Allegory Gallery Blog

Project: Next Step Update

We have just ten days until the close of Project: Next Step.  We currently have secured a little less than half of our goal.  The past few weeks we have been focusing on in-store events and haven't been able to properly promote this project as much as we would like.  We have been working diligently in the background to make this a success, but we still have a long way to go in a short amount of time!  If there is something you'd like to see to encourage your support, let us know!  We really want this to be a success, so that we can grow the business and to continue to develop worthwhile products and content.

If you have some suggestions, leave a comment or email us!  You can reach us at info@allegorygallery.com.  We would love to hear how we can better encourage you to take the plunge and help us move forward with this endeavor!

Not sure what Project: Next Step is?  CLICK HERE to find out more and to learn all about the rewards!
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Project: Next Step

When we first opened Allegory Gallery, we did so on a shoestring budget.  I think it helped us to be better businesspeople.  It forced us to be resourceful and to think outside of the box.  It called on us to evaluate our resources and maximize the potential and work with what we had.  If we wanted something, we had to make it ourselves or figure out a way to get it.

Over the years, we have grown and have more to work with.  It has enabled us to do so much!  In the beginning, our primary goal was survival as a business.  Whether we could live another day was our biggest and most pressing concern!  After the business developed and we established our customer base and listened to the rhythms of the store and had previous years to compare them to, we could extend ourselves a little further.  We got to this point, little by little, one bead at a time.  Soon, we could offer retreats with world-class teachers and have monthly programming.  We could offer scholarships to local high school students and donate items to local charities to help them raise money for their projects.  And on a personal level, William was able to leave his day-job to work at the store full-time and I was able to spend time in my studio full-time.  We got a house and have set down roots in the community.  The business has grown to the point where we have regular helpers and teachers.  The success of the store has afforded me the opportunity to work with local government and community leaders to insure the growth and prosperity of our county.   I am able to work on making a lasting impact in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

We could not have done any of this without your help.

I think when people see us and what we have been able to achieve, they mostly see me and William.  The truth though is that we are blessed with an amazing support system made up of family, friends, colleagues, peers, and supporters.  We have been able to do what we have, because there are many people who believe in us and our vision.  They believe in the power of creativity and the power of beauty in this world.  And it is because of this belief that we are able to push ourselves and our dreams to get bigger.

Project: Next Step is more than us just getting stuff.  Project: Next Step is about us being able to do even more than we have already.  This is an amazing opportunity for us to grow our business, there is no doubt.  But this is also an opportunity for us to do more in the community and do more for the arts and the artists who make it.  And you can be a part of this.  You can help make a difference.

So often our society tries to strip away our sense of personal power.  We are made to feel as though we don't count or our votes won't matter.  We're told that what will be, will be and there's nothing we can do to change it.  But I disagree.  We do have a power.  We have a power to shine the light on the things we love and to support the causes that matter to us.  We have a power to improve the lives of those around us and do better, be better, and achieve more.  And we can do all of that, when we work together.

And that's why I'm asking you to consider showing your support.  We have tried to make the prizes fun and rewarding and all that... but this is why I'm asking for your help.  I am asking you not to just help us take the next step, but to take the next step with us.  Together we can achieve so much more!

To find out more about Project: Next Step and how to get involved, CLICK HERE.  We appreciate your support in all forms.  Pledges of all sizes matter, but if you are unable to participate financially, there are other ways to help us reach our goal.  Share, like, and comment on our posts to help amplify our reach and connect to more people who want to make a difference and share our belief in a more beautiful and creative world that we create together.  We can do this with your help!
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Mystery Challenge: White As Snow

We do a lot of different programs at Allegory Gallery and we love all of them, but some of them are just more fun for us than others.  The Mystery Challenges are a treat to create.  We brainstorm different concepts and dream up new color palettes and dig through our collection to carefully curate a selection of components.  We pack them up and send them around the world with love!  One of the most fun parts is the surprise factor of the Mystery Challenge.  No one knows exactly what they're going to get until it arrives at their door!

Ever since I was a child, I've loved fairy tales.  Perhaps they appealed to me because they were stories about magic and destiny and the reversal of fortunes.  They were stories of overcoming hardship and becoming more than what one started out as.  In fairy tales, anything is possible.

In the past, we've had many different sources of inspiration for the kits – including themes like Pantone colors and gemstones.  I thought that we would pull from the rich and varied fairy tales from around the world.  We do something similar in the Inspired by Reading Book Club.  For that, each month we read a book and create something inspired by what we read.  This time, the color palettes were pulled from the fairy tales.  Whether or not the participants decide to create something in line with the source inspiration is up to them, but is not required.

For the first fairy tale inspired Mystery Challenge, I thought I'd pick something pretty universally familiar.  We picked the story of Snow White.  I can still hear in my head these words: "skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony."  This Mystery Challenge was inspired by that.  

So... here's the deal:  Participants of the challenge will purchase a kit.  No one knows what's in it except for us.  We'll send them out and folks will get a SURPRISE when they open the box!  Don't worry, it'll be a good one!  Mystery Challengers will have a few weeks to make something with the kit.  They can use as much or as little of the kit as they like and supplement the kit with beads from their own stash if they so desire.  And then... on Thursday, December 15th, 2016 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group just for our design challenges.

Now, here's the fine print:  There are only 30 Design Kits available!  (We bumped up the number of kits offered because they were so popular and we got so many requests to do more.)  Once we receive your order, we will process your kit and send it out within ten business days.  Usually it's faster than that, but we like to make sure that there is plenty of time to make the kits perfect.  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 it takes 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.

CLICK HERE to go directly to our online store to get your very own kit!
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Mystery Challenge: Autumn Fire

I have to admit, creating the Mystery Challenges has become one of my favorite things.  I like the idea of gathering together a carefully curated collection of components and sending them out into the world.  I also love the surprise factor and how designers are really challenged to start working when they get the kit.  This element of the challenge really pushes people out of their comfort zones and the results are always surprising and unexpected.  This is not to say that I don't see this in our regular Design Kit Challenges... it's just that I know some people start to create in their minds once they see a picture of the contents of the kit and that might effect whether or not they get a kit in the first place.  With the Mystery Challenges, they commit to be challenged right from the start.

Having grown up in Florida, I never really experienced a true autumn.  Sure, it got a little colder and some of the leaves changed (a little), but it was a mild version of the full experience.  When I moved up north, I was blown away by the riot of color.  Seeing the leaves, ablaze in a roar of golds, reds, and oranges, left an impression.  I can still remember driving through the mountains, the windows down with the pleasantly chilly air hitting my face with a hint of the smell of burning leaves and wood smoke.  The car cut a path through the fallen leaves and a gentle rustling persisted as the leaves settled in our wake and spiraled out behind us in fiery plumes.  This Mystery Challenge was inspired by that.

So... here's the deal:  Participants of the challenge will purchase a kit.  No one knows what's in it except for us.  We'll send them out and folks will get a SURPRISE when they open the box!  Don't worry, it'll be a good one!  Mystery Challengers will have a few weeks to make something with the kit.  They can use as much or as little of the kit as they like and supplement the kit with beads from their own stash if they so desire.  And then... on Thursday, November 17th, 2016 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group just for our design challenges.

Now, here's the fine print:  There are only 20 Design Kits available!  (Unfortunately we can't make more if we sell out, because some of the components are vintage and are hard to find.)  Once we receive your order, we will process your kit and send it out within ten business days.  Usually it's faster than that, but we like to make sure that there is plenty of time to make the kits perfect.  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 it takes 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.

CLICK HERE to go directly to our online store to get your very own kit!
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Magic Potion Special Challenge

We've been having a lot of fun creating the Mystery Challenges.  It has been so much fun to see what people will create with the "blind date" of Design Challenges.  We've been really impressed and love what people are making.  I think the extra surprise factor really pushes participants to think outside of the box!

Our newest Mystery Challenge is a Special Challenge.  We generally do Special Challenges twice a year, celebrating various holidays throughout the calendar.  One of our favorite holidays is Halloween.  There's a sense of mystery and magic in the air!  So, we decided to do a Special Challenge called, "Magic Potion".

If you haven't heard of our challenges before or need a refresher:  Participants of the challenge will purchase a kit.  No one knows what's in it except for us.  We'll send them out and folks will get a SURPRISE when they open the box!  Don't worry, it'll be a good one!  Mystery Challengers will have a few weeks to make something with the kit.  They can use as much or as little of the kit as they like and supplement the kit with beads from their own stash if they so desire.  And then... on Thursday, October 27th, 2016 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group just for our design challenges.

