Friday, September 21, 2018

Dark Matter Pendant...

For the Inspired by Reading Book Club at Allegory Gallery we read “Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch.  We all really enjoyed it and agreed that it was a fast-paced adventure that makes you wonder what your life would be like had you made different decisions.  This is what I made inspired by the novel!

SPOILERS!!!

Whenever they “travel” in the book, the characters have to go into a cube that becomes a tesseract. I decided to fabricate a pendant out of sterling silver and bezel-set a labradorite in the middle. I had this idea that I’d make one that was more three-dimensional, but it turns out constructing very precise, geometric, intricate, architectural pieces is not my calling!

Instead, I made a simpler version. It was still not as easy as I thought it’d be, but far more simple than the cube within a cube that I thought I’d make at first. Even so, I could imagine a citizen of the futuristic city of glass and steel wearing this.  I sawed out a square and stamped the words “new worlds” on the back, because each choice creates a new one.

During the reveal, I posted the piece online and tagged the author.  I never really expected anything, because you know authors are busy writing books and stuff.  About an hour later, Blake Crouch replied and said that my work was beautiful!  I know that he's just a regular person and all that, but I totally had a fangirl moment.  It's really amazing when someone who created something that moved you and inspired you to make something interacts with you.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Do You See What I See...

I just adore Christi Friesen!  Not only does she have a good heart and a wonderful sense of humor, but Christi is a talented artist who is always playing, experimenting, and trying new techniques.  What I appreciate about her practice the most is that she doesn't take herself too seriously.  Don't get me wrong!  She's a dedicated craftsperson and has an extensive career as a teacher, author, and internationally exhibited artist, but she's not afraid of whimsy and having fun.  This sense of child-like glee and mischief makes her work sing!

Over the weekend, her latest book, "Do You See What I See: From Seeing To Making: A Hands-on Look At Creativity" arrived.  It's part sketchbook, part travel journal, part creative guidebook, and it says so right on the cover!  I was so happy to see that her voice was ever-present in the pages of this book and her humor, charisma, and sense of adventure shines through.  The book is loaded with mixed media tips, tricks, and ideas about making art.  (I also really loved that I recognized so many of the pieces in the book and that several of them were exhibited at Allegory Gallery!  We even have one or two of her creations featured in the book!  It is so nice to feel connected to her journey.)

Christi is most known for her work with polymer clay and she doesn't disappoint!  The book has a load of different polymer clay ideas.  She also has useful information about epoxy clay, resin, and other mixed media techniques, including dozens of different surface treatments!

CLICK HERE to check out Christi's new book and get an autographed copy for yourself!  She always has tons of workshops and events planned!  CLICK HERE to see some of the great things she has in the works.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

I'm always curious to see what the Bead and Craft Bloggers will come up with next!  There's always so much creativity on display.

Crafting for a Cause
In this post, we're reminded of the importance of knowing your body and staying proactive about your health.  Terry Jeanette shares her experiences with PE and DVT.

Halloween Doll Fashions
It's that time of year again!  Tammy embraces her spooky side and sews Halloween-inspired dresses for her Blythe doll collection.

Of Cats and Color
Ann breaks out some of her brightly colored beads to create a whimsical feline necklace.

End of Summer Necklace
Cyndi celebrates the end of summer with her last beaded rope necklace of the season – a ruffled beauty in shades of purple peyote stitch.

Getting Swirly
Even with a major overseas trip, Sarajo shares her creations for the August Art Elements Blog theme: SWIRLS!

Sitting down with Diane
Allegory Gallery Interviews launches their second podcast!  This time William talks with Michigan-based ceramic artist, Diane Hawkey.  As a bonus, William and Andrew talk about how they met Diane.

Spring/Summer 2019 Color Forecast
Pantone just announced their 2019 Spring/Summer Color Report.  Check out what they think will be the hottest upcoming colors!  They usually pick the Color of the Year from this selection.  What do you think will be the Color of the Year for 2019?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fester...

I remember a conversation that I had when I first moved to New York.  I was talking to a friend about a mutual acquaintance who had just received their first solo show.  I'm ashamed to say that what I said was unkind.  Instead of being happy for them and their good luck and hard work, I was resentful and jealous.  Bile fills my mouth when I think about it.  And... I still think about it. Even years later, I remember how I let my higher self down and allowed my lesser self revel in meanness.

While I regret that conversation, I am thankful for what it taught me.  When you're negative and allow poison to cloud your mind, it festers and grows.  I could have had a wonderful friendship and a relationship built on mutual respect, but instead I gave into bitterness and spitefulness.  What could have been sweet had been soured.

Years later, I tracked down the person that I had talked badly about and apologized to them for what I had said.  The person said that it was so long ago and that they didn't remember it and that bygones were bygones.  It's a testament to how forgiving and kind they were.

Sometimes when I feel that meanness squirm in my stomach, I remember that conversation.

Instead, I try to focus on being happy for others and their successes.  When I feel sad or angry or frustrated, I try to fill my heart with gratitude and pride.  Eventually there isn't enough room for all the bad stuff.  It gets pushed out by all the good.  I'm not perfect and am far from enlightened.  I know that I'll never be free from those negative feelings... they'll always be around, but it's up to me to determine how much I give those feelings permission to impact my life.  It's up to me to decide whether I empower the positive or the negative... and deal with the consequences of my thoughts and actions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Swarovski 2019 Jewelry Trend Study...

Swarovski is a huge player in the jewelry industry and as such, they expend considerable resources to develop trend studies each year.  These are used to create new products, offer suggestions and applications of current items, and touch on current influences.  For 2019, they've boiled down the Jewelry Trend Study into four categories: be calm, be kind, be unique, and be excessive.  Those four groups are then broken down further into different descriptors.  Regardless of whether or not this is useful to you and your practices, it's fascinating to see what they feel is important and influential.  CLICK HERE to read the full report.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Trying...

I was going back through some old blog posts and I realized just how important this place that really isn't a place used to be to me.  When I was struggling to find my voice, dealing with illness, or searching for long lost family members... this blog was here for me.  I wrote my heart out and wore it on my sleeve.

It isn't the same anymore.  I guess nothing ever really is.  We're always changing and in this world that moves all too quickly, why would it be any different?  I tried to think of a moment where it all started to change, but I couldn't really remember a single moment.

I think it was gradual, where the words dried up and I felt thinly spread.  I felt all talked out.  Over 12 years of posting, I suppose it wasn't a surprise.  With all the other platforms and only so many hours in the day, it was only natural that the steam would eventually start to wane.

Over the past few weeks, I've attempted to blog more regularly and it has certainly been a challenge.  Even so, I still want to capture the magic that was once there, to shake it up and make it live again.  I don't know if it's possible.  Or if I'm just grasping at straws and being nostalgic, but it doesn't feel over yet.  It especially doesn't feel done when I read back over some of the things I've written over the years and they still feel like something.  They don't feel dead and cold yet.  So, I guess I'll keep trying.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Petals...

My birthday is just around the corner and it seems like it's always a catalyst for deeper reflection.  I get more pensive this time of year.  With the shifting of the weather and the changing of the season, I think back over the past year.  As the crisp autumn air enters my lungs and the chill creeps up my limbs, memories and emotions start to crystalize and form a picture.  I try to take a few moments to examine the image, learning from what has come before.

The past year has been a tumble of emotions, a swirl of triumphs and sorrows.  I've felt so fragmented, as if to carry on through the highs and lows, I've had to compartmentalize and embrace the individual facets more.  I have to admit that I was struggling with this.  How can you be happy and sad at the same time?  How can you be excited and fearful all at once?  How do all the pieces and parts fit together to form a whole?

Most days I vacillate between an iron will to push forward and get things done and being immobilized by this sense of being lost and weeping not only for myself, but the world.  I know that my tears aren't an elixir to cure the hurts of the world and that there is little accomplished by feeling the way I do, but I can't help it.  It's like the more that I try to be productive and proactive, the more the other feelings grow.  One cannot eclipse the other.  They're locked in a battle of escalating emotions.

Do you remember a game of plucking petals from a flower alternating between, "he loves me" and "he loves me not"?  As I was contemplating the past year, this image popped into my head.  At first I dismissed it.  Why was THAT relevant?  But I kept coming back to it.  And then it hit me.

Life is like a flower.  A flower is made up of petals.  Even though the petals feel wholly individual, they are all connected and form a single object.  When we look at a flower, do we see each petal or do we see the collective whole?  I think I've been looking a little too closely and need to step back to really appreciate the whole picture.  While certainly there has been sadness or hardship, there has also been moments of joy, happiness, and peace.  And perhaps because of the former, the latter is made all the more beautiful.  Life is bittersweet and full of texture.  It is made up of highs and lows and can be appreciated more fully when considered together.  The fragments form a mosaic, a picture that can only be seen from a distance.  Being myopic can be useful, but it's just one way of seeing.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Pantone's Spring/Summer 2019 Color Trend Report...

It's here!  That's right!  Pantone has just announced their latest NY Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 Trend forecast.  You'll be seeing these colors a lot in the upcoming year.  This report is all about vibrance and strength!  It's about combating challenges and facing the future full on.

Usually the Color of the Year is picked from this line-up.  What's your guess as the future 2019 Color of the Year?

Last year they started a special palette of neutrals.  While this might see not quite as much fun as the regular report, they're actually a wonderful foundation to build color stories.

You can read the full color report by CLICKING HERE.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

I'm always in awe of all the creativity that's on displayed in the different blog posts.  It's always inspiring and encouraging to see what others are making.

Pretty In Purple
Cyndi shows how to make a stunning spiral rope necklace with opulent purple pearls.

Color and Pattern
Ann creates a lovely new necklace using beads from Darn Good Yarn and an old African bead from her collection.

Autumn at the Beach
The seasons are changing and autumn inspiration has struck Terry Jeanette!  Her new line of jewelry incorporates a beachy vibe with a fall color palette.

All about the Pods
Sarajo creates an assortment of pod related jewelry for the July Art Elements monthly challenge, as well as shares some of the headpins from the Adornments Retreat.  Sarajo also made a mold for future pod components.

Sitting down with Gina
Allegory Gallery launches their NEW series of podcasts called, Allegory Gallery Interviews.  In the first interview, William sits down with ceramic artist, Gina Chalfant of White Swan Illuminations.

Advice from the Other Side of the Counter
Drawing on my experiences from being both an artist and a gallery owner, I share some of my small business guidance gleaned over the years.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sugar Skull Pendants...

Czech Glass Sugar Skull Pendants by Andrew Thornton
These Czech glass sugar skull beads have been hanging around the studio for a few years now.  They were in a little ceramic dish next to my computer, peering up at me with their floral eyes.  I just love them!  I think they're fun and festive.  When you look up the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos), it's so bright and colorful!  It really is a celebration of remembrance.  I knew that I wanted to do something special with them, but I didn't know just what I wanted to do with them yet.

That's when I had the idea to bezel-set them!  I've been bezel-setting a lot of stones lately and bezeling has a really nice way of finishing something off and framing the piece.  I think this technique dresses the components up, without taking too much away from them.

So... it took me awhile, but I finally set the beads in sterling silver, soldered on a bail, and made them into pendants.  Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), it took longer than I thought it would.  Apparently filing all the curved areas and sanding out the scuff marks takes awhile and can be fiddly work that's hard on the hands.  Luckily I finished and am quite pleased with how they turned out!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Memento Mori...

Mixed Metal Skull Pendant by Andrew Thornton
I know that skulls aren't for everyone!  There are a lot of people who look at skulls and think they are scary or conjure up images of unruly bikers and pirates plundering the open seas.  Skulls are a reminder of death and for a lot of people, that can be off-putting.

For me though, I think about the saying, "memento mori".  Translated from Latin, it means, "remember death".  It sounds ominous, but it's a reminder that death is just another part of the cycle of life.  For all things that begin and are new, so too do things end.  "Memento mori" is a call for us to live good lives and celebrate the gift we have while we have it.

This pendant included stamped and sawn out sterling silver that has been soldered to textured copper that I flame-polished.  I really enjoy the graphic difference between the cool silver and the warmer hues of the copper.  Of course, I antiqued everything, so the nooks and crannies really became the stars of the show.  The darkness really brings out the details and makes them stand out... sort of like life.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Angel Cats Pendant...

Even though I've been making jewelry for many years now, my jeweler's saw has been sorely neglected.  That is until recently.  I've been having fun cutting things out and soldering them.  It's something that I've thought about for a long time, but just needed to work up to to really get going.

This pendant captures my love of cats!  In hindsight, I realize that it sort of looks more wolfish and canine than feline, but I was working off a sketch of my cat, Barnaby, and he has a longer snout and bigger nose than a lot of cats.  Therefore, when translated to cut-out metal, it has a more dog look than cat, but I can still see it.

This is probably one of the most ambitious mixed metal pieces that I've made.  Up until now I've really just focused on sterling silver and integrating copper.  This piece has sterling silver, copper, AND bronze.  I definitely had to think about how to construct the piece so that all the pieces adhered properly.  Sometimes if you're not careful and you layer the pieces out of order, as you're heating up the solder for one element, it can melt other pieces or cause them to move.  This is particularly challenging with tiny pieces that seem to have a mind of their own and migrate.

On the back of the piece, I stamped part of a Jules Verne quote.  It reads, "I believe cats to be spirits come to earth."  The full quote goes on to say, "A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through."  I like this sentiment.  I think about this book called "Angel Cats" and how my cats have seemed to know just what I'm thinking and provided comfort in the hardest of hours.

Written in Stone...

I've talked a little bit about symbolism before and even mentioned some gem lore, but I haven't dived too deep into the topic.  Mainly because it's such a vast field.  Gem lore stretches back millennia and even though there are some crossovers, there's a thousand different things a stone can mean and sometimes it can be confusing or daunting.

One of the things that I like to do is to hold the stone in my hand and be mindful of what pops into my head.  Is it a memory?  Is it a sensation?  How does it make me feel when I look at it?  Are there any histories that come to mind?

More often than not, these intuited meanings are usually remarkably close to what the consensus offers.  Of course, even if a group of experts agree on a particular meaning, it really just depends on what it means to YOU!  For instance, if you are in an abusive relationship and your partner hits you with a turquoise ring on – that experience might taint your particular feelings toward something.  We're all different and unique and our experiences shape how we see and interact with the world.

With these pendants, I wanted to find the most common meanings of the stones that I bezel-set and stamp them onto the pendants.  For larimar, I stamped "healing".  For rainbow moonstone, I added the word, "dream".  Turquoise is thought to be a stone of protection, so I hammered the word "protect" and some protective Runes.  Crazy lace agate has such a fun pattern and it's no wonder why it is often considered the stone of happiness.  That's why I stamped the word, "happiness" on the crazy lace agate pendant.  For the pendants with the coral on it, I used the word, "imagination".  I think they're fun and even if you aren't familiar with so much gem lore, you'd still be able to guess what they meant.  The bezel-set stones are soldered onto hammered copper bases that are flame-polished.  I like the nice contrast of the cool silver and warm reddish brown of the copper.  I think it really makes the stone POP and not in a bad way.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Made with Love...

One of the things that I find infinitely fascinating is what things represent.  It seems like everything has a hidden story and a secret meaning.  One of my metaphysical friends once told me that all things contain a signature – a fingerprint of God and that those hallmarks of individuality all meant something.  They were a secret language.  Later, in art school, we tried to decipher the code.  When you're working primarily in a visual medium, why not learn what makes things more appealing or off-putting?  Why not learn how to hone the silent communication of an object or image?

One of the things that you discover when you try to break things down is that it's a little bit tricker than one might think.  Depending on the culture and the time period, symbols develop and change representation.  What might be a symbol of life and new beginning in one culture might be a sign of death and finality in another, like the color white.

Even though there can be differences, surprisingly, several images have universal understandings that cross borders and customs and stretch across the ages.  Sometimes those "signatures" are so redolent of their intended representation that it can be felt and intuited.

When I'm making representational work (even when I'm working more abstractly), I always like to think about what a particular symbol means to me.  What makes it unique to my cosmology?  How is it different from others?  And how is it the same?

Despite how crazy it made our mother, we used to draw on ourselves.  I remember once we made a game of drawing eyes on our hands and chasing each other around the house.  Later I discovered that this was not unique to us.  In fact, it has a long tradition and history.  Sometimes called a "hamsa" and sometimes "the Hand of Fatima", it is a symbol of protection and is used to ward away the "Evil Eye" or bad intentions.

To me, the hand is a symbol of possibility and potential.  As an artist, I use my hands to make things. The eye is a symbol of the spirit and seeing what is there and beyond that.  Combined, I think of how an artist works from head to heart to hand.  An idea is pulled from thoughts and feelings and distilled through the artist, moving down through the heart, concentrated there, and made manifest through the hands.  The act of creation is a powerful magic.  What's more magical than making something from what seems like nothing?

Along these lines, I think of hands as symbols of healing.  I'm often reminded of the saying of the "laying of the hands".  Healers use their touch as a conduct of prayer or energy or whatever you want to call it.  Who hasn't been given a small bit of comfort when you're upset and someone has hugged you or patted your arm?

But the hand motif has other meanings.  A raised hand is a call for recognition.  An extended palm is a signal to stop or yield.  A handprint is also evidence, a record of being there.

I think it's important to be mindful of the different interpretations, but not to let that hold you back.  Instead, focus on what's important to you and what it means to you.  As you're woking on something, set your mind towards your intention and your meaning, imbuing the object with that particular energy.

This piece was made from flame-polished copper and sawn out sterling silver.  I bezel-set a tiny larimar cabochon in the palm.  One could see the hand holding this "ball" of energy or as an eye.  Larimar is commonly thought to represent healing, peace, love, and enlightenment.  It's a stone born of fire and water, balanced between the elements.  Like painting, each element adds another layer, increasing the depth and width of meaning and symbolism.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Runes...

Rune Pendants by Andrew Thornton
When I was a kid, we used to go to the flea market "fairly frequently" and by "fairly frequently", I mean, almost every single weekend.  When you don't have a lot of money, it's one of those places where that doesn't matter as much.  A dollar can be stretched amazingly far and if you're lucky, there's treasure to be found!

It's at a flea market that we first discovered runes.  Tucked in a crumbling cardboard box, we found an almost complete set in a faded rust-colored suede bag and a tatty guidebook that was about to fall apart.  The missing piece didn't phase us one bit.  We were crafty even back then that made a polymer clay replacement.  Later on, after high school art class, the polymer replacement was upgraded to a ceramic one that was almost indistinguishable from the originals.

Ever since then, I was fascinated with different systems of divination.  We were curious children and having a tool to answer questions was empowering and a small comfort.  The Runes were a form of connection to something bigger than us and opened the door to a much larger world, where a child could solve hidden mysteries and not feel quite so alone.

I decided to create a series of pendants based off the Runes.  I cut out sterling silver discs and hand-stamped them with a selection of Runes.  I then soldered them to a flame-polished, textured copper backplate.  Once the pendants are cooled, they're cleaned, polished, and burnished by hand and coated with a protective layer of Renaissance Wax that's buffed to a nice satin sheen.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Notes from the Other Side of the Counter...

Since Allegory Gallery's recent SCORE American Small Business Championship win, a lot of focus has been put towards our experiences as small business owners.  It seems like I get questions from people almost every week about running a creative-based small business.  I'm all too happy to help, because when we started off, we had an abundance of advice and that has definitely contributed to us being as successful as we are now.

As I wrote the responses, I realized that a lot of the ground that I was going over was already covered in a ten-part series of blog posts I did a few years ago called, "Notes from the Other Side of the Counter: Candid Advice from a Brick and Mortar Gallery Owner".

I thought that I would share them again, in case others might find value in them.  I think the information is still pertinent and I think that I'll revisit this series and maybe offer some more content that I've picked up along the way.

Here is a list of links to all of the existing posts:

1. Letting Go of Ego.
2. Doing Homework.
3. First Date.
4. Dress to Impress.
5. Break It Down.
6. Playing Hardball.
7. Red Flags.
8. The Bitter Pill.
9. It Takes Two to Tango.
10. Mind Your Business.

Do you run a creative-based small business?  What's some of the best small business advice that you've received?  What's something that you would tell to someone who's looking to start their own small business?

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Art Bead Collection: Owl Eyes On You...

Even when I was little, I was fascinated by owls.  The house that I grew up in had an old red barn.  One of my earliest memories is of me running in the backyard, racing to the barn and flinging the doors open.  Out swooped an owl, right above my head.   I remember being captivated instantly and completely by this majestic creature!  My owl collection started not long after that.  One of my great aunts gave me a tiny porcelain snowy owl figurine.  I used to carry it in my pocket everywhere I went.  The poor thing!  The feet and a wingtip broke off.  The feet were lost to time, but with the help of my mother, I  haphazardly glued the tip back on.  My mom still has it!  She keeps it in a box with other childhood treasures.

That little banged up owl figurine was just the start of my collection!  I have several hundred now, each different and unique.  My love of owls merged with love of art beads, resulting in several owl jewelry components!  I thought about doing one epic post with all my owl art beads, but I thought that it'd be a little overwhelming.  So I am going to spread out the owl love and do a few different posts featuring them.

Anne Choi
Anne Choi makes some of my favorite art beads!  She starts off by reverse carving molds, pressing wax sheet in them, casting them (primarily in sterling silver), forming them, and then soldering them together.  That's a pretty simplistic rundown of a labor-intensive exactly method for creating little works of art!

Diane Hawkey
Working in clay stretches back millennia.  Luckily for us, the tradition continues and marches forward.  One of my favorite ceramic artists is Diane Hawkey.  All of her pieces convey her unique style.

Cynthia Thornton
This piece was created by my family at Green Girl Studios in Asheville, NC.  It is one of their special pieces that isn't apart of their regular line.  It's cast in shibuichi, a copper and silver alloy, and set with tiny rose-cut sapphire eyes.  Sometimes they'll list special pieces like this in their Etsy shop or they'll make them for shows.

Gaea Cannaday
Gaea Cannaday is another fabulous artist who works primarily in ceramic clay.  This particular sleeping owl head bead was embellished afterwards with Gliders' Paste.

Joan Miller
One of the coolest things to me is how different artists can use the same medium, but use different techniques to produce distinctively unique work.  For instance, Joan Miller works in ceramic porcelain clay, but the way she works is a little bit different than others.  She builds up layers of colored slip clay to produce her signature style.

Kylie Parry
So very graphic, this ceramic pendant was made by Kylie Parry.  She used a decal method to transfer the illustration the owl onto her pendant.  I love the nutty, red brown of the illustration.

Laurel Moon
Normally when you think of making metal components, pictures of standing in front of a huge fire with spinning centrifuges may pop into your head.  But this one was create differently!  Using acid, Laurel Moon creates these striking etched copper pendants.


These are just a few of my owl-themed art beads.  I hope you enjoyed this look into my private collection!

Friday, August 03, 2018

Healing Arrow Point Pendant...

Healing Arrow Point Pendant by Andrew Thornton and Cynthia Thornton
Let's face it, modern day living can wear one down mentally and physically. It can be abrasive and make even the most cherished of times lackluster. But we believe that if you focus on the positive and concentrate your energy, even the most troubling of times can turn around.

We created this pendant as a talisman. It is a touchstone and a reminder to focus on positive, healing energies all around us. The distinctive arrowhead shape directs good energy right into the heart. The web motif, reminiscent of sacred geometry, acts as a dream catcher, attracting and capturing positive thoughts and feelings. The bezel-set stone absorbs and radiates the transformational affirmation. Believe. Heal. Create.

The pendant was handcrafted by me and my sister, Cynthia Thornton of Green Girl Studios, in the mountains of North Carolina. It is composed of lost wax cast bronze and has a nice, comforting heft.  Each pendant from this limited-edition series measures approximately 6.25 cm X 3.5cm. This pendant also features a hand-set stone that was hand selected and carefully meditated over. The stone, hugged by a fine silver bezel, is a luscious, rose-cut garnet that has a lot of depth and romance. I felt the earthly dark red of the stone complimented the honey-toned bronze nicely.

A little over two years ago, Cynthia and I collaborated on the idea and design.  Cynthia then carved the wax masters that were then molded and the original series was cast in sterling silver by her husband (Greg Ogden).  For this round, we wanted to work in bronze.  Bronze has a beautiful golden warmth and has a long history that stretches back millennia.  Once the pendants were cast, I then bezel-set the stone and polished and burnished the pendant by hand.  During the creation of these pieces, it was important to all of the artists involved to keep their minds focused on positive thoughts and good intentions. We hope that the wearer of this piece enjoys it and that it brings the owner much luck, love, prosperity, abundant healing energy, and is a repository and amplifier of positive energy.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

On the Road...

We just got back a few days ago from a quick trip down South to see my family in Asheville.  It's an annual trip we make to shop the gem shows in Franklin, but it's more than that.  It's a restorative time, when I spend time with my sister and her family, make things, and fill our bellies full of good food.  We laugh and share stories and work on projects.  This time we were joined by the lovely Candie Cooper, who was also in town when we were.  We had a fabulous time and dreamed up all kinds of plans!

When I'm on the road, it seems as though I give myself permission to relax.  When I'm home, oftentimes I get so wrapped up in the day to day goings on that it's easy to feel a little overwhelmed.  Don't get me wrong!  I love my life and feel blessed by the abundance of good energy.  But... I still think it's easy to get caught up in the rush to keep all the spinning plates going.

We got back and I felt that overwhelming feeling sink in with a vengeance.  I started to feel guilty about taking the extra few days and  I started to get apprehensive about not doing all the things that I had on my docket.  Did I answer all the emails?  Did I miss a meeting?  Did I forget something?

As I sat there, immobilized, caught up in the spinning cycle of my own self-defeating thoughts... I got fed up!  How is it that one day I feel relaxed and at ease and the next I'm a bundle of exposed nerves?  How is it that one day I'm enjoying the simple pleasures and the next I'm worrying so hard that my jaw feels clenched, my neck stiff, and my stomach sour?

And really... there is no reason.

The difference boils down to a change of perception.  A change of pace and scenery alters the way we see the world.  The worries I had upon returned weren't new.  They were always there.  But the difference is that I let it bother me.  I opened the door to let these nagging voices in.  And if I had the power to open the door, I also had the power to close it.

I decided to make a list.  It wasn't the usual kind of list that I make that lists all the things on my mind, but a briefer, more succinct list.  From the list, I prioritized what was important to me at that moment.  And I set about crossing those things off.  If I get to it, good.  If I don't, it's okay.  The list will be there tomorrow and I can only do so much.  Sometimes things work out.  Sometimes they don't.  When they don't go according to plan, this isn't an invitation to worry or fret.  It's an acceptance that it is what it is.  Knowing what I have to work with, I can adjust my plans accordingly and swim with the current, as opposed to against it.

We have choices about how we live.  We don't have to be defined by our scenery or circumstance, but how we see the world and choose to interact with it.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

I'm always blown away by the talent of the Bead and Craft Bloggers group!  Each of them uses their creativity and enthusiasm to create really amazing things!  Even when experiments don't work out, you can see them growing and developing as artists.

Beautiful Awareness
Awareness can take many forms.  In this post, TappingflamingoBling shows off her surfer style with these autism awareness bracelets!  The best part is that a portion of the sales will benefit a nonprofit that supports autism awareness.

Russian Spiral Rope
When I mention the word, "Russian" in certain circles, it can start a tizzy of heated conversations and political debates.  Luckily this post has nothing to do with THAT.  Cyndi shares her fondness for the Russian Spiral rope that she learned from Carol Ohl's article in Beadwork magazine.

Details Count
Tammy shares a tiny Blythe Doll dress and discusses the importance of adding details, especially when working on such a small scale.

Wild at Heart
Design kits can be a fun way to push you out of your comfort zone and propel your creativity forward.  In this blog, Ann shows what she made with the Wild Jungle kit from Allegory Gallery.

Adornments Retreat
Venturing to Galena, Illinois, Sarajo attended the annual Adornments Retreat.  Learn more about this mixed media jewelry experience here!

New Treasures
Allegory Gallery is constantly getting things in!  Want to see what's new at this local bead store in Ligonier, PA?

Book Club with a Twist
Each month, the Inspired by Reading Book Club has a new selection.  After the book is read, members are encouraged to make something inspired by what they read!  See what Andrew created with Rainbow Rowell's book, "Eleanor & Park" as inspiration!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Inspired by Reading: Eleanor & Park...

Can you believe that Allegory Gallery's Inspired by Reading Book Club is still going on after five and a half years?  It seems like several lifetimes ago that we started.  And maybe, because in a way, it has been.  We've read stacks and stacks of books, each one containing generations of people and countless far off places.  We've lived so many lives vicariously.  While I would like to think that I would have read all these books on my own, truthfully, without the book club, I probably wouldn't have.  I pretty much stay in my lane, but the book club has introduced so many new and different voices that were a joy to discover.  If you aren't familiar with our group, it's like most book clubs, but with a twist!  We read a book each month, but then we create something inspired by what we read.  It can be anything!  Most of us make jewelry, so a lot of projects tend to lean that direction.  At the end of the month, we share our creations in our Facebook group and have an in-person get together.

Summer is a busy time for most of the members of the Inspired by Reading Book Club and as such, our regulars haven't had a chance to get together for the past few months.  Luckily we were able to meet up and catch up this month!  I almost forgot how nice it was just to talk with other people.  When I'm on a serious work bender, it can sometimes be weeks where the only person I talk to in person is William.

For July, we read "Eleanor & Park" by Rainbow Rowell.  I must admit that I have a weak spot for young adult fiction; I can put an audiobook on and get to work.  I'm smitten with Rainbow Rowell's work.  She has a wonderful way of weaving together quirky pop culture references and peppering her writing with her own characters from her other books.  If you're looking for something light and fluffy though, keep moving.  Rowell tackles the complexity of facing challenges while growing up.

"Eleanor & Park" struck really close to home and I found myself reliving past adolescent experiences through the different characters.  The premise of the story is a coming of age story focusing on Eleanor, the new girl in school who has a troubled home-life, and Park, the seemingly average kid who is secretly conflicted over his mixed parentage and rebelling against the ideas of what it means to be masculine.  The unlikely duo get to know each other through riding the school bus together, eventually bonding over comic books and mixed tapes.
One of the images that really stuck out to me were the mixed tapes.  My best friend and I used to trade tapes. It wasn't just about sharing music, but it was about sharing emotions.  We used to try and tell a story with the songs we'd pick.  They also were special, because it took time to put them together.  If you were recording something off the radio, sometimes you'd have to listen all day, just so that you could catch it and record it.  Ideally you wouldn't miss too much of the beginning of the song and not unintentionally add too much of the next song.

So, I made these earrings.  I drew a picture of a mixed tape and used our laser to create these etched acrylic components.  I then dangled them off earwires with jump rings.  They're simple and a little bit kitschy, but I like them.  They've got a great throwback feel and reminds of riding the school bus with my best friend.

If you'd like to see the full list of books for this year, CLICK HERE.  (We will be voting on new selections soon.)  If you'd like to join the Facebook group, so that you can see the other creations and find out more about the group, CLICK HERE.  And if you'd like to get a copy of "Eleanor & Park", you can CLICK HERE to get your own copy.  I also recommend, "Carry On" by Rainbow Rowell; it has a different style with fantastical elements, but there's still some of that awkward-teenagers-trying-to-figure-their-stuff-out character development that she's so good at writing.

UPDATE:  After I made the earrings, I posted them on Twitter and tagged the author AND she responded!!!  Here's what Rainbow Rowell had to say about my earrings and our book club: