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Andrew Thornton, artist, writer, gallery director and challenge kit maker extraordinaire has done it again.  This is the second challenge of his I have participated in that involves getting a kit of beads he puts together specially and makes available through Allegory Gallery.  I am so appreciative of the care and attention that goes into making these beautiful kits.  I find them very inspiring. And that is what a challenge is for – to inspire, expand our skills and ways of thinking, and most of all to have fun!  I had great fun with the Dark Bloom Challenge.

In addition to all the lovely beads in the kit, Andrew includes a mystery component that he hand makes.  It’s a secret to everyone, save the participants when they get their kit, until he reveals it publicly on his blog.  Here is a picture of the beads and the mystery component – a beautiful polymer clay disk pendant in two shades of purple.

BeadLove - Dark Bloom kit

I had an idea to make a multi-strand necklace using the beads from the luxury bead blend on the waxed linen.  I was going to tie all the strands together and fasten the strands in front with an art bead.  It would be long enough to go over my head, so no clasp would be needed.  This was a bit ambitious for me because I have some trouble making things the right size, measuring, etc.  I wanted it to be thick and luxurious enough, so I used the black linen from the kit and added some dark purple and medium gray from my own stash.  As I worked on it, I knew that even if I cut down the number of strands, I would run out of the bead blend, so I added in many of the other beads from the kit as well.

BeadLove - SLA full

I was thrilled that I seemed to do the sizing ok, but I wasn’t completely happy with the art bead I had chosen.  It was ok, but not quite what I wanted.  I went trolling through my stash (kind of fun!) and came up with several other choices. I decided to go with a heart pendant by Staci Louise Smith because it was the right size and had a little more contrast than some of the more purple items I tried.  I am so pleased with the way it turned out!  I’m not good at getting pictures of long necklaces, but part of what I like is the length of this.  It really looks luxe.  That is something I strive for but sometimes think my designs turn out skimpy.

BeadLove - SLA Close

I used to shy away from heart shaped beads, but artists like Staci changed my mind.  In a blog post on Beading Daily, she echoed my sentiments about heart beads.  They don’t have to be cutsie, they can be grungy and edgy.  They can be bright and funky.  They can show the full journey of a heart, with all its nicks and cuts and yet still be beautiful.

By this time I had used a lot of my kit, but I still had quite a few nice beads left, including the mystery component, and an idea for another necklace.  I actually made one necklace with the mystery component and let it sit around a while.  I wasn’t completely happy with it and when the reveal got postponed a week, I decided to redesign it.  I had picked up the current Jewelry Affaire magazine and looking through it reminded me of some Industrial Chic bars I had.  I also remembered I had picked up some black filigree bead caps at a art supply swap that I thought would be good for this hop.  I took apart the necklace I had made and reassembled it into one I am much happier with.

BeadLove - PM Dark Bloom MC

I used the polymer pendant Mystery Component, crystals and one pearl from the kit and the gunmetal clasp.  I added a round white bead, jump rings and the bars.

BeadLove - Dark Bloom MC close

Once again I had a fabulous time with Andrew’s kit and this challenge and would like to say a big thank you!  Please visit the links below to see what the other participants made.  It’s so fun and enlightening to see how different people use the same materials.

Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Alison Herrington, Geri Colgrove, Crystal Lombardo Farrell http://www.andrew-thornton.blogspot.com/