Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beads Baubles and Jewels Project...

In the second segment of the episode of Beads Baubles and Jewels that I appear in, I show viewers at home how to make decorative bead caps using two-part epoxy clay.  It's a fun technique to add texture, disguise a wire-wrap gone wrong, or to coverup a chip.  If you're interested in step-by-step instructions, they've posted them online!  CLICK HERE to see the tutorial.

The great thing about two-part epoxy clay is that it cures rock-hard and can be customized with different textures, pigments, and embellished with chatons and flatback crystals.  So you can let your creativity run wild with this technique.

If you would like to see the episode I appear in (and are not in an area that airs the show), episode 2010 will premier ONLINE on Friday, September 19th starting at noon.  Just visit the website and follow the links to the latest episode being shared.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Beads, Baubles and Jewels: Episode 2010...

Did you know that I'm going to be on TV?  Last year in November, I filmed an episode of Beads Baubles and Jewels with the lovely, Katie Hacker.  The show airs on some digital PBS stations and I've heard from folks around the country that they've caught the episode already!  If you're like me and live in an area that doesn't air the show on TV, you can see it online!  The episode debuts online next week on Friday, September 19th starting at noon!  Just CLICK HERE to visit the website.

Initially, I was a little apprehensive, as this is the first time that I've been on TV.  (It didn't help that I white-knuckled it through a lake effect blizzard to get to the studio.)  But once I got there, I had a lot of fun.  It was so nice to see old friends and make new ones!  Katie and the crew were so patient and made the process a breeze!

In episode 2010, "Art Inspired Jewelry Making", we quickly chat about my artistic background, blogging, and starting a business.  Then we shift into the second segment, where I demonstrate how to make decorative bead caps out of two-part epoxy clay.  In the last segment, Katie shows how to make a necklace with beaded chain.  She uses one of my porcelain pendants as a focal in her lovely (and easy-to-make) design!

This is a necklace that I made using the epoxy clay bead cap.  It's a wonderful technique if you've chipped a stone or want to add a little bit of an organic vibe to your wire-wrapped pendants.  In this piece, I've used a piece of amethyst (embellished with the epoxy clay technique) on a length of chain with a vermeil spacer from Singaraja Imports and Swarovski crystal dangles.

If you get a chance, I'd love for you to take a look and watch the episode.  If you like it, I hope you'll comment with wild abandon and share the link.  I had a lot of fun and would love to be invited back.  So make sure you check into on Friday, September 19th starting at noon to see the episode!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fly Higher...

One of the things that I believe in fervently is education.  It's a beautiful thing to want to hone your skills and broaden your horizons.  I think it's important to challenge yourself creatively and push your understanding.  Heather Powers of HumbleBeads wants to do that.  She wants to further her education with a "dream art class" and I want to see her do just that!  Right now she is raising funds and I encourage you to take a look at her GoFundMe page.  CLICK HERE to visit her fundraising page and help support a fellow artist's dream!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pantone's Top 10 for Spring 2015...

While a good many folks in the northern hemisphere have autumn on their minds, Pantone is ever-looking forward and just released their Top Ten Color Selections for Spring 2015 Women's wear.  The theme is "En Plein Air" and is all about unplugging from the modern world and returning to the serenity of nature.  The top ten palette (with a notable amount of blue in different shades) is subdue and toned down, but utilize pops of bold color as punchy accents.

I love how they describe this collection of colors.  "An eclectic, ethereal mix of understated brights, pale pastels and nature-like neutrals takes center stage as designers draw from daydreams of simpler times.  Remembrances of retro delights, folkloric and floral art, and the magical worlds of tropical landscapes restore a sense of wellbeing."  CLICK HERE to read the full report.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Festival Lights Pinterest Board...

Many thanks go out to all the challengers who purchased Festival Lights kits!  The Mystery Component Reveal is set for Monday, September 15th and the Blog Hop Reveal with everyone's creations is scheduled for Thursday, September 18th.  I can't wait to see what everyone made!

If you're drawing a blank with this challenge and need supplemental inspiration, there's a new Festival Lights Pinterest board!  One of our regular challengers and a friend of the shop, Alison Herrington, started the boards for each challenge.  I've even added a pin or two to some of the boards!  To check out the Festival Lights board, CLICK HERE.

We also started a new Facebook group for the challengers!  It's a great place to keep up with current announcements, share in inspiration, and keep in touch with your fellow challengers!  CLICK HERE to check out the Facebook group.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

Carmi's Art/Life World
I have a sweet resin project on's blog this week. Paper Embellishments with Jewelry Resin featuring vintage postcards.

Mini Canvases
Cherie makes some mini canvases for her office.

A Bead A Day
Ready for a crafty weekend?  Lisa just discovered a crafty necklace project that inspires creativity!

Resin Crafts Blog
A good experiment in resin layering results in some one-of-a-kind "cubes of resin".

Where to Find Cheap Unique Craft Supplies
I bet you have your own sources for inexpensive craft supplies.  Here are some of my faves!  Do you have any others?

Beading Arts
Cyndi has a review of a fabulous new book by Lark Crafts called, "Beading All-Stars".  All your favorite designers in one gorgeous package!

Guitar String Jewelry
Video podcast episode 4 including some "rockin" jewelry and a litter fiber too.

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Whole Bead Show in New York City...

I'm super excited to be returning to New York City!  It'll be the first time that I've been back since we moved to Pennsylvania.  I'll be teaching at The Whole Bead Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion!  If you're in the area, I highly encourage you to come out for the show!  Not only will I be there, but so will a host of awesome vendors from across the country!  The show runs from Friday, October 17th to Sunday, October 19th.

I'll be teaching two classes while I'm there, and they should be a lot of fun!  CLICK HERE to see the full list of classes at the event.

The first class that I'll be teaching is called, "Making Faces".  Students will get a crash course in sculpting faces.  The polymer clay creations can be used as cabochons in bead embroidery, turned into pendants, or utilized in art doll projects.  Class will cover the basics of working with polymer clay, creating customized sculpting tools, and finishing options for the sculptures.

The class will be held on Friday, October 17th from 4PM to 6PM.

It's only $55 and covers materials as well as my teaching fee.

The second class that I'll be teaching is the "Mixed Media Mod Brooch".  This fast-paced class will cover several mixed media techniques like simple brooch fabrication, image transfer on polymer clay, and working with two-part epoxy clay.  Students will create customized tools and learn useful techniques that have endless possibilities and applications.  In the process, they'll create a fun pin-back brooch!

The class will be held on Saturday, October 18th from 10AM to 12:30PM.

This class is also $55 and covers materials, tool usage, and my teaching fee!

I wanted to keep the classes as affordable as possible to make them as accessible as I could.  (I'm even couch surfing to keep my expenses down to keep the class fees down.)  The classes are small with a maximum of 10 students in each class, so if you're interested, make sure to let me know ASAP!  You can call the shop 724-610-37770 or you can email me.  I'll be putting together invoices for interested students this upcoming week and will be taking sign-ups until the day of the classes (unless they fill up first).

Speaking of the Whole Bead Show, did you know that you can keep up with the vendors, classes, and events in their Facebook group?  CLICK HERE to check out their new Facebook page!  It's a great way to keep an eye on all the show goodness!

To BeadFest and Back...

It's been a little while since we made our way out to Philadelphia for the BeadFest show.  After the big shows, I always feel a little blue.  The shows are a convergence point of some of my favorite people and artisans – a swirling, melting pot of creative energy that fills the air like iridescent bubbles.  Once I'm home, I miss my tribe.  I miss that crackling energy.  I miss all the beautiful things that line the maze of tables and convention center blue and white cloth dividers.  And usually, I throw myself into my work to lessen the brunt of that absence.  I go through a ritual of unpacking our purchases, looking at photos and slowly easing back into the day-to-day routines.  There's a finality to doing the laundry, folding the clothes, and then writing about the experiences on the road.

We didn't know if we were going to go to the show at all this year.  I had just come back from a trip to North Carolina, where I attended a gem show in Franklin.  Realistically, we didn't need to restock so soon, but we wanted to see all our friends and familiar faces... so at the last minute, we made plans to go to BeadFest.

Here's a recap in pictures and faces of the weekend:

Kay (with a picture of her new baby) from Star's Clasps, Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studio, Linda Landig, Lesley Watt of THEAElements, and Maureen Henriques of Pumpkin Hill Beads.

Diane Hawkey, Ashley Bunting, Elisa Jennings Sullivan of Swirls Jewelry, and Patti Bullard of Wubbers.

Candie Cooper, Brenda Schweder of Now That's a Jig, Nealey Patel who wrote, "Jewelry for the New Romantic", and Eva Sherman.

Yvonne of My Elements by Yvonne, Abby and Ashley (again) from Xuron, and Marsha Minutella of Marsha Neal Studio.

Marti Brown of the Dragon's Odyssey, Liz and Sak of Saki Silver, and Leslie Pope of Twisted Sistah Beads.

Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio, Heather Powers of Humble Beads, Anne Gardanne, and Jolene from Bazaar Star Beadery.

(I usually don't post pictures of myself in my recaps, but I liked this picture that Perry Bookstein of York Beads took of me and Jennifer VanBenschoten of Beading Daily, Sunyoung of Ezel Findings and my brother-in-law, Greg, from Green Girl Studios.  Greg is currently working on a music project called Burn Report.  CLICK HERE to check it out.

Near the end of the show, I took a panoramic of the convention center.

While we were in the area, we were fortunate enough to help celebrate Margot Potter's birthday and their return to Pennsylvania.  Their home and studio are super cute!  I love their separate little red studio building.  I'm excited for the Potter family and looking forward to seeing all the great projects that they have in the works come to fruition.
We also got to see William's former roommate, who showed us around the city.  It was nice to walk around and explore.  We had a tasty meal at Khyber Pass Pub.  (They had excellent pulled pork and brisket!)  We then headed over to see the lights at Spruce Street Harbor Park.  After walking around the waterfront for a bit and enjoying the festive lights, we met up with a group of people to Morgan's Pier for dancing, drinks and fireworks.

The weekend was packed with friends both old and new, beautiful things, and good times.  Until next time, BeadFest!

Thursday, September 04, 2014


I saw the sunset and thought how very much the fading light and end of summer are alike... a smear of vibrant colors, before the cool darkness settles in.  This has been one of the busiest summers in recent memory, each day brimming with activities, projects, and plans.  In this rush, I've felt a little like I've been floating along with the rapid current.  Being swept away can be thrilling and exciting, but at times, the speed of the spinning whirlwind can be disorienting.

I've been feeling the need to slow down, refocus, and realign lately.  With this in mind, I've been trying to implement new routines to make all that possible.  Some attempts were more successful than others.  Some things will take time to congeal before they're fully ready.  I'm optimistic though and looking forward to restoring the balance.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Midnight Magic Challenge SOLD OUT...

I'm super excited to see what everyone will create for the Midnight Magic Challenge!  All the kits are now sold out and will ship out in the beginning of September! Many thanks go out to all those who purchased kits!  Thank you!

Midnight Magic Challenge...

I was talking with a friend about how I've been bitten by the Halloween bug.  Some years it happens... other years, not so much.  This year, I've already been planning out projects and am excited to decorate the shop!  Then we started talking about the kits and a lightbulb went on in my brain!  Why not have a holiday themed challenge?  What better way to really get in the mood for Halloween than a creative challenge?

