Friday, January 31, 2014


I just wanted to remind everyone who will be attending the Tucson Gem Show this year that our porcelain pendants will be exclusively available at the Art Metal Components by Anju booth (G127) at the To Bead True Blue Show.  I hope that you'll stop by and take a look and pick up a few, if they strike your fancy!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Club Reminder...

The January selection of the Inspired by Reading Book Club is, "The Enchantress of Florence" by Salman Rushdie. The in-person meet-up is scheduled for Tuesday, February 4th from 6PM to 9PM. The blog hop will be all-day on Wednesday, February 5th. If you're not familiar with our group, we read a book and then create something inspired by what we read. The February selection is a collection of short stories called, "Difficult Loves" by Italo Calvino.

30 Words Thursday...

My teacher licks her butt, but I don't care. The lessons she gives are about enjoying little things like a ray of sunshine, loving unconditionally, and playing when you can!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More Hearts...

I've really run with the heart theme!  The first one that I made during this work session was the heart with the eye on it.  After I paint it, I'll go back and add a couple of drops of resin to the iris to give it some depth.

The next two that I made were with my new skull design.  I just pressed them out in the hearts and played with some texture.

The last heart of the evening was a quick "doodle" in clay.  It's an owl!  Of course, because there's no coloring now and the shape of the heart doesn't naturally match the shape of head, it kind of doesn't read like an owl, but after I give it some paint, it'll be more owl-like.

I have a bunch of others that I'm working on.  I think they're a fun homage to Valentine's Day and hopefully I can turn a couple of them into some finished jewelry before then.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Flying Heart Redux...

One of the first designs that I carved was a flying heart.  It was very popular.  I had it as a link with holes on either side of the wings and one hole at the tip of the heart for a dangle.  I wanted to clean it up a bit and change the proportions to fit within a circular pendant, instead of an elongated oval.  I thought that this would give it more versatility

So, I re-carved the mold and created this little flying heart.  I think it works.  The wings are stylized and not crazy detailed, but still read as wings.  The heart is a little crisper as well.

If I press this design out in bronze clay and fire it, the flat of the heart would make an excellent place to stamp letters.  I'm pleased with how it turned out!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Radiant Orchid Challenge Mystery Component Reveal...

When I'm putting together the Challenge Kits, one of the things that I like to include is a Mystery Component.  It's a fun little surprise that is usually composed of a handmade component by me!  No one knows what the component will be until it arrives at their doorstep!  Once it gets there, participants are instructed not to share what it is until the Mystery Component Reveal date!

Today is the day!

For the Radiant Orchid Challenge, I enclosed two torch-fired enameled beads!  It took a little experimentation to get the color just right, but I think they turned out nice!  Participants can use them in their Challenge piece or completely ignore them.  It's up to them!

Participants will reveal their creations in the blog hop scheduled for February 27th!  CLICK HERE for all the details and to see what else was included in the kit!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Locked Hearts...

Another heart-themed project that I have been working on are these locked hearts.  They have an aluminum foil core and a textured polymer clay exterior.  I've used a bunch of different colorants, like acrylic paints, alcohol inks, colored waxes, and Glider's Paste to bring the hearts to life!  I had some of these great little keyhole components from Cathy Collison of the Trinket Foundry and used those as the focals.  The keyholes are cut from silver-plated serving trays and have a great vintage feel.  To hold them in place, I nailed them in with finishing nails.  To make them really POP, used a little bit of dark acrylic paint.

Right now they're sculptures that rest as they are shown in the picture, but I could easily add a bail to hang them from the ceiling, or add a hanger on the back so that they can be hung on the wall.  Even though they're fairly substantial in size, they're pretty lightweight.  I'm really pleased with these and am thinking about making some that are hinged, so that they can open and close.

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

Art Bead Scene
Check out guest blogger Kylie Parry's illuminating post on using Pinterest Inspiration Boards as a creative business tool!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
What's up next for the Inspired by Reading Book Club?  Andrew shares the reading list for the next round of books!

A Bead A Day
Looking for Valentine's Day project inspiration?  Lisa shares heartfelt projects created by her fellow Cousin Corp ambassadors.

Document Craft Project So You Can Replicate Them Even Years Later
Some crafters and artists keep notebook journals of their ideas and projects.  Eileen has fine-tuned a digital system which works really well for her.

Bye Bye Mess!
The mess is corralled for now, and that means time and space to design some jewelry!

