Sunday, January 31, 2021

Beading in the New Year with Allegory Gallery :: Part 3


Welcome to the third and final installment of my journey through Allegory Gallery's Bead in the New Year challenge!  While I didn't manage to complete something for all 31 prompts, I did make respectable progress.  I think I finished 26 or 27 all in all.  A big thanks to Andrew and William at Allegory for hosting this again for 2021.  It's been a great kick start for me!  Now onto my last batch of creations...

Day 21 :: Create a Piece Using only Black and White

Some bold but lightweight black and white resin beads were the inspiration for my black and white designs.  The pair on the left feature some statement German resin teardrops that have an amazing geometric pattern that almost feels like an optical illusion.  They are accented with some really interesting vintage Czech glass that I was gifted by my friend Monica... and the effect is best described as groovy.  The pair on the right adds some silver to the mix but that "reads" white to me.  The top beads are etched resin and the teardrop beads are crystal.  

Day 22 :: Use Vintage Materials to Make Something New

As I turned to this prompt on January 31st, I didn't have a ton of time for anything elaborate... so earrings featuring vintage components seemed like the smartest move.  I picked out a pair of really cool vintage lucite pineapples with a lovely AB finish to them as the main element.  I kept things fairly simple by just stacking a crystal spacer and a Czech glass rondelle in ivory with a Mercury glass finish.  

Day 23 :: Make a Piece Using Seed Beads as the Main Focus

Do peanut beads count as seed beads??  In my world they do.  As I said before, this is my challenge so my rules, lol.  I created a simple memory wire bracelet covered in a lovely peanut bead mix from Rustic River Finds.  I used a little ceramic crescent moon charm from Kylie Parry on one end of the wire bracelet and some Czech glass on the other.

Day 24 :: Challenge Yourself by Using a Color You Don't Normally Use

I'm not sure that there really is a color I don't normally use... but yellow and purple are the colors I probably gravitate towards the least often.  I started toying with the general idea of this necklace for my husband's Honey Do List challenge this month but it didn't come together in time.  But as is often my way, I left all the possible beads sitting out on my mat for me to keep thinking on it and eventually I pulled something together.  The final piece of the puzzle was some sunshine yellow fused glass rounds that came in a recent bead order that were a lovely complement to the folk lark pendant by Summer Wind Art.

Day 25 :: Remake an Old Project into a New One

Remaking old designs is definitely not on my list of favorite things to do so it's not a huge surprise that I didn't get around to completing this prompt.  I did get so far as choosing something to take apart... even took a "before" picture of it.  But then I shared it with some jewelry friends and they all really liked the design making me second guess myself.  LOL.  I ran out of time, daylight, and, honestly, January.  Oh well.  Maybe another day I'll make up my mind.

Day 26 :: Use an Allegory Gallery Wood Pendant

I had several wonderful wooden pendants to choose from, but in the end went with one that lent itself well to me making beaded links.  Again, this was partially a time thing.  Anyway, I loved the unique shape of this flower and leaf pendant.  I added a Czech glass drop with a lovely sheen to the bottom of the pendant and a few links along each side.  Easy and elegant!  

Day 27 :: Repurpose at Least One Non-Jewelry Material in a Piece

Ok, I probably should have tried for something a little more complicated or obviously "non-jewelry" but at least I got something made!  I used some discs that my friend Anna Pierson of Sagahus sent me that she cut from an old storage tin.  I think this cute little pair of earrings would be perfect for Valentines day with the tiny hearts, but they certainly would work anytime you wanted a splash of red!  

Day 28 :: Get Inspired by Geometry in a New Design

This prompt immediately made me think of some fun diamond shaped charms by Diana Ptaszynski that I got a couple of months ago!  The charms are wood that she monoprinted with a gel plate.  The photo doesn't do the colors justice!  I love the mix of orange and lime green with a tiny touch of pink in there.  I love that there's also a hexagonal pattern in the print adding to the geometry theme.  I added some moon glow lucite from Allegory Gallery and some little Czech glass beads to complete the design.  Even though these are long, they are amazingly lightweight!

