Friday, December 12, 2014

Marsala Valentine Challenge...

This is the latest Design Kit Challenge!  Let me introduce you to the Marsala Valentine Challenge!  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.  Let's see what you can make!

To participate, you must purchase a Design Kit. This kit features a selection of antique Venetian seed beads, premium Czech glass (both new and vintage), vintage lucite, hessonite garnet, red tiger's eye, African glass, carved jade, red creek jasper, hand-dyed recycled sari silk ribbon, Swarovski crystal, and a Luxury Bead Blend.

The Luxury Bead Blend consists of Japanese Miyuki seed beads, Toho seed beads, freshwater pearls, vintage trade beads, Czech glass (both old and new), African recycled glass, jade, rhodonite, peanut beads, rudraksha beads, jasper, agate, coral, red tiger's eye, garnets, Chinese crystal, goldstone, Swarovski crystal, vintage sequins, Germain glass, vintage Japanese glass, and glass pearls.

But wait... there's more!  The pictures show a luscious mix of materials, but what isn't show is the Mystery Component!  Each kit will come with a special, handmade component that will remain a mystery until it arrives at your door!

The Mystery Component will be publicly revealed on Monday, January 12th, 2015!

Pantone selected Marsala to be the Color of the Year for 2015.  It's an earthy shade of burgundy wine.  I was inspired to create the latest kit around this brick-red color.  Since this is a kit for February, I thought that I'd spotlight Valentine's Day and compliment the Color of the Year with a blend of juicy reds, deep garnets, and warm pinks.  This is a love letter to the new Color of the Year.

I also used the Pantone Spring Color Report for 2015 to select another accent color, Strawberry Ice.  It's perfect for Valentine's Day inspired creations.

If you've seen the challenges before, then you know that there are lots of different design choices that can create unique pieces, and a single kit can produce several pieces if one desires.

With your kit, using as much or as little of it as you like, create a piece that showcases your creativity, individuality, and artistic expression. Ideally your creation will spotlight the great assortment of beads included, but the sky's the limit with what you can make! Keep your project secret until the reveal date!

The reveal date is set for Thursday, February 19th, 2015!

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 Marsala Valentine Challenge will end in a blog hop, sharing all the lovely creations with your fellow participants! 

There are only 20 Design Kits available (with one set aside for myself)! Once we receive your order, we will process your kit and send it out within five business days. Hurry! Supplies are limited and are on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE basis! (Sorry, no exceptions!)

I also wanted to mention that all the Design Kits will be shipped with Priority mail. This can take anywhere from one business day to fourteen. For international participants, it may take longer! If you know that it takes a long time to reach your destination (from Southwestern Pennsylvania) please place your orders early! I will do my best to get your kits out as early as possible, but unfortunately can't be held responsible if it arrives late due to the postal service. All sales of the Design Kits are final and there are no returns or exchanges. With that being said... I hope you have lots of fun and I can't wait to see what you make!

CLICK HERE to get your Design Kit!

Disclaimer: This challenge is not associated, affiliated, and/or sponsored by Pantone.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Inspired by Reading November Blog Hop...

I know... it's already December, but with the holidays we pushed back the blog hop of November's selection of the Inspired by Reading Book Club, "Proust's Overcoat" by Lorenza Foschini.  It was a short book about a man's obsession with the possessions of the melancholic and unhealthy author.  I thought it was a quick read and was entertained by the treasure hunt quality of the book.  It was studded with all kinds of gems of inspiration perfect for our purposes.  If you're not familiar with the Inspired by Reading Book Club, we read a book and then create something that was inspired by what we read.  Then we share what we made.

And without further ado... here's the reveal:
I made this necklace.  The focal is made of polymer clay, wood, and a stone bead.  In the beginning of the book, they talk about the protagonist's upbringing and how he amassed his wealth in order to afford Proust's belongings.  The main character is an heir to a perfume company and develops a scent called, "Le Dandy D'Orsay".  In the book, they describe an octagon-shaped bottle with a rounded black topper that looked like a pearl.  The rest of the long necklace is made of vintage Czech glass in black and gold.

Here's what Laurel made.  She made a tiny mustache out of a recycled leather bag and did a decorative bead edge  The mustache can be hung from a long chain necklace, so that it can available for quick access.  She styled the photo by laying it on French bottled water and a fur trimmed coat... kind of like the coat in the story.  The mustache was inspired by Proust and his brother's mustaches.

This necklace was made by Alison.  She said she was inspired by the description of Proust's desk.  The author described it as being very ornate and made of black pear wood with brass accents.  Alison used a mix of Hamilton gold knots, glass, stone, and filigree to create this piece!

But wait... there's more!  Check out what other participants were inspired by in the book:


We are taking a break from December!  But the full list of books can be seen by CLICKING HERE.  January's book selection is, "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer.  We have tentatively scheduled the meet-up for Wednesday, January 28th at 5PM at Allegory Gallery.  The blog hop is the following day.  To find out more about what we do and to keep up with the events, CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group page.

Noble Knight Challenge Reveal...

Today is the reveal for the Noble Knight Challenge.  When I put together this kit, I was deeply immersed in George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones book series and was enamored with the stories of knighthood.  I drew further inspiration from the Arthurian legends (particularly Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory) and The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.  I selected a dark palette of blood red, cold steel, and royal blues.

Here is what came in the kit.  It was a blend of antique seed beads, Japanese hex cut seed beads, vintage Czech glass, vintage German glass, vintage Austrian glass, waxed Irish linen, lapis, and a Luxury Bead Blend.

Each kit included a Mystery Component.  I created this polymer clay pendant.  When coming up with the motif, I researched heraldry and decided upon this star cross formation.  

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

I made this bracelet.  I used the hex-cut Japanese seed beads in this peyote stitch bracelet.  I liked the way the bead pattern looks almost like scales of armor.  I embellished the edge with the red antique seed beads and ran a row of labradorite rounds down the center.  I used a gunmetal tube clasp to close things up, but I might switch that out for something more decorative.

This necklace was made by Laurel Ross.  She said she was inspired by the romantic side of the tales of knightly valor and courtly love and created this necklace as a token for a knight's paramour - a necklace made for Queens of Love and Beauty.

This necklace was made by Alison Herrington.  She used the antique seed beads with blue-dyed coral discs.  From the points where the coral meet, she hung wire-wrapped dangles strung with the vintage Austrian glass to create movement.

These pieces were created by Naama of Peculiaris.  Here's what she had to say about them: "Even before I saw this kit, I knew I'd love it.  I've always had a thing for knight stories.  The title immediately brought medieval jewelry to mind: saturated red and blue with (now tarnished) silver and brass.  I also love the long necklaces and heavy pendants.  With these images in mind, I made a long, versatile lariat with matching earrings, a polymer clay semi-stone pendant, and grey crackled glass earrings.  I will post more pictures on my Facebook page and would be happy if you stop by and tell me what you think.  Please visit my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/peculiaris "



These pieces were created by Lisa Mendum.  Here's what she had to say about them:  "I wanted to say thanks for your great kits.  I haven't been beading for a couple of years and started following you on Facebook and saw your link to your online shop and this is my second kit.  I decided to make time after my 8 to 5 job and bead!  Loved the mix so much!  I tried to use as little bit of everything.  Thanks again!"

This piece was created by Joanne Goldberg.  Here's what she had to say about it:  "This is my little girl.  She's named Queen.  I used one of Cynthia's fine pewter heads with the kit components and some pieces from my personal stash."

 These pieces were made by Donna Hoblit.  Here's what she had to say about them:  "Hi!  My name is Donna Hoblit of VeraDonna Treasures.  In addition to designing jewelry, I'm a medieval reenactor.  The inspiration for my jewelry set is the medallion that has a cross on it and the chain that our Knights wear. I used the beads in the kit, silver and aluminum chains, pewter clasps, a pilgrim's badge - the cross on the necklace - made by Billy and Charlie's Pewter Goods, and lampwork beads made by my favorite glass artist, Jill Symons.  The title of my set is, "The Flowering of Knighthood."



Want to see more things created with the Noble Knight Kit?  You're in luck!  Check out these awesome blogs:


Featured on Andrew Thornton's blog:

Monday, December 08, 2014

Featured Designer at Dakota Stones...

Recently, I had the honor of being selected as one of Dakota Stones' Featured Designers!  It was nice to be able to share a little bit about my work and my process.  I really like Dakota Stones, so it was a pleasure to create for their spotlight.  To see the pieces that I made out of their lovely Matte African Turquoise beads and to read the full interview, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Want a look at what's on Andrew's work bench?  Take a peek at all the resin ornaments he has been making lately!

My New Book!
The Crafty Princess talks a little about her latest book.

Decoupage under Glass Using Holiday Theme Paper Napkins
Use holiday-themed napkins to make inexpensive decoupage plates for display or serving.

Beading Arts
Cyndi shares a tutorial on how to make a silk flower necklace, including links to making your own silk flowers!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Elizabeth I is the inspiration for this new necklace idea, featuring vintage pink-colored pearls.

Blue Jean Baby
Cherie experiments with mixed media.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Pantone Color of the Year 2015...

And... the winner is: Marsala!  It's an earthy shade of red, blending warm brown and rusty red.  Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Panton Color Institute, said, "Interesting on its own and a wonderful contrast for other hues, Pantone 1801438 Marsala serves as the foundation to the Spring/Summer 2015 palette.  Sensual and bold, delicious Marsala is a daringly inviting tone that nurtures; exuding confidence and stability while feeding the body, mind and soul.  Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this robust shade incorporates the warmth and richness of a tastefully fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots point to a sophisticated, natural earthiness."  To find out more and explore the color, CLICK HERE.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Work Bench...

With the holidays just around the corner, I've been spending a lot of time working on ornaments.  I've been having fun making different kinds of baubles to decorate the tree.  When I make them, I sculpt the originals out of polymer clay and then make a mold.  After the mold is ready, I pour them in resin.  Then I paint and embellish the ornaments.
 
Here are some different sugar skulls I made.  The first batch were lighter and the second batch was darker.  I used a wash of black to bring out the details.  Then I went over with layers of glitter to make the glowing eyes.

I'm a smitten kitten with my chubby owls!  I went a little crazy with the paint job on these.  There are lots of layers of paints, pigments, and glazes.


I really like the folktales of Krampus.  I decided to create ornaments with this anti-Santa figure.  I have always enjoyed the old cards and illustrations of Krampus.  They were delightfully macabre.
Speaking of Santa, I sculpted this.  I'm not sure if I'll cast it or not.  I'm not super into Santa.  I thought that maybe I could turn this into a Belsnickel ornament.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Desert Sands Challenge Color Ideas...

When I announced the Desert Sands Challenge earlier this week, I heard a lot of interesting comments.  Most of them were wondering how I came about selecting the colors for the kit.  While it's true that the colder weather has encouraged me to dream of warmer climates and the alien landscape of the desert, I have to admit that I considered a few other things as well.

I suppose it's not a secret, but I love the Pantone Color Reports.  I feel like they are a Secret Decoder Ring and they give a glimpse into the future.  With that being said, I took a look at the Spring 2015 Pantone Color Report and found three colors that create a neutral, yet warm color palette.  I decided to pull from Toasted Almond, Sandstone, and Custard to create the kits.  I even peppered the Luxury Bead Blend with a couple dashes of Marsala to add a bit of contrast and depth.

While Desert Sands might not be what most people think of during January, I hope it's a refreshing twist.  I'm really looking forward to seeing all the amazing creations made out of the kit.  It's so interesting to me to see what all the different challengers will make with mostly the same components.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gratitude...

In the past, I've used the holidays and milestones in life as prompts for self-reflection.  I could certainly (and easily) write about all the things I'm thankful for and all the things that make my heart swell with gratitude.  I do feel like I have a blessed life.  And while it isn't always easy, there has been a lot that fills my life that I have deep appreciation for.

I could write about those things... but I won't.

Instead, I will write about how each day I will try to show my appreciation and openly share my gratitude.  Instead of waiting for prompts, I want each day to be a reason to share what makes me happy and bubble with contentedness.  I want to be able to recognize and acknowledge those moments and people who make my life feel full and complete.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope your day and all the days to come are filled with all the good things in life... especially pie!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pantone Fashion Color Report Spring 2015...

If I walked out the door right now, there'd be snow piled on the ground and icicles hanging from the eaves.  It's hard to look past the winter wonderland and think about spring, but many in the fashion world have already been busy planning ahead and forecasting their color predictions.  Above is a snippet of the Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2015.  CLICK HERE to visit their website and download the full report.  Recent seasons have seen saturated jewel-tones and bold statement colors.  This color palette is more subdue and fresh.  The report states that it was inspired by the sun-drenched colors of "plein air" living.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Desert Sands Challenge SOLD OUT...

Many thanks go out to everyone who showed their support and purchased a pre-sale kit for the Desert Sands Challenge.  The kits are now sold out.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone will create for the challenge.  Are you curious?  Mark your calendars for Thursday, January 29th.  That's the reveal date and culminates in a blog hop reveal.  Thanks again to everyone who snagged a kit!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Desert Sands Challenge...

Let me introduce you to the latest Design Kit: the Desert Sands Challenge.  With the cold weather upon us (in the northeast), my imagination wandered to warmer climates.  In my mind I thought of the alien landscape of the desert – skyward-reaching rock formations, swirling sands, and resilient wildlife.  It's a harsh environment, but one of astounding beauty.  I thought of these seemingly barren landscapes when compiling the kit.  I put together a mix of sandy browns, creamy beiges, and sun-burnt tans.

To participate in this challenge, you must purchase a Design Kit.  CLICK HERE to visit the online shop to claim your kit and to find out more.

I used to post pictures beforehand of the kits, but I feel like there's another surprise element by keeping everything a mystery.  You get a general idea of what will be included, but from there... it could be anything.

If you're interested in learning more, CLICK HERE.  For examples of past challenges, scroll back through my blog.  There is a beautiful array of creativity!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

What can you say in 30 words?
Over the past year, Andrew has participated (off and on) in Erin Prais-Hintz's 30 Words Thursday Project.  Erin has selected entries from different participants of the challenge to create a book to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association.

Art Bead Scene
Check out our Art Bead Palette Inspiration from Brandi and Zesty Frog!

Knitted Sampler
When you can't figure out which knit stitch to use, why not use all of them?

Christmas Stocking Advent Calendar
This charming Christmas Advent Calendar will add to our holiday decor, delight kids of all ages, and be used for years to come.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Who knew that scissors designed to shred your private papers could create gorgeous flowers too?

Beading Arts
Cyndi shows you how to combine some easy shibori silk petals into lovely flowers.

Children of God
Being God's child was the inspiration for these prints.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Moon Garden Challenge Reveal: Laurel Ross...

This necklace was made by Laurel Ross!  Here's what she had to say about it:  "I wanted to play with geometric shapes and used vintage glass beads in this multi-strand necklace."


Don't stop here!  There's more to see!  Check out what the other participants of the Moon Garden Challenge made:

Paula Kramer
Carolyn Lawson
Carole Carlson
Alice Peterson
Kari Asbury
Tammy Bowman
Shaiha Williams

On Andrew Thornton's Blog:
Andrew Thornton
Crystal Lombardo Farrell
Geri Colgrove
Laurie Carpenter
Alison Herrington
Naama from Peculiaris
Laurel Ross

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Moon Garden Challenge Reveal: Naama from Peculiaris...

These pieces were made by Naama from Peculiaris.  Here's what she had to say about them:  "This challenge has been an absolute delight!  When I opened the challenge kit I was completely mesmerized by the colors and textures, and for a while I just played around with possibilities.  I got so many ideas!  In my mind all the pieces are worn together, in a layered moonlit gleam.  I'm not sure how realistic it is, but I do love how they all stand apart and combine to something new at the same time.  I'll post some more details on the Moon Garden pieces on my Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/peculiaris  If you stop by, please let me know what you think!"









Want more?  Visit the pages of other Moon Garden Challenge participants and see what they made!

Paula Kramer
Carolyn Lawson
Carole Carlson
Alice Peterson
Kari Asbury
Tammy Bowman
Shaiha Williams

On Andrew Thornton's Blog:
Andrew Thornton
Crystal Lombardo Farrell
Geri Colgrove
Laurie Carpenter
Alison Herrington
Naama from Peculiaris
Laurel Ross

Moon Garden Challenge Reveal: Alison Herrington...

This piece was made by Alison Herrington.  Here's what she had to say about it:  "I had a spool of sterling silver wire that I acquired on a trip to Florida that I wanted to use up.  I decided to create a multi-strand necklace of wire-wrapped link chain.  The wire-wrapped links were strung up with the opalescent glass, Japanese milk glass, crystals, and Czech glass.  I combined the wire-wrapped links with some chain for texture.  The focal is the Mystery Component created by Andrew."
More to see in the blog hop!  Don't stop yet!  You'll miss out on all the Moon Garden goodness!

Paula Kramer
Carolyn Lawson
Carole Carlson
Alice Peterson
Kari Asbury
Tammy Bowman
Shaiha Williams

On Andrew Thornton's Blog:
Andrew Thornton
Crystal Lombardo Farrell
Geri Colgrove
Laurie Carpenter
Alison Herrington
Naama from Peculiaris
Laurel Ross