Now, here's the fine print:  There are only 20 Design Kits available!  (Unfortunately we can't make more if we sell out, because some of the components are vintage and are hard to find.)  Once we receive your order, we will process your kit and send it out within ten business days.  Usually it's faster than that, but we like to make sure that there is plenty of time to make the kits perfect.  And just so people know, we won't start processing orders until September 12th.  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 it takes 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.

CLICK HERE to go directly to our online store to get your very own kit!
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Mystery Challenge: Mermaid Lagoon

We've been having a lot of fun creating the Mystery Challenges.  I also think people really enjoy and are challenged by receiving a surprise box of components curated by someone else.  The designs that I have seen created using the Mystery Challenge design kits are so interesting to me, because I can see how being pushed out of one's comfort zone has sparked a lot of ideas.  This is not to say that I don't see this in our regular Design Kit Challenges... it's just that I know some people start to create in their minds once they see the contents of the kit and that might effect whether or not they get a kit in the first place.  With the Mystery Challenges, they commit to be challenged right from the start.

As some of you may have noticed, we've tweaked this Mystery Challenge just a bit.  In the past, we've done the Mystery Challenges by number.  However, we didn't want to fall into the trap that so many movie franchises do by creating innumerable bad sequels, just because the first was popular.  Instead, we wanted to focus on new ideas and hint at the kit contents, but not give it all away.

So... here's the deal:  Participants of the challenge will purchase a kit.  No one knows what's in it except for us.  We'll send them out and folks will get a SURPRISE when they open the box!  Don't worry, it'll be a good one!  Mystery Challengers will have a few weeks to make something with the kit.  They can use as much or as little of the kit as they like and supplement the kit with beads from their own stash if they so desire.  And then... on Thursday, October 6th, 2016 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group just for our design challenges.

Now, here's the fine print:  There are only 20 Design Kits available!  (Unfortunately we can't make more if we sell out, because some of the components are vintage and are hard to find.)  Once we receive your order, we will process your kit and send it out within ten business days.  Usually it's faster than that, but we like to make sure that there is plenty of time to make the kits perfect.  And just so people know, we won't start processing orders until August 26th.  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 it takes 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.

CLICK HERE to go directly to our online store to get your very own kit!
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New Additions to Etsy...

Have you stopped by our new Etsy shop lately?  We've been adding all kinds of wonderful treasures to our current offerings!  We just added a bunch of new Green Girl Studios fine pewter components; all of their pieces are so fun and so whimsical!  We also just uploaded a boatload of Czech glass (and have more on the way).  The strands of faceted Czech glass rondelles are in all sorts of inspiring colorways.  CLICK HERE to visit our Etsy shop and see all the new additions for yourself!

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Mystery Challenge 3


Last month, we launched our second Mystery Challenge!  It seemed like people really liked the idea of pushing themselves creatively, so we decided to do it again!  (Our first Mystery Challenge was a huge success and it was so interesting to see what everyone made!)  In fact, I think our Mystery Challenge kits have all broken the records for fastest-selling kits.

As you may know, all of our kits include a Mystery Component.  It remains a surprise until it arrives at your door!  We think it's a quirky little element that makes our kits more enjoyable and we get so many compliments on this twist.  We had wanted to do an entire kit like that and so we finally gave it a go.  It was so popular that it probably broke the record for fastest selling kit.

So... here's the deal:  Participants of the challenge will purchase a kit.  No one knows what's in it except for us.  We'll send them out and folks will get a SURPRISE when they open the box!  Don't worry, it'll be a good one!  Mystery Challengers will have a few weeks to make something with the kit.  They can use as much or as little of the kit as they like and supplement the kit with beads from their own stash if they so desire.  And then... on Thursday, September 15th, 2016 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group just for our design challenges.

Now, here's the fine print:  There are only 20 Design Kits available!  (Unfortunately we can't make more if we sell out, because some of the components are vintage and are hard to find.)  Once we receive your order, we will process your kit and send it out within ten business days.  Usually it's faster than that, but we like to make sure that there is plenty of time to make the kits perfect.  And just so people know, we won't start processing orders until July 25th.  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 it takes 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.

