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Brenda Schweder has been doing collaborations to collect items for an auction to raise funds for Beads of Courage, an organization that provides beads to kids with serious illnesses to give them a way to communicate about what they are experiencing, as well as other arts-in-medicine programs. This time, she offered up wonderful components from her collection. Those of us who chose to participate get those, make something with them and send those pieces back to be auctioned off (at a later date – details to come in an upcoming blog post.)

I haven’t been super inspired lately, but Brenda‘s collection got my wheels turning. She had so many pieces I could envision making into something. I got three things: a coin, a billy goat milagro, and an open metal work curved brass piece.

A silver billy goat pendant, an old silver Danish coin with black patina an R and a crown, and a large curved brass rectangle with an open work design on a gray handmade paper background.

I sketched out ideas for these in my mind while they were winging their way to me. I stuck pretty closely to those ideas for the milagro and the coin, but the brass piece proved a bit more problematic to bring my original vision to life. Brenda had really set my mind at ease by telling participants not to worry about making “a design for the ages” just something with our spin on it.

Necklace of an old Danish coin wire wrapped with a crystal above it hanging on three strands of different metal and different designs of chain on a brown and tan mottled paper background.

I made the coin necklace first because it was the most straightforward. I added a Swarovski cyrstal and put it on some mixed metal chain. I really love it. I wanted to make things that I would see and want to purchase in hopes that other people will too in order to raise money for Beads of Courage.

Next I worked with the brass piece. My original vision was to wire wrap tiny gemstones along each side, hang something fun off the bottom and then decide what to use as the necklace part. I got out so many things trying to decide what to dangle from the bottom because that would determine which little stone or bead I used to wire wrap along the side. Nothing I tried matched the vague idea I had in my head of rustic chic, so I decided to move on to something else. This Mary Harding pendant really looked great in color, shape and size, so I let that guide my design.

Necklace of open metal work brass rectangle with orange and yellow ceramic botanical diamond pendant hanging off the bottom with three orange bead dangles. More orange bead dangles are at the top where the metal work pendant connects with oval brass chain. This is on a background of grey handmade paper.

When I tried to wire wrap along the sides, it just wasn’t working. I think I needed a smaller gauge wire or it was the curve or thickness of the metal or some combination of the three. I didn’t have smaller wire (that I could find!) so I decided to move on to bead dangles. I paired the pendant with vintage chain. I love orange and yellow and have been under the impression that other people don’t. I think I’m wrong because so many people really love Pantone’s colors of 2021 (Illuminating – a yellow – and Ultimate Gray.) In addition, this necklace is right on trend since it would work well with other colors in the Pantone Spring/Summer color report such as Marigold, Rust, Buttercream and Willow.

Necklace of an aged silver billy goat milagro with smaller mixed metal milagros above it (most visibly a silver heart and a gold rose) on a necklace of mixed color, shape and pattern glass beads on a background of handmade white paper and a vintage wooden framed child's writing slate.

Last I made a colorful necklace in my favorite knotted style with the milagro billy goat. Milagro means miracle or surprise in Spanish, and these charms are common in Latin America and the southern US. They are used in prayers and religious ceremonies, as well as carried as good luck charms and reminders of gratitude. I like the idea of little tokens of good luck and gratitude, and in that way milagros remind me of the use of worry stones. This project was a bit of a construction challenge to get the small milagros to hang so they didn’t cover too much of the goat. I really love how it turned out. For the small milagros I used a rose, a heart, an ear of corn, a clover, and a car. The necklace is made of a variety of Czech glass knotted on waxed Irish linen.

I’ll be getting these in the mail as soon as I can get to the post office so they can make their end of January deadline. I hope Brenda has many things arriving to make the auction a success. Once I know details, I will post them on the blog. It is an online auction, so I’ll definitely be checking it out to see what people made.