Thursday, April 16, 2015

Frenzied Motion Challenge Reveal...

Today is the reveal for the Frenzied Motion Challenge!  Hurray!  CLICK HERE to take a look at what was in the kit.  It was a vibrant blend of shocking pinks, icy blues, and cool purples.

And without further ado... here's the reveal:

This necklace was made by Laurel Ross.

This necklace was also made by Laurel Ross.

This matching set was made by Lisa Mendum.  Here's what she had to say about the pieces:  "I had a lot of fun using this challenge's bead colors!  Wish I would have had more time to make more!"

This pendant was made by Joanne Goldberg.

This necklace was made by me.  When I thought about the idea behind the kit, I knew I wanted to incorporate motion.  So the focal is made up of a length of chain embellished with wire-wrapped dangles.  I added lengths of strung dyed jade on either side.  I think it's bright and fun!

But wait... there's more!  Check out what these participants made for the Frenzied Motion Challenge!

Up next is the Amethyst Aether Challenge!  The reveal date was set for Wednesday, April 22nd to celebrate the first transatlantic crossing of the steam-ship, the SS Sirius, but I've pushed it back a day. The new reveal date of this Special Challenge is Thursday, April 23rd!  Make sure you drop by next week to see all the lovely Steampunk-inspired creations!   

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Charm Club...

Back in 2008, my friend Norma had an idea to help me raise additional funds for some of my creative projects.  The Charm Club is basically like a Cheese-of-the-Month Club, where you get a new and different cheese every month in the mail.  Instead of cheese, you'll get a limited edition charm made by me!

I recently thought of The Charm Club again after reading an article about Picasso.  He had arranged to sell paintings, sight unseen to a group of patrons in advance of making them.  The financial security allowed him to focus on the making of art instead of the paying of bills.  And I thought it might be nice to bring back the idea to help finance some new projects!

This incarnation of The Charm Club will run for six months and is limited to ONLY twelve individuals.  The participation fee must be paid in advance and is $75.  The amount includes US First Class shipping.  (Shipping for international participants is more to cover expenses and varies from region to region.)

During the first two cycles of The Charm Club, I offered three months for $75.  I focused more on fancier and more elaborate pendants.  This time though, I am creating SIX charms instead of three!  I'm really excited about this, because it's an extra challenge for me to think outside of the box and to push myself creatively.

The first charms will be ready by the middle of May.

One of the perks of doing The Charm Club now is that I have more help.  Before I got bogged down in organization and shipping.  Now that I have more help, I can focus more on creating really cool pieces that I hope people will enjoy and be able to incorporate into their own work or cherish for years to come!

The plan for the money I raise through The Charm Club is to get new art supplies, tools, and finally bring some of my ideas to life!

But wait... there's more!  If you sign up and pay before the 1st of the month, I'll include a small, postcard-sized collage painting made by me!  That's right, folks!  I used to retail these for $250 - $350 each!  So not only will you get to enjoy six months of charms in the mail, but you'll also receive an original artwork!

HURRY!  Act now!  Space is limited!  CLICK HERE to visit the online shop to sign up!  Email us if you have any questions.  I hope you'll get to play along!  This should be really fun!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Adam Falls at Linn Run...

Now that the weather is getting nicer, I'm determined to venture forth a little more.  It's hard for me, because I naturally gravitate towards work.  I guess that's because the work that I do is more than just a job, but a calling.  I love what I do.  Creativity is my passion.  The problem with this though is that it's easy to become myopic.  This is particularly dangerous for me, because I draw a lot of energy and inspiration from the world around me.  Without this stimulus, I find it (increasingly) harder to create.

In the interest of sanity and productivity, I've settled on making small trips to stretch my mind and legs.  Today's adventure includes a trip to Adam Falls in Linn Run.

This picture is slightly deceptive.  Without anything for scale, it looks like it could be a small waterfall in a water feature in someone's yard.  In actuality, this is quite impressive!  The logs at the bottom of the waterfall are huge tree trunks... not branch fragments.  The tree seemingly growing out of the rock isn't a little sapling... it's a massive oak tree!

The mile-long trail that circles above the waterfall is quite rocky and a little tricky to maneuver across.  But the rock-studded landscape is beautiful.