CLICK HERE to go directly to our online store to get your very own kit!
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Storm Cloud Challenge

The temperature had dropped, the sky had darkened, and a increasingly more vigorous breeze picked up.  Rushing home, afraid to get drenched, I looked up and saw quickly forming storm clouds.  When you ask a child what color clouds are, they generally say, "white".  And for the most part, they are correct.  However, if you look closer, you'll notice a luminous range of pale grey, tints of yellow, shades of lavender, and even a little black.  And if you wait long enough, sometimes those storm clouds will be illuminated by bright shocks of lightning and announced by rumbling thunder.  This kit was inspired by the summer storm, the dramatic and majestic.  Looking at the intense sky, I was reminded of labradorite with its flashes of color and used that as another source inspiration.


If you aren't familiar with the kits, they are a fun and relaxed way to push yourself creatively! The idea is to work from an arrangement of materials selected by us and see where your muse takes you. We have a suggested reveal date, where we encourage participants to share what they made using as much or as little of the kit as they like.


To participate, you must purchase a Design Kit.  This kit features a selection of premium vintage Czech glass, vintage lucite, vintage acrylic, vintage glass, waxed Irish linen, labradorite, a strand of labradorite chip, marble, vintage hex-cut seed beads, 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, glass pearls, manik-manik Indonesian lampwork glass, Czech glass (both vintage and new), cat's eye, LOTS of labradorite, marble, ceramic, stone, agate, vintage sequins, vintage plastic, Swarovski crystals, Swarovski crystal pearls, vintage Japanese glass and vintage lucite.

Each kit will also 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, August 22nd, 2016!


Above is a picture that I took of some storm clouds moving in, lit up by the sun!

You can make a lot of wonderful things with the kits! Some designers focus on one piece, while others will produce an entire collection! It's up to you! The sky is the limit with what you do with the components and how you use them. You can use as much or as little of the kit as you like. You can supplement your creations with your own beads from your stash.

The reveal date is set for Thursday, September 1st, 2016! 

The Storm Cloud Challenge will end in a blog hop, sharing all the lovely creations with fellow participants! The blog hops are done through our Allegory Gallery Design Challenge Group.  CLICK HERE to visit the page. Not only will you be able to interact with other participants, but you can keep up to date with all our current information. If you don't have a blog, not to worry! You can still participate! And if you miss the deadline... don't fret! You can adds your creations to the group at any time!

Because of popular request, we upped the number of kits offered this time.  There are only 30 Design Kits available. Once we receive your order, we will process your kit and that can take up to five business days. Hurry! Supplies are limited and on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE basis!

Have you ever run out of something from the kit and wished you had more?  For the first time ever, we are now offering kit upgrades!  These must be purchased with the Design Kit.  They will ONLY be sold with the Design Kit and are available for a very limited time.  Once the kits have sold out, the listings will vanish.  ALSO... supplies are limited and once we're sold out, we're sold out!

Take a look at some of the possible upgrades:





I also wanted to note that we ship all our kits out with Priority Mail. This can take anywhere from one day to fourteen days, depending on where you live. For international participants, it may take longer! If you know it takes awhile, make sure to place your order early. We'll do our very best to get the kits out in a timely fashion. You'll have plenty of time to make your creation for the reveal date! ALL SALES ARE FINAL. NO RETURNS. NO EXCHANGES. With that being said, we hope you have lots of fun and create many beautiful creations!

We're excited to see what you make!

CLICK HERE to go directly to the kit.
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Inspired by Reading Book Club 2016/2017 Book List


August 2016 - The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston
September 2016 - This Census-Taker by China Mieville
October 2016 - Vampires in the Lemon Grove: And Other Stories by Karen Russell
November 2016 - Sabriel by Garth Nix
December 2016 - Happy Holidays!
January 2017 - A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams by Michael Pollan
February 2017 - The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke
March 2017 - Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
April 2017 - Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
May 2017 - Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
June 2017 - The Bees by Laline Paull
July 2017 - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
August 2017 - Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

This is the reading list for 2016/2017 for the Inspired by Reading Book Club.  For previous book lists CLICK HERE, HERE, and HERE.  To participate is easy!  All you have to do is read the book selected for that month and create something (artwork, jewelry, components... basically anything you want) 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 through a blog hop.  (Dates for the reveals and meet-ups will be posted in the Facebook group).  CLICK HERE to join the Facebook group.
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