Resin Crafts Blog
A wonderful series has begun on Resin Crafts blog.  I am sharing over 80 different artist submissions featuring a pocket watch.  You will be so inspired!

June's been making a few folk art dolls!

Charlene Sevier
Charlene mixes elements from different worlds and cultures.  Can it work and can you do it too?

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi has started a new collage quilt, featuring one of her favorite birds… the chickadee!

Beading Arts
How about using an antique or vintage button as the centerpiece for a small bead embroidered pendant?

Snap out of it, Jean!  There's beading to be done!
Jean makes a Winter Tree of Life Pendant, inspired by a friend on Facebook who is creating Trees of Life as he swelters in the heat of summer in Australia.

Mixed Media Anniversary Quilt
Cherie starts a quilt with embroidery, appliqué, and mixed media items.

Friday, January 24, 2014

News and Press...

It has been a busy time in my little corner of the universe!  I have lots of exciting news to share!

If you attended CHA in Anaheim, California and dropped by the ImpressArt booth, you might have seen a few of my pieces!  They were my first efforts as an ImpressArt Design Team Member!  I have recently joined their talented ranks and feel honored to be counted amongst artisans, Erin Prais-Hintz, Barbe Saint-John, Kate Richbourg, Jeff Fulkerson and Margot Potter!

This is a necklace that I made with a focal that reads, "All is change".  I used the NEW Alkemé blanks that have the look of sterling silver (without the tarnish), but are super soft and can be stamped with one strike.  I paired the pendant with color-change Swarovski crystals in Cantaloupe.  The crystals turn from a pale green to a peachy pink.  The dangles are matched with dichroic glass size 2 seed beads and some sterling silver chain.

Here's another piece that I created using the new Alkemé blanks!  It reads, "Burn bright" and has a little star stamped at the bottom.  I used acrylic paints to make the lettering POP and correspond with the Swarovski crystal components.  I like how the shape of the round pendant is repeated in the over-sized chain.

I'm always delighted when I come across my name or mentions of my work.

As time goes on, I'll be sharing with you different projects that I will be participating in as a Design Team Member.

In other news, I'll be guest blogging for Halcraft!  If you're not familiar with Halcraft, they produce the Bead Gallery line of beads available at Michaels and Bliss Beads offered through JoAnne Fabric and Craft Stores.  Stay tuned!  I'll definitely let you all know when those posts will appear!

Speaking of writing, in the near future I will have some brand new themed work in a new (top secret) eBook and some projects in a new book coming out in the spring!  I have more to say on these topics, but can't reveal anymore details unfortunately.

Whenever I see my name in print or mention of my work, I get tickled!  It's nice to be recognized for all the energy that I pour into this passion.  One of the places that I was recently featured was in the Ligonier Echo.  The article in the local paper was about my appearance on the PBS show, Beads, Baubles and Jewels.  CLICK HERE to see the full article.
This was an excellent week for me on Beading Daily.  I was mentioned with the Inspired by Reading Book Club in a post about contests and challenges.  CLICK HERE to read the entire post.

One of my articles was also featured in a new eBook about jewelry stringing.  The article that I wrote was about "stringing shortcuts" and how I use different tips and tricks to create stylish jewelry easily and quickly.  CLICK HERE to see the write-up and follow the links to download your free eBook!

Skull Charm Prototype...

One of my most popular designs that I ever made was a tiny skull charm.  I thought that I would redesign it and give it a facelift.  (Pun intended!)  In this incarnation, the relief carving is a little higher, which makes the skull a bit more dimensional.  I carved the mold for this the other night and plan on making tiny bronze charms and maybe porcelain beads.

Whenever I carve a new mold (in the reverse), I press a piece of polymer clay in the (cured) mold to see how it'll look.  Sometimes things don't always look right when they are flipped and it's important to test it out before it goes into production.  Even though the mold is cured, it doesn't mean that one can't make changes.  If something is too shallow, it can be carved out or drilled away with a Dremel tool.  If an area is too deep, it can be filled in.  It's also a good time to see if there are any undercuts in the mold.  An undercut is basically a lip that can potentially rip and tear the material being pressed into the mold when it is being pulled free.  This can be fixed by beveling the edges with a rounded tool.  I also inspect the prototype to see if there are any indentations caused by stray burs that were left behind during the carving.  This can be remedied easily with a little bit of fine-grit sandpaper.

