Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fire and Water Challenge

Hi, welcome to this month's Allegory Gallery's challenge: Water & Fire Mystery Competition.  As with every challenge Allegory Gallery presents, Andrew Thornton selects a beautiful collection of various beads, each with a particular color palette. For this competition, Andrew states that "when we created the concept of this challenge, we thought about forces of creation and we instantly thought of the elements...water and fire both have many beneficial attributes as life-givers and influencers of change, but they can also be harmful and detrimental to life.  Water and fire also cancel each other out.  As with all things, there's a balance."  A new twist to this challenge is that there are two kits - one for Fire and the other for Water.  Participants wouldn't know which kit they were getting until the package arrived.  How exciting!  Not only is there the element of Christmas morning excitement (at least for me) of opening the mailbox and receiving a package of beady goodies, one wouldn't know which kit they would receive until the package was opened too.  What fun!

Fire Challenge Kit full of juicy yellows and oranges

I received a Fire kit, full of juicy oranges, reds and yellows.  I usually don't design with these colors, especially orange, but I gotta tell ya, I absolutely loved the kit!  I remember reading long ago that being a Leo, I'm a "fire sign" and that yellow and orange are "my colors".  I haven't thought of that for years, but I suppose there must be some truth to that because I really was drawn to the fiery colors of the kit.

I messed around with the beads not really settling on any specific design.  I made some earrings, then strung the Carnelian chips onto the wax linen for a necklace, but kept thinking of how to represent "Fire" for the competition.  I guess it was the whole Leo Astrological information that kept coming back to me, but I decided I want to create a sun for the Fire challenge.  The large lucite(?) bead has swirls of dark red, orange and yellow in it so I thought that would be a perfect center for my sun.  I scoured the wire making books I have on hand and found Kelly Tibbetts' design for her Avenging Angel pendant in Wire Jewelry Start to Finish by the publisher of Bead & Button magazine.  I must admit that I have many books and magazines for jewelry making but I usually fall short of actually trying the projects shown.  Anyway, Kelly's design looked like half a sun to me, so I practiced the technique until I actually "got" the rhythm of the wire pattern.  I continued making smaller then larger rays, alternating the lengths in somewhat of a random pattern to form the corona of the sun.

When I finished the sun pendant, I tried different cords and chains but settled on a combination of chain and orange and yellow small round beads from the kit to tie in the oranges and yellows of the sun. When I was playing around with the beads I made a "flame" clasp, so I added that to the Sunburst necklace adding a vintage yellow orange bead I had in my stash.  Here is my competition piece:

Fiery Sunburst Necklace for Allegory Gallery's Fire & Water Competition Challenge

Close-up of Sun Pendant

Fiery Sunburst Necklace
Carnelian Chip Necklace
Carnelian Chip Necklace
Earrings using the juicy yellow and orange beads from the kit

Yellow and orange beads from the kit with Czech glass and sun charms

Thanks for joining me here.  Don't forget to stop by the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges page on Facebook to see what everyone else made.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Art Elements' April Component of the Month

Ocean Waves Necklace

Hello and welcome to my entry for April's Art Elements Design ChallengeArt Elements, a blog celebrating creativity and art expressed in craft form, host monthly design challenges.  I had the privilege of being chosen to receive one of  the lampwork glass beads made by Jen Cameron
When creating these beautiful beads, Jen said that first she was thinking of the Northern Lights for her inspiration.  As time went on, however, she noted that the beads had more of an ocean feel.  She textured the outside of the bead with swirls.  How she achieved her technique is described here.

The bead I received has more of an ocean feel.

Close Up of Jen Cameron's Lampwork Bead
In deciding how to design using this bead, I started by choosing sterling silver wire.  I thought the silver would be a good choice to contrast the dark blue and could also pull out the sandy brown and white in the bead.  Silver also reflects the way sun sparkles off the water.

To echo the ocean feel and the swirls on the bead, I made a large swirl clasp and figure eight links for a touch of some bubbles. 

I chose bronze faceted Czech glass, dark blue crystal and champagne, mercury finished Czech glass beads to pull out the colors in the focal bead.

Vintage "Sandy" Beads
In digging around in my stash I found these vintage Italian(?) lamp work beads that seem to have a sandy, beach like feel to them.  I gave the larger ones some swirls to set them apart a bit.

I love how the silver, crystal and bronze beads subtly sparkle in this necklace and I'm also very glad
to have more of the vintage beads so I could make a pair of earrings to coordinate with the necklace.
Sandy Beaches Earrings

Thank you for joining me here!  Be sure to stop by the other designer's posts to see their creations:

Guest Designers:
Sarajo Wentling
Deb Stewart (you are here!)

Art Elements Team:
Sue Kennedy
Laney Mead
Lesley Watt
Claire Fabian
Karen Totten
Cooky Schock
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Caroline Dewison
Cathy Spivey Mendola
Niky Sayers
Lindsay Starr
Jen Cameron

Monday, April 17, 2017

Forest Journey Mystery Competition

Hello again and welcome to the reveal of Allegory Gallery's latest challenge, the Forest Journey Mystery Competition
As with all the challenges/competitions that Andrew Thornton designs, this kit was loaded with many beautiful beads.  The concept of this challenge involved "thought(s) about the hero's journey...They must leave behind the status quo...where remarkable things can happen..." 

Every trip into the forest can set one on a remarkable journey of sights, sounds and sensations.  In creating this necklace, I wanted to express the different textures and shades of light found in the forest:  the smoothness of wooden branches chewed bare of bark by animals, the roughness of gnarled roots, broken branches and sticks, and rays of sunlight streaming through the forest canapy, revealing leafy plants dappled with delicate forest flowers. 

Most of my design features beads from the kit although I did add some Czech glass flowers, leaves and wavy glass discs.  I also found the delightful leather cord which has metallic flecks of copper on it from barsikmoy, a fellow Etsy seller.

Journey into the forest for more beautiful designs by visiting Allegory Gallery's Design Challenges Facebook page here.

Thanks for joining me!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Queen of Hearts Challenge

Have you ever started on a project and felt like everything was coming together, that you would certainly love the outcome of the finished piece only to be sorely disappointed when it just isn't meant to be?  Yeah, well that's what I encountered in the beginning of the Queen of Hearts Challenge hosted by Allegory Gallery.  According to AG's blog, this kit was "loosely inspired by two things: Queen of Hearts appearing in Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and Valentine's Day." 

I'm not really a fan of pink, I don't design with it much and so I started second guessing my decision to join this challenge when the package arrived.  I was thrilled when I opened the package because there was more than just pink and red beads in the kit; there was a lot of purple in the package too.  Yea!  There were large plastic, glass and wood beads, some large vintage Lucite beads in deep red with golden speckles.  The kit also included a nice strand of Rose Quartz.  I quickly started to design a necklace using the large Lucite beads, some of the Rose Quartz and the small plastic purple crackle beads.  I planned on tying some purple leather cord to the two beaded strands.

The necklace was looking really good - on my bead board - but when I picked it up to try it on... well I just didn't like the weight (or lack thereof) of the piece.  I usually don't use plastic beads in my designs, but after participating in these challenges I've started to like the vintage Lucite beads.  They work well in earrings since they are so lightweight.  You also could design a statement necklace with a bunch of these large, lightweight beads and not have the necklace weigh you down.

Anyway, I found myself so bummed out by not having my necklace turn out as I wanted that I got into a bit of a creative funk.  So I thought, o.k. this is a challenge, so how do I challenge myself?  I usually make jewelry with copper wire so I went the other way, grabbing the lovely Rose Quartz and knotting it onto the Irish Wax Linen.  I alternated with the light purple glass rounds and used a vintage Czech glass button for the closure.  The button has a beautiful iridescent shine to it.  This necklace feels so warm on as the stones heat up from being on your body.  As weird as this might sound, it's very comforting to wear. Rose quartz is known as the love gemstone representing love in all its different forms. It is supposed to "bring optimism pertaining to love" and "bring happiness to the wearer."

This is such a departure for me style wise.  It makes me think of Mother's Day so perhaps I should pursue making this type of necklace for spring craft fairs?

I wanted to showcase Andrew's pendant, so it's just a bead and a crown for the Queen.

I also made a couple pair of earrings - one small Rose Quartz dangle
and these funky ones with two of the cool vintage purple beads. 

Check out the other jewelry designer's creations at Allegory Gallery's Design Challenges Facebook page.

Thanks for joining me here!

Next up... Forest Journey Mystery Challenge.  The reveal date is April 13!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Frog Prince Design Challenge

Image of Mystery Challenge: Frog Prince+

Allegory Gallery's fairy tale mystery challenge for January is the Frog Prince.  This challenge also celebrates Pantone's Color of the Year for 2017: Greenery.  Greenery is described as a "fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature's greens revive, restore and renew."  What a wonderful color to receive in the mail this time of year!  Just look at the luscious green beads I received in the kit:

Beautiful shades of green in the Frog Prince Mystery Challenge
I find it interesting that, although I don't really care for green as a color I wear myself, I absolutely love to play around with the color when I make jewelry.  I guess it's my longing to dig in the dirt, especially this time of year, and to tend to flowers, shrubs and vegetables that draw me to this color.  I started my challenge pieces with the gorgeous frog pendant that Andrew Thornton included in the kit.

Frog Prince Necklace with Andrew Thornton Pendant

I love the little frog pendant and wanted to highlight it in my necklace.  I chose a green faceted teardrop bead along with this really cool blue and green crackle square bead, then wire wrapped them together to form the dangle with the pendant.  Leaves came to mind when I was thinking about frogs, so I used the pressed glass leaf beads from the kit, more faceted teardrops and some small green leaves I had in my collection. 

My next design is a long, 33 inch necklace I made using the beautiful green seed beads from the kit. I added some copper chain, metallic copper colored seed beads and some Czech glass English Cut matte metallic beads I had on hand.  The large bead I used in the pendant design has a greenish gold tint to it and the vintage Lucite drop is a lovely mix of blueish greens with a bit of gold swirled in.

I usually try to make at least one pair of earrings using the kit.  I made two:  in the first one I wanted to use the interesting polymer clay beads, but alas, I broke one of them attempting to make the hole just a little bit bigger... sniff.  So I found some old lampwork beads I had on hand that looked sort of like frog eyes to me - albeit unevenly dilated frog eyes : ) - for my design using the wax linen cord and more of the small beads.  

In my last pair of earrings I used some polymer clay beads with some twisted yellow green beads on the bottom.  I really like how these look on but I've been having a hard time getting a good photo of them.

That's it for my challenge pieces.  Please join Allegory Gallery's Design Challenges Facebook page to see what everyone else made.

Thanks for joining me here today and come back on February 23 for the next Mystery Challenge - "Queen of Hearts".  I can't wait to see what William and Andrew have in that kit - thanks guys!