pearls and French perfumes. She was the most desirable madam in the whole of Shanghai and yet, her life was empty. When she wasn't entertaining, she liked to sit in her garden among all her roses, thinking about what life could have been.......

Well, that's how the story goes in my mind.

Dance of the Fire Phoenix

I created this piece for the Create Your Style Creative Beading Awards 2008 in Australia, organised by Crystal Park and Creative Beading magazine, and sponsored by Swarovski company. At the time, I was organising a holiday to Thailand, and I saw pictures of Thai dancers with their unique postures and colourful costumes. I also came across pictures of some gorgeous Swarovski crystal pendants in fire opal colours. I wanted to create a piece that would incorporate all these images in my mind. I wanted the piece to be feminine, exotic and dazzling, like an Oriental princess, like a phoenix rising from fire in a blaze of glory. The piece was constructed with Swarovski crystals and gold filled wires using various wire wrapping techniques. This necklace was awarded first prize in the competition.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Memories of a Showgirl

The inspiration of this piece started about 2 and a half years ago when I purchased some 1920's vintage confetti buttons at a vintage textile and clothing fair (the round cream coloured ones in some of the pendants). Around the same time my mother-in-law found an old broken chandelier in her garage which they bought about 30 years ago, and she salvaged the crystals (the octagonal ones) and gave some to me. Ever since then I had wanted to make a piece which would reflect both the vintage feel of the buttons and the opulence of the crystals. Gradually collected other materials including some Czech glass buttons, rivolis, other Swarovski stones and beads, fresh water pearls etc. The whole piece was constructed with gold filled wires using various wire wrapping techniques. The colours are interesting because some of the crystals have coatings on the back, and they look quite different on different coloured background.
The colours of the confetti buttons and the octagonal crystals actually reminded me very much of a famous showbiz person who had passed away many years ago. I wanted to make a piece that would capture her femininity and glitz and glamour of a bygone era. She was a superb entertainer and a sensual goddess who had posted semi nude for many photos. Her life was full of colours and controversies, and tragic at times. She was inspirational.

This piece was a finalist in the 2009 Bead Dreams competition.

How it all started.

I have been making jewelry for about 5 years. Like many people, my jewelry journey started by chance when I and my sister-in-law attended a craft show and saw a lady doing a free demonstration on how to make a simple strung necklace. We were fascinated and after the demonstration, rushed to the stall and bought some kits. I had played with beads before, when I was 6 or 7 years old, but as I grew older, I ventured into all kinds of arts and crafts and forgot about my beads. That demonstration rekindled my interest and started my journey into jewelry making.

In this blog, I would like to share with you my creations and the stories behind some of them. I thought it would be nice in this first post to show you a piece I made from way back, not long after I started. It's an antique style necklace made with silver clay and onyx. This piece came first in the metal clay category of the 2005 Bead & Gem Show competition in Sydney, Australia. I love working with different media and often combine them in my pieces. In the next post, I'll show you one of my more recent pieces. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I do posting them!