Last Harvest Reveal

November 18, 2015

Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery periodically puts together challenge kits.  This month two challenges are on display.  I participated in the Last Harvest challenge.

Each kit consists of some special beads and a seed bead mix that Andrew puts together.

Last Harvest Kit

I always inspect the luxury bead blend very closely.

Last Harvest blend  I like to include some kind of beadweaving with Andrew’s kits, since he so kindly puts together these luscious mixes, aka the luxury bead blends.  But I also like to try to do something different that I haven’t done before when I do challenges.

Usually I spend a couple of weeks thinking about the challenge before deciding what I will do, but this time for some reason, the idea popped into my head after only a few minutes.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that for the first time, I sat down with my sketchbook.

I decided I wanted to decorate the silk ribbon with bead embroidery.  I had to do some research on how to do the edging, but Google to the rescue.

Here is the finished necklace:curled up


B’Sue Boutiques Change it Up Challenge and Blog Hop

September 24, 2015


Welcome to the Change It Up challenge sponsored by B’Sue Boutiques. Our assignment was to take one of four specific raw brass stampings selected by B’Sue, and use it in a different way than it usually is. I picked the stamping pictured above, which is typically used as a cuff base. I cut it into three pieces as shown (shout out to the most excellent metal shears available at I was able to get three usable pieces using those shears.

The other part of the challenge was to follow the theme of “vintage flair”, vintage but updated. As I write this, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I got that part wrong. Oh, well, it’s what I did, so moving along…

This challenge was hard for me because I don’t generally use large stampings and vintage is not my thing. But that’s the reason I participate in challenges, to try new things that I might not otherwise have thought of.

When I think “vintage”, I think of dried roses, muted tones and an excess of decoration. Lots of gilt, lace, pearls and bits and pieces. I decided that to update it, I would cut down on the decoration and make a more restrained piece. I succeeded so well that when I was done I thought it was too plain, so I added some bling.

Just to make it even more of a challenge, I decided to make roses out of polymer clay, which I’ve only done once before. Definitely got some practice there – I probably made a dozen before I got enough that I thought were usable.

Once I got the pendant made, I had to figure out how to hang it. B’Sue has a video on making necklaces for large pieces that was very helpful. I made a chain out of book chain and wrapped loop sections of creamy glass pearls that added the weight needed to support the pendant.

It still seemed to be missing something, so I added a dangling chain of pearls to the pendant.

And here is a shot of the entire piece:

Below is the list of blog hop participants. Click to check out what the other participants did with their pieces.

September 25, 2015

Brenda Sue Lansdowne

Jewelry Making Outside the Box

Mary Deis

The Rose Sword

Jann Tague

Clever Designs

Lori Beekman


Renee Hong

Fine and Dandy Jewelry

Cynthia Wainscott

Exotic Peru Jewelry

Dana Hickey

Magpie Approved

Mary Beth Quigley-Spiker

Q Settings

Karen Eaton

KJewelry Creations

Shari Gardner

SLG Jewelry Designs

Alison Huie

Ally’s Baubles

Pamela Anger

Novegatti Designs

Carole Carlson

Beadsophisticate (that’s me)

Cindy Peterson

Howling Dog Jewelry

Marcia Tuzzolino

Aurora Designs

Charlotte Smothers

Sea Horse Ranch Life

Catherine Shattuck

Victorian Rose Boutique

Kelly Wymer

Winged Wisdom Enchantments

Clare Wells Nemeth

Papercrafting Magic

Erin Whitacre

Shattered Time

Lynda O’Mara

Lomara Creative

Ginger Hammond

Lynn Leigh Designs

Ingrid Anderson

Lilis Gems Artisan Jewelry

Deb Beechy


Harry Wood

Oscar Crow

Delyssa Maxwell

Past Time Fancies

Paula Gaskill

Lovely Layla Bugs

Irene Hoffman

Heart’s Dezire by Irene

Alexandra Sefton

Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art

Leslie Carver

Adorn Divine Designs

Andrew Thornton Challenge – Beadsophisticate

April 15, 2015

Periodically, I have been able to snag one of Andrew Thornton’s challenge kits – he only makes 19 or 24 available for sale, so you have to be quick. This month I was able to get in on Frenzied Motion. This is what I received to work with:

Kit contents

Kit contents

Frenzied motion bead blend

In addition, Andrew always includes a handmade “mystery component”, which is not revealed until a couple of weeks before the challenge reveal.

Sometimes when I get the kit open, I don’t know what to make and have to think about it for a while, but when I looked at this one, “bracelet” popped into my head, and that’s even without thinking about the challenge title. Andrew does a great job naming the kits; he has a way with translating inspiration into beads. I put it aside until the last minute (as usual), but was happy I did, because in the intervening time, I received an order containing the perfect bracelet finding for this project.

Frenzied Motion challenge bracelet

Frenzied Motion challenge bracelet

The mystery component is the round piece in the middle. Next to it is what I am coming to think of as my signature, a peyote beaded bead. Beaded beads seem to keep popping up in my work, so I plan to explore that.

I thought a shot of the piece on the hand would be nice. Not having worked with this bracelet finding before, I learned that there are four ways to put it on, and three of them are wrong.

on the hand

on the hand

The first time, the mystery component was back side up. The second and third tries had the dangles under the wrist. Fourth time was the charm. Sheesh!

While doing this project, I also remembered that there is a reason that I generally work with wrapped loops instead of simple loops. Lesson learned.

Here are the links to the other participants in this month’s challenge:

Christina Hickman
Michelle McCarthy
Marybeth Rich
Alison Herrington
Ann Schroeder
Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Joanne Goldberg, Lisa Mendum
Christy Porter

B’Sue Boutiques Build a Line Challenge Reveal – Carole Carlson of Beadsophisticate

March 20, 2015

Pink and Blue Necklace

Today is the big reveal for the B’Sue Boutiques Build a Line Challenge.  For the past three months, my classmates and I have been working to develop a cohesive line of at least five pieces for today’s post.  I have 11 pieces in 3 colorways to show.  The detail of the necklace above is my top-of-the line piece; here is the full necklace.

pink and blue necklace

Notice how I solved the problem of the bezel with no hole.  I prepared a piece of B’sue Boutiques filigree with a complementary finish, and mounted the bezel on it.  I was then able to wire wrap the beaded chain to the filigree.

Next is a similar necklace, but less complex, in the second colorway.  This time I mounted the polymer clay bezel on a piece of B’Sue filigree in the brass ox finish.  In order to meet the portion of the challenge that required us to produce some pieces in the $10 – $50 range, I had to look for efficiencies, and using already-patinaed findings was part of that.

yellow green onyx necklace

And here is a closer look at the pendant on this one.

green yellow close up

Another way to meet the pricing tier challenge was to make smaller pieces, so I turned to bracelets to help myself out.  I showed a sneak peek of a polymer clay bracelet in the February blog hop.  After test-driving the bracelet I noticed that it had a tendency to stretch a bit, so I added a tie made of silk ribbon from B’Sue Boutiques grab bag package.

.green yellow bracelet

Another quick and easy bracelet was this one, with handmade polymer clay disks inserted into a bezel bracelet blank.

bezel bracelet

As we learned in the class, you should at least be aware of trends, even if you don’t plan to follow them, and brooches are going to be big this year, so I made a couple of pendant components into brooches.  Next time I will make them convertible.


For the lowest level of my pricing tier, I put together some really simple matching earrings, shown below:

simple earringsdeco earrings

 I said I had 11 pieces (actually 13 because I made four of the polymer clay bracelets, two in each color).  The 11th piece is another necklace using pre-made pearl chain from B’Sue Boutiques.  This piece was from an idea that didn’t really work out as I had hoped it would, but I wanted to show it because of the cool faux opal effect.

faux opal necklace

I had a great time with this challenge.  It’s given me a lot to think about and I plan to continue to develop these lines.  Here are a couple of pictures of the pieces grouped together.

pink and blue with earringspink blue bracelet brooch deco earringsgreen yellow with earringsgreen yellow bracelets and brooch

If you are interested in purchasing any of these pieces, please either leave me a comment on this post, or email me at

And now, please visit the blogs of the other participants in the class, starting with our fearless leader at B’Sue Boutiques.


Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B’sue Boutiques

Jewelry Making Outside the Box

Marcia Tuzzolino

Aurora Designs

Jann Tague

Clever Designs by Jann

Judy King

Apt to Wander

Linzi Alford

Magpie in the Sky, Spoil Heap Tales

Cynthia Wainscott

Exotic Peru

Carole Carlson


Lynn Stinten


Marica Zammit

Bead Lovelies

Catherine Shattuck


Michaele Collie

The Vintage Gem

Mary Craig

Jewelry Alchemy

Lee Koopman

Strega Jewelry

Erin Whitacre

Shattered Time Jewelry

Monica Casady

MJCasady Copper Works

Leila West

Leila Nicole Designs

Cindy Peterson

Leila Belcher

Leila Bee Designs

Gloria Allen

Wings and Beads

Pamela Anger

Novegatti Designs

Tammy Adams

Paisley Lizard

Lynda O’Mara

LOmara Creative

Elizabeth Hildreth


Dana Hickey

Wind Dancer Studios

Janet Calardo

Jan Lea Designs

Maria Clark

Sweet Willow Designs

Lori Beekman

  1. Accessorized

Jennifer Kroeger

Relic Charm

Amy Jorgensen

Hoarder’s Corner

Robin Reed

Artistry: Handcrafted Bead Designs

Ingrid Anderson

Lilis Gems

Louise O’Shields

Desire Divine Jewels

Susan Killam

Killam Creative

Mary Katherine Deis

The Rose Sword: Artisan and Vintage Collectible Jewelry

Nike Bottalico

Nike Bottalico

Susan Bowerman

Woodside Wireworks

Kristy Le

Kristy Le Trendy Jewelry Designs

Jan Peters

Stylized Vintage

Mitzie Crider

Needful Luxuries Occasional Blog

Gina Hockett

Freestyle Elements

Linda Anderson

From the Bead Board

Alexandra Sefton

Imaginary Jewelry and Altered Art

Melida Boman

The Journey of Pens and Things

Teresa Shurter

TreeZ’s Treasurs

Melissa Latimer

Smithed Up

Renee Hong

Fine and Dandy Jewelry and Art

Nadine Edris

Moondance Jewelry

Lori Meyer

Parisienne Girl

Jennifer Merrill Williams

Artists of All Stripes

Denise Lussier Poirier

Jewelry by Denise

Renee Allen

Small Stuff Design

Autumn Adams

Autumn Dawns

Elizabeth Owens

1996 Shabby Lane

Kat BarronMiller

Midnight Kat Productions Art Jewelry

Sandra Ballard

Mama San’s Mojo

Coral Law


Radiant Orchid Challenge

February 27, 2014

I was lucky enough to snag one of Andrew Thornton’s challenge kits – he only makes 20 each time. This one was inspired by the Pantone color of the year, radiant orchid. Andrew refers to his kits as luxury bead blends, and there certainly was a lovely lot of beads in the kit. The rules allow you to pick and choose what you want to use out of the kit. If you want to know what was included in the kit, you can see it here:

I wanted to use some of the seed beads but didn’t want to string them, so I whipped up a couple of beaded beads to add to my piece. As a surprise, Andrew included a pair of lilac enameled beads, which not only did I use, but I fired up my torch and made a couple of enameled beads in a greenish-yellow color to toss into the mix. As long as I had the torch going, I made a few enameled leaves too, but only ended up using one.

I enjoyed the challenge, and as it turns out, my cat Loki really likes enameled beads. Thanks for your help, Loki.

Below is a picture of my necklace.

Blog picture

You can see the creations of the other participants by visiting their pages here:

Love Actually – Jewelry Artisans Community Blog Hop

February 25, 2014

Each month some of the artisans of the Jewelry Artisans Community blog on the same topic. This month, we are talking about love.

The JAC hosts a monthly challenge, and this month’s challenge was to make a piece of Valentine’s Day jewelry that did not include the traditional red and pink colors. I thought I’d take a tip from that, and talk about the love of one’s friends, instead of what we usually think of for Valentine’s Day.

A number of years ago, I met a woman on a work assignment. She worked for my company but I’d not met her until I arrived at the client site. We hit it off immediately, found we had a mutual interest in crafts, and became craft fair buddies. I got her interested in beading and we went to Beadfest together. It was great.

I call her DB because at the firm we worked at, everyone was referred to by their initials. A few years ago, she told me that she was moving to Phoenix. I was so sad. We met for Beadfest the following year, and then the relationship dwindled into exchanging Christmas cards.

Then last fall I decided I would go to Tuscon for the bead shows. I called her to see if she was interested. I later realized it had been 8 years since she moved, and probably 7 since I’d seen her, but it didn’t seem like that long at all. What really hit me between the eyes, though, is that she told me that she had been seriously ill last year – and I never knew.

It is so easy to take it for granted that your friends will always be there when you want them.

We had a great time in Tucson, and have resolved that it will not be another seven years before we get together again.

Since this is a jewelry blog, I have to put in a picture of some jewelry. This piece is very simple, but I will treasure it as a reminder of my friend. We each made one at a make-and-take project at one of the booths at the Best Bead Show.

DB pendant

See what everyone else has to say here:

Painting With Fire Giveaway

December 30, 2012

Good luck!


Gail Crosman Moore class

August 23, 2012

Allegory Gallery’s Andrew Thornton asked for help spreading the word about a class being held at his place in a couple of weeks.  I highly recommend Gail as a teacher.  I’ve taken two classes from her and enjoyed them both.  Here are the details:

Here are the details:  Allegory Gallery welcomes award-winning artist and jewelry-maker, Gail Crosman Moore for a Weekend Intensive in the picturesque town of Ligonier!  With the backdrop of the Laurel Highlands in Southwestern Pennsylvania, this talented craftsperson and art educator will teach four classes in subjects like enameling, riveting, mold-making and paper-casting, and collage!  The Weekend Intensive will take place September 8th and 9th.  For more information and to sign up, click on the link below.!/2012/08/weekend-intensive-with-gail-crosman.html

Sad face :-(

December 30, 2011

Today is the end of an era.  My local bead shop, Theodora’s Beautiful Beads, closed its doors for good.  I made the penultimate purchase; the final purchase was made by the store manager.

I have been lending a hand at the store for over 10 years, first in its original location when Thea still owned it, and then where it is now when the current owner moved it when he merged it into his own store a few years ago.

Very mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I am sad that I won’t be able to just drop in and pick up some fabulous new Czech glass.  I also feel sad for our long-time customers; where will they go now?  On the other hand, there were so few of Thea’s occasional helpers left, that I found myself working two Saturdays a month, which on top of my already-demanding full-time job and volunteer commitments, drained my energy to the point that I wasn’t able to make much jewelry.

So, although I feel bereft, I am looking forward to tackling a number of projects, both professionally and personally, that I have not had the time to pursue in the last couple of years.


Beadfest Philadelphia – a review

August 25, 2011

Every year for the past six years, I have gathered up what feels like half my tools and headed north to Beadfest Philadelphia.  I always sign up for a few classes (hence the tools).  This year I took a class called “Treasure Chest of Components” with Debora Mauser and a torch enameling class with Steven James.  Each of these will get their own post later on.

The event has been held at the Valley Forge Convention Center for the past few years, but it had to be moved to the Oaks Expo Center due to construction at the Convention Center.  Of course we were all worried about the switch.  You know how we humans react to change.  Would the pipe-and-drapes for the classrooms work out?  What about the shuttle bus from the hotel?  What about our favorite vendors?

You’ll be happy to know it worked out fine.  The Expo Center is so big that they were able to leave ample space between the “classrooms”.  While you could hear hammering from neighboring classes, you couldn’t hear much of anything else, so I didn’t have any trouble hearing my teachers.

The show floor was large enough to have all of the vendors on the same floor, which was not the case at the Convention Center.  I know all the vendors from the lower level of the Convention Center were thrilled to be on the same level, because they are convinced that no one came to see them downstairs (not true; no self-respecting bead shopper would fail to penetrate to the farthest reaches of a show in hopes of snagging just one more must-have item).

The one drawback was that the concrete floor was hard on the ol’ tootsies.  While carpet was put down in the showroom aisles, that was not the case in the classrooms, so comfortable, padded shoes were a must.  I highly recommend Keds sneakers, a pair of which saw me through three days of standing at Theodora’s booth last year, and through four days of shopping and classes this year.

Since the Expo Center does not have an attached hotel, we had to alter our usual pattern a bit, as we could not just dash up to our rooms to pick up and drop off stuff.  A local bead society provided a bag check for $2, which allowed us to leave our tool totes with them while we shopped, without having to return to the hotel to get our things for classes.  This was a really good idea, because between waiting for the shuttle and the six-mile drive, a lot of time could have been wasted.  That’s time that could be spent bead-shopping, people.

I hear tell that Beadfest will be at the Oaks Expo Center again next year, because the Convention Center is building a casino on the lower level and won’t have enough space to host Beadfest.  So if you like to lay your money down on games of chance, that will be something to do in the evenings if you come next year.  Or for your SO to do while you bead party.

In my next few posts, I’ll blog about the classes I took, the shopping, and then I’ll wind up with some lessons learned over the past few years of attending this totally fun event.