Saturday, November 28, 2015

Getting Back to Me...

I'm sitting at my desk in the room in the new house that will be my temporary studio.  I am surrounded by boxes and half assembled furniture.  It's a daunting task to go through everything, to find homes and places for all the little things.  I'm not deterred though.  It is a good feeling and one that I'm relishing.  I am a bird building a nest.

There is potential here.  I can feel it like the fast-beating pulse of blood behind skin.  I can almost see it, like shimmering rivers behind the walls. All I have to do is reach out and grab it, plucking it like a squirming, silvery fish.

The truth is... I've been blocked lately.  That river of energy has been just a bit out of reach.  While I could press myself up against it, trying to submerge myself in the quick moving currents, I simply couldn't.  I laid floating on the surface, on the verge of losing myself in act of creation.  This is not to say that I've been devoid of creativity or that I have been sitting stagnantly... I have been making things.  It's just not the same.  It's kind of like the difference of running through the pine grove of my youth, screaming and laughing, chasing after friends and friends chasing after you... and running in the rain, getting drenched, trying to drag your suitcase and flag down a fleet of unstopping taxi cabs to get to your next destination.  One is an act of joy and the other is an act of necessity.

As I unpack the boxes, I'm also unpacking our new life.  We've had some big changes recently.  We've found our new home and William has moved over to the store full-time.  And I am... I am getting back to me.

While I have loved being at the store and meeting so many great people, I think that after awhile I was losing touch with myself.  I got caught up in things like restocking bags, answering emails, and trying to build up the business as best I could.  And while I did it and did it for years, it wasn't the right fit.  My strengths lie in making things, finding things, and telling stories.  Until William could really devote all his attention to the store, I've sort of been trying to cover all the bases, running back and forth.

Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion... I'll still be involved with the store.  It's my baby and I'll still be at the brick and mortar on a regular basis.  I'll just be focusing the majority of my energies on creating and acquiring new things and developing more online content and connection.   We'll also be working on separating the idea of me and the brand of the store.  Over the years, those things have gotten muddled and have become interchangeable.  As I scroll back through my blog, I've noticed that it has become less of a chronicle of my journey as a creative person and more about the things we do at the store.  While fun and still engaging, I've also noticed that my posts have become fewer and less frequent.  I guess somewhere in all the things I've had to do to make the store a success, part of my personal journey had to go into hibernation.  It has been a trade off that I've been happy to make, but I'm looking forward to refocusing a little on myself.

The changes ahead are a little frightening.  I've gotten so used to doing things a certain way and people have grown used to my haphazard methods.  I think it'll be a good change though and a needed one.  This will allow us to grow, not only as a business, but personally I'll be able to tap back into that potential and explore more of the things that make me happy and bring me joy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Eight years ago something special happened.  In the grand scheme of things, of drifting continents and colliding stars, a date might not seem that important... but for me, it started a wonderful journey with someone I love and appreciate very much.   I could not have known then that it would profoundly and irrevocably alter my life.  It has been a good life and I am deeply grateful that the stars aligned and brought us together.  These eight years, filled with an abundance of experiences and brimming with memories, have flashed by in the blink of an eye.  Happy anniversary, William.  Here's to many more years and many more happy memories together!

Little by Little...

 I always forget how much work goes into moving.  I also forget just how expensive it is as well!  It's not the cardboard boxes and packing tape... it's the disruptions to life and work that cost the most.  In an effort to swing the needle a little more in our favor, I thought about making a limited edition pendant to help make up for all the additional expenses from the move.

I made a bronze coin pendant that says, "little by little the bird builds its nest".  It comes from a French saying, "Petit à petit, l'oiseau fait son nid"  that basically means, "every little bit helps".  I thought it was appropriate!

I've embellished the bronze with a little Glider's Paste and sealed it with Renaissance Wax.  I only made 15 of them and they sold out SUPER FAST!  There's even a waiting list!  It means so much to me that people want to help us reach our goals... little by little!  THANK YOU!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Polymer Clay Experiments...

I have a love affair with ancient Roman glass.  There's just something magical that happens when the glass is buried for a few thousand years.  I am smitten with the blend of rustic and iridescent.  But there are some drawbacks to working with it.

For one, it's... understandably... on the expensive side.  Most of it is found in Afghanistan in old Roman bottle dumps.  It has a finite source and once the dumps run dry, that's it!

Another thing that is less than ideal is that even though the glass has survived for thousands of years beneath sand and stone, it's on the more fragile side.  Not only is it prone to chipping and breaking, but the delicate finish on top can be worn away with body oils or flake off.

So I set about creating a similar effect in polymer clay.  I'm still experimenting with other mediums, but that's another blog post for another day.  After several different attempts, I think I've figured it out and came up with a method that I'm pleased with.

Here are my results:
This is one version of my Faux Roman Glass.  I really like it!  I even added larger holes in this batch to replicate the look of authentic pieces even more.

This is another experiment with the Faux Roman glass.  It has a slightly different color recipe and I finished them a bit differently as well.  I think it looks spot on!

Here's what the backs look like.  You can't really tell in this light, but the pieces are translucent and play with the light nicely!  I added inclusions to the polymer to make it look even more like ancient glass.

The nice thing about working in polymer is that the pieces are super flexible and bendy!  It really opens up design options.  Along with the flexibility, another perk is that I can do whatever shape I like and am not constrained by what's available on the market.

Here's another view of the Faux Roman glass pieces!

The pictures really don't do these justice, as the iridescent layers don't get to sing like they do in real life!  I spent a long time trying to figure out just the right formula and am pleased with the way they turned out.

While I was experimenting with what started off as a way to figure out the look and feel of ancient Roman glass, I branched out and played with some other color combinations and surface treatments.  This combination plays with shades of purple, glints of pink, and touches of blue with a vivid contrast of gold highlights.  I call them Gypsy Drops.  They remind me of the colorful scarves that adorned the costumes of the gypsies in my childhood stories.

This is another colorway.  This plays with pale greens and subtle blues with touches of gold.  I call them Ocean Tears.  They remind me so much of light on the waves of the ocean.

This colorway is called Magma Drops.  I really embellished these pieces with the crusty factor and added layers of rust reds and coppers to the pinks and pale purples.  When I looked at them, there was something primal that came to mind, that the churning surface of molten volcanic earth.

I'm going to keep playing around with this technique of building layers and balancing the right combination of matte, shiny, and pearlescent.  I really love how the idea of simulating ancient Roman glass sort of formed and I used it as a springboard for other ideas and surface treatment applications.  Hope you all like them as much as I do!

Monday, November 09, 2015

Brave Angel Silent Auction 4...

This is another bracelet that I made to auction off to help raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  This piece is made up of Czech glass, vintage sequins, vintage Japanese glass, hand-made copper headpins by me, a shibuichi flower clasp from my family at Green Girl Studios, and beaded beads by Rebecca Anderson of Song Beads.  (She donated these last year and I've been waiting to incorporate them into something fun!  Thanks, Rebecca!)  The bracelet is made up of a length of chain that has been embellished by wire-wrapped dangles.  It has a lot of fun movement!  The bracelet is approximately 8" inches long.

For this auction, the bidding will start at $1! There is no minimum reserve and there are no bidding increments. The highest bidder in the comments is the winner! As a thank you, we will ship the piece to the winner free of charge (to US participants). This auction is open to international participants. This auction will run from today (November 9th) to November 16th. Please make sure to include your name and an email address with your bid. The winner will be announced November 17th. When the winner is announced, we will send a Paypal invoice for the total. Please make sure to pay promptly. The funds we raise will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

Over the next few weeks, I hope to add several more auctions and will hopefully raise a tidy sum for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  I hope you'll consider bidding!

Brave Angel Silent Auction 3...

As promised, here's another piece that I made to auction off to help raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  This bracelet is made up of Czech glass, vintage acrylic, and dyed stone pulled from the Brave Angel kit, copper, lampwork glass from SueBeads and a polymer clay bead (that reads, "take courage") by Erin Prais-Hintz.  Susan Kennedy and Erin both donated these beads last year to help raise money for breast cancer awareness, prevention and treatment!  (Thank you, Sue!  Thank you, Erin!) The bracelet is approximately 9" inches long.

For this auction, the bidding will start at $1! There is no minimum reserve and there are no bidding increments. The highest bidder in the comments is the winner! As a thank you, we will ship the piece to the winner free of charge (to US participants). This auction is open to international participants. This auction will run from today (November 9th) to November 16th. Please make sure to include your name and an email address with your bid. The winner will be announced November 17th. When the winner is announced, we will send a Paypal invoice for the total. Please make sure to pay promptly. The funds we raise will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

I'll be posting more auctions over the next few weeks to help beef up our donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  Please consider bidding!  It's a great way to get pieces for yourself or for gifts.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Bead and Craft Bloggers...

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies
Leftover Halloween candy isn't exactly a problem, but if you want to do something with it aside from just eating it as candy, try these easy and yummy cookies.

David's Puzzle
Check out the model Connie's cousin, Cindy, stitched for the David's Puzzle pattern from the Connie Gee's Designs Etsy shop and learn the story behind the pattern name.

Thumbprint Penguin Bar Towel
Kids can help make these thumbprint penguin bar towels.  They make charming housewarming gifts and fun keepsakes for grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Art Bead Scene
Take a peek at our new November challenge!

Crafting Update
Crochet, knitting, jewelry-making, catch up on the crafting action from the Crafty Princess on the latest video podcast.

Snap out of it, Jean!  There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a marvelous new book by Nealay Patel, "Jewelry Designs with Knitted Wire".  It's very original and totally cool!

Beading Arts
Here's a book review of one of Cyndi's top picks for Christmas gift-giving this year: "DIY Wrap Bracelets!"

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Ligonier Art Walk Recap...

Earlier today was the Ligonier Art Walk.  It was a really fun event with seven participating art venues in the area opening their doors and presenting a wide array of artwork and creative activities.  You can read more about what everyone had planned by CLICKING HERE.  We represented Theodore Bolha, who creates intricate paper-cuttings.

Here's an example of one of his pieces.  He stacks layers of these hand-cut, lace-like pieces of paper to create his scenes.  He also had some new pieces that incorporated found rocks, chalk and his cut paper.  

Below are some snapshots taken during Theodore's demonstration:
We're so thankful for all the people who came out and supported the arts in Ligonier today!  It was really nice to chat with people from all over and hear about their favorite pieces.

The Ligonier Art Walk is a really special event for me, because it connects the community to things that they might not have seen before and opens them up to new ideas and images.  Art has had such a powerful impact on my own life and it's an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this group of art venues that are dedicated to fostering the art scene in our little town and sharing art.

If you couldn't make it out to the art walk, you can still swing by several of the galleries and see the shows that were up.  Theodore's show at Allegory Gallery will be up until January.  Hope you get a chance to stop by and see it in person!  It's amazing!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Silent Auction Winners...

The winner of this bracelet is Ann Schroeder!  Thank you for your support!  I hope you enjoy this piece I made using the Brave Angel Kit!

The winner of this necklace is Carolyn Lawson!  Much gratitude for bidding and contributing to our donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation!  

Congratulations to all the winners and many thanks to everyone who bid!  

We'd like to increase our donation, so I'll be posting silent auction lots all throughout the month.  I know that October is over and breast cancer awareness month has technically ended, but I'd like to think that awareness shouldn't be limited to just one month.  So we'll keep raising money and hopefully do our part to help! 

Thanks again to all the winners and bidders!  You guys are most excellent!  

Monday, November 02, 2015

Spirit Walk Challenge SOLD OUT...

I think that might have been a record!  The Spirit Walk Challenge Design Kit is now sold out!  It really means a lot to me that people are still interested in the challenges and continue to claim the kits!  I love seeing the packages go out all over the world!  I like to imagine people opening them up and going through all the components, picking their favorites and beginning the design process.

Thanks again to everyone who got a kit and is participating in this creative challenge!

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Spirit Walk Challenge...

I hadn't planned on creating another kit so soon after the last.  (I actually had thought that I might take a break for a little bit.)  I was at the shop late one night and before I knew it, I had gathered together a lovely mix of purples, violet, and lilac.  It was almost like my hands were on autopilot.  Thusly, the Spirit Walk Challenge was born.

After I looked at the calendar, I realized that it wasn't so far off from when I was supposed to debut another kit.  So perhaps this was the Universe guiding me to keep going?

If you aren't familiar with the kits, they're a really informal and fun way to test your creativity by working with a selection of components that I handpicked.  

To participate, you must purchase a Design Kit. This kit features a selection of premium Czech glass (both new and vintage), vintage lucite, vintage acrylic, waxed Irish linen, manik-manik Indonesian glass, vintage seed beads, amethyst, recycled sari silk ribbon, dyed pyrite and a Luxury Bead Blend.

The Luxury Bead Blend consists of Japanese Miyuki seed beads, Toho seed beads, Japanese Matsuno seed beads, vintage Czech seed beads, vintage French seed beads, freshwater pearls, Czech glass (both old and new), amethyst, fluorite, stone, vintage sequins, vintage plastic, Swarovski crystals, vintage Japanese glass, and vintage lucite.

Each kit will come with a special handmade component that will remain a mystery until it arrives at your door! It may be more than one piece!

The mystery component(s) will be publicly revealed on Monday, December 28th, 2015!

For the past few challenges, I've been basing my kits off of gemstone inspirations.  Earlier this year, I created the Amethyst Aether Special Challenge and while there was a lot of amethyst in it, the kit was more inspired by Steampunk.  This kit started with a strand of faceted amethyst rondelles.  I started mixing and matching things, pulling strands of purple glass and darkly dyed pyrite.  Before I knew it, I had made the beginnings of a kit.  The funny thing is that the color purple is often associated with the spirit and the mind, of dreams and mystery, and the subconscious.  So it was apt that the components sort of came together on their own, as I hadn't really intentionally set out to put together a new kit.

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 you'll pull from the components in the kit and spotlight them, but feel free to use beads from your own stash to supplement the offered selection. Whether you use a little or a lot of the kit, make sure you keep your project secret until the reveal date!

The Reveal Date for this challenge is: Thursday, January 7th, 2016!

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 Spirit Walk Challenge will end in a blog hop, sharing all the lovely things created with your kit 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 seven Allegory Gallery 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 Priority mail. This can take anywhere from one business day to ten. 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. Sorry!

With all that being said... we really hope you'll enjoy working with the kit and have a ball playing with it! We can't wait to see what you make!

CLICK HERE to get your Design Kit!