Thursday, April 13, 2017

Forest Journey Mystery Challenge Competition

Today is the day for the reveal of the Forest Journey Mystery Competition from Allegory Gallery!  For each of their challenges, Andrew Thornton and William Jones pull together an amazing curated selection of beads.  Participants can use as much or as little of the kit as they like to make jewelry for the each month's challenge and then share their creations in the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges Facebook Group.  This time, to add to the excitement, it's not just a design challenge... it's a challenge and the winner will win a lovely selection of jewelry making prizes.

As usual, I forgot to take a "before" picture showing all the contents of this fun kit.  Sigh... it seems that I'll never learn!  Trust me when I say that my little gift box was filled with beady goodness and that I just couldn't wait to jump in and start making!  I pretty much immediately dumped everything out onto my bead mat and started sorting beads out to get an idea of exactly what I had and to start designing some new jewelry.

Another thing that I'm often guilty of with these challenges is hoarding the mystery component that Andrew makes especially for each kit.  At least I managed to overcome that issue this time!  The first design that I dreamed up was a simple strung necklace featuring Andrew's lovely polymer clay forest pendant.  I pulled out some of the beads from the bead mix including some fun wooden ones, and then supplemented the stringing with some Picasso finish rounds, copper plated hematite, and metallic seed beads.  I also tried a new (to me) technique for the clasp and made a seed bead loop for a copper plated button to go through.

The next piece of jewelry that took shape was this multi strand bracelet.  I used the brown waxed linen, and three large holed beads from the kit as my starting point. Additionally, for one of the four strands of the bracelet I mostly used beads from the luxury bead blend in the kit.  (I did add a few coconut rondelles and seed beads to round things out.)  I'm really loving the richness of the colors in this one and how the yellows in the large glass focal bead play off the gold plated branch toggle clasp I used.

One of the things that I often have a hard time designing with are bead chips.  I have quite a few strands in my hoard that I never seem to use because I'm just not sure how to best use them.  For this challenge I really wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something new.  I had picked out the two large glass leaf beads and one of the large dark brown wooden coins for part of a different design... when that idea didn't pan out, the light bulb went off and I wondered how they might fit in with the tiger eye chips.  Bingo!  I situated the leaves and wood bead off to one side and started playing with the chips.  I thought that using just the tiger eye would be a little monotonous for me, so I added in a couple of small sections of green colored stone chips that I had gotten as a prize from an Allegory Gallery give away.  In keeping with the forest theme, I finished things off with a copper plated leaf clasp.

Being an earring lover, of course I had to whip up some ear bobs from the kit too!  As I was first sorting through all the goodies in the box (I start by dumping everything out on my bead mat and sorting all the bigger beads out by type) I set aside some of the pairs that I thought had earring potential.  After finishing my bigger pieces, I was ready for an earring making marathon!

The first pair I made might be my favorite of the earrings.  I used the fun metal metal drops as my starting point.  I wanted to have something in front of them for interest and the fun green and copper daggers were just the thing!  The dark amber discs were also from the kit and I added some copper plated findings and small green Czech glass beads to wire wrap above the drops.

Next up I realized that the green vintage plastic rounds were just the perfect color to go with some fun ceramic diamond charms that I bought in one of Andrew's destash events.  The other great thing about using the plastic is that it keeps the earrings super light.  I did three different takes on that combination of ingredients... one each in brass, copper, and silver.  Which one is your favorite version?

I also dug up a fun pair of ceramic charms from Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio that I bought at Bead & Button last year.  I was thrilled to find that the green glaze coordinated perfectly with some of the other beads in the kit so I whipped up this little pair.  The wire loops on the charms were a silver tone originally, so I wire wrapped them with small gauge brass colored wire.  I like the texture that this technique adds!

But wait, there's more!  (I told you I went on an earring making bender!)  I paired the two vintage plastic teardrops with some Greek bronze links and copper findings in an elegant and simple design.  My last pair gave me the most grief in coming together.  I had a totally different idea initially that would have had glass leaves dangling from the bottom of the donut beads.  The more I played around with them, the more I knew that I wanted beads wire wrapped at the top of the donuts instead.  All the beads except the metal ones are from the kit.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the amount of designs that I managed to come up with from this fun mystery challenge.  I did much better than I usually do with using the mystery component and making multiple designs and now I have lots of new things ready to find new homes!

For the competition portion of this challenge we had to choose just one design to add to the voting album.  (Tough choice!!)  If you want to see what other participants made and vote (I think) you can see the designs HERE over in our Facebook Group.


  1. So many gorgeous pieces, love how your clasps match the theme too. Great job!

  2. Love everything! My top three picks are the first necklace, the bracelet, and the earrings with Michelle's ceramic drops but it was really hard to choose. You must have had so much fun!

  3. A true forest tale, so many amazing pieces but the lushness of the bracelet is my favorite!

  4. Oh my gosh, you made so many wonderful things with this kit. All the earrings are great. I love the first pair with metal drops and dotted daggers! The button you chose to use with the first necklace is perfect. Good for you for trying a new clasp. I'm glad you pushed yourself with the chips. That necklace is beautiful. I love the "side focal" with the leaves. I love those leaves. Your bracelet is full of beautiful colors. All just fabulous!