I'm quite pleased with the new (re)design and will hopefully be able to find some time put this bad boy to use!

Porcelain and Art Metal Necklace...

Since we're going to have a selection of porcelain pendants at the Art Metal Components by Anju booth at the To Bead True Blue Show in Tucson this year, I thought I would put together a sample of how well the two work together.

I turned one of their two-toned charms into a link by punching a second hole in it and combined it with peach calcite, gold freshwater pearls, size 11 amber-colored seed beads, vintage lucite, a gold-plated toggle, and our sugar skull pendant.  I thought the two colors of metal in the link paired well with the bright yellows and oranges of the porcelain in this asymmetrical design.

The design is relatively simple and would look good layered with other necklaces, like a mala necklace made of rudraksha seeds or a choker of pearls.  Really, the possibilities are endless!

Make sure to stop by if you're in the area!  The show runs from February 2nd to the 10th!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

30 Words Thursday...

A crystalline lacework glitters like diamond shards – a warning on the glass.  On one side is the cozy warmth of home and on the other, a bone-chilling, subzero winter wilderness.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Heart Season...

Valentine's Day is coming up and I've been moved to make all kinds of heart-themed items.  One of the things that I made was this collection of hearts.  I created them out of polymer clay, stained them with alcohol inks, buffed them with a fine-grit sandpaper, and then hand-buffed them with colored waxes.  I touched them up with acrylic paints and Glider's Paste to bring out the details.  At first, I thought that I might use all of them in a single necklace to make a really chunky statement piece.  But the more I thought about it, I might add a bail and turn them into individual pendants.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dragon Wheels...

Here are some polymer clay beads that I recently made.  I call them, "Dragon Wheels".  I've textured these flattened rondelles with a bumpy, reptilian pattern.  I used gold-colored clay and worked some bright green Vintaj Patinas in the recessed areas to accentuate the scale-like details.  I then highlighted the raised areas with Inca Gold Gilder's Paste.  They remind me of some ancient currency from a long-lost civilization.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

A Bead A Day
Need something new to wear, but only have 20 minutes?  You can do it!  Choose a pendant, add chain and a few beads.  Lisa shares her latest quick project.

Art Bead Scene
Take a peek Inside the Studio of Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati and get a chance at winning a set of her new Facet Effects beads!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew reveals where his porcelain pendants will be during this year's Tucson Gem Show!

Mirrored Wall Cabinet Jewelry Holder
This jewelry organize is not only very decorative hanging on the wall, but also allows you to keep your most-worn pieces organized right at eye level.  Put them on and check yourself out in the mirrored front.  What could be more convenient?

Snap out of it, Jean!  There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews an excellent book on jewelry design from the great Cathy Jakicic:  Jewelry Projects from a Beading Insider.  It is wonderful!

Mixed Media Artist
Mobius strip scarves, part two!  Cyndi shows you how to work with thicker chunky yarn this week.

Beading Arts
It's official… Cyndi's gotten hooked on making bead embroidered pendants!

Do you amigurumi?  Why or why not?

Teal and Brown Afghan
Cherie makes a new afghan to keep the family warm.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

From the Vault: Birds of a Feather...

I worked up this piece after I got the (then) new bird piece from my family at Green Girl Studios.  I paired the link with turquoise, freshwater pearls, polymer clay from HumbleBeads, a ceramic piece from Nancy (Schindler) Adams of Round Rabbit, and a carved horn feather as the focal.  The stones, feather, clasp, and feather all come from our collection at Allegory Gallery.  I love how the freshwater pearls and copper pick up the earthy, golden browns in the turquoise.  I was really pleased with how well everything came together.  Sometimes things just work.  Even though it's an asymmetrical piece, the balance is just right, thematically everything seemed to fit and tell a story, and the colors seem to all harmonize.

It's a shame that I never sent it off.  It just sat on my kitchen counter in a pile with other pieces waiting for me to write instructions.  I recently uncovered it as I was organizing and thought I would share it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

From the Vault: Zenith...

I made this piece after I saw Abbi of Art Metal Components by Anju from The Bead Place at a trade show.  I was really inspired by the focal piece and came up with this edgy design.  It looks way better when it's worn, because the chain has tension and the lines make sense.  It's almost like the line motif at the top of the pendant continues upward with the horizontal chain.  When it's worn, the lower portion of necklace becomes more than just the foundation of the piece, but part of the focal.  Everything came together when I was working with the pendant.  I used pyrite rounds with a metallic sheen, gray labradorite, and copper accent beads (and a toggle).  Each of the elements mirror the color palette of the mixed metal pendant and forces the eye to move completely around the piece.

While I really liked this piece, unfortunately it didn't fit into the vision of the publication staff and was passed over.  It's okay though.  I'm still pleased with the way it turn out.

Inspired by Reading Book Club 2014/2015 List...

This is the reading list for 2014/2015 for the Inspired by Reading Book Club.  For 2013/2014's list, CLICK HERE.  To participate, all you have to do is read the book selected for that month and create something (artwork, jewelry, components… etc.) inspired by what you've read.  At the end of each month, there will be an opportunity to share your work in the Facebook Group and through a blog hop.  (I'll post the dates of the reveals here and on the Facebook Group.)  CLICK HERE to join the Facebook Group.

May 2014 – "An Object of Beauty" by Steve Martin
June 2014 – "The Drunken Botanist" by Amy Stewart
July 2014 – "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot
August 2014 – "Stiff" by Mary Roach
September 2014 – "Lavinia" by Ursula K. Le Guin
October 2014 – "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman
November 2014 – "Proust's Overcoat" by Lorenza Foschini
December 2014 – Happy Holidays!
January 2015 – "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer
February 2015 – "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn
March 2015 – "Home" by Toni Morrison
April 2015 – "Girl Reading" by Katie Ward
May 2015 – "The Children's Book" by A.S. Byatt
June 2015 – "An Atlas of Impossible Longing" by Anuradha Roy

I did a check and all of the books are available and still in print.  Most of them are available in paperback and can be picked up fairly inexpensively used.  Please consider supporting your local independent bookstore.  And don't' forget, you can always see if your local library carries these titles.  If they're not available, many of them can special order them for you to borrow.

This is supposed to be fun and inspiring and I hope everyone who participates has a good time!  If you have any questions, you can always email me:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

From the Vault: Sweet Honey...

This is a piece that I made years ago for a spread on bee-themed jewelry.  Unfortunately, it didn't make the final cut.  The magazine said that they had previously accepted a piece with the same clasp and they wanted to show more of a variety of bee-themed components.  The focal piece of this necklace is a bronze bee clasp from my family at Green Girl Studios.  It is paired with a multi-strand of honey-colored, hessonite garnets and whiskey quartz.  I arranged the rectangular beads in an umbra pattern, dipping from light to dark and back again.  To give the chain that connects the bee "hook" some visual weight, I added a Swarovski pearl dangle in light gold.

The thing that I love about this piece is that it can be worn with the clasp in the front, off to the side, or in the back.  It has a lot of versatility and can be either elegantly dressy or casual depending on one's mood or the dress code.

30 Words Thursday...

Green rose of desert origins, how I admire you completely. In dry neglect, you flourish. Broken, you multiply. Spiked tipped leaves keep harm at bay.  You are sturdy and succulent.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I was looking for roving for felted beads, when I came across a few skeins of yarn that I absolutely fell in love with.  The colors were a blend of faded reds, rust, and claret.  Plus, they were on sale… so who was I to pass them up?

I'm not the best knitter out there.  I learned last year and with how busy my schedule has been, I put it down for several months (and actually forgot how to purl).  But I wanted to make something out of the lovely yarn I picked up and decided to sneak a few minutes here and there to work on it.  (To be completely honest, I kind of feel guilty for working on my knitting.  I know it'll be helpful in the future when it comes to answering questions about incorporating beads into knitted pieces, but it's not high up on my priority list and I always feel like I should be doing something else.)

My first attempt was pretty terrible.  I kept dropping stitches and it was super tight.  It felt like I was wrestling the piece!  So, I took it all apart.  And instead of mixing the stitches, I stepped back.  I focused on just knitting and just working with the yarn.  I relaxed a little and tried to not think about all the things that I wasn't doing and should be doing, and concentrated on building the piece one stitch at a time.

While this is far from perfect, I can feel the progress that has been made.  (I even bound off the edge and it doesn't look awful.)  Besides being practice, it really isn't "anything".  It's too long to be a hot pad and too short to be scarf.  I guess I could always make a shawl pin and use it as a cowl.  Or maybe I could stitch it together with other practice pieces in the future to make "something" down the road.  In theory, I could have added more yarn, but I'll save that lesson for another day.

I've picked up the second skein of yarn and am working with knitting and purling, alternating rows.  It is much improved over my first attempt.  I've also cut the width down by half.  So, when I'm finished I can also use it as a scarf.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Upcoming Exhibits at Allegory Gallery...

I'm pleased as punch to announce our upcoming shows!  Now that we have the second Project Wall, we have twice as much exhibition space and can run two small shows at once!

On Project Wall 1, we will be featuring the work of Jenny Davies-Reazor.  Her show is titled, "Mythic Nature" and this is her first solo show at the gallery.  She has participated in several group shows since we've opened.  This show has been a long time coming!  She will be showing her mixed media collages.

On Project Wall 2, we will be spotlighting the work of Elise Wells.  Her show is called, "Alchemy".  This is Elise's first show with us and we're excited to show the work of this very talented local artist and chef!  She'll be showing a mix of lithographs, drawings, and mixed media collages.

Both of the artists will be in attendance for the opening reception which is scheduled for February 15th!  Let's hope that the weather cooperates and that lots of people turn out for the opening to celebrate the work of these awesome artists!

From the Vault: Love Grows Love...

Here's another one that I had made with the intention of having it published.  I never sent it off and it has been starring at me for a few months now.  This piece has a polymer clay focal by Heather Wynn Millican of SwoonDimples, rough green turquoise teardrop briolettes, freshwater pearls, Canadian jade, and a bronze bird toggle from my family at Green Girl Studios.  Even though the piece is relatively simple, I love the fanned out silhouette and the earthy, green colors.  I think the turquoise was born to be a match with the polymer clay pendant that reads: "love grows love".

Monday, January 13, 2014

Porcelain in Tucson...

Even though I won't personally be going to Tucson this year, I will be sending along some of my porcelain pendants!  So, I'll be there in spirit!

If you're curious of where to find them, they'll be at the To Bead True Blue show!  They will be at The Bead Place's Art Metal Components by Anju table.  Just look for G127.  For more information about the show, CLICK HERE.

And don't forget to like Art Metal Components by Anju on Facebook!  CLICK HERE to visit their page.

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

Art Bead Scene
Check out Brandi's gorgeous color palette for this month's challenge piece!

A Bead A Day
Ringing in the new year with new jewelry?  Lisa's sharing a new icy project.

Getting Organized
The jewelry studio is next, but right now, Crafty Princess has at least her home office organized!

A Creative Dream
It's a mail art call!  Come on over and join in!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Participants of the Inspired by Reading Book Club share their creations inspired by "Bridge of Birds" by Barry Hughart and "The Journey to the East" by Hermann Hesse.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi utilizes a "saved" crazy quilt block and turns it into wearable art in this special blog post.

Resin Crafts Blog
Wondering what is better to mold with?  We have a post showing you how great Jewelry Clay and Jewelry resin can be!

Snap out of it, Jean!  There's beading to be done!
Making tiny jewelry takes as much thought and planning as designing full-sized, regular pieces.  See Jean's blog for the details!

Beading Arts
The new Bezel Effects paint makes great centerpieces for bead embroidery!

Mixed Media Art
Cyndi has come up with a fun variation on the ever-popular infinity scarf!

Fishers of Men
Cherie uses the "Fishers of Men" passage to help create mixed media prints.

Eileen – The Artful Crafter
Knit and crochet combine in Red Heart Sashay Yarn.  Did you know you can create, "crocheted" scarves, shawls and the like without picking up a crochet hook?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

From the Vault: Lux et Umbra...

Here's another necklace from "the vault".  I had made it a few months ago for a publication, but for whatever reason, never submitted it.  I think the prompt was creating monochromatic pieces.  In this piece, I used some lovely denim-colored kyanite beads (they're some of my favorites), a polymer clay focal from HumbleBeads, an Anne Choi bead (that reads: "Lux et umbra vicissim sed semprer amor", which translates to, "light and shadows by turns but always love"), freshwater pearls in a stunning shade of blue, and a sterling silver toggle from my family at Green Girl Studios.

I think the pendant sums up the quote perfectly.  The pendant shows a bird in a nest with its egg.  I think there is something to be said about the love of a mother.  Even though there may be ups and downs, there's always love.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Experiments with Alcohol Inks...

It has been awhile since I last worked with alcohol inks.  I think that the last time that I worked with them, I was in college.  I really enjoyed the results of my project back then, but I filed it away as something that I would pick up again… someday.

That day was today!

I ordered some alcohol inks in a rainbow of colors and went to town on some polymer discs that I quickly textured with a swirly pattern.  I didn't really have a plan for what I wanted to do with them, but I did know that I wanted to test out some of the qualities of the ink and just play.

I like the experimentations.  They're fun and bright!  I think the ink adds a luminous sheen and really boosts the color saturation!  I'll have to continue my Mad Scientist experiments with alcohol inks!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

From the Vault: The Lovely Bones...

I was going through my stash and realized that there were pieces that I made years ago that for whatever reason, I never posted.  Some of the things I made were experimental or ideas that I wanted to keep under my hat or pieces that were made for publication that were never published.  In any event, I thought that I would blog about these pieces "from the vault" from time to time.

I called this necklace, "The Lovely Bones".  It is composed of bronze links that I made out of BronzClay that kind of look like bones.  They are connected with lots of jump rings.  Because of the way the pieces are connected, it has a kind of jankety skeleton feel.  At the bottom of the piece is a stunning focal: a Navette Swarovski crystal Pendant in magma.  (Which just so happens to be one of my favorite shapes!  It has a very regal, almond-shape that just drips with opulence!)

I will probably take this apart and cannibalize the links.  This piece is quite substantial and while I enjoy the heft of it, I think I could better utilize the parts as bracelet links or perhaps long, dangly earrings.

30 Words Thursday...

Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati has a reoccurring post on her blog where she takes a picture and writes 30 Words in conjunction with the image.  She said it started out as a way to challenge her "wordiness" and boil down her words to the core essence of her meaning.

Erin has proposed that others should take up the challenge and has created "30 Word Thursday".  Even though my plate is overflowing with projects, I thought that I would participate!  It's not overly taxing and I think it might be highly beneficial to play along.  To find out more about this project, CLICK HERE.

Next week I'm going to stick to the guidelines without the preface, but I thought it was important to outline this (hopefully) regular addition to my blog.  And without further ado, here is my first 30 Words Thursday entry:

"Dark of days past, peeled back.  Bright sun gliding across the nearly naked sky, you breathe a breath of life in me. Warm in the coldest cold of cold country."

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Inspired by Reading November/December Blog Hop...

Today is the Reveal for November and December's selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club!  Due to the holidays, we had to adjust the schedule a bit.  For November, we read, "Bridge of Birds" by Barry Hughart.  For December, we read, "The Journey to the East" by Hermann Hesse.

It's interesting how both books, were quest books.  "Bridge of Birds" was a novel written in the style of ancient Chinese folktales that follows the paths of Li Kao and Number Ten Ox.  They have set out to find the Great Root of Power to save the village children from a sudden illness.  The book is told with tongue-in-cheek humor and moves at a quick pace once the journey begins.

In "The Journey to the East", the narrator belongs to a mysterious League who voyages to the East.  Each of the characters on the journey all have a different goal in mind.  The narrator seeks to find Princess Fatima, but the quest is vehicle for more psychological and philosophical questions.  The relatively short novel is told in a confessional style that is a recollection with details obscured by secrecy and self-described poverty and illness.

The first book was met with overall favorable reviews, while the second was met with mixed results.  Both had some interesting imagery to pull from.

Unfortunately, due to the inclement weather our in-store meet-up was canceled.  It's a shame, because I really do look forward to these gatherings.  I think that everyone who comes uses it as an opportunity to do more than just talk about books and being crafty, but to unwind and socialize.

And without further ado… here's the REVEAL:

This necklace was made by Laurel for "The Journey to the East".  This necklace features an Asian-inspired gunmetal toggle clasp, spindle-shaped carved blackstone, and white calcite.  The necklace refers to the circular nature of the story and the contrasting tones exemplifies the dark and light aspects of the human heart.

This necklace was a recent find at Kilbride Antiques by Laurel that she wanted to share.  She thought it was particularly apt for "Bridge of Birds".  The necklace is made of vintage black clay, Mexican Oaxaca fetish beads in the shape of birds.

Here's a look at the pieces Laurel created for "Bridge of Birds".  Here's what Laurel had to say about her pieces:

"Based on the text that the pieces are sitting on, this is my necklace with matching earrings.  Obviously the focal pieces are: star (from Allegory Gallery), cloud (Etsy), sloth (Mark Poulin -Etsy *very cool stuff, worth checking out), lotus flower (Etsy), feather (freebie from Etsy seller with purchase(, broken tree pendant (from really bad Etsy seller..), Green chain was sourced from a broken necklace.  Woot woot!  Bird/heart/red stone and brass dangle pieces represent the garden in the text.  They are sourced from the Destash page.  The blue/khaki glass is Czech glass from Allegory Gallery.  The beaded strand is various shades of jade and turquoise.  I basically tried to not go crazy with ginseng or gemstones.  Wanted to stick with the passage imagery."

Here's a close-up of the earrings that were made by Laurel for "Bridge of Birds".  

Here is a close-up of Laurel's necklace.

This necklace was created by Karen Hiatt for "The Journey to the East".  Karen is a new participant, who found out about the book club through the article in Beadwork magazine!  Here's what she had to say about her piece:

"This asymmetrical sterling silver, blue topaz and pearl necklace with a bit of wirework is what I was inspired to create.  I see a beautiful, but circuitous journey.  It is the first time I have created something that was not inspired by the materials I am choosing to work with or something visual, like a flower in the garden etc.  Therefore, I imagine that there is still a lot that thrown in.  Old habits are hard to break!"

This necklace was made by me for "Bridge of Birds".  This necklace is composed of silkworm cocoons, pearls, jade barrels, and a sterling silver bird toggle from my family at Green Girl Studios.  In the book, silk production is a highly valuable source of income and is part of the catalyst for the events of this book to take place.  I have had these silkworm cocoons for awhile and never knew what to do with them.  I decided to use them in this necklace.  They're extremely lightweight and rattle.  (Apparently the silkworm is still inside!)  The jade and pearls were selected because they reappear often in the book… even one of the characters is named that!  The necklace seems simple, but don't let if fool you!  It was tricky punching holes and then threading the flexible beading wire through the cocoons!

This bracelet was made by me for "The Journey to the East".  The book references the journey taking place around astronomical and astrological movements and observes several magical practices of different traditions.  I used wooden beads from Lillypilly that are laser-engraved with alchemical symbols to depict that.  The wooden beads are spaced out with Czech glass from Allegory Gallery.  They also mention that several of the League are in Africa and is why I used the brass dowry ring in the center to hang charms off of.  I have included a rutillated quartz star, a hand harm, and a key.  The hand is sometimes called a "Hamsa".  It is also known as the "Hand of Fatima".  The narrator's quest is to find Fatima, and I thought it was an appropriate translation of his desires.  The key symbolizes unlocking of the mind and spirit.  Also, one of the other members of the journey is in search of Solomon's Key, which will enable him to learn the language of birds.  The bronze toggle is also from my family at Green Girl Studios.

But wait… there's more!  The fun isn't over yet!  Take a look at what these Inspired by Reading Book Club members made with "Bridge of Birds" and "The Journey to the East" in mind for the blog hop:

The next book is, "The Enchantress of Florence" by Salman Rushdie.  For the remainder of this year's list, CLICK HERE.  The new list and schedule will be announced shortly!  The in-person meet-up at Allegory Gallery is scheduled for Tuesday, February 4th from 6PM to 9PM.  The next blog hop is scheduled for Wednesday, February 5th!  If you're interested in keeping up with what we're doing, CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook page.  CLICK HERE to view our Pinterest board with supplemental inspiration.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

A Bead A Day
Special sparkly gloves call for a pair of special sparkly  earrings!  Lisa is sharing the results of her trip to JoAnn, etc.

Resin Crafts Blog
The combination of transfers to resin clay and a resin glaze can result in some spectacular pieces!

Looking at Yarn Sizes
Which size yarn should you use?  This video covers the various sizes of yarns and what they might be used for.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Using a lap grinder, Andrew facets polymer clay to create really cool, geometric beads.

Eileen – The Artful Crafter
Are you looking for copyright free images for your artwork?  You out to know the ins and outs of vintage image copyrights.  Usage restrictions may depend on where you find the images.

Snap out of it, Jean!  There's beading to be done!
Jean writes the story of the very first piece of jewelry she made for 2014, "The Viola Pendant".  She tells how it came to be designed and named.

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi has a review of a new book on working more paint into your mixed media work.  Everything you need to know!

Beading Arts
Cyndi finished up her last piece for the 2013 Bead Journal Project!  On to 2014!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Russian Spiral Stitch...

I have made so many Spiral Stitch bracelets (and taught others how to make them) that I could do it in my sleep.  It's a relatively simple stitch and the results are an instant crowd-pleaser.

Now that I've firmly grasped the Basic Spiral Stitch, I thought it would be time to explore other Spiral Stitches.  The next stitch on my list:  The Russian Spiral Stitch.

Instead of building the rope vertically as you go, you're in essence, building the rope horizontally.  Above is my first attempt.  I used size 11 and size 6 seed beads to create the rope.  I then fished a piece of flexible beading wire through the core, strung two carnelian beads and attached a lovely enameled toggle by C-Koop.  I love how the carnelian is a pop of color and is a nice contrast to the blue, it also picks up and enhances some of the copper tones in the toggle.

Overall, I'm pretty satisfied.  I want to experiment with different sizes and shapes of beads.  I think this could be a wonderful base for other future projects.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Radiant Orchid Challenge Update...

It seems as though there is still a demand for the Reader's Challenges! The Design Kits sold out in short order!  Thank you to all the participants who signed up!  I'm really excited to see what everyone makes!

The Mystery Component will be unveiled on Monday, January 27th and the blog hop reveal is set for Thursday, February 27th!

Radiant Orchid Challenge...

This is the latest Reader's Challenge for my blog.  It's a fun and informal way to play, create, and challenge yourself with a pre-selected set of components.  Let's see what you can make!

To participate, you must purchase a Design Kit.  This kit features a selection of handmade polymer clay beads, Czech glass, Swarovski crystal, gemstones, a lampwork glass bead, and a Luxury Bead Blend.

The Luxury Bead Blend consists of Japanese Miyuki seed beads, Toho seed beads, freshwater pearls, amethyst, Czech glass, African recycled glass, Chinese crystal, Swarovski crystal, vintage sequins, German glass, fluorite, and Javanese lampwork glass.

But wait… there's more!  The pictures show a luscious mix of materials, but what isn't pictured is the mystery component!  Each kit will come with a special handmade component that will remain a mystery until it arrives at your door!

The mystery component will be publicly revealed on Monday, January 27th!  Please keep it under wraps until then.

I didn't know if I was going to do another Reader's Challenge.  They're quite a lot of work to put together and as a small business owner, there are only so many hours in the day.  However, so many people requested that we start them back up, that we gave in!  

To celebrate the return of the Challenges and to commemorate the start of a New Year and a brand new Pantone Color of the Year, we decided to create a kit inspired by Radiant Orchid – the "it" color for 2014!  What better way to drive into this color than challenging yourself with components belonging to the same color family.  

In selecting the components for the kit, I thought about my grandmother's windowsill in Florida.  She had dozens of orchids that bloomed constantly.  The blooms would seemingly stay perfect for months.  The thick, leafy blooms were in a pale purple and lined with bright shocks of fuchsia pink.  I can still remember us watering them and talking to them.

If you're familiar with these challenges, then you know that there are lots of different design choices that can create unique pieces, and a single kit can produce several pieces if one wants.

With your kit, using as much or as little of it as you like, create a piece that showcases your creativity, individuality, and artistic expression.  Ideally your creation will spotlight the great assortment of beads included, but the sky's the limit with what you make!

Keep your project a secret until the reveal date!

The reveal date is set for Thursday, February 27th, 20014!  Post a picture on your blog or send one to me to post on your behalf (if you don't have a blog of your own).  The Radiant Orchid Challenge will end in a blog hop, sharing all of the lovely creations with your fellow participants!

There are only 20 Design Kits available (with one set aside for me)!  Once we receive your order, we will process your kit and send it out within three business days.  Hurry!  Supplies are limited and are on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE basis!  (Sorry, no exceptions!)

I also wanted to mention that all the Design Kits will be shipped with First Class mail.  This can take anywhere from one business day to fourteen.  For international orders, it may take longer!  If you know that it take a long time to reach your destination (from Southwestern Pennsylvania) please place your orders early!  I will do my best to get your kit out as early as possible, but unfortunately I can't be held responsible if it arrives late due to the postal service.  All sales of the Design Kits are final and there are no returns or exchanges.   With that being said… I hope you have lots of fun and I can't wait to see what you make!

CLICK HERE to get your Design Kit!

Disclaimer:  This challenge is not associated, affiliated, and/or sponsored by Pantone.  For official Pantone Radiant Orchid merchandise, color mixing, and information, visit their website: