Thursday, December 11, 2014

Noble Knight Blog Hop Challenge

Greetings all Ye Merry Gentleman and Fair Ladies. Welcome to the "Noble Knight Blog Hop Challenge" hosted by Andrew Thornton, Creative Director of Allegory Gallery in Ligonier, PA. Each month Andrew assembles a challenge kit containing all manner of beads and findings and bundles it up with a theme for the participants to draw inspiration. This time the theme was Noble Knights. The palette is rich with regal jewel tones: dark and mysterious blues, crimson reds and steely grays. It reminded me of brave King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table. Actually, it reminded me of Monty Python's "Holy Grail!" This movie is a classic spoof Arthurian legend and one of my all-time favorites. So without further ado, here are my creations to pay homage to the "silly kiniggits (knights pronounced phonetically for those who do not favor the humor of the British comedy troupe)" of yore!!

The first design is a pair of earrings that reminded me of the decorative shields that Medieval knights sported in battle, for instance the Shield of the Knight Templars.

 I used brick stitch with metallic blue hex cut beads, and embellished with an "insignia" composed of a bright, reflective red sequin and decorative fringe:

The next piece was inspired by the collars and chokers worn by the noble ladies of the times. This is a netted design using seed beads in deep, crimson red and metallic blues with drops in metallic blue, hex beads and garnet-colored crystals to coordinate with the earring set:

Finally, I had to incorporate chain maille into the theme, because we are talking Medieval knights in shining armor after all.

I decided to use a weave that I've made and blogged about previously. It is not a common weave and results in a rather stiff section of interwoven rings that only bend in one plane, which makes for a perfect scaffold for embellishment. The weave is called "2 in 1 Captive Parallel" and was created by MaxumX as a variation of Captive 2 in 1 chain and 'tutorialized' by Onering on Maillers Worldwide. I used Bright Aluminum and Anodized Aluminum jump rings in Red and Blue for the 2 in 1 Captive Parallel weave and embellished the base rings with wire wrapped dangles using pearl and crystal components from the kit. The chain is basic 2-1-2 links.

I hope you've enjoyed my interpretations of this theme! You will find more participants and their creations at the following links:


For the following participant's submissions, visit Andrew Thornton's blog:

Laurel Ross
Alison Herrington
Naama from Peculiaris
Donna Hoblit
 and Joanne Goldberg

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Moon Garden Blog Hop Challenge

Greetings Fellow Hoppers and welcome to the "Moon Garden Blog Hop Challenge" hosted by Andrew Thornton. Andrew is the Creative Director of Allegory Gallery in Ligonier, PA. For the Blog Hop Challenge, Andrew assembles a collection of beads and findings and designates a theme. I was so excited to discover the palette we'd be using for this challenge. It was all pastel pink and white with gray and black accents. I admit that I am not a 'pink' girl, but the finishes on the beads and the allure of the Moon theme really got my creative juices going! Here is my bead mat after sorting out the goodies:


Ok, some of the mess is not part of the challenge, it's just how I roll when I bead. Now I had to get down to ideas for designs.

My first piece is part of the "Dusk to Dawn" mix-and-match set. This is the "Dusk" design, a bead and chain pull-over necklace using the smoky shades of gray and silver. The Labradorite bead is the center focal and various components from the kit were used as accents. I happen to love Labradorite with it's gorgeous shimmer and flash. Note: I had a difficult time photographing these pieces as the natural light at this time of year is diffuse and my timing couldn't be worse when I had a chance to shoot photos. If you click on the photo, it does help with some of the resolution/color issues. I'm going to try to take better pictures and swap them out at some point, but this is what I have for the moment.

The next design is the "Dawn" version. A pretty Moonstone is the focal paired with peach and milky translucent accent beads. I used rose gold chain and wire to complement the bead colors. This is also a clasp-less necklace and the two can be worn alone or together.

I also made a coordinating pair of earrings.

The next piece used the Mystery Component that Andrew makes for each kit. It is a polymer clay pendant embossed with a flower and shimmers beautifully. I used the waxed Irish cord to suspend the pendant and knotted some of the accent beads for visual interest. I made a coordinating pair of earrings. The Moon Garden set is also mix and match-able with the above necklaces.

The next design used a really cool Mother of Pearl mosaic bead. I decided to bezel around it. Looking through my seed bead stash, I realized I am not much of a Pink Lady. Most of my bead drawers are packed with blue, red, green and purple beads. I am fairly under-represented in the yellow/orange color group, but pink was just sadly neglected. I did manage to dig out some pretty pink Delicas and some iridescent 15/0s. I am just going to state for the record that the bezeling took 64 delicas around (32 Peyote) and was 13 rows deep with 4 rows of 15/0s. I managed to break the Peyote bezel, not once, but twice. Third time was the charm!  And then I thought it needed petals, so around and around we go!! I do have an amazing stash of pink Czech fire-polish, so voila..."Moonflower" necklace!

Finally, I had to make something in a Freeform Peyote/netted design with the bead soup. So, I went a little crazy...I think the bezel breaking sent me over the edge. I usually Peyote lengthwise, but this time I decided to bead width-wise. Then I decided it needed fringe (my mind works in mysterious ways). The bracelet reminds me of something you'd see under a microscope or deep in the depths of the ocean. I call it my "Fringiform Bracelet":

When you close the clasp, you get something with eye-lashes that reminds me of a primordial Cookie Monster. Bahahaha!!!

That is all for me for this Blog Hop. Stay tuned to the same Bat Channel...there are more hops to follow. To find more participants in this Blog Hop visit Andrew's Blog for a list:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Midnight Magic Blog Hop Challenge

This month's theme for the Blog Hop Challenge is "Midnight Magic." The blog hop is hosted by Andrew Thornton, Creative Director of Allegory Gallery. Each month a new design kit is assembled containing bead mixes and a Mystery Component designed by Andrew. The Midnight Magic kit contained the following items:

After I carefully placed all the goodies on my bead mat...

...okay I admit to being a messy beader!!!

I started with the Mystery Component, the polymer clay star seen in the upper right corner of the above photo. I decided to make a knotted necklace with the waxed Irish linen provided in the kit and some of the metallic beads and amber glass beads. I actually busted out and dusted off my pearl knotter for this piece.

My next design used some black chain and various components from the kit. I chose and asymmetrical lay out and simple loops to attach to the chain. I made it clasp-free so it slips on easily.
After surveying the kit, I decided to make a herringbone-style bracelet with the hex beads, orange fire-polished beads and black charlottes. The Herringbone technique is based on stacks of beads and this variation is a fun way to use similar-sized beads.

Next, I made a pair of "Claws and Scales Dragon" earrings from the black claw-shaped beads and scale sequins.

Finally, I had to use the black porcelain skull, so I made a Freeform Peyote necklace and balanced the skull from the center.

That is all I have for this Blog Hop Challenge. I will post the other participants shortly, so that you can hop from blog to blog. Enjoy!



Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Royal Feathers" Blog Hop Challenge

Greetings fellow 'Hoppers' and all that have stopped by to check out the designs from Andrew Thornton's Blog Hop Challenge. Andrew is the Creative Director of Allegory Gallery in Ligonier, PA. He is also a published designer and teaches at workshops. Andrew has set up the Blog Hop Challenge by picking a design theme then creating kits with a variety of beads and components, including a "mystery component" made by Andrew himself, and then offering the limited edition kits to participants. Each person's design(s) are based on what they envisioned after viewing the kit contents. The possibilities are endless, so enjoy "hopping" from blog to blog, viewing, enjoying and commenting on the contributions. To find the other bloggers participating in this hop, scroll down to the end of my blog post and you will find a list of clickable links that will take you on your adventure.

This is my second Blog Hop Challenge that I have participated in this year. I really enjoy the creative kick in the pants that a design challenge offers without the pressure of a competition. For this challenge, I really bounced out of my comfort zone. I am relatively new to Freeform Peyote and am totally new at macramé, but I chose both techniques to represent my creative inspiration from this kit. The colors were deep and truly regal, so without further ado, here are my contributions:

First up is a three-strand, asymmetric boho-chic-style bracelet. I was going to use the beautiful, purple Irish waxed linen, but it went missing from my bead mat (looks sideways at three "innocent-looking" Labrador retrievers). With the cord out of the equation, I used bead stringing wire. I loved the mix of greens, purples, golds and blues. I actually haven't done much basic bead stringing in a while, so it was a refreshing change of pace for me!

Next, I decided to "go big or go home" when it came to accessorizing with earrings. Each one uses beads from the kit and I used simple loops, wrapped loops or briolette wraps to link the dangles together. I used a couple of leaf-shaped sequins paired with pretty, iridescent Czech glass drops in one design. All coordinate in a mix-'n'-match fashion with the triple-strand bracelet.
I seriously stepped out of my comfort zone and way out of my bag of tricks for the next design. I actually needed to consult an expert in the field of micro-macramé aka "friendship bracelets": my 12-year old daughter Ariana! She showed me the weave known as Chinese Staircase to make the chains for the necklace design. I used the "mystery component," the polymer clay medallion, as a dangle suspended from the large ring. I added beads along the cords as I especially loved the banana leaf covered bamboo rounds. I really didn't know what to do with all the cord ends so I attached beads to the ends and just left them to dangle either in the front or down the back.
The final pieces were also a bit of a stroll out of my comfort zone, but the more I make with this technique, the more I love it. I used Freeform Peyote to make a dazzling bracelet and coordinating earring set. The bracelet was woven lengthwise and incorporated the bead soup that Andrew put together for this challenge. I used a few sequins to give vertical dimension to the design. The clasp is a loop and Czech glass rondelle closure. It is lacey and airy and as vivid as a peacock display!
The earrings, while embracing the Freeform Peyote technique, are actually fairly mirror-images of each other. I'm just not ready to depart from some sort of beading imperative that calls for balance/symmetry when it comes to earrings.  

So, those are my contributions to this month's Royal Feathers Blog Hop Challenge! Use the list below to travel to other participant's blogs and look at their designs:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Good Earth Challenge" Blog Hop hosted by Andrew Thornton

I am happy to announce my participation in Andrew Thornton's Blog Hop, "Good Earth Challenge." Before I describe my contribution to the blog hop, I would like to thank Andrew, who is the Creative Director of Allegory Gallery in Ligonier, PA for providing the bead soup, components and inspirational spark for this challenge. I have to admit that I still haven't overcome my bead soup anxiety, but when someone supplies the components...I am just fine with it. Don't ask! It is part of my "bead therapy!"

The colors and hues for this particular bead soup were right in my color wheelhouse. I am actually more of an Autumn person, but the bead soup color mix reminded me of the transition from Summer into Autumn: vibrant golden tones mixed with mellow ambers and flecked with bursts of green, red and orange. For those reasons, my design is called "Indian Summer."


The necklace is composed of a Peyote base using the supplied 8/0 Hex beads. The large holes of the Hex beads allowed multiple thread passes through them, making the Freeform embellishment phase a relative breeze. I embellished with layers of bead soup in meandering loops, Peyote and brick stitches. I sewed sequins into the design and topped with dichroic glass or pearls to give extra dimension to the piece. The drops acted as anchors for the eye to take in the surrounding embellishment. The neck chains are composed of doubled strands woven through Rondelles like vines. The close-up photo gives a more detailed look at the individual components including their colors, shapes and textures. Some of the Hex bead base is visible and seems to glow under the bead soup landscape.


I am also working on a bracelet and earring set from the following components. I haven't finished them, but when I do I will update this blog post.

This was a fun blog hop in which to participate. I wore my necklace to my daughter's congratulatory dinner for her scholastic performance, so my design has additional significance.
The following designers participated in this blog hop and you can find their contributions by clicking the links. Enjoy discovering how each person was inspired by this challenge!

The following contributions can be found at Andrew Thornton's blog: