Monday, July 21, 2014

Royal Feather Challenge (Pre-Sale)...

A few days ago I announced the Festival Lights Challenge and made the kits available for purchase.  I didn't really think that I'd be announcing another challenge so soon!  But... as I looked at the calendar, I realized that I had a big trade show in between now and the Reveal of the Dark Bloom Challenge.  (I generally announce the next kit after the most recent reveal.)  So I got the idea to push up the sale date, so that I could have more funds to work with at the trade show.  This will give me a little more flexibility while finding treasures for the shop and for the future kits.

Believe it or not, I plan out my kits months in advance.  It takes time to gather up all the ingredients and create the components that make my kits special.  I had already started working on the Luxury Bead Blend for the newest challenge, so I had it ready to go and ready to be photographed.  (I'm still working on the rest of the kit.)

Since I had the concept of the next kit figured out already, I decided to do a pre-sale of the kit.  The next creative exercise:  the Royal Feather Challenge.  It's a blend of verdant greens, lush purples, and tranquil blues and teals, with glittering golds and burnt bronzes.  I love this color combination.  It looks so regal and stately.  I have fond memories of peacocks.  I remember visiting my grandparents who lived near a man with several as pets.  We would feed them and he'd give us feathers.  I also remember a particularly bold peacock at the botanical gardens in Hawaii.  It was a fantastic trip and I loved seeing the peacock so close.

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 that this is a pre-sale and the kits will be mailed out in the beginning of August.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Festival Lights Challenge SOLD OUT...

The Festival Lights Challenge Kits are sold out!  They went quickly and  were snapped up in record time.  A big thank you goes out to all the challengers who purchased kits and signed up to participate!  Your packages will ship soon.  Mark your calendars!  Your reveal date is September 18th!  I can't wait to see what everyone makes!

The reveal for the Dark Bloom Challenge is scheduled for August 7th!  So stop by and see what everyone makes!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Festival Lights Challenge...

This is the newest Reader's Challenge for my blog!  Let me introduce you to the Festival Lights 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 premium Czech glass (both vintage and new), Indian glass, Swarovski crystals, carved acrylic, 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, Czech glass, charlottes, African glass, rose quartz, quartz, Chinese crystal, Swarovski crystals, antique Venetian seed beads, vintage sequins, German glass, vintage Japanese glass, glass pearls, freshwater pearls, Matsuno seed beads, bugles, and trade beads.

But wait... there's more!  The pictures show a gorgeous 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 your door!  The Mystery Component might actually be more than just one bead or pendant.  It's always a surprise.

The Mystery Component will be publicly revealed on Monday, August 18th!

We have been having so much fun with the kits and people have been asking for more, so we're going to do a trial run and start offering them on a monthly basis.  You'll still have about two months to work on your project, but we'll be opening up the opportunity to work with them.  In selecting the components for this challenge, I imagined a blur of fiery oranges, rosy reds, citrusy yellows, candy pinks, and cobalt blues.  The inspiration for this blend was from a swirl of colorful lights, as seen from a carnival ride.  

If you're seen the challenges before, then you know that there are a lot 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 selection of beads included, but the sky is the limit with what you can use and make!

Keep your project secret until the reveal date!  (Of course if you want to post teasers, please do!  It'll add to the excitement!)

The reveal date is set for Thursday, September 18th, 2014!  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 Festival Lights 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 seven 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 Flat Rate 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 all 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!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good Earth Challenge Reveal...

Today is the Reveal for the Good Earth 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 I then send them off around the world!  Each participant has about two months to create a piece and at the end of the challenge, everyone shares what they created!

It's a fun way to challenge your creativity and it's always fascinating to see what each person will make with the nearly identical kits.  Sometimes there are overlaps in the ideas and themes, and other times... things are vastly different from each other.

For the few kits this year, I've been inspired by the Pantone Fashion Report for Spring 2014 and this time, I focused on Freesia, Hemlock, and Sand, with pops of Cayenne and Celosia Orange.  In selecting the materials, I thought of the bountiful, good earth.  I saw in my mind fields of tall grasses, waving in the wind.  The kit was composed of a Luxury Bead Blend, lots of Czech glass (both old and new), African glass, brass, Japanese hex-cut seed beads, Hamilton gold, waxed linen, and more.  Participants could use as much or as little of the kit as they liked.

Here's a close-up of the Luxury Bead Blend.  It's a random assortment of golds, browns, greens, and pops of orange, cream and red.  This blend included all kinds of yummy treats, like Czech glass, semi-precious stones, Swarovski crystals, different kinds of Japanese seed beads, and so much more!  Usually there's enough beads leftover to make several projects and some challengers do!

That's not all the kit includes though!  There's a Mystery Component.  In this case, there were two Mystery Components.  No one knows what they are until they arrive at the challengers' doorsteps and even then, they can't share what they are until the Reveal date.  This is a strand of Faux Moroccan Amber.  I was inspired by the luminous beads and decided to make some out of polymer clay.  I then stained and colored the Faux Moroccan Amber beads and hand-polished each of them.

The second component was a polymer clay leaf charm.  I craved the mold, pressed them out, baked them and then colored them with a variety of inks, colored waxes and paints.

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

This necklace was made by Laurel.  Here's what she had to say:  "I liked the mishmashed look of the Good Earth blend so much that I decided to do the same thing with the larger beads!  I made a simple loop of these strands and added some heavy duty chain to complete the look.  The length can be adjusted but I'm keeping it longer to pair with a black top, leather jacket and boots to wear this fall!"

This necklace was also made by Laurel.  Here's what she had to say:  "I played with this piece for almost the entire duration of the challenge.  I knew I wanted to use this imitation turquoise as soon as it was posted on Facebook by Allegory Gallery.  I thought that a mix of bead blend braided around these chunky stones would be very unusual.  Then it was a matter of how to tie it all together. I visualized the antique brass flower at first, but then I tried a bigger bead from my stash.  When it didn't look right to me, I went back to my original plan and am glad that I trusted my instincts, as I'm quite pleased with the result."

This mixed media necklace was created by Kim Griggs.  I love how she incorporated found objects with the mix to create a really eclectic piece.  It looks as though each element tells a story and there's a powerful narrative flare to this texturally juicy necklace.

This necklace was made by Deb Floros.  Here's what she had to say about it:  "This "Good Earth Talisman Necklace" is almost completely made with elements from the kit.  I really enjoyed the polymer clay focal and beads!  I added the waxed linen and some pieces that made the necklace almost appear like a talisman.  I love the funky, earth feel of this piece."

 Here's an alternative view of the Good Earth Talisman Necklace made by Deb Floros.

This bracelet was made by Deb Floros.  Here's what she had to say about it:  "The bracelet is all about Earthy Glam!  I love the shine of the beads and the wonderful earthy tones.  This bracelet is made almost entirely with beads from the kit.  I strung them on gold memory wire and plan to wear this one often!"

These earrings were made by Deb Floros.  Here's what she had to say about them: "I really loved these clear-ish glass Chicklet beads!  I combined them with gold elements and used some of the waxed linen to attach more of the pretty glass beads.  I think these earrings will go wonderfully with the necklace."

Here's another view of the earrings.

This bracelet was made by Ann Mergl.  This bracelet is made of the Czech glass included in the kit and has a beautiful elegance with the repetitive pattern and earthy colors.

This necklace was made by Ann Mergl.  It's a multi-strand necklace with one longer length and a shorter one.  The beads were mostly from the kit with the addition of some blue beads, which pops the white and plays with some traditional Native American color palettes.

This necklace was made by Alison.  It incorporates the Faux Moroccan Amber beads and is paired with some vivid, contrasting blue beads that make the design really pop.  The cross pattern of the blue beads and how the "amber" beads are laid out, makes the piece looks like "XOXO" pattern.

This piece was made by Alison.  It can be worn as a necklace or as a wrap bracelet.  It features mostly pieces from the kit, knotted on the waxed linen.  It has wonderful texture and a beautifully beaded feeling to it.

This bracelet was made by me.  The base of the bracelet is composed of the Japanese hex-cut seed beads, woven together with peyote stitch.  The bottom edge of the bracelet has a beaded fringe with beads from the Luxury Bead Blend.

Here's another view of the bracelet.  It's held together with a copper tube clasp and has a delicate picot-inspired edge.  When I thought about this bracelet, I almost thought of it as a ruffled cuff that could be worn with other bracelets and be a part of a stacked ensemble.

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 Good Earth Challenge!

The Dark Bloom Challenge is up next!  The Reveal is scheduled for Thursday, August 7th.  Check back here to see all the lovely creations.

Also, tomorrow (Friday, July 18th) the Festival Lights 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!

30 Words Thursday...

Dreamy intoxication, an airborne floral drunkenness, wafts through the summer haze.  The source, a cluster of earth-bound stars, rooted in the dirt and exploding with color and heavy, sweet perfume.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Michael's Beading Challenge Blog Hop Reveal...

Heather Powers of HumbleBeads and Lorelei Eurto teamed up to offer a fun creative challenge!  They found an inspiration piece, created a color palette, and selected beads from Michael's to be used in the challengers' creations.

Since Heather and Lorelei teamed up to host this event, a few beading buddies of mine thought it would be fun to team up also!  We were also inspired by Heather's polymer talents and scheduled a "clay date".  Alison and Laurel work on their polymer clay components in the above picture.  (Unfortunately, I was swamped in the shop that day and couldn't make any polymer clay goodies for myself, but I would periodically check on them and root them on!  Go team!  Go!)

This is Alison's piece!  Here's what she had to say about it:  "I used at least one of every bead and added my own clay beads.  I was inspired by Donna Kato to create these swirly components.  I strung one half on leather and the other on two different colors of waxed linen to create this necklace."

Alison also made this piece!  Here's what she had to say about it:  "I created this matching bracelet as an ode to one of our hosts, Lorelei.  I used her template from the magazine to make this waxed linen, knotted, multi-stranded bracelet.  I am hooked on making them!  Thanks Lorelei for the tutorial!"

This is Laurel's piece!  Here's what she had to say about it:  "I used all the beads!  Hooray!!!  My added components were the polymer dangles from our "clay date" and the brass spacers I purchased from Allegory Gallery.  I made my own chain from brass jump rings and split rings and used some waxed linen from the Deep Waters Challenge that I had leftover, to fill some space and add some symmetry to the piece.  Overall, it's a fun Boho chic piece that I will definitely have a good time wearing!  What a fun challenge!"

This is my piece!  I had a fun time with the color palette.  They aren't colors that I use much, especially in combination.  So it was a good challenge to work outside of my comfort zone to create this bracelet.

Everything in the bracelet is from the bead selections that Heather and Lorelei picked out, except for the balled headpins, toggle, and chain.  I used these items to create the wire-wrapped dangle embellished chain.

Here's an alternate view of my bracelet.  When I made it, I thought about the fabric inspiration and the fun movement it must have in a dress.  So, I wanted to incorporate as much movement as possible.  I fell back on one of my beloved techniques to create this dangly bracelet.

Make sure to visit our hosts' blogs!  Heather and Lorelei did a fantastic job organizing this blog hop.  And when you get to Heather's blog, take a bit of time to hop around and see what all the other participants made. (And if you made something, make sure to add your link!)  CLICK HERE to visit Heather's blog to see the full list of participants!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Alcohol Ink Experiments...

For the past few months, I have been experimenting with alcohol inks on all kinds of different materials.  I've played with everything from polymer clay, to ceramic.  I've even had success with bone and resin.  Enameling is great, but I have wanted to try my hand at further exploring the addition of color to metal without the aid of a torch or kiln.  I made THESE White Copper Dragon Pendants awhile ago and thought that they'd make excellent prototypes.

After the alcohol inks were painted on, I buffed the coin pendants with a brass brush and brought out the highlights in the raised areas.  I then sealed everything up under a few coats of a fixative aerosol.

I didn't know what to expect with this little experiment, but I'm quite pleased with all the results!

Eurobijoux Fashion Trends Autumn/Winter 2014/2015...

I got an email from Elvee/Rosenberg Inc. this morning.  If you're not familiar with them, the company has been around for 100 years and is a premium importer of European beads and findings.  The email enclosed a set of reports including color charts and descriptions for the upcoming Eurobijoux Fashion Trends.

While some artists I know say that they ignore trend reports, I find them fascinating.  It's almost like looking into a crystal ball.  If you're not in the cutting edge of the fashion industry, it might not seem like it'll have a direct impact in your work, but you'd be surprised with how much these reports do play a role in our everyday lives.  Everything from the color of appliances in your kitchen to the cars on the road, to the things people wear on TV and in the magazines... it permeates our culture.

So, without further ado, I present to you the Eurobijoux Fashion Trends for Autumn/Winter 2014/2015:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Made for Me...

I sometimes think it's funny that I am always making things, but rarely do I ever get a chance to just make something for myself.  I'm usually just too busy.  I'm not complaining though.  It's a blessing that my creative efforts are being appreciated and finding homes with others.

I did make a little time for myself and whipped up this amber necklace.  It's composed of natural Baltic amber that I picked up a few years ago in Tucson.  My necklace is pretty simple.  It's mostly the raw amber.  I did space it out with little sandalwood beads and used a bronze toggle from my family.  I've been working with amber a lot lately and thought that I'd make something that I could wear.  I love the vibrant colors of this fossilized tree resin and appreciate all the tiny inclusions and variations in the stones.  I'm happy with it and am even happier that I could sit down and create something just for me.

A friend sent me an interesting article about how the amber supposedly repels ticks.  While I don't get a chance to hike as much these days and am not exposed to ticks all that often, any little extra benefit is an added bonus, right?

And amber is supposed to have loads of benefits.  Babies are often given necklaces made of amber to help relieve teething pains.  Metaphysically it is said to turn bad energy around into good energy and that it is powerful stone for healing and making things manifest.  It's said that the stone has associations with both the sun and the earth and embodies vitality.  Sounds good to me!

A Trip to Boalsburg...

We've attended the People's Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts in Boalsburg since we moved to Pennsylvania.  It's a summertime activity that we look forward to every year.  Fair food and art... what's not to like?

One of the reasons why we keep coming back is seeing Gina Chalfant of White Swan Illuminations!  It seems like even though she only lives in Pittsburgh, the only time we ever get to see all her beautiful wares is in Boalsburg.  In the picture, Diane Wilson (another talented ceramist and vendor at the show) poses with Gina.  Gina has an amazing selection of hand-painted ceramic vessels, pieces with decals of her own original artwork, pendants and jewelry components and finished jewelry.  CLICK HERE to visit her Facebook page.

Here is the piece that William picked out.  It's based off of an 11th century Egyptian motif.  Gina told us about how the original floral flourishes next to the mouths of the rabbits started off small, but then grew and got more elaborate, eventually looking like "bunny bad breath".  To me, it looks like they are blowing out a cloud or breathing fire.  I love it!

While we have been coming to this show for years to appreciate work from talented artisans, this is probably the first time that we have come to shop for the store.  

We found Tom Vosler and his lovely wife.  Tom is most known for his incredible knives with intricately carved bone, wood, and antler handles.  He has started to cast his carvings in resin and selling them as pendants.  We picked up several for Allegory Gallery and are super excited about them!

This is an example of his work.  It was originally carved bone, but is made of a cast resin with a walnut-colored glaze.  I love the attention to detail he has and how his pieces have so much life.  This owl piece is going to live with me!

Another talented vendor that we picked up for the store is Keysha Koi.  She does borosilicate lampwork beads and vessels!  They are incredible and simply glow!  They remind me of hobnail vessels or ethereal Antilope vases by Rene Lalique.  I'm a smitten kitten with her work!

Check out this amazing perfume vessel!  It has such a gorgeous green color and sparkles in the right light.  This treasure is going to live with me!  For the store, we picked up a few hanging vessels, some bumpy vases, and a selection of glass beads.  So very excited!  I love how organic they are... almost like they are fruit of a magical tree or found on the altar of a powerful sorceress containing an enchanted elixir or potion.

We had a fantastic time at the show!  We got pulled pork sandwiches and saw familiar faces!  We found new artists for the store and we made it back to the car before the monsoon rains started falling!  Happy day!

Friday, July 11, 2014

New Challenge Kit Sneak Peek...

Slated to debut in one week, the new Challenge Kit sizzles with a fiery blend of oranges, rosy reds, citrusy yellows, candy pinks, and cobalt blues.  It's tricky blending this many colors without it looking too garish or too Rainbow Brite.  The key was selecting a dominate color and sprinkling the others in to accentuate the main color and make it POP!  The inspiration for this blend was the blur of colorful lights, as seen from a carnival ride.  I remember as a small child going to the Fairgrounds and entering into a world of complete sensory overload... bombastic announcers, spinning amusement rides, xylophone cacophonies, buttery popcorn, cotton candy, globe lights, neon lights, flashing lights... Festival Lights.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

30 Words Thursday...

Where is that leisurely pace of sun-soaked days and firefly evenings?  Slow down, summer.  You are moving too quick!  Days are passing far too fast!  This is not a race!

Stone Infusion Jewelry Class...

We were finally able to snag Lynne Suprock, of Simply Pretty Stuff, away from her busy schedule to teach a special workshop with us!  In Lynne's upcoming workshop, she'll show students how to create their own gemstone specimens to be used in jewelry or mixed media arts!  Very exciting!

Stone Infusion Jewelry Class with Lynne Suprock
Date:  Saturday, August 9th, 2014
Time:  1PM to 4PM
Workshop Fee:  $55.00
Kit Fee (to be paid to the instructor at the time of class):  $5.00

CLICK HERE to visit the online shop for more details and to sign-up online.  You can also sign-up in-person at the shop.

Class Description:
Nature has given us some of the most beautiful sunsets to paint, landscapes to frame with our viewfinder, and wonders to gaze upon.  Nature's beauty sets the standards and defines how we experience our art and world.  We've only to replicate Nature's elegance to succeed in our artistic endeavors.

Join Lynne Suprock as she shows you how to recreate natural stones and gems by using Amazing Crafting Products.  Choose your own palette and textures for making wearable specimens that are quite unique and beautiful.

Design your own molds, learn how to color and cast quick setting resins, and attach findings to create one-of-a-kind jewelry or mixed media components.

Bio:  Lynne currently designs, writes, and conducts workshops in the art community.  She began her career as a mixed media artist, after 29 years as a leader in nursing education.  Since 2007, Lynne traded in her skills in clinical nursing instruction for those tools of the trade used to teach art and design, as she continues to make a difference in the well-being of others.

She has been both vendor and instructor at Art&Soul Retreat in Virginia Beach, VA, and The Art Is You Retreat in Stamford, CT, Somerset, NJ, and BeadFest in Philadelphia, PA.  She teaches locally at the Adams County Arts Council of PA, Cricket Manor in Frederick, MD, and The Charmed I'm Sure Studio in Mechanicsburg, PA.  Lynne has also published several articles in Belle Armoire Jewelry, Jewelry Affaire Magazine, PAGES, and Just Steampunk Magazine.  She also has two necklaces featured in 2013 Lark's 500 Showcase Necklaces.  Lynne is a member of the 2014 Amazing Crafting Product Design Team.  To find out more about her and her work, CLICK HERE to visit her blog.