Friday, September 30, 2011

September Reader's Challenge UPDATE...

Several curveballs were thrown at the September Reader's Challenge.  First there were delays in getting some of the components to send out, then earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and the wrong customs forms.  The latter resulted in the biggest setback and a stack of returned packages that had to be sent out a second time (with the correct forms).

Navigating everything so that everyone involved is mostly happy has been... interesting.  It has been "interesting" in that challenging kind of way, like moving puzzle pieces around.

The original reveal date was scheduled for September 30th.  Some of the participants managed to get everything done and posted by this date.  (Good job!)  Unfortunately many of the others didn't get a chance to complete their pieces by this date or were unable to get pictures by the deadline or in some cases didn't even receive their kits yet!  So, there will be two more "unofficial" reveal dates that I hope everyone participates in.  The first of the two new reveal dates will be tomorrow, October 1st.  The second will be October 12th.  Hopefully everyone will get a chance to showcase their hard-work and share the pieces that they created.

In the meantime, above is a little sneak peek of my piece.  Tomorrow, I will be posting all of my piece and the pieces by Christina Porter and Darby Lohrding.  I will also post the list of participants who have already revealed their creations or plan to do so on the first as well.

Sorry for all the confusion and the delays!  As I said it has been... interesting... dealing with everything.

The kit for October will be debuting soon.  I have added an additional ten kits, due to the popular demand last time and hope that will help more people participate.  Let's all cross our fingers that next month's challenge will run much more smoothly!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Finding Balance...

Autumn is the great equalizer.  The beginning of the season – an equinox – corresponds with the start of the astrological sign of Libra.  It's no surprise that it's the sign of balance.  I am a libra and find that I am always in pursuit of the concept of balance, of things being even and in good harmony with one another.

Sometimes when I ignore that inherent sensibility my equilibrium is thrown off.    It's not always a bad thing that causes me to go too far over in one direction.  The opening of Allegory Gallery, for example, was not a bad thing, but certainly something that required my full attention and a large amount of tunnel vision.  That particular flavor of devotion comes at a cost... the proverbial pendulum swinging the other direction trying to center me once again.

So, I find myself adjusting and trying to create the routines and daily rituals that will give my new life a semblance of balance.  It is exhausting.  I am exhausted.  I am exhausted in that deep down in your bones sort of way.  It has required so much energy.  I know that a time of rest is needed, a time to regenerate and recover and restore that internal balance that is so necessary for me to function as an artist and a productive human being.

You might have noticed my lack of activity here on the blog.  I am not worried though.  Everything has a season and I am working now to set down healthy roots that will help nourish my ability to create in the future.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekly Word: Wander...

This week's word is "wander". Create a piece of jewelry, a work of art, or take a picture that, in your opinion, best captures the meaning of the word. Think about the word and its different interpretations and how it makes you feel. Translate it into whatever medium you'd like and then post about it on your blog. Once you've uploaded your blog post, copy and paste the URL into a new comment on this post. Be sure to check out what others are making, inspired by the weekly word. Don't delay; you have a week until the new word is posted.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One Year...

A year ago, I went to the doctors to check on a bump.  I didn't think much of it and wasn't actually going to go.  I thought it was just another abnormally large pimple or some sort of cyst that would eventually go away. In fact, it looked like it was getting smaller when I went into the doctors.

For my birthday last year, I celebrated with a biopsy and a surgery shortly after that.  I was told that I had a form of skin cancer and that it was aggressively spreading.  I was informed that the fact that it was "getting smaller" just meant that it was going deeper and that if I didn't have it removed (plus six inches around on all sides and down to the muscle wall) that it would have spread to my lungs and other vital organs.

It seems like it was a hundred years ago instead of just one.  Since then I've done so many things and I think accomplished a lot.  When I think back, I remember that at the time I couldn't see this far ahead.  It was murky and my future lay ahead a total and complete mystery.  I couldn't have known then the turns and twists and mountains that I would climb.

Here I am.  In a few days, another year older and hopefully a little wiser.  I could not have predicted this life as it is, but am happy with it all the same.  The struggles have only strengthened me and my loved ones.  And I am very grateful for all the support and encouragement that I've been shown.  The community has rallied to my aid so many times and I cannot fully express just how much that means to me.

If I have done good in my life, it was because there are those out there who believe in me and my vision.  So, one year later... I extend my hands in an embrace, to thank you for all that you've done and for traveling this road with me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Long Way Home...

After a lot of hard work, everything finally came together.  To celebrate the opening of the gallery, we kicked things off with the first ever art show in the space.  The show is entitled, "The Long Way Home".  I think it's appropriate on many levels.

The show features artists from all over the world:  Cora Yee, Gina Chalfant, Sheila Thornton, Celine Sheridan, Jame Kao, Iviva Olenick, Joyce Werwie Perry, Elizabeth Castaldo, and Natalie Willemsen.

The artists were asked to interpret the theme of "home" and the paths that lead to it.  Some of the artists created pieces with a more literal meaning, while others took a more abstract one.  I think the show in the Project Space is a great representation of the kind of shows we want to put on... a cross-section of ideas, examining things on an intimate level.  (Not to mention that the art is simply AMAZING!)

Above is a shot from the opening reception.  Although we're new in town, we were greeted with a warm welcome and had quite a few people stop by.

This shot is of the spread.  We opted for some of my summertime favorites like sangria and bruschetta.  William's mom baked a cheesecake and I made three different kinds of hors d'oeuvres (candied bacon with a blue cheese spread, brie with walnuts and honey, and caramelized onions with cream cheese).  We also had a cheese and meat plate with an assortment of tasty treats.

Later in the evening, our friends from Mountain Palace stopped by.  They brought with them a sampling of some of their phenomenal dumplings.  People were raving all night about them!  

One of the highlights of the evening was meeting Sue Kennedy of SueBeads!  She's such a talented glassworker and makes really lovely things.  It seems like we've almost met a dozen times.  In terms of geographic distance, she's not all that far away and is probably one of the closest of my fellow "bead people".  We just seem to keep missing each other. .  You should definitely check out her work, if you haven't already by CLICKING HERE.
This is the first window display for Allegory Gallery.  The window is piled with beads.  Everything is in white.  The vintage ceramic glove molds are draped with strands of vintage pearls from Japan, vintage glass from West Germany and Czechoslovakia, and vintage lucite.  It's taking some old and making something new, bringing hands together, and breaking the rules in a classy way.  (No white after Labor Day.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekly Word: Primal...

This week's word is "primal". Create a piece of jewelry, a work of art, or take a picture that, in your opinion, best captures the meaning of the word. Think about the word and its different interpretations and how it makes you feel. Translate it into whatever medium you'd like and then post about it on your blog. Once you've uploaded your blog post, copy and paste the URL into a new comment on this post. Be sure to check out what others are making, inspired by the weekly word. Don't delay; you have a week until the new word is posted.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Building the Project Space...

One of the great things about the space in Allegory Gallery is that there are all these old details, like the tin ceilings and walls. They add character and definitely establish a certain vibe.

However, when we decided that we wanted to include fine art and produce curated art shows, the little details became an obstacle instead of a boon.

That old saying, "If only these walls could talk..." is very true when curating a show.  Sometimes how and where your show the work changes the context completely and drastically.  We wanted to start with a blank canvas.

So we created the idea of the Project Space.  Originally it was going to be a freestanding and movable structure that we could partition off selections of the gallery with.  However, practicality won out.  Drywall is heavy and a structure this size with as little support as it would have for aesthetic reasons, would be very dangerous.  So, we improvised the design and mounted the wall, creating a real focal point in the space.

William's mom, his aunt and her husband, and his brother, Adam, all helped make the Project Space a reality.  They took some loose ideas and created a really well-made addition to the space that will really showcase the artwork.

Once they framed out the extension, hung the drywall and framed it with wood to "create a complete thought", I mudded, sanded and painted.  While they did a simply awesome job, mine was a little rough and will need to be touched up later.

I'm Still Here...

In the week that I've been "missing" from the virtual world, I received about a hundred emails, messages and phone calls asking after me, William, the cats, my Jeep, and Allegory Gallery.  I imagine the last post before my miniature hiatus and the few Tweets and Facebook updates that made it out were quite the cliffhangers.  I apologize if you were worried.  I also apologize if you were waiting to hear from me or waiting for something from me.  Much of my correspondence and shipping was unavoidably delayed.

To set the record straight and relieve any curiosity... I'm still here.

We are all well and good, if not worn a little around the edges.  That is, of course, except for my Jeep.  William was driving back one night after we were working on the gallery and hit a deer.  It was dark, rainy, and the deer darted out from an overgrown patch of bushes next to the road.  Luckily no one in the car was hurt, but sadly both the deer and my car did not fair so well.  I will not dwell on the latter as it pains my heart deeply.  (I just finished paying off the last repairs it required.)

Allegory Gallery finally opened.  We were down to the very last moments, but everything managed to come together.  If it didn't, we found a way to fudge it until we could fix it and hopefully no one noticed or was understanding of the very newness of our endeavor.  The space will continue to grow and change and develop over time.  As the funds and resources become available, we'll be constantly adding and augmenting.

I was on my way to work one morning (a still unfamiliar concept to me) and spotted this spiderweb strung with dewdrops.  It looked as though crystalline beads were suspended in a lacy pattern, radiating from the center.  What a sublime sight.  One I would not have seen if I wasn't on my way.  Already, my life is richer and better for the steps we've taken, one at a time.

Reader's Challenge Mystery Component Reveal...

Each of the September Reader's Challenge Design Kits included a mystery component plus a few extra special goodies. Not even the participants knew what they were getting as the surprise ingredient until it arrived at their door. Above is the reveal of the mystery component for September! 

The Mystery Component is an amethyst dichroic glass bead!  They were made special for the challenge.  They have a mix of lavender and pale purples.  

Since it is my birthday month, I wanted to add some special presents to each kit.  I included a handcrafted copper coin pendant featuring a stylized flower motif.  Each coin has been flame-polished and lightly buffed with Renaissance Wax and hand-colored with Gilder's Paste.  I also included a length of silver-plated steel double-rollo chain.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Two Steps...

It seems like for all the progress we made this weekend in getting things together for the opening, we were met with just as many delays, technical difficulties and cancellations.  Very frustrating.  Even more frustrating is when I say things like, "Look out for the sale..." and then don't have a sale.  It is coming, but it'll just take a bit longer, as we figure out how to cross the new obstacles that have cropped up.

Just know that I appreciate all the support and patience and will continue to work as hard as I can to make something really special.  Thank you.

Weekly Word: Modern...

This week's word is "modern". Create a piece of jewelry, a work of art, or take a picture that, in your opinion, best captures the meaning of the word. Think about the word and its different interpretations and how it makes you feel. Translate it into whatever medium you'd like and then post about it on your blog. Once you've uploaded your blog post, copy and paste the URL into a new comment on this post. Be sure to check out what others are making, inspired by the weekly word. Don't delay; you have a week until the new word is posted.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beaded Links...

A Bead A Day
Have you ever come across an unusual or hard to identify bead? Lisa is looking for help with a mysterious plastic bead. Jewelrymaking
Fly away with some steampunk inspiration after reading this new pin tutorial.  

Beading Arts
Cyndi figures out how to showcase a wonderful lampwork glass pendant and shares the steps with you!

Beads and Books
Michelle creates jewelry with the new Rusty Black metal finish from B'Sue Boutiques. 

Cindy Gimbrone Beads
Cindy's got some business advice for you - from one threadkiller to another! 

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie reviews a gorgeous new metalsmithing book called Hot Connections. 

Resin Crafts
Resin Crafts has a post featuring back to school pencils in resin!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean just can't ever get over the stunning beauty created by her British pal, Emma Ralph! if you don't know about Emma, you have a real treat in store! 

The Bead Dreamer
Charlene shows how a little paint and an old book make an excellent prop for jewelry photography.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Recently, Andrew was interviewed by Kelli Burns of The Hole Bead Shop. Check out the first installment of the interview! 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Morning Mail...

I sometimes dread checking my email in the morning. It seems like in the few hours that I lay my head down to catch a little bit of rest, a magical door has occasion to open to the land of Snark and Stank. From that door issues forth negative emails that explode like rotten eggs to stink up the rest of the day.

Today's rotten egg comes courtesy of a jewelry-maker on the West Coast. She writes, "Aren't you tired of asking for money yet? You must be really narssasictic [sic] to think that people hundreds of miles away care if you open your "gallery" or not."

For a brief moment, an evil thought popped into my head of posting her name, email address and the rest of her diatribe and letting the virtual smack-down commence. However, that would not be very gentlemanly of me AND even though her email stinks of negativity, I can only imagine that she specifically wrote to "help" me and has concerns.

So instead of being negative back, as tempting and as easy as it would be, I will take the opportunity to clarify my position.

To answer the first question: Yes, I am tired of asking for money. It's not easy asking for help. If it was up to me, I would be the happy recipient of the lottery and never ask anything of anyone again. The truth of the matter is that it's a rough time to be starting a business. The economy is pretty shaky and even our own government is going through a financial rough patch. I am by no stretch of the imagination rich, especially after having cancer and paying back those insane medical bills. This dream would not be possible without the generous support, kindness, and willingness of the community to help out and participate. To them, I am eternally grateful.

To address the second comment: I don't know if I would consider myself "narcissistic". It's true that I've created quite a nice set-up for myself over the past few years, and while I'm not wealthy, I have a freedom that most people only dream of. Up until now, I could travel to my heart's content, leave for the winter for warmer climates, avoiding ice and snow completely, and best of all... stay home all day and make things. And as an added bonus... never have to change out of pajamas unless I wanted to. That's maybe a little "indulgent" but I don't think "narcissistic". Opening the gallery, which by definition is a place to showcase and feature work of artists and craftspeople, will quickly remedy all that. It means that I'm locked down into one place, will have to stay for the winter, miss a trip to Hawaii, and have to wear pants and shoes everyday. Why trade off? The main reason is that I want to give back. I don't believe that a creative space is a single-cell organism. A place that inspires others to see and to create is truly a complex animal; it requires the participation of a lot of different people to function healthily. It's all about establishing roots, building community, and connecting individuals and artwork. The rising tide raises all boats. For example, if the gallery does well, we'll be able to buy more artisan-made goods and help support artists follow their dreams of making things full-time. By helping them do that, they are able to contribute more beauty to this world and give others vehicles to create with. Along those same lines, while the gallery is definitely rooted in a physical community, it is not limited to those walls. The community that we belong to extends around the globe and involves thousands of people. The gallery encourages participation amongst members of this BIG family and embraces the diverse perspectives that each individual brings to the table. And if I was so narcissistic, don't you think I would name it The Andrew Thornton Gallery?

Oddly enough, whether "She-who-shall-not-be-named" intended it, I feel even more affirmed in my convictions to see Allegory Gallery meet its maximum potential and strive fully towards the tenants to educate, inspire, and build community. It was good to write out why I'm doing this and really internalize the motivations of tackling this challenge.

One Last Push...

The Weekly Word for this week is, "happenstance". It's an apt word. Lately my primary focus has been Allegory Gallery. The very idea of this creative space was the result of a series of very fortuitous events. Had a single one not happened, everything would be completely different; the conception of Allegory Gallery would just be a "one-day-maybe" seed in the back of our minds to be possibly planted in the far-flung future. But as luck... or providence... would have it, things are steady moving forward and the opening of Allegory Gallery is less than a week away!

Even with a healthy dose of Destiny, the opening of the gallery hasn't been without a considerable amount of effort and hard work. Many late, sleepless nights have been spent on this project. My nose has seriously been pressed firmly against the grindstone. I had almost missed this fallen leaf – a true sign that autumn is here, slowly settling in. The seasons are changing, perhaps a metaphor for how much my life is changing. Each day draws me closer to a new way of thinking, of doing and on a fundamental level... being.

There is still much to do before the gallery can open. Another series of events has delayed the opening, pushing it back to the 15th, and prevented us from starting this new chapter. On one hand, it's a blessing to have extra time to prepare. The pace, while steady, is less frantic and we can calmly assess problems and enact solutions we might not have thought of had we had less time to think things through. On another, the delay means that no income is coming in from the gallery and we are slowly hemorrhaging funds until we do open and can staunch the gush of money with incoming sales.

So, while the Fundraiser is technically "over", there will be one last push to raise funds to get things done and help assuage the loss of moneys while we still remain unopened. Keep an eye open later today for me to temporarily bring back Mixed Lots and post items for auction on Ebay. I will be devoting this weekend towards the last push to get the doors open.

(If you are still waiting for goodies from the last fundraising effort, the last of the packages was put in the post yesterday and should be arriving shortly! For packages that were already shipped out, I am told that delivery has been slowed over the past week due to extreme weather conditions and the holiday weekend. Sorry for the delay!)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Hole Bead Blog Interview...

I was honored to be invited by Kelli Burns of The Hole Bead blog to participate in their Trade Show Series of interviews. She had many kind things to say about me and her introduction really touched me. I try to live by a principle of kindness and treating people how I'd like to be treated; you never know this will be received or if it'll make a difference at all. It is nice to hear that I was able to make an impact (and have fun in the process)! CLICK HERE to read the first installment of the interview with Kelli.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Weekly Word: Happenstance...

This week's word is "happenstance". Create a piece of jewelry, a work of art, or take a picture that, in your opinion, best captures the meaning of the word. Think about the word and its different interpretations and how it makes you feel. Translate it into whatever medium you'd like and then post about it on your blog. Once you've uploaded your blog post, copy and paste the URL into a new comment on this post. Be sure to check out what others are making, inspired by the weekly word. Don't delay; you have a week until the new word is posted.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Beaded Links... Jewelrymaking
When was the last time you visiting the Jewelry Making Forum? That long ago? Well, here is some of what you have been missing.

Beading Arts
Cyndi shares the work of some amazing bead embroidery artists!

Beads and Books
Michelle shares a strategy for improving her Etsy shop photos.

Cindy Gimbrone Beads
Cindy shares some ideas to make your metal money stretch.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie unloads a kiln fill of new black and white deigns

Resin Crafts
This week Carmi is making Faux Gems with resin!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean thinks about what it is like to write for Australian Beading Magazine! Many of you have been in her column at this point!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew announces the (SOLD OUT) Reader's Challenge Design Kit for September! Lots of luscious pale purples and lavenders!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Allegory Gallery Fundraiser Update...

Today is the last day of the Allegory Gallery Fundraiser! We reached 57% of our original goal. While we didn't meet our target goal, we are still grateful for the support and financial donations made to get the gallery open. It means so much to us! We consider ourselves so lucky to receive what we have; there have been earthquakes, hurricanes, and power outages to combat and we still did really well! Thank you so much! We really couldn't have done it without the generous support of the beautiful and vibrant community that we belong to.

Even though the Fundraiser didn't meet our initial goal, the show must go on! We won't be able to do everything that we wanted to do right off the back, but we'll slowly build up to those dreams and hope that you will continue to follow along the journey.

If you made a financial contribution and are set to receive a Thank You Prize, they will go out by the middle of November. Thanks again to everyone who made this possible!

And if you're in the area, make sure to join us September 15th for the GRAND OPENING and the opening reception for the current art show, "The Long Way Home".

(OH! And if you still want to make a donation, the Donation Button on the original post about the fundraiser will be kept live until the end of September. So there's still time if you want to contribute!)

September Design Kits SOLD OUT...

The September Reader's Challenge Design Kits are SOLD OUT! They went super fast! Within a few hours all of them were claimed! If you're disappointed you didn't get one, I'm sorry! There's always next month!

Here are some answers to the some commonly asked questions:

1. No, I do not have anymore kits available. However, many of the products in the kits can be tracked down from the artisan vendors themselves or via other online bead retailers. (The vintage pieces and the mystery components are harder to find, but hey, that's what makes the kits special.)

2. No, I can't set any kits aside special. They're sold on a first come, first serve basis. Even if you are my best friend.

3. No, there is not a special Bat Signal for kit releases. If you want to stay on top of when the kits launch, either check here often or become my friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

4. I generally post in the middle of the night at the very end or very beginning of any given month, if that helps to narrow down when they'll post. Sometimes due to scheduling conflicts they're posted later or earlier than I originally anticipated. Please do not send "is it here yet" emails. They will post when they post.

5. Nope, still don't have anymore kits available for this month.

6. If you're a artisan bead maker and want to participate in future Design Kit challenges as a sponsor, email me and we'll work out the logistics. Themes for October, November, and December have already been chosen.

7. No, there's no way to find out the mystery components before the reveal unless you buy a kit. It's a secret until then.

8. Sorry! I don't offer expedited shipping. I know it's a time-sensitive challenge, but I live REALLYYYYYYY far away from UPS and FedEx and I have a gas-guzzling Jeep.

9. Still no more kits for September!