Saturday, September 1, 2012

Challenge of Travel Blog Hop!

When Erin Prais-Hintz, with the assistance of Marcie Abney Carroll, came up with this Challenge of Travel, I knew I had to join!  The outlined criteria involved choosing a region and nation outside of where you live.  We were then instructed to learn about this country, and share what inspires us – pictures of the country, its history and culture, landmarks, architecture, its flag, etc.  Once an inspiration was found, we were to create an accessory that evokes the nation. 
Chosen Country - The Netherlands
So…why did I choose The Netherlands?  Well, my last name is VANDERBLOEMEN…which is Dutch.  Loosely translated, it means “Land of the Blooming Flowers”.  Even though I have had to spell “Vanderbloemen” multiple times to everyone I have ever met -- and I mean Everyone – I am very fond of my surname and wear it proudly. 

Other reasons for choosing The Netherlands as my Destination of Choice is that my late father’s favorite flower is The Tulip, which in turn happens to be my favorite flower.  And when I think of tulips, I think of The Netherlands.
My favorite – and I mean FAVORITE – television show is The Golden Girls.  I know….the show is 25+ years old.  But I still laugh at the "repeats" as if I have seen it for the first time.  But, in one of the first shows, Dorothy, describing how her ex-husband Stan always gave her flowers when they fought, said that by the last year of her marriage, her house looked like “Easter at Rotterdam”.  And, well, Rotterdam is in The Netherlands.
The Search for Inspiration
So I began my search of inspiration photos.  First, I looked up the Coat of Arms and The Flag of The Netherlands.  Quite frankly, the Coat of Arms required explanation, or at least interpretation and I wanted the picture to "speak to me". 

While I have absolutely nothing against the colors of the flag, let's face it,  they are Red, White, and Blue and simply reminded me too much of my country’s colors (again – nothing is wrong with that!).  But, since I did not want my pieces to reflect America’s Birthday, I searched for more inspiration.
Ah, of course I had to put in an iconic picture of a windmill…I mean, who does not think of a windmill when referencing The Netherlands?  But it was actually the water that first caught my eye in this picture.  Windmills fascinate me – they have been in existence since the first century AD, and are, in my mind’s eye, a brilliant scientific experiment gone right that has remained virtually unchanged in over 2000 years, because frankly, the original version still works!  Its basic concept converts the energy of wind into rotational energy used for milling grain for food production, pumping water, and generating electricity.  A marvel I say!  But as beautiful as that picture is, I was simply not inspired to create a piece of jewelry to match the feeling.

Vincent van Gogh photo credits - Wikipedia
I could not let the Challenge of Travel hop go by without mentioning Vincent van Gogh, could I? No! I have one of his art books sitting on my coffee table.  I find his life story to be so very sad – excessive drinking and smoking, unsuccessful relationships – both family and otherwise, health issues, mental health issues, etc.  He died too young at age 37 - suicide, though claims he was shot by someone still exist.  There are so many famous paintings to choose – too many, such as The Starry Night, or Stilllife: Vase with 12 Sunflowers illustrated above. 
But if I were to choose a painting by Vincent van Gogh as inspiration, it would be The Night Café (the last photo on the right in the collage above).  Van Gogh said of this painting,  “I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad, or commit a crime”…  Oh the possibilities of what could happen here, so perfectly depicted through his eyes!

My Final Inspiration
But, as inspiring as van Gogh’s paintings and drawings are, I went back to my initial inspiration – tulips.   Did I mention my name means Land of the Blooming Flowers???? After perusing what felt like hundreds of pictures of field upon field of flowers, I selected the very first picture I clicked on, because it simply spoke to me.  To me, the tulip evokes strength and beauty – it stands tall and sturdy, regal, and its color possibilities are endless.  Daddy would approve of my picture choice, for sure.    

Now, I tried to create a piece of jewelry with leaves, petals, etc….  I even purchased gorgeous lampwork flower bud beads, but I just could not come up with a pleasing design.  So I focused on the colors of the beautiful tulips. 
Click on the pictures for a larger view

Tulip Photo Credit:
I was gifted this most beautiful, handmade clasp by Mary Harding – she was one of my partners in the Art Bead Earring Hop, hosted by Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Beads.  The toggle is awash with different tones of green and deep red-oranges. I knew I wanted to use this clasp, and this clasp was too beautiful to hide in the back of the neck, unless I made a necklace where the toggle was the focal.  But, I have been on a bracelet-making kick this summer, so my efforts to make a necklace proved futile.  So, a bracelet was in the making.

Once I decided on the clasp, I moved on to my shamefully overflowing bead stash and found two deep orange – almost red - barrel-shaped beads by Marti Conrad.  I hammered out some copper bead caps to top Marti’s beads.   I then found a large, orange-red porcelain bead by Miss Diana P. and three green stoneware beads by Tina Francis.  I wanted the bracelet to feel substantial, so I used 14 gauge solid-copper wire.  The bracelet took a bath in liver of sulfur, suffered through my endless buffing, and then rattled around in my tumbler for a good two hours.  I finished it off with a coat of Renaissance Wax to preserve its warm patina.  I’m pleased with how it turned out!


In going through my bead stash to find beads to match Mary’s toggle, I came across these copper charms made by the talented Kristi Bowman (love her components…love!) and was now in the mood to make earrings.  I wrapped these sweet red lampwork beads (Radiant Mind) with copper wire to Kristi’s copper components.  I have been playing around with my torch and copper lately, and I love the red color the copper wire takes on when the ends have been balled and then quickly quenched in water.  So I balled both ends of a piece of heavy gauge copper wire.  I was trying to figure out how to use these “double-balled head pins” to mimic a flower stamen, but that idea went straight out the window.  So, instead I twisted and wrapped this “headpin of sorts” around the lampwork beads.  I added a pair of hand forged sterling silver ear wires to complete the earrings.  Certainly not “flower earrings”…but the colors are right!


Thank you, Erin for hosting this adventure!  I have always wanted to travel to my “homeland” and have now pushed this destination up a few notches on my bucket list!

Thank you so much for stopping by!  Please be sure to visit all of the blog participants, listed below.
Jenny Davies-Reazor,
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson,
Elsie Deliz-Fonseca,
Patti Vanderbloemen, <-You are here!
Ine Vande Cappelle,



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Patti, you outdid yourself again! Wonderful jewelry! I love how your choice of beads and the copper blend together so well!

  3. Patti these are gorgeous pieces and what a fun blog hop. I just saw this on FB and now I'll be spending the day hopping. I love the colors you used the copper and red green bracelet are awesome as are the earrings. I love your bead caps and would love to know ho you did those (if you don't mind sharing). Love your work. Sorry about my prior comment. I'm not quite awake yet.

  4. Lovely work Patti your bracelets are always amazing~ you did a great job capturing the flavor of the Netherlands. Thanks for sharing :-)

  5. Your bracelet is the next best thing to Easter in Rotterdam! Love Mary Harding's toggle and your play with those colors. (And what I wouldn't give to have such a colorful name as yours....)

  6. Beautiful pieces Patti, I love that bracelet!!! I'm so excited to see some of my copper in this hop as well, thanks so much!!

  7. beautiful work as always Patti! The toggle clasp is perfect! Love your post today!

  8. Patti,
    I love everything you made! The bracelet is just beautiful - the toggle is wonderful. I also love the earrings - your wirework is terrific. It was fun to see how you interpreted the Netheralands as well!

  9. Hi Patti,
    Thank you so much for taking me along on your trip to the Netherlands. I enjoyed the beautiful countryside and the beautiful tulips. I learned a few more things about Vincent van Gogh, I have always been in love with his paintings, then I knew before. I love the bracelet and earrings that you made inspired by the beautiful tulips. They are both gorgeous!

  10. Patti, the lovely tulip fields of the Netherlands are one of those iconic images that are difficult to forget. The popularity of this deceptively simple flower has translated into tulip festivals around the world, including our capital, Ottawa (Canada).

    I was pleased you chose to interpret your jewellery using your gorgeous handmade clasp by Mary Harding. What a huge amount of work you put into your pieces, but so worth it! You have done your Dutch heritage proud!

    I was very touched by your comment on my blog, Patti. Thanks for visiting!

  11. Tulips, of course! Love your bracelet, beautiful beads. Happy travels!

  12. Land of the blooming flowers! Have you read "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" by Gregory Maguire? ( He wrote Wicked) Its the retelling of the Cinderella tale, loosely, yet set in 17th century Holland. Its good, a fantasy drama type tale. Sorry I digress. The bracelet is great! Netherlands=tulips. Sure. But your name means Blooming Flowers! How awesome! And family history as well!

  13. I love the color in those beads - so beautiful! really pretty bracelet and earrings!

  14. I love tulips and I love the colors in your bracelet and earrings. Both are stunning!

  15. So lovely and colorful! I agree - both stunning!

  16. Love the copper and lampwork earrings. They so remind me of those lovely tulips I had from the Netherlands when I lived "up north".

  17. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE...the colors, the copper, everything! Both bracelet and earrings are wonderful styles, I would so wear them!

  18. Such lovely jewelry and a lovely family story to go with it! Thanks for sharing both with us, Patti!

  19. Really enjoyed reading this post. I learned a lot and hope to visit the other blogs listed here. OH! This bracelet is really gorgeous! It is a masterpiece. I love your wirework, it is so original! Thanks for sharing all of this!

  20. lovely pieces, the bracelet is my favorite!

  21. Wonderful bracelet and earrings Patti, you really captured the colours well. And I love that your name means Blooming Flowers!

  22. Glad you didn't use the red white and blue either! Actually think your colour palete is a perfect match to the third one of those van Gogh paintings! Lovely pieces!

  23. I love that you've included the colorway for your EXQUISITE tulip jewelry! (I too created a colorway for the viking knit part of my journey, but with my sick puppy,it was not ready)I love colorways in design, and you have created the most beautiful tulips here.

    I watch the Golden Girls every day, and connecting Dorothy's story of flowers with Rotterdam clicks the information in so well for me! I love how your name means "blooming flowers" and appreciate how you've celebrated your name and heritage in your journey. The windmills, you have created a journey so right, I want to go there! And wear your beautiful tulip jewelry there ;)

    Thank you for the wonderful links to so many gifted artists, your colorway, your travels.

    Your journey takes me to fresh air, spring, renewal, grace.

    rita (TJ)

    1. please, should read "Like the windmills, you have created a journey ..." ty :)

  24. You have created "spring" to wear on a wrist! Such beautiful color, and echo of the colors of the tulips in your picture. I do love those earrings also but the bracelets says it all!

  25. Oh Patti, I'm so glad you chose tulips and equally happy you showed us the other possibilities that crossed your mind. I live in Ottawa, capitol of Canada, and I've grown up with the Tulip festival every year. You really should come see it sometime, it's quite outstanding beds upon beds of tulips, the bulbs are a yearly gift from the Netherlands to Canada. I confess I will get the info wrong if I don't go look it up, I know it was our WWII efforts, but the specifics elude me... ah - here :)

    So I thinking you've made quite a lovely representation, as tulips will always be the first thing that pops into my mind about them

  26. Patti, I love the necklace and earrings!!! Wow!

  27. What an interesting post Patti -you obviously enjoyed this challenge a great deal. I love the bracelet and Mary's clasp was an inspired choice and your wire work is fabulous. The earrings are very pretty too, those beads are a perfect match for one of those tulips. Altogether an informative and beautiful post.

  28. Patti, I have always loved tulips and although I probably won't ever cross the water to see these I was able to visit OR and drink in the beauty of the tulip fields. Your jewelry is so lovely and I have enjoyed this trip with you! Thank you!

  29. Tulips are my favourite flower. Both your pieces captured their colour and freshness beautifully.

  30. Patti, oh goodness, I love both that bracelet and the earrings! Thank you so much for taking us on your inspiration tour :)

  31. Ever since I can remember my favorite flower has been the tulip. I would love to visit the Netherlands when the tulips are blooming.

    Both piece you made are lovely! Thanks so much for the wonderful tour!

  32. Hello Miss Patti! Thank you for joining me on the journey around the world! My sister is a tulip lover as well. I love their cheery colors and proud stance. The jewelry you made is lovely. That clasp by Miss Mary is meant to be seen and the colors are perfect! You were ambitious with making more and I can see that your earrings would be a staple in my closet (I do know how lovely your earrings are! ;-) Enjoy the day. Erin

  33. Beautiful bracelet and earrings (and not blue!)! I love tulips, too, and Van Gogh! Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  34. Both pieces are beautiful! I Love how you tied in the meaning of your name and the colors of the tulips into your designs! Great color combinations and yes, the Mary Harding toggle is gorgeous!