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.


  1. I love all your pieces! It's so fun to see you do things you say are outside your comfort zone that are so gorgeous! I have only done two of the challenges so far this year; I hope to get in more. The last couple of years I did a lot, and honestly, my Allegory Gallery Bead in the New Year pieces are some of my favorites. It's a great challenge. I look forward to seeing what else you make!

  2. I echo everything that Ann wrote about your creations! I love each and every one of them. It is impossible to pick a favorite!

  3. You really knocked out some gorgeous pieces so far! You're killing this challenge. Awesome!!