Day 29 :: Make a Piece With Words as a Main Element

I've had the main elements for this next piece set aside since last August.  This was the perfect time to finally pull it all together!  The wire frame was actually my prototype for a necklace I made for a dear friend's birthday for her husband to gift her.  It was slightly too big for the ceramic bead, but the perfect size for my "Not My Monkey" bead by Diane Hawkey.  "Not my monkeys, not my circus" is a favorite saying of mine that was oft used at my last day job... so this bead was always going to be in a piece for me.  Same with the flying monkey bronze clay pendant by Andrew Thornton.  Breaking out of my monochromatic rut, I added some super bright ?? striped beads into the mix then coordinated some Czech glass beads to round things out.

Day 30 :: Play with Wire as a Focus of a New Piece

While I had planned to do a separate piece for Day 30's prompt, I ran out of time and it just didn't happen.  Seeing as I used my Now-That's-a-Jig to make the wire frame in the piece from day 29, I think it totally counts.  The wire frame may not be the entire focus of the necklace, but it's certainly a large part of it!  Here's a closer look at the pendant.

Day 31 :: Celebrate by Making Something Extra Sparkly

I didn't come anywhere near completing this piece... really, I just barely started it, but I figured I'd give you a sneak peek of where I'm heading.  The lovely snowflake shield cab is by Lisa Peters Russ and I'm plotting out adding some vintage crystal elements above the shield.  At this point, only the cab is glued down, but I plan to get started tomorrow on the beading.

I hope that whatever your creative outlet of choice may be that you too are off to a fulfilling start to your new year!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Beading in the New Year with Allegory Gallery :: Part 2


Welcome to the second installment of my contributions to the Allegory Gallery Bead in the New Year challenge!  I got a little distracted from this second set of prompts what with a Facebook jewelry sale and LOTS of more involved cooking going on lately.  I have no regrets!  I'm still having fun at my own pace and keeping my creativity and productivity going.   Ok, onto the next 10 days of prompts!

Day 11 :: Create a Piece Using one our Luxury Bead Blends

While I did use a tiny bit of one of the Allegory Gallery Luxury Bead Blends I have stashed around my studio space back on Day 4, that didn't feel intentional enough.  Plus the whole point of this is to challenge myself and to keep on making!  So it was back to the bead table armed with some memory wire and a baggie of the Grasslands Bead Blend to whip up a little bracelet.  All the beads that I used came from the bead blend except for the two Czech glass flowers on the ends.

Day 12 :: Make a Project from a Craft Book

So... I'm taking a little liberty with this prompt.  Instead of doing a project from a craft book, I decided to finish up a project from a class I took on last year's Bead Cruise (remember travel? sigh) with the talented Beki Haley.  The design is called Royal Crest and it was my very first bead weaving project.  It felt pretty good to finish something that's been waiting for almost a full year!  Learning to make a warped square (the part that's the bail) is super useful... I can see doing that again in the future for certain designs.  Yay learning something new!!

Day 13 :: Let's See Something You Made Using Ceramic Beads

While I've played pretty fast and loose with a few of the prompts thus far, I took today's challenge to heart.  I only used one non-ceramic bead in this necklace!  When looking for good options for today's prompt I unearthed a ceramic pendant and bead set from my friend Diana Ptaszynski that seemed perfect for the prompt.  I added in some smaller irregular ceramic rounds and knotted them all on four strands of waxed Irish linen.  To pull out the colors from the accent beads, I used one strand of a kind of a minty colored linen along with the strands of brown.  I tied one wooden round above the leaf pendant, which seemed fitting and allowed things to sit a bit better.  The back is two different styles of Vintaj natural brass chain.   

Day 14 :: Break out the Polymer Clay and Create Something

Again, I'm taking liberties here.  I actually have a tray filled with canes I made in November during Heather Powers' online version of her Inspired by Nature Retreat.  I just haven't had the time and energy to finish my last canes and actually make beads.  Hopefully before the month is out I can circle back to that project.  

Soooo... that leads me to what I actually managed to do.  I took two polymer clay butterflies that I made after taking a different class with Heather at a retreat a few years ago (I think at Adornments).  I was inspired to make more little butterfly shapes when I got home but then never got around to doing anything with them.  

Day 15 :: Organize at Least One Part of Your Craft Area

Insert maniacal laughter here.  Seriously, my beading area needs a serious intervention.  Stat.  But, the truth is I'd rather create than clean... and creating is a seriously messy business!  No full scale, or even moderate scale, clean up had been undertaken but I have managed to put away some of my newer acquisitions and/or make something with them so I don't have to find a home for them.  Sigh.  Maybe I'll find some time next month for some much needed organization.  For now, this is the terrible mess I live with on my bead table.

Day 16 :: Use the 2021 Pantone Color of the Year

I'm not gonna lie... I'm often not super excited about Pantone's choice for Color of the Year.  2021 is no exception although I will say that I've hated other year's more, lol.  Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I managed to make not one but two things for today's prompt!  

First up I made a cute little pair of earrings with some adorable beer much charms that Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio made for me.  It's like she predicted Pantone's choice with her glaze color which is clearly "Illuminating."  ;)  I paired the charms with some Czech glass to coordinate.  

While digging for the beads for the earrings above, I pulled out a strand of fun yellow glass beads with a cool texture to them from Allegory Gallery.  I'd never even cut them off their strand so they were just sitting there on my mat.  As I looked at them I realized that maybe they would be an interesting bracelet... perhaps mixed with some grey.  Hmmm.  I ended up choosing some English cut Czech glass with a Mercury luster finish.  My friend Anna said it reminded her of a Lemondrop cocktail.  That may be what I name this design.   

Day 17 :: Focus on Metal as the Main Element in a New Creation

This is another place where my original intentions didn't come to fruition.  I still have another project somewhat thought out on my bead table but haven't had a chance to get out my jeweler's saw and make it happen.  Sigh.  As much time as I have on my hands I feel like I should be doing a little better, but there's always something that gets in the way.  I'm honestly happy I've been as creative as I have this month! 

Anyway, when I was prepping for a Valentine's/Love themed jewelry show for this past weekend, I ended up making a pair of earrings that I think fits the bill for this prompt.  The main elements of this design are some lovely patinated copper connectors by Patricia Healey  I added some brass drops as well as tiny Czech glass flowers along the bottom and Vintaj Natural Brass ear wires.  So, while it wasn't my original idea, metal is the star of the show here for sure!

Day 18 :: Utilize Natural Materials to Make Something

But I wanted to play with unnatural materials!  Ok, just kidding.  I think I'm getting just a little bit loopy over here.  This is another new piece that I created with Valentine's Day on the horizon.  The lovely ceramic pendant with botanical imprint is by Lesley Watt.  I knotted it on waxed Irish linen with beads in wood, yellow jasper, and brass.  Gemstones, wood, and linen feel like they match the prompt well enough!  I'm really glad I had the cream colored wood beads and I think they were just the element I needed to pull this all together!  

Day 19 :: Construct a Non Jewelry Piece Using Beads

Of all the prompts, this one is probably the very most outside my comfort zone.  About the only time I normally make something that isn't jewelry is leading up to Christmas when I make ornaments.  I actually have a great idea for this one, but haven't had the time to do it yet.  My friend Diana Ptaszynski sent me a cute little doll to bead embroider... I hope to at least get that started before this month is over.  I'll check back in with my progress if I can get a decent amount done.

Day 20 :: Get Together Virtually with Some Friends to Craft

Getting together in person still feels like a very distant dream (thanks, COVID) so I'm very thankful for all the other ways we have to communicate these days.  Earlier in the COVID times when we were all very much in lock down mode (ok, we still mostly are, but when most of the nation was shut down) my friends Anna, Monica, and Miranda got together via FB messenger calls several times to drink and craft and generally just catch up.  While we have all been friends for a few years, this year has brought us much closer together along with our friend Loralee.  We haven't had a organized call in a while, but not a day goes by that we aren't chatting online, sharing designs, asking for design or pricing advice, sharing the highs and lows of our everyday lives.  I honestly think I may have gone crazy this past year without the support, love, humor, and community that these remarkable women have given me and each other.  

Thanks for staying with me as I recounted days 11 to 20 of the Bead in the New Year challenge.  I hope to complete as many of the remaining prompts as I can before the month ends.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Honey Do List January 2021

Sorry to be running a little late with the reveal this month.  Things got a little busy for me last weekend with a Facebook jewelry sale and a TON of cooking.  Better late than never?

2021 marks the sixth 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... The Honey Do List!  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 inspirations (I just couldn't decide between the two options he gave me) and what Eric had to say about them:

So fitting the winter wonderland we are currently in (Minnesota Yo!) I figured I'd post something wintery.  Here was a photo shoot from last year from inside our warm home.  The juncos were going crazy in the snow and entertaining both me and the cats!  Let's see you get those post-holiday creative juices flowing. 

I have to say that I enjoy watching the birds outside our windows as much as the kitties do... although I don't tend to chirp and "bark" at them!  Juncos are some of my favorites and they aren't here all year in force.  

The first thing I started playing with this month was actually a necklace that never actually came together.  (More about that a little later.)  This pair of earrings came to be as I jumped off of that unfinished design.  I punched an extra set of holes in a pair of Vintaj hammered rings and dangled some little bird and leaf charms from the bottom.  Fairly simple and fun!  The cream and copper bird Czech glass beads share the wintery feel of the photo I think... and the leaves are just a promise of spring to (eventually) come!

I really love how this next piece turned out!  As soon as Eric gave me the photos, I knew I wanted to use one of the sweet winter bird enameled charms from Lindy's Designs.  When I bought them I was thinking earrings, but they were bigger than I had thought so I started thinking necklace ideas!  I wanted to play off the little berries on the pendant and I had the perfect vintage German beads in my stash.  I added in some fun fused glass beads that have a lovely shimmer to them as well as a few kyanite ovals.  Chain at the back completes the look.

And, as promised, here's the idea that never totally came together.  The beads are still rolling around on my bead table so there's still hope that I'll be able to pull a finished design out of my hat.  I love the folk art style painted wooden pendant by Summer Wind Art and think it will be a great spring piece of jewelry.

Now it's your turn!  Please add links to/photos of your own creations below.  I love seeing what everyone else is making too!  Check back on February 1st to see what Eric has in store for us next month!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Beading in the New Year with Allegory Gallery :: Part 1


I'm not going to lie... I got into a bit of a creative slump after the holidays.  In a normal year my downtime/slump tends to come after I make it through my biggest show of the year at the end of September...  but we all know that 2020 was anything but normal.  Anyway, this fun New Year's challenge from my friends Andrew and William at Allegory Gallery has helped get my creative juices flowing again and has me spending at least a little bit of time at my bead table each day.  I'm going to attempt to complete as many of the prompts this month as I can... although I doubt I'll do them all.  Here's the first round of my makes to Bead in the New Year!

Day 1 :: Make a Pair of Earrings

So, the challenge starts out easy... Make a pair of earrings? No sweat!  I made two.  Full disclosure, I had these two pairs of aluminum discs that Kimberly Rogers of Numinosity Beads colored with alcohol inks sitting around on my bead table along with some new acrylic and resin beads that haven't found a home yet.  After making these two pairs of earrings I had a couple less things to put away!  Both pairs are ultra lightweight.

Day 2 :: Create a New Bracelet

Still easing into things, day 2's prompt was to make a bracelet.  Part of what I hope to accomplish by participating in the challenge is to use some things in my stash that have been waiting far too long to see the light in a finished design.  This cute sea turtle bracelet bar by Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio needed to come out and play.  I paired it with a lampwork glass bead by Firelily Glass, wood, brass, and faceted aventurine on coordinating leather cord.  This design also pushed me out of my comfort zone, another secondary goal of this challenge.

Day 3 :: Put Together a Necklace

I had a bunch of potential necklace options in various stages of being figured out, but I pretty much ignored all of them and went in a totally different direction.  I grabbed one of the Allegory Gallery inspiration kits that I bought last year (and still hadn't used or put away... sigh).  Pretty much everything in this necklace design came from the kit other than the clasp, the vintage twisted brass teardrops, gold plated spacers, and some frosted Czech glass rounds.

Day 4 :: Make a Matching Set of Jewelry

I really went for it with making a set this time and did the whole necklace, bracelet, and earrings thing!  The last time we went to Bead & Button I picked up a whole bunch of new beads and pendants from Golem Design Studio including some that could be turned into matching sets... so that's where I went for Day 4!  (Sorry for the picture quality... winter light here can be super tricky.)  I started with the multi-strand bracelet and let my bead choices there guide the rest of the set a little bit.  One strand is an Allegory Gallery luxury bead blend, one has some seed beads and Czech glass leaves, and the tow others have some India glass rounds that I bought my first year of beading.  I thought the darker ones looked a little like pomegranate seeds.  For the earrings I used the same leaves as in the bracelet as well as a lighter and brighter leaf and more of the "pomegranate seed" beads.  In the necklace I used the same pale yellow vintage German glass rounds as I had in the bracelet, some amber/orange colored saucers from an Allegory Gallery grab bag from ages ago.  I also included some red line agate and a few other goodies.  

Day 5 :: Use at Least Three Artist Made Materials
I'm not normally a heart girl, but I'm a little bit smitten with the hearts and rainbows bracelet that I made for Day 5!  The design started with an adorable rainbow polymer clay heart by my friend Erin Prais-Hintz.  As I was digging for things to go with it, I rediscovered a set of bright lampwork glass from Beadygirl Beads.  I picked the four that went the best with Erin's heart and strung them pretty simply with black Czech glass and seed beads in between them.  I added a little textured hear charm onto the chain for fun... another item that's been hanging around for who knows how long.  

Day 6 :: Fashion a Design Using All Glass

Ok, so it's not all glass... but other than the chain and findings it is!  I bought a super bright set of lampwork beads from Beadygirl Beads what seems like a million years ago at a local bead show.  These are still bolder than my norm today, but they were really out of my comfort zone then... but they spoke to me so I bought them.  Years later they are finally making it out in the world in a design!  I decided to use the whole set at once strung in just the order they came in... I only added black glass seed beads as spacers and some bright Czech glass rondelles from a mixed strand I've had for a long time too.  (Yay for using some things up that have been languishing for too long!)

Day 7 :: Utilize Your Favorite Gemstone in a New Piece

Picking a favorite gemstone is like picking a favorite kitty in my house... it's all about the mood I'm in at any given moment.  This time I picked out a pair of Red Creek Jasper charms that I've been hoarding (along with waaay too many other gemstone matched pairs) for too long.  I mostly probably "save" them because I'm always intimidated by the wire wrapping required.  For this pair of earrings I added some polymer clay discs from Humblebeads as well as some little Czech glass beads and brass bead caps.

Day 8 :: Use a Stringing Material You Don't Normally Use

Leather is probably the stringing material that I use the least often even though I have a pretty large supply of it!  I think it comes down to knots making me nervous... I want to know that things are going to stay put!  Leather seems like the obvious choice for the large hollow lampwork bead that I chose as the focal for my necklace.  The lampwork (focal and two spacers) are by a local artist Mary Ila Duntemann.  I paired it with some wood saucers and turquoise colored rounds as well as fun Nepalese cane glass.  Overall, I like the effect.  It's got a chunky look but is still lightweight.

Day 9 :: Produce a Piece Using Gemstone Chip Beads

So gemstone chip beads aren't in my regular rotation for designing... so today's creation probably speaks more to the letter of prompt rather than the spirit.  Oh well, it's my challenge to do with as I will, right?  Early on I bought I decent amount of them because I didn't feel like I could afford more regular cuts... or justify buying them.  I've had these amber chips for more than 10 years and they seemed like a great complement to the ceramic daisy lentil bead by Golem Design Studio.  There's also a bunch of Czech glass as well as bone and a large holed crazy lace agate bead.  

Day 10 :: Challenge Yourself by Using Sari Silk Ribbon

I have a decent stash of sari silk that I don't make as much use of as I should.  In the past I've mostly used it as ribbon at the back of necklaces so I wanted to go in a completely different direction for today's prompt.  Another thing I don't use as much as I should is my Now That's a Jig.  Two birds with one stone design!  After some guidance and advice from my friend Monica, I used one of my bracelet pucks to form the base of my bangle in copper wire.  I hammered it a bit to work harden the wire but then I was so eager to get started with wrapping the bangle in sari silk that I totally forgot to patina it first!  I chose a bundle of sari silk that had an ombre effect to it along it's length and then added some a coordinating seed bead mix along the wire I wrapped around it.  I'm pretty pleased with the end result and learned some things along the way.  

Well, that's the summary of the first 10 days of the Bead in the New Year challenge!  Hopefully I can continue to keep up with is and will share the next batch of creations soon.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Inspiration for the January 2021 Honey Do List

Happy New Year everyone!  As we welcome in a new (and hopefully better) year we've got a new Honey Do List challenge for you.  2021 marks the sixth 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... time sure does fly!  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 inspirations (I just couldn't decide between the two options he gave me) and what Eric had to say about them:

So fitting the winter wonderland we are currently in (Minnesota Yo!) I figured I'd post something wintery.  Here was a photo shoot from last year from inside our warm home.  The juncos were going crazy in the snow and entertaining both me and the cats!  Let's see you get those post-holiday creative juices flowing. 

The reveal date will be Monday, January 25th.  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 January 25th and join the fun!  I'll leave the link up open for a while... so you have plenty of time to add your links.  (Last month's is still open... check it our HERE.) 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