Thursday, September 1, 2016

Trees - Autumn Themed Challenge and a Giveaway.

Today is the launch of our September Theme challenge. The challenge is to create something using beads, jewellery or make a decorative item inspired by the subject. You could choose felting, polymer clay, ceramics, beads… the media and finished piece is entirely up to you.

Forest trail

With Autumn approaching, I have chosen Trees as the theme for September. From the Tree of life to the Heart trees in the Godswood in Game of Thrones. In fact or fiction, trees have had a special significance for us and have been viewed as sacred since the beginning of time. From religion to art, they have been worshipped, blessed, cursed, painted, sculpted and written about in every country and on every continent.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” — Albert Einstein

Their branches, trunk and leaves have provided the raw materials for human survival, giving us the air that we breathe, creating energy, textiles and medicine. They filter water, provide shelter and cool cities. They allow us to communicate with written words as books and magazines and they give us a surface to express ourselves through art. And besides all that, they're pretty gorgeous to look at!

Trees - Joyce Kilmer

At the dawn of history, Europe was covered in forest stretching for hundreds of miles. Across the UK, Germany, Italy, Greece, it is recorded that a man could travel for 2 months without reaching the end.

Sacred Space

A study of Teutonic words for 'Temple' showed that the oldest sanctuaries were natural woods.

The Major Oak - Sherwood Forest

Druids worshiped Oak trees and again, their word for sanctuary is the same as the Latin nemus, a grove or woodland glade.

A Scottish Woodland Glade

The Hidatsa Indians of North America believed that the shade of different trees possessed different powers. The cottonwood was believed to have an intelligence and if approached properly would help the men in certain undertakings.

Cottonwood tree

Buddhist monks hold trees in great reverence, Buddha sat beneath a tree as he attained enlightenment. They also believe that souls are everywhere and to destroy anything is to dispossess a soul. Just as they would not break a man’s arm, they would not break a branch from a tree.

Buddha tree

Banyan Tree

There are many beliefs and superstitions relating to trees, and many of them have carried through to our modern day living. The Christmas tree, that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. It was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illness. And that the evergreen branches were symbols of life, rebirth, and the stamina needed to endure the winter months.

Christmas Trees


It has been a long held belief that trees connect the underworld with the heavens. The Tree of knowledge connects the two, and the tree of life connects all forms of creation as portrayed in various religions and philosophies.

Ancient tree

But for me, I just love the feeling of being in the forest. Many of our holidays feature a trip to visit a woodland… you can’t beat the restorative feeling of being surrounded by trees. You can step in to a forest and instantly forget the hustle and bustle of the modern world. I like to imagine the things they have seen in their lifetimes, rooted to the spot and standing tall as the years pass by. I wonder if as different cultures believe, their spirits are watching and recording the events of past decades, or as in Game of Thrones, you could tap in to them and travel back in time.

The tree above the cave

Ancient Oak


Autumn Leaves

And so we hope you can draw some inspiration from this wonderful environment and join us to create something inspired by our trees. It could be influenced by a tree that’s special to you, it could be leaves, or creatures that live in the trees. We'd love you to join us and take part and here's how...

Theme challenge details

1. Giveaway- This theme challenge DOES include a giveaway! ( This will vary each time.) I will be giving away one of these tree beads to two winners selected randomly from comments on this post. They are made from buff stoneware clay and decorated with underglazes and a china painted tree motif.

• Winners selected Sunday 4th September.

• You must have an active blog.

• Please leave your email and blog address in the comments to enter the giveaway

2. Goal - Have fun! Try something different! Be inspired to make something that fits within this theme. This can be an artist bead, a component, or a finished piece of jewellery, or decorative piece.

You are free to use any artist bead/component in your design, from an AJE team member, of your own creation or from another artisan bead maker...

3. Share/Reveal - The reveal will take place on Thursday 29th September
If you would like to be included in the blog reveal on the 29th, please email me caroline @ blueberribeads . co . uk (remove spaces) or send me a Facebook message. Messages need to be received by September 26th to be included.

if you're are looking for components to inspire your designs here are some from the AJE team…

These gorgeous Mythical ceramics are by Jenny Davies-Reazor
Jenny Davies-Reazor on Etsy
New member Claire made these stunning polymer components.

Claire Fabian on Etsy

Beautiful Lampwork by one of our newest members Laney Mead

Laney Mead on Etsy
And some of my own beads...

I hope I've inspired you to join us.... See you again soon with some more inspiration!


  1. I am so in on this tree theme. I am so often in such awe of trees!! A great place for me to draw inspiration from!! I just love that Joyce Kilmer poem. Thank you for sharing that and all the info on trees - I enjoyed it!!

  2. Fabulous theme, count me in (will email you soon)! I'd love to put my name in the hat for the giveaway too. (melissa_trudinger at yahoo dot com;

  3. Your photos on this this blog are just beautiful. There is plenty of inspiration here! I really enjoyed all of the text also.

    I would love a chance to win a tree bead. I have an active blog at
    I hope to make a piece for this challenge!

  4. Love the idea of trees as inspiration! I am always in awe of their beauty in all seasons. I am really excited that you have the gingko leaf headpins for sale. I have to go buy some right now :-)
    I am definitely joining this challenge.

  5. I absolutely love this theme and can't wait to take part in it. I'll be messaging you soon.

  6. I would love to take part in this challenge!

  7. Great theme, so inspiring! I will join the challenge and put my name in for your fabulous beads!

  8. Yes! Of course trees inspire me with a name like Windbent. Let's see how they speak to me this month. Thank you for the nudge.

  9. Wow, this is my favourite theme!! I will join the challenge and I would love to win a tree bead. So I will email you soon.

  10. Oh, my goodness, those beads are gorgeous. Don't pick me for the giveaway because I wouldn't know what to do with them if I won them. (I love earrings but have no clue how to make them.) But I just had to say how much I admire the beads. Works of art!

  11. Your work is amazing! I just learned about China paints and an enameling workshop, and I can't wait to try them.

  12. What a great post. Your beads are beautiful! My blog is at :
    and my email is phandschuh with

  13. awesome a subject...without them we would not be able to survive! Would love to join in! I have a blog.

  14. YAY! I'm in! and

  15. I would love to take part in this challenge!
    My blog is :
    and my email is:

  16. Thanks for the give away and I hope to create a piece for the hop. Http://

  17. I love this challenge ! Mama's got to

  18. What a great post! So full of eye candy.

    I am definitely in for this one as I love trees.

  19. I love this idea! Count me in!

  20. Your post focused on trees could not have come at a better time for me. As I watch the forests being clearcut all along the coast here, I am so saddened that the timber industry cares only about profit and not about the importance of forest preservation. I love trees and am working with a grassroots citizens group to preserve our forests! Of all the challenges you have hosted, this one most inspires me because it focuses on two things I cherish: creativity (jewelry-making) and one vital aspect of nature that needs to be preserved (save the trees). Your gallery of "tree" beads is fabulous! ~ Cindy

  21. I LOVE TREES . I have a penchant for trees and leaves and find they are often incorporated into many of the arts and crafts I do , esp my wire trees of life with leaf beads that dangle off the branches.
    deb4tin at gmail dot com

  22. Great theme! I would love to win one of your beautiful beads, Caroline. sjwentling @ gmail . com Thanks for the chance to win!

  23. Gorgeous beads. I'd like to join in.


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