Thursday, December 15, 2016

White As Snow - Allegory Gallery's Mystery Challenge

Allegory Gallery's first fairy tale inspired Mystery Challenge, White as Snow, came to my door with loads of white and red beads and of course the special component made by Andrew Thornton.  

In 19th Century Germany The Brothers Grimm penned the fairy tale Snow White.  Snow White's name came about when her mother pricked her finger with a needle and, seeing the drops of blood on the white snow covering the black window sill, decided she wanted a daughter with "skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony."   I used Andrew's pendant for the necklace along with the white howlite chips, the large red "jewels" and the smaller red faceted glass beads.  Three is a continuing theme in the story so the three large, dark red beads worked perfectly.  The blood red plastic and glass beads really look nice by the white of the howlite.   
Since it's the busy holiday season, I didn't get much of a chance to really try out anything too far out of my comfort zone, but along with the necklace I did try to create a bracelet with the wax linen.  It kept fighting me, wanting to become something else.  At least that's what I told myself after enduring a lot of frustration.  I haven't had a chance to finish what I've been playing around with, but here's a peek into what I'm thinking.

I do like silver with the white and red, but since I usually work with copper, I don't have a lot of "go to" silver items laying around.  But I think with a little silver chain, a hammered toggle that reflex the greys in the howlite, another blood red bead by the toggle...voila! a necklace.

I always try to make a pair of earrings or two, especially one that will go with any necklaces I make.  I did that along with this cute pair I think look like little people : )

Thanks for joining me here.  Be sure to check out Allegory Gallery's Facebook page to see what everyone else created Allegory Gallery Design Challenges.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Allegory Gallery's Magic Potion Special Challenge Reveal

Look at the beautiful beady goodness!
Today is the reveal date for Allegory Gallery's Magic Potion Challenge.  This is one of their "Special" challenges in that one does not know what the kit will include.  The only "clue" was the above graphic.  I have participated in the challenges before, but this was the first "special" one I tried.  Boy, was I ever glad I joined!  One of my favorite colors is purple and this kit was loaded with purples.

Magic Potion Bracelet
Andrew Thornton creates beautiful pendants for these challenges and this time along with the pendant we received a bonus of two star rounds which I knew I'd make earrings out of.  The pendant has stars and swirls on it and is one of my favorites.

The first item I made was a bracelet using the pendant Andrew made and the wonderful large acrylic and glass beads.  There was a black bead with sparkles in it that is absolutely lovely, but unfortunately the photo does not do it justice.  I happened to have a small purple button that matched the colors too - bonus! 

Magic Potion Necklace

Next I made this necklace.  I used the black Obsidian(?) chips, the silver rectangle beads and the small deep red rounds.  I added some vintage crystal roundels and a large dark red faceted round I had for the pendant.

 I made a few pair of earrings to go with the necklace. 
 Then I finished (last night!) with the earrings I originally thought to make.

I think that wax linen cord just makes earrings fun so I used that to add shimmery purples to the bottom of the star rounds.  The best part of all is that I still have plenty of beads left over for more projects!  Thank you Andrew and Allegory Gallery : )

Stop by the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges Facebook page for all the other items that were made for this special challenge. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Summer's End

Early this summer I read a post about a summer bead challenge showing bright, beautiful colors of fruit: lemons and limes, watermelons, cherries, blueberries and other gorgeous fruit and juicy summer colors.  (I couldn't remember exactly which blog it was so I can't add a link).  I was thinking of summer colors and what colors represent summer to me while driving out through the bluffs to La Crosse.  Then it struck me - Orange and White - Traffic Cones!  We travel back and forth to Chicago on a regular basis so the seemingly endless traffic cones lining the highways and byways are a sure sign of summer to me.  During the trip to La Crosse I went to a big box store in Onalaska and perused their collection of bright orange beads.  I grabbed a handful of juicy orange, yellow and some cut white roundels that mimic the reflective quality of the cones and headed to the checkout.

First Attempt

My first idea was to string the beads.  I even added red orange cut rounds which I thought in theory wouldn't work with the orange, but it sorta worked.  They picked up the dark orange in the lampwork beads.  I had added two vintage orange glass beads along with the big box lampwork beads and colorful yellow and orange rounds.  I wasn't happy with it.  I don't like to string beads because I don't trust the crimps, especially with a long string of somewhat heavy glass beads.  The necklace did not do anything for me.  I realize that part of the problem is this method just isn't "me" so I decided to take it apart and start over. (I see now that I didn't even straighten it before snapping the pic - oops).

I thought again about what to do and decided to stick with what I usually do, wire wrap the beads to form a chain.  I added some vintage orange and yellow beads I bought from my friend Willow to the lampwork beads and began again.  This next necklace design has been morphing for a while.  I started with a basic pattern necklace with smaller beads wrapping around the neck.  Then I thought I'd break up the continuous lampwork swirls and throw in some smaller roundels to the rounds.

Second Attempt
Third Attempt

Final Necklace?
Traffic cones... I was needing white.  I dug through my stash of white beads and found some nice vintage diamond shaped  glass beads, and thought that would work well with some sparkly glass roundels. I then decided on an endless chain to represent the endless chain of traffic cones.
Endless Traffic Cones Necklace
I really like the "Endless Traffic Cones" necklace.  It was fun to make and wear, and since it is so simple the reflective qualities of the white roundels and the brightness of the oranges really represent the subject matter.  The necklace looks really good lying on a purple, navy or black t-shirt.

As I was listing the necklace in my Etsy shop, however, I noticed that the orange is flaking off of the glass beads I bought at the big box store!  What?!  Note to self - be sure to really check the beads obtained at a big box retailer!  I usually don't buy a whole lot of beads from them, but every now and then I do find some I like.  I shall be very careful from now on with which ones I do buy.  I did check to make sure there wasn't any paint chipping off of them, but I guess the heat of the summer must've made the paint brittle?  But on a positive note, I can think of the necklace and it's imperfect, chipped beads as a representation of the wear and tear those traffic cones go through, right? : )  The orange and yellow ones in the first necklace are vintage and have no chips in them.  Eesh, so many things are cheap junk these days.

Finally I made a couple pair of earrings to go with the necklaces.  I'm trying to perfect hoops, and I used a wooden dowel we had in the backroom for a mandrel.  It works, but I think the hoops are a tad large for most women's liking, so I will search for a broom handle or something smaller.

Well that's it for my summer colors inspired creations.  I usually don't like the color orange and therefore don't create any jewelry using that color.  I like using more muted colors.  Yet as I was playing around with the beads and after I made the first necklace I found myself looking at orange and other bright colors in a different way.   I'm now in the process of making a few bracelets that are bright green, yellow and white.  More summer colors!

Thanks for joining me here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Allegory Gallery Tribes Challenge Reveal

Allegory Gallery hosts several bead challenges throughout the year (here's a link to the blog  Last year I had participated in a couple of them and had really enjoyed stretching creatively using different colors, beads and supplies.  I wanted to join up again, but challenge reveals were moved to Facebook which I wasn't on so I didn't join in.  But after reading about this challenge in a post by Andrew Thornton, the creative mastermind behind the Allegory Gallery challenges in his blog (, I knew I had to join Facebook and give it a go.

So here I am, new to Facebook (I know, what took me so long?) and since I live in Wisconsin, a proud member of the Forest Tribe.  Here are some photos of what was posted on Allegory Gallery's blog regarding the beads included in the Forest Tribe mix.

I started with Andrew's pendant, then started selecting beads that had the deep, rich colors of the forest.  I had two (nut?, seed?) beads, which have a cool looking texture that reminds me of bark, roots and vines in the forest. I ended up using two beautiful earthy green ceramic beads from Gaea, some vintage glass beads I had on hand including some old crystal and leaf and flower beads.  I wanted that warm, rustic feel to my piece so I used oxidized copper wire to wire wrap the beads.  After adding some flowers to Andrew's pendant, I felt the design needed more flowers (what doesn't?) so I wire wrapped a few more with some leaves thinking I'd just add them to one of the beads.  Since that didn't work out, I wrapped them on a headpin and tried to use that for a component.  Well, that didn't work either, so I settled on a piece of textured and oxidized copper sheet I made a while back.  A few more bugs needed to be worked out of the design (yes, it was this morning when I finished), and voila! I give you my Forest Tribe Necklace.

I tried a few ideas out and finally came to my final design. 

Flowers and leaves were added to Andrew's pendant.

Final Design of Forest Tribe Necklace.
I really enjoy participating in Andrew and Allegory Gallery's challenges.  I highly recommend them to anyone out there who's starting out (or is a seasoned pro) in jewelry making.  The bead mixes are full of beautiful beads and Andrew's pendant is always delightful.  Go check out what everyone else has made at Allegory Gallery's Design Challenges Group on Facebook. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Welcome to ubetchabeads blog!

This is my first blog post for ubetchabeads, a handcrafted jewelry line that I have been selling on Etsy called "ubetchabeads1" since 2012, and at local craft fairs.  At ubetchabeads1 I offer my customers casual jewelry that's a mix of classic styles with a bohemian feel.  Beautiful beads are always the stars of each piece.

Recently I have been working with copper sheet metal and have created some jewelry pieces with rustic copper dangles.  Triangles have also been a motif I've been working with, but I've found that I need to really file down the pointed edges as rounding them makes the piece a lot more comfortable to wear - no pointy edges poking you!  
Here are a few preliminary photos of my recent work.  Photographing my jewelry has presented a whole new host of challenges with the copper elements getting weird highlights on them causing the stamping to either look too dark or just plain awful.  

This first photo is of a pair of earrings I made with the copper triangles.  Even though I filed and filed the edges, I think I'll pull them apart and file some more - they still feel a bit pokey!

This necklace features a lovely ceramic bead from Gaea Handmade.

Come join me as I plan to use this blog to describe my process, projects, tips and hopefully not too many frustrations as I continue to create my own vision of casual jewelry.  I'll also participate in some bead blog hops and contests  along the way and will introduce those of you who are new to jewelry making to some of the wonderful jewelry designers and bead makers out there.

Thanks for joining me here.