Along the path, there are old cabins that burnt out long ago.  The chimneys seem like they're barely standing, but they endure!

Here's a seed pod that I took a picture of along the way back to the car.  I believe it comes from a cucumbertree magnolia.

Another artifact found from the burnt out cabins.  It may just be an old, rusty bed spring, but I love the way it makes a spiral.  It's almost hypnotic how it draws the eye in towards the center.  It tells a story of what once was.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Roaring Run...

At the last minute, we decided to go on a Botanical Society walk.  We've been caught up with work and it's easy to fall into a rhythm of work-home-repeat.  (And for a workaholic like me, even the sanctuary of home isn't safe from work!)  So, we decided to take a day off and go for a walk.  Unfortunately, we picked the wrong Roaring Run and missed our friends from the Botanical Society.  (They were at the Roaring Run outside of Apollo.)  Even so, we decided to make the best of it and have a good time.  We spent the afternoon walking the trail, identifying plants and exploring Roaring Run (in Champion).  

It had rained recently and the water was moving well!  Close to the water, it was easy to see how this area got its name!  At points, you couldn't hear anything except for the rush of the water over stones.

Along our walk, I found this huge blob of sap.  It was about the size of a squashed baseball.  I looked around, but couldn't find where it came from.  I imagine it was high up in the trees and plunked down.  I was tempted to take it home and see if I couldn't perform some kind of experiment on it to transform it into a hunk of amber... but the thought of transporting a sticky mass without incident was enough to compel me to leave it where it lay.

William took most of the pictures from our day.  It was still early in the year, so there wasn't too much out.  But we did find lots of acorns from oak trees, a variety of mosses and ferns, ground pines, downy yellow violets, teaberry, wild yam vine, spring beauties, turkey tails, and scarlet cups.  I did manage to snap a picture of what I believe is rue anemone.

On a side note, I think I'm going to have to find or make a lightweight backpack for myself.  It would make carrying around things like our field guides and bottled water easier.

I'm always awestruck when I think about all the little treasures and magical moments that surround us.  Sometimes you just have to stop and look more closely to see them.  For instance, I bent down to tie my shoe and saw these tiny little snail shell.  I probably wouldn't have spotted it without the momentary delay.  It's a lesson that I have to remind myself of often!  Not just stop to smell the roses, but to take in this beautiful, complex, and enchanting world we live in!

Along one of the paths was this waterfall that trickled down over the ridge.  Where the water touched the rocks, life emerged bright and brilliantly green.  It was almost unreal how vivid the green was against the brown.

I'm looking forward to more walks in the future and taking a little time to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us.

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

5 Free Art Bead Jewelry Projects
Today Heather brings you a preview of the projects featured in the 2015 Bead Cruise Program.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Winter is coming... actually, it's spring!  But the new season of Game of Thrones starts soon.  See what Andrew created for a jewelry challenge that pays homage to the books and television series.

Connie Gee's Designs
Prime are all the rage these days and Connie is fascinated with them.  She's added a new free pattern that is inspired by all the primitive designers she admires.  It will have you "crowing" in anticipation of a quick finish.

Dazzle-It Rings: Great Beginner's Bead Weaving Projects
If you'd like to try bead-weaving, here's a great way to learn.  Look at the ring Eileen made in her first attempt.

Beading Arts
Cyndi has been experimenting with using multiple ribbons as a background for bead embroidery.

Video Needle Review
Learn the pros and cons of the Knit Picks Interchangeable Nickel Plated Needle Set.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

BeadFest Philadelphia Spring 2015...

I originally wasn't going to attend the spring BeadFest show in Philadelphia.  We've been so busy lately, that the thought of leaving for a long weekend was laughable.  But... it just so happened that my "work from home" day aligned with plans a friend made to go out for the day.  The temptation of all the treasures and many friends was just too much to forego.  So, dark and early, I met up with Alison and we made our way out to the show.

It's always lovely to see the people that make up our community.  The big shows are a convergence of creative energy, bringing people from around the world to take part in this exchange of not only material things, but ideas and energy.  I'm really glad I went!  Here are some snapshots from the quick trip:

Dana Groves of Interweave/F+W and Leslie Rogalski of Sleepless Beader.

Jenny Davies-Reazor, (my brother-in-law) Greg Ogden of Green Girl Studios, and Sak and Liz Chumtong of Saki Silver.

Joan Miller of Joan Miller Porcelain.

Meredith Roddy of Beadalon, Ren Farnsworth of Designs in Glass, and Maria Richmond of Lost Marbles.

Anne Gardanne of Gardanne Beads.

Keysha Whitsel of Keysha Koy Glass, Maureen Henriques of Pumpkinhill Beads and Kris Schaible, and Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio.

Tom and Beth Botak of Kabela Design.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dragon Frame of Mind...

I've had dragons on my mind a lot lately.  It's probably because I listen to audiobooks while I work in the studio and a lot of them feature dragons.  I just finished listening to Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy: "A Discovery of Witches", "Shadow of Night" and her most recent, "The Book of Life".  One of the main characters has a dragon as a familiar.  I also just finished listening to "Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen" by Garth Nix and there's a dragon of sorts in it.

Right now, I'm listening to "The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic" by Mily Croy Barker.  The dragon in this book isn't benevolent though and isn't endearing, but he's there!  Oh... and a little show called, Game of Thrones is starting back up this weekend.  (As if you didn't know already!)

So I've been thinking a lot about dragons.  Not only have they been in what I've been listening to, watching, and reading... but I have also thought about having some classes this summer featuring dragons.  I would love to have Les Polinko come out and do a baby dragon workshop at the Gallery.  I've also been talking with Christi Friesen for a few years about coming out and teaching.  Maybe she'll teach how she makes her dragons!  She does have a book called, "Dragons" that's all about how to create them in her style.  Hey... I might even consider showing some of my techniques in dragon fabrication.

In any event, here's one of my recent ones:

I made this for a friend's daughter.  It's meant to be suspended from the ceiling, so it can fly around.

Here's a close-up of the face.  As you can probably tell, this dragon has a lot of horns and spikes.  They were super pokey, so I had to file and trim them down so they wouldn't be quite as sharp.

This is a view from above with the overall silhouette.  I like it, but in hindsight, I wish that I would have constructed the wings a little differently... maybe so that light could pass through them and look less thick.  We'll just pretend that this dragon is extra muscly.

Here's a profile shot of the dragon.  Technically this is more of a wyvern since there are no legs.  I thought about adding legs, but I liked the clean, speedy lines without them... they're more aerodynamic that way.

The dragon is made almost entirely of polymer clay.  I smoothed polymer clay over a lightweight, aluminum foil armature and embedded glass beads for eyes and a metal bail so that it can be suspended.

Even though I'd make some changes, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out!  (OH!  I heard from my friend and her daughter loves it!)

Thursday, April 09, 2015

30 Words Thursday...

From the slumber of winter's cold landscape, new life emerges.  Little green leaves, unfurling.  Welcome shocks of emerald and bright peridot against the brown of yesterday's debris, the land reawakening.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge Reveal 4...

Okay, I promise this is the last of the pieces that I created for the Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge that Heather Powers of HumbleBeads initiated.  (For now!)  I swear... I could just keep making things for years!

One of my favorite characters from Game of Thrones is Lady Olenna Tyrell.  She sort of reminds me of Sophia from the Golden Girls.  She has a sharp wit, very clever, and says what she wants.  She's the grandmother of Margaery Tyrell, who was married to Renly Baratheon.  After Renly was slain, she was later married off to King Joffrey Baratheon (for like five minutes).  

I loved their costumes on the show.  They've got a lovely pale blue, with touches of greenish gold and subdued browns.  The colors reminded me a lot of the colors of labradorite.

This is the bracelet that I made for Margaery.  I embellished a sterling silver chain with lots of wire-wrapped dangles strung up with different faceted shapes of labradorite.  The picture doesn't do the stones justice!  They come alive in sunshine.  As a closure, I used a lobster claw and an over-sized jump ring.  From the big jump ring, I hung a labradorite bezel pendant, an old sterling silver rose charm from my family at Green Girl Studios, and a fine pewter stag pendant also carved by my sister.  The rose is the heraldic symbol for House Tyrell and the stag is the symbol for House Baratheon.  I've had the Green Girl pieces in my collection for years and years!  I'm glad that I could dig them out for this bracelet!

I think the bracelet is delicate and musical and would appeal to the girlish femininity (that both Tyrell women wield as a weapon).  I'm really pleased with the way the bracelet developed.  Don't forget to see what the other participants made.  CLICK HERE to visit Heather's blog post with all the links.  

And don't forget... the new season of Game of Thrones starts this weekend!

Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge Reveal 3...

Once I started making things inspired by Game of Thrones, I couldn't stop!  I decided to make another piece for the Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge that Heather Powers of HumbleBeads has arranged.

One of the quotes that stood out for me was, "Dark wings, dark words."  Black-colored birds actually reoccur often, as they use trained ravens as a mode of communication.  Bran Stark also has visions of the three-eyed raven that leads him beyond the Wall.

The Night's Watch, who patrol the Wall and protect the realm from Wildlings and creatures from the far North, wear all black.  This leads to the  Free Folk (aka Wildlings) to refer to them as "Crows".

Needless to say, I wanted to make something that referenced these birds.

I just acquired some carved bone feathers that were dyed black.  I knew they'd be perfect for a pair of earrings!  I attached them at different lengths to a chain with gunmetal jump rings.  I added the embellished lengths of chains to sterling silver earwires.  They have great movement and an almost musical quality.  They rustle together and really remind me of feathers.

To see the other creations made for the Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge, stop by Heather's blog by CLICKING HERE.

Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge Reveal 2...

In my last post, I mentioned that the world George R. R. Martin created is abundantly lush with detail.  It'd be easy to spend years creating things inspired by the books and the TV show and not get bored.  That's one of the things that I love about the Game of Thrones world.  It's a believable cosmology that's familiar, but fantastical!

One of the things that is carefully considered in both the books and the show is religion.  Just like our world, there's enumerable paths and each particular dogma has its own particular symbolism.

In the Northern regions of Westeros, many of the people still believe in the Old Gods.  Their church is basically a grove of trees called the Godswood.  At the heart is a Weirwood Tree.  They are trees, that were once prevalent all over Westeros, but were chopped down with the coming of the Andals.  The trees have white bark and dark red leaves.  They also have faces carved into them that were said to be carved by the Children of the Forest, who are basically a faerie race that has a similar history to the Native Americans of North America.  The trees are touchstones to reach out to the Old Gods.

I haven't had too much time, but I love the iconic symbolism of the Weirwood trees and I knew I wanted to make at least something.  I've been working on a commission to create one of my Dreaming Tree pendants.  (I made them a few years ago for a gift exchange.)  I had the mold out, so I quickly pressed out a piece in polymer clay and changed it a bit, adding a leaf texture and a face on the tree trunk.  (CLICK HERE to see the original made out of porcelain and fine silver.)  Once I baked it, I painted it and that's where it really started to look like a weirwood tree.  I make this into the focal of a necklace or just keep it as an ornament.

Stop by Heather's blog to see the links to all the creations made for the Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge.  CLICK HERE to visit her blog.

Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge Reveal 1...

Heather Powers of HumbleBeads thought it might be nice to do a Game of Thrones Jewelry Challenge to celebrate the start of the new season.  (So excited!)  I'm definitely a fan and wanted to jump on the opportunity!  Both the books and the show are so rich with detail, there's an abundance to inspiration to pull from.  CLICK HERE to read more about the blog hop idea.

When I started working, I had this idea that I would put the show on in the background and work to it.  Well... it started off like that, but then I realized that the show captured my attention a little too much... like Jaime Lannister being snatched up in the Whispering Woods kind of captured!

So... my next challenge was settling on an idea.  I had grandiose visions of articulated dragons or forged maester chains.  But I've been pressed for time lately and clearly, I had to develop a better plan of attack.

I scaled back my original vision and created this bracelet.  I dug in my stash and found this heavy silver chain... back when such things were semi-affordable.  (Which tells you that it has been in my stash a LONG time!)  I embellished it with faceted pearls, large freshwater pearls, garnets and leaded glass crystal.  I also added a garnet pendant from an old necklace and a dragon charm I made in white copper.  I pulled everything together with a shibuichi toggle from Saki Silver.  The heavy chain was inspired by the maester's chain.  (I know, each link should be different, but that's a project for another day.)  The garnet in the silver setting was inspired by the ruby that Melisandre wears.  The white copper dragon charm is a nod at Daenerys Targaryen's dragons.  The pattern on the toggle is so lovely... it reminds me of some of the embroidery on the dresses of the stone filigree in the windows.  The faceted pearls also remind me of the dragon's eggs... but mostly I selected them for the color.  There's a lot of bloodshed in the Game of Thrones universe and the color red in my piece acknowledges that.

I had a lot of fun!  Make sure to take a moment and see what others created for the challenge!  CLICK HERE to see Heather's post and all the links to what others created.  (The link for the blog hop goes live tomorrow, April 9th at 8AM EST!)

Splendid Procession Design Kit Sold Out...

Many thanks to everyone who purchased one of the Splendid Procession Design Kits!  Even after a year of doing kits, I'm always blown away by the enthusiasm for the kits!  It seems like they sell out faster and faster each time!

I'm glad that people seem to enjoy the kits, because I'm always thrilled to see what people create with the beads.  Each of the participants breathe life into assortment and bring them to life!

So thanks again to all of you out there who have shown your support and are playing along!  THANK YOU!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next reveal!  The next reveal is for the Frenzied Motion Challenge is Thursday, April 16th!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Splendid Procession Challenge...

Let me introduce you to the latest Design Kit Challenge: Splendid Procession!  If you're not familiar with the challenges, they are a fun way to push yourself creatively and create from an assortment of pre-selected components.

To participate, you must purchase a Design Kit.  This kit features a glittering array of Czech glass (both old and new), vintage German glass, rhodochrosite, dyed jade, vintage African trade bead, vintage lucite, tourmaline, vintage seed beads, waxed Irish linen, and a Luxury Bead Blend.

The Luxury Bead Blend consists of a whole lotta pretty!  It is made up of Japanese Miyuki seed beads, Toho seed beads, Japanese Matsuno seed beads, vintage Venetian seed beads, vintage French seed beads, freshwater pearls, vintage Czech glass, new Czech glass, vintage sequins, jade, stone, quartz, German glass, vintage trade beads, aventurine, aquamarine, green hair quartz, vintage sequins, Swarovski crystal, vintage lucite, glass pearls and MUCH, MUCH MORE!

But that's not it!  Each kit includes a special, handmade Mystery Component!  The component is a secret until it arrives at your door!  

The Mystery Component will publicly be revealed on Monday, May 25th 2015!

To learn more about the inspiration behind the kit, CLICK HERE.

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 fantastic assortment of beads included in the kit, but the sky is the limit with what you can make!  Feel free to use beads from your own stash to augment the offered selection.  Whether you use a little or a lot of your kit, make sure to keep your project a secret until the reveal date!

The reveal date is set for Thursday, June 18th 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 Splendid Procession Challenge will end in a blog hop, sharing all the lovely things made with your kit 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 (Allegory Gallery) 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 we 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.  Sorry!

With that being said... we hope you have a fabulous time and a ton of fun making things!  We can't wait to see what you make!

CLICK HERE to get your Design Kit!

Behind Splendid Processions...

I've wanted to do a Faerie themed Design Kit for awhile now.  But I never found just the right opportunity.  That is until I started examining a strand of watermelon tourmaline.  The colors were so rich and juicy.  I gathered other strands of tourmaline and kept looking at them and playing with them and studying them.  I noticed that even though they were all the same stone, the colors were so different.  The tourmaline comes in shades of chromium-rich green, pale pinks, blues, ambers, inky blacks and color-change browns.  It made me think of brightly colored faerie processions filled with elaborate costumes and interesting creatures.  Here are few images of splendid processions throughout art.
"The Royal Processional" by James C. Christensen

Cover of "Drawing Down the Moon" by Charles Vess

"Procession of Twelve Good Faeries" from Sleeping Beauty by Errol Le Cain

"Procession" by Molly Brett

"Psyches Wedding" by Edward Burne-Jones