Jul 15, 2013

The Bead Soup Cafe Blogger (and Non-Blogger) Challenge: Renaissance!

Each month, the Bead Soup Cafe hosts a jewelry making challenge open to people with blogs -- or without blogs! Participants can join in creating jewelry and beads with a group of artists, people can vote upon the designs, and with the person with the most "favorite" comments is the winner and becomes the host for the next challenge. 

This July, Blogger/Non-Blogger contest winner Robin Reed of "Artistry HCBD" is the host! Robin is talented and lovely, and a very inclusive, attentive and great host. I had so much fun with Robin's very cool challenge, "Renaissance" based on this beautiful colorway and photo: 

I knew I wanted to create chainmaille for the Renaissance motif, so perfect for the time and style, so I created a simple parallel weave to represent the reflection of the water in our inspiration photo, the parallel times between the art of the Renaissance and our postmodern jewelry art now. 

Handcrafted chain: Parallel weave chainmaille

 I created a reversible wire woven bezel for my green and royal blue drusy quartz. The bezel reverses into beadwork. Because the drusy is not two-sided, I used Metal Me This patina in sapphire on a brass filagree to create the reverse side.  I added my special gemstone treasures, chrome diopside and blue jade beads, with pretty Vintaj beadcaps and findings to accent the mystical, fairy-tale castle in the woodland colorway even more. 

Metal Me This Patina in sapphire and fern green on brass filagree with beadwork bezel

The drusy sparkles in the sunlight, and I'm so delighted the rich fern green and sapphire blue cabochon I've treasured for years now (it was the previous "star" of Jewel School on the internet store front page :) has become real jewelry. The wire woven and beaded bezel works well for its unusual shape, and holds the gemstone close to my heart. 

Beadwork & wire weave bezel pattern design by Lisa Barth Jewelry

The chainmaille weave is a wonderful beginner weave: parallel or Helm weave. I used Artistic wire "gunmetal" (really a Vintaj antique brass color) rings in 18 AWG, sizes 5.95mm (15/64th) and 3.57mm  (9/64th). If you'd like a tutorial for basic Parallel or Helm weave, here is a free one at CGMaille, in a tutorial

To view the many awesome designs created for the Blogger/Non-Blogger Renaissance Challenge, visit the photo album for the challenge at the Bead Soup Cafe. You can comment and like as many photos as you wish; however to cast your vote write the word "favorite" on your design choice. 

Toltec Jewels is an author by day, jewelry maker by night. Her literary work is housed by the San Fransisco MOMA and is published internationally in popular magazines, literary quarterlies, and university publications. She has won a number of awards for literary and jewelry arts. She is happiest making handcrafted jewelry with her entire family, snuggling with her doggies and grandkids, sewing, singing, reading, and learning jewelry techniques. Join her on Facebook for  fundraising for Beads of Courage, jewelry making challenges, contests, give-a-ways and of course, cool beads and jewelry!


  1. I'm so glad you did the chain maille! I like to see how others incorporate beads and wire work with chain maille. It helps me see what other styles I should learn.

  2. This piece definitely takes my breath away. It is simply gorgeous.


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