Friday, September 28, 2018

Allegory Gallery Ancient Kingdom Challenge

I really wasn't thinking about the timing for the reveal for the latest Allegory Gallery design challenge kit when I bought it... thus me being a day late to the reveal.  I'm fairly impressed that I managed to get anything done with how busy I've been this past month.  I'll admit that part of the deciding factor in grabbing this kit was the added surprise Andrew and William offered if you bought the kit early.  :)

The first thing I made was a necklace featuring the "bonus" pendant.  Unlike many of my friends, I'm not usually a big fan of components with eye motifs, but this one with it's henna-like patterns spoke to me.  I used one of the rough amethyst beads to give the pendant a little more physical weight and then chose a selection of beads from the kit to create bead links.  I picked out the vintage plastic, plated hematite, and small purple rounds (I'm unsure what material those are) adding some small Czech glass and plated hematite beads.  It's hard to tell in this picture (darn you, crappy lighting!) but I love the cream and purple swirl to the vintage plastic beads.  They are fun and lightweight!

Since I usually have a bunch of the luxury seed bead blends left over from the Allegory Gallery kits, I decided to be proactive on that front and do a little memory wire bracelet with some of the smaller beads.  Other than the wire, all I added to the kit's contents were a couple of little beads and a brass star charm for some dangles on the ends of the bracelet.  The brass colored memory wire I used is a bit smaller than the normal wire I've used so this is certainly for an individual with a more petite wrist!

With all those little purple rounds in the bead blend, I thought that this would be a good time to make a little multi-strand bracelet based on Lorelie Eurto's design.  I had a ceramic lentil from Golem Design Studio in purples, pink, and white that worked with them so I built the design out from there.  I added a large hole vintage lucite beads as well as a faceted purple crazy lace agate bead.  I used the pale purple seed beads from the kit as well as some of the larger seed beads from the blend as spacers on three of the strands.  I mixed some Czech glass beads and etched seed beads to round things out.  I thought about using the waxed linen from the kit, but decided that a darker purple looked better with my collection of beads.

Lastly, I whipped up a little pair of earrings to wrap things up for now.  I chose the pair of vintage plastic teardrops and more of the little purple rounds to go with some gold plated coins and crystal rondelles.  

Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to this week!  Enjoy your weekend!!

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Honey Do List September 2018

This marks the third year that my husband Eric has been giving me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... it's the Honey Do List 2018!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along with us!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:

I haven't had a chance to go through the 1000's of pictures I took on this trip, but this one jumped out at me for the challenge. I like the architectural elements and the pop of color from the flowers.  Hopefully it will challenge you to try something new!

I really loved this window... and really the whole area where this picture was taken.  We were just wandering around the streets of Bamberg and saw a little entrance driveway thing in the side of a fairly nondescript building.  When we popped our heads through, we found ourselves in this amazing courtyard space that we never would have guessed was there.  I love how Eric captured the window with the flowers flowing from a window box in the foreground.  I can't wait to see some of his other photos from this trip.  (I need to deal with the hundreds of pictures I took with my phone too!)

My first creations for this month were some super lightweight earrings featuring Vintaj filigree pieces and tiny Czech glass flowers.  I chose the filigree to represent the window and added the flowers dripping off of them to mimic the photo further.  I stuck to colors that were represented in the window box flower arrangements for this challenge but ended up making a pair with blue flower beads on the fly during my show this past weekend.  I think I'll whip up a few more pairs of these with additional colors as they were pretty popular.

Pressed for time as I was this month with preparations for my three day studio tour, I was worried that I wouldn't complete anything else.  Luckily, I was able to whip up a little necklace over the course of the weekend during slower times.  I started with a lovely fine pewter pendant from Green Girl Studios that reminded me of the window in the photo and then played with the idea of the red flowers in the links and little dangle off the bottom of the pendant.  Not wanting to totally ignore the green in the photo, but also not wanting to go too Christmas-y, I chose some Czech glass coins with a Picasso finish around the edges to bring in hints of the foliage.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

We're All Ears September 2018: Ode to Autumn

This month, the lovely Erin chose the theme of Autumn to inspire us for the We're All Ears Challenge over on the Earrings Everyday blog.  I thought I might have to sit this month out due to a crazy busy schedule, but the theme fit perfectly with some of the preparation I needed to do for my biggest show of the year, the Art Wander, that starts today!  (If you're local to the Twin Cities, stop by this weekend and see me and my guest artist, blacksmith Martin Pansch at Studio L.)

Erin's choice of inspiration was just perfect for me since I was in the throes of preparing for my big fall show, the Art Wander, which starts today!

First up, I decided to revisit a couple of designs that I've done before with some Czech glass coin beads impressed with little birdies.  I'd been brainstorming possible ideas for earrings using my many colors of Czech glass maple leaves and wondered if hanging them in filigree hoops or hammered brass rings might work.  I'm pretty happy with the look of the leaves inside the filigree... the hammered rings not as much.  I decided to keep the one pair that I made with the hammered rings, but just not make additional pairs.  I very well make a few more pairs of the filigree type.  We shall see!

I've been holding onto a few pairs of Gardanne enameled leaves for a while... this seemed like the time to finally get them out.  I had the perfect coordinating cocoon beads from Saga Hus in my stash making for two quick designs!

Last, but not least I made a new little batch of acorn earrings.  It's been a while since I made any of these, so hopefully they will reach some new folks this fall.  "Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow."  Pardon the bad lighting on this last one... it's been dark and rainy all week.

Thanks for stopping by!  This is a blog hop... you can see what everyone else was inspired to make over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE.  Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Feeling Fall! New Autumn Inspired Necklaces

So, true story.  I'm an art bead hoarder.  Certain artists can boast whole drawers in my art bead hoard.  It's like the more beautiful I think a bead or pendant is, the less likely I am to make it into jewelry.  Ok, not really, but I do find myself just opening up drawers and gazing fondly at my pretties.

What does all of this have to do with feeling (and designing) for fall?  Well, I've been guilty of sitting on a ridiculous number of pendants by my talented friend Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati.  I'm in the throes of getting ready for my biggest show of the year, the Edge of the Big Woods Art Wander, in less than two weeks so I figured now was the time to finally make something with my treasures!  Here's a look at the "before" mess as I was just starting to pull beads...

First up, the oldest pendant in my leafy collection... a two sided piece that Eric bought me that was in an inspiration bundle that Erin had pulled together in her shop several years ago.  The bundle came with the pendant, a string of freshwater pearls, some carnelian rounds (those will make an appearance later) and a couple of Vintaj brass blanks.  I kept this necklace pretty focused on the pearls and just added a few Czech glass leaves and barrels in shades of orange and brown along the way to bring out the colors from the leaf.  A brass plated toggle clasp completes the design.  Erin doesn't really do this style of pendant anymore with it's secret message on the back, but I do love them so!

The next thing that jumped out at me to be finished was the most unique color-wise of this whole little collection... a stick pendant in striking black and gold.  I realized that I had a hook and eye leaf clasp that was a perfect match for the leaf on the pendant.  I chose a mix of Czech glass beads in black and gold plus some vintage German glass flowers for the bulk of the necklace.  To balance out the clasp I used a fluted black agate and some freshwater pearls on the opposite side.  This is the most elegant piece in my opinion.

I had a second stick pendant in my collection... an older design but a newish addition to my stash.  I love the mix of orange and blue in the pendant and enjoyed playing with the color combination.  Lots of Czech glass in this one along with some Sunset Dumortierite and matte Denim Lapis.  The orange maple leaves pop against the blues!

This next pendant is the only one in this batch that has two loops... making it perfect for some fun leafy dangles including an enameled oak leaf by Gardanne.  She sells these charms in pairs so I usually end up making earrings when I buy them, but this singleton was a gift in my goody bag at a retreat.  For some reason, beyond finishing off the pendant and choosing the fun branch toggle clasp, this was the hardest necklace for me to figure out.  I knew that I wanted to go asymmetrical and use a mix of fun Czech glass leaves that looked very much the like the ones on Erin's pendant, but it took me several tries to get things where I wanted them.  The right side is a mix of Czech glass English cut beads and the Carnelian rounds that I mentioned from the inspiration kit.  There are also a couple of vintage glass beads sprinkled into the mix on both sides.  

I'm a little bit in love with this next design and the vibrant pendant that inspired it.  Eric thinks I need to keep this one for myself... we'll see about that.  I will admit that I'm always a sucker for the combination of turquoise (or teal) and orange, so this one makes my heart sing!  Another luscious (if I do say so myself) mix of Czech glass and gemstones.  This time Amazonite, Cuprite, Red Line Agate, and Carnelian all make an appearance.  It's a little tough to tell in this photo but there are some small hints of purple hiding in there to echo the darker tones in the pendant's bright leaf.

Lastly, for this mini collection of fall goodness, I made a necklace that is a pretty similar to one that I made for the Art Bead Scene back in November 2015.  The original was in brass while this one is copper.  I didn't have all the same beads so I made some substitutions while keeping the basic design and balance.  I'm truly not a heart girl, but there's something about this leafy little number that I adore!  I may actually like this version a little more than the original.

I've never been great about designing for the new season early enough.  I think this is finally the year that I've broken the spell with this collection of fall necklaces thanks to tons of inspiration and beady love from my talented friend Erin.  I've got even more fall designs in the works (or already completed!) that I'll have for sale during the Art Wander September 21-23 at my home which happens to be Studio L this year!  If you're local to the Twin Cities I hope you'll wander out and say hello.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Inspired by Reading: Dark Matter

I'm a little late to the Inspired by Reading Book Club party for August, but better late than never!  Our August read was Dark Matter by Blake Crouch... a science fiction thriller that explores the ideas of choices, paths not taken, and how far we'll go to claim (or reclaim) the lives we dream of.  The last words Jason Dessen hears before he's knocked unconscious are "Are you happy with your life?"  The next thing he knows is waking up strapped to a table, surrounded by strangers who seem to know him, and in a world that's not his own.  Thus begins Jason's harrowing and mind-bending journey to get back to the life and family he loves.    

Being short on time, I ended up making two pairs of earrings this month.  First up, I chose a pair of square ceramic charms by Diane Hawkey to represent the box that allows Jason to travel between realities.  I liked the ideas of the squares within squares as a representation of the infinite possibilities.  I added some fun beaded links by Anna Pierson of Saga Hus Components.

Next up,  I picked out some fun Golem Design Studio lentils with a geometric pattern in black and white.  The shattered pattern made me think of how each decision Jason makes causes his timeline to split off.  Wanting to keep with the sharp lines on the ceramic beads, I chose some cool faceted hematite.

Thanks for checking out my newest creations!  Now it's back to crazy show prep time for the Art Wander!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Inspiration for the Honey Do List September 2018

After taking a little break in August, we're back in action for September!  

This marks the third year that my husband Eric has been giving me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... it's the Honey Do List 2018!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along with us!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:

I haven't had a chance to go through the 1000's of pictures I took on this trip, but this one jumped out at me for the challenge. I like the architectural elements and the pop of color from the flowers.  Hopefully it will challenge you to try something new!

The reveal date will be Monday, September 24th.  To make it super easy for you to participate and share your creations, I'll set up an Inlinkz link up so folks can add their blogs as they are ready.  Just stop by my blog starting on September 24th and join the fun!  I'll leave the link up open for a while... so you have plenty of time to add your links.  No blog?  No worries!  Feel free to send me a picture of your creation and some brief comments and I'll happily share in my blog post.  You can reach me at  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!