Usually, I've tried to steer clear of anything too literal, mostly aiming for unique color palettes and different points of inspiration.  But I really wanted to embrace the season and have fun with a Halloween-themed challenge!  Thusly... the Midnight Magic Challenge was born!  The kit plays with traditional colors like pumpkin oranges, carbon blacks, aged coppers and includes several seasonally inspired components.

To make it even more fun, I've decided to limit it to ONLY 13 (lucky) kits and have set the reveal date for Thursday, October 30th.

Technically, this a pre-sale, even though I have already mostly selected everything.  Before I post official pictures of the finished kit, I want to scout the upcoming bead show this weekend and see if there's anything special to add to the kit.  I also have to make the Mystery Component.

If you're interested in participating in this challenge, CLICK HERE.  There are only 13 kits, so grab it while you still can!

The kits will ship out in the beginning of September.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Things I've Made...

It's not very often that I get two days off in a row nowadays.  I usually find some kind of errand or task that must be taken care of with great urgency and that eats into my creative time.  Fortunately for me, I had Sunday and Monday off!  While I did have some things that I had to attend to, I mostly had time to make things... and make things I did!

I made some polymer clay sugar skull ornaments/pendants.  I made a set a few months ago and had many requests to make more!  I'm parting with these guys for $25 each.

I finally cast the cat heads that I sculpted a few months ago, sanded them down, drilled them out, and painted the feline-themed beads.  These beads are $18 each.

After I made the sugar skulls, I decided to make polymer clay "sugar bones" to match.  They are drilled in the middle, from top to bottom, making the bones lay horizontally.  These come with the sugar skulls complimentary.

I also had time to try my hand at GlassClay.  I was hesitant to try it out.  The firing schedule seemed pretty daunting and an earlier experiment did not yield good results.  I tried it again and made these rustic-themed beads.  I wasn't smitten with them, so I jazzed them up with a little bit of gold-colored heat-set paint.

I even managed to make some more polymer clay beads.  They're big!  The seven that I made are pretty lightweight and easy to incorporate into a project.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Festival Lights Mystery Component Reveal...

Today is the REVEAL of the Mystery Component for the Festival Lights Challenge.  Up until now, only the participants of the challenge were privy to this information!

The Mystery Component is a polymer clay pendant made by me.  I wanted it to have the look of an old carnival ride, slightly rusty with faded paint.  In the dark, the lights transform the rides into a wonderland of color and excitement!

To find out more about the Festival Lights Challenge, CLICK HERE.  And keep your eyes peeled for the Blog Hop Reveal where participants of the challenge will share their creations!  The Blog Hop is scheduled for Thursday, September 18th.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Moon Garden Challenge SOLD OUT...

Many thanks go out to everyone who purchased a pre-sale kit for the Moon Garden Challenge!  Thank you!  The kits are now sold out and will ship in the beginning of September.  I love the color palette of this challenge and am super stoked!  I can't wait to see what everyone creates!

Fall Jewelry Stringing Magazine...

Since we opened the store, I haven't been publishing as much as I used to.  Even when I have the best intentions and actually make pieces for submission, they usually get shuffled to the bottom of the pile and by the time I remember their existence, I've missed my deadlines.

However, I did manage to squeeze in a bracelet and a pair of earrings in the most recent issue of Jewelry Stringing.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Jewelry Stringing.  It was the first magazine that I submitted to and was published in... oh, ten years ago or so.  When I look back at those old issues, I see how much I've grown and how much my style has changed.  In fact, it seems like the whole jewelry world has grown along with me, because when I look at the magazines nowadays, there's a new level of sophistication and the technical skills included in the instructions have advanced so much.

Even though things have progressed, the old issues still sparkle with inspiration and I love going through the back-issues and revisiting ideas and remembering all the friends and memories that I've made along the way.

If you fancy the earrings that I made for the Fall 2014 Jewelry Stringing issue, I have the bronze skull charms available in the Allegory Gallery online shop.  CLICK HERE to visit the link.  I paired the skull charms with shibuichi earwires from Saki Silver, Swarovski crystal pearls in Iridescent Green, and tiny faceted iolite rondelles.  Check out the magazine to see the finished earrings and other great designs by a host of talented jewelry-makers!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Moon Garden Challenge (Pre-Sale)...

I've been super busy lately and have some big projects on the horizon.  I wanted to give myself a little breathing room and decided to push up the release of the next kit:  Moon Garden.  I've been gathering up the components of the Moon Garden kit for awhile now and already have it mostly done.  I just need to finish up the Mystery Component(s).

I was inspired by natural moonstone and labradorite.  I imagined an otherworldly garden where the alien flowers and lush flora were made up of these stones.  It's a blend of pale peaches, cool grays, milky whites, and aged silver with pops of inky black.  I smitten with this color combination.  It's subtle and elegant, and is a great palette for fall, transitioning into winter.

The tentative reveal date is scheduled for Thursday, November 13th!

If you're interested in getting a kit and participating in the next challenge, CLICK HERE.  Hurry though!  Kits usually sell out FAST!

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: This is a pre-sale and the kits will be mailed out in the beginning of September.

Royal Feather Challenge...

Many thanks go out to those who participated in the Royal Feather pre-sale!  Thank you!  The kits are all sold out!

If you're not familiar with the challenges, it's a fun and informal way to play, create, and challenge yourself with a pre-selected set of components.  Although all the kits have been sold out for a few weeks now, I wanted to share what is included in the Royal Feather Kit.   I'm super excited to see what everyone who got a kit will make!

To participate, challengers had to order a Design Kit.  This kit features a selection of premium Czech glass (both vintage and new), vintage lucite, vintage Japanese glass, vintage French seed beads, Chinese crystal, decoupaged bamboo beads, African glass, vintage Hamilton gold, and banana leaf covered bamboo beads, and Irish waxed linen.  The kit also includes a Luxury Bead Blend.

The Luxury Bead Blend consists of Japanese Miyuki seed beads, Toho seed beads, Matsuno seed beads, Czech glass, charlottes, semi-precious stones, Swarovski crystals, antique Venetian seed beads, French seed beads, vintage sequins, vintage Japanese glass, glass pearls, and freshwater pearls.

But wait... there's more!  The pictures show a lovely mix of materials, but what isn't shown is the Mystery Component!  Each kit will come with a special, handmade component that will remain a mystery until it arrives at their doors!  The Mystery Component might actually be more than just one bead or pendant!  It's a surprise!

The Mystery Component will be publicly revealed on Monday, September 15th!

Participants will have approximately two months to work on their projects.  In selecting the components for this challenge, I imagined a fan of peacock feathers in jewel tones.  I wanted to blend verdant greens, regal blues, and luscious purples with pops of aged bronze and burnished golds.

With the kit, using as much or as little of it as one likes, participants create a piece that showcases their creativity, individuality and artistic expression.  Ideally the creations will spotlight the gorgeous selection of beads included, but the sky is the limit with one can use and create!

We've asked that the Challengers keep their projects secret until the reveal date!  (Of course, if you want to post teasers, please do!  It'll add to the merriment and excitement!)

The reveal date is set for Thursday, October 16th.  Post a picture on your blog or send one to me to post on your behalf (if you don't have a blog of your own).  The Royal Feather Challenge will end with a blog hop, sharing all the amazing creations with your fellow challengers!

There were only 20 Design Kits available, with one set aside for myself!

The Design Kits will be shipped out Tuesday, August 19th via Priority Mail.

Thanks again for purchasing the kits via the pre-sale!  And keep your eyes peeled for the Reveal on October 16th!

The next kit that will go on sale is Moon Garden!  Moon Garden will be available for pre-sale tonight at 9PM EST.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

30 Words Thursday...

Beneath the branches, resting in the cool, dark shadows: cobwebs bejeweled with dewdrops and fallen flowers.  After the rain, before the sun, an ephemeral tableaux – only in this fleeting moment.

Dark Bloom Challenge Reveal...

Today is the Reveal for the Dark Bloom Challenge!  If you're not familiar with the challenges, I put together a Design Kit and offer them on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Challengers claim their kits and then I send them off around the world!  Each participant has about two months to create a piece and at the end of the challenge, we all share what we made!

It's a really fun way to challenge your creativity and it's always interesting to see what will spark someone's imagination and pique their creativity!  Sometimes there are common themes and then other times, things are wildly different!

This is a snapshot of the kit!  It included lots of goodies!  I added lots of Czech glass (both new and vintage), hex-cut Japanese seed beads, hematite, iron filigree, African glass, lampwork glass, waxed linen, vintage lucite, and a gunmetal toggle.  Plus, a Luxury Bead Blend!

Participants could use as much or as little of the kit as they liked!  They could also incorporate their own beads!

Here's a close-up of the bead blend! It's a random assortment of all kinds of pretty little beads in purples, charcoal, blacks, and grays with pops of fuchsia!  I used a blend of Czech glass, semi-precious stones, Swarovski crystals, different kinds of Japanese seed beads, and so much more!

The kits included something else too!  Each kit came with a Mystery Component!  This time around it was a polymer clay pendant by me!  I carved a mold of a stylized Ancient Roman flower pattern.

And without further ado... here is the REVEAL:

Crystal Lombardo Farrell made this necklace.  Here's what she had to say about it:  "I've had this pendant that Andrew made for a little while now.  I love it because it's both so beautiful and so bizarre.  I have tried a few different designs for it because it is clearly too special to just put on a chain, but none seemed to do it justice.  I added some beads from the kit along with some others I had, and tried to keep it asymmetrical but sill harmonious.  I intend to keep this one for myself and wear it, so I used smaller beads in the back so it wouldn't tangle in my hair."

Laurel Ross made this necklace.  Here's what she had to say about it:  "I saw a design on Pinterest with a similar concept and decided to take it to next level!  I used beads from the Dark Bloom kit and leftover beads from the Radiant Orchid kit to create beaded loops that I strung on a beaded base necklace.  It has a lot of fun movement!"

This necklace was made by Geri Colgrove.  Here's what she had to say about it:  "I call this piece Midnight Elegance.  I used most of the kit to create the wire-wrapped link chains, plus I made a fabricated metal and resin focal.  I dangled knotted waxed linen from the base of the focal."
This bracelet was made by Alison Herrington.  Here's what she said about it:  "This piece is made entirely of beads from the kit!  I used a knotted waxed linen technique from Lorelei Eurto to make this braided bracelet."

This bracelet was made by me.  I used a technique from "Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded Ropes: 24 Wearable Jewelry Projects in Multiple Stitchesbook.  It's a spiral stitch that's embellished with peyote stitch.  It has a nice studded look, almost as if it were speckled with dewdrops.  I also used the polymer clay focal as a dangle and used the corrugated iron bead to visually beef up the point of connection from the toggle loop and the base of the bracelet.

But wait... that's not all!  Please swing by the blogs of the other participants from around the world!  Check out what they made for the Dark Bloom Challenge!

Karin Grosset Grange
Carolyn Lawson
Holly Baldwin
Jeanne Steck
Ann Schroeder
Kari Asbury
Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Alison Herrington, Geri Colgrove, and Crystal Lombardo Farrell

The Festival Lights Challenge is up next!  The Reveal is scheduled for Thursday, September 18th.  Check back here to see all the lovely creations!

Also, tomorrow (Friday, August 15th) the Moon Garden Challenge kits will go on sale!  Swing by tomorrow and get ahold of your kit!  If you're interested in participating, the kits sell out super fast!!  So make sure to grab one while you still can!