Allegory Gallery Blog

Water & Fire Mystery Competition

A few months ago, we launched our second competition, Forest Journey!  It was a huge success and a lot of people seemed really excited to participate.  The reveal for Forest Journey is coming up in April and we can't wait to see what people make.  When we started doing the challenges, we never wanted to do competitions.  Our goal was to inspire people to create and challenge themselves creatively.  But it seems as though the community that we've formed finds the competitions thrilling and invigorating.  The community that has emerged around the kits is one that we hold dear and is one that is both kind and encouraging.  When there's so much in this world that asks us to be divided, the kits are a reminder that we are stronger and better together.  To celebrate our community and to recognize and reward exceptional design, we decided to initiate another mystery competition: Water & Fire Mystery Competition.
Before I go further, I want to stress that while there is certainly a competition aspect of this particular challenge, the option to participate in that portion is completely voluntary!  We do not want people to be dissuaded from engaging in the challenge because they feel they're not qualified (for whatever reason) to be in the competition.  This is open to all skill levels and we encourage participation from beginners to long-time makers!  The biggest thing is that we want people to have FUN!

When we created the concept of this challenge, we thought about forces of creation and we instantly thought of the elements.  The more we pondered the powers of creation, we also thought of the role destruction plays.  Water and fire both have many beneficial attributes as life-givers and influencers of change, but they can also be harmful and detrimental to life.  Water and fire also cancel each other out.  As with all things, there's a balance.  And we wanted to make that balance the central focus of this challenge.

So... here's the deal:  Participants of the challenge must purchase at least one kit.  No one knows what's in the kits except for us.  But... there's a twist!  There are two separate kits.  And people who claim one kit may either get the fire kit or the water kit.  We will randomly select which one each participant will get.  (The only way to insure that you'll get a fire or water kit is to purchase two kits and we will include one of each.)  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!  (I will say that the colors in the fire kit have fiery oranges, sizzling reds, and pops of luminous yellows.  The water kit has shades of watery blues with touches of green.)  Mystery Challengers will have several weeks to make something with one or both of the kits.  They can use as much or as little of the kits as they like and can supplement the kits with beads from their own stash if they so desire.  And then... on Thursday, May 25th, 2017 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  Feel free to post however many pieces you were inspired to create from the kits!  CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group just for our design challenges.

The Reveal date is Thursday, May 25th, 2017!

From May 25th to June 1st, all of the members of the Facebook group can vote for one of their favorite designs (but not their own).  Participants may submit one design (per element) for consideration. The judges will narrow down the top selections and award a prize to one deserving designer.  The prize is composed of a copy of "Exposed Bead & Wire Jewelry" Margot Potter, Fernando DaSilva and Katie Hacker AND "Designing Jewelry with Semiprecious Beads" by Kim Glover!  The winner will also receive a prize package including vintage plastic, vintage seed beads, a luxury bead blend, Czech glass, a hand-dyed silk ribbon, wood beads, waxed Irish linen, a ceramic piece by Earthenwood Studio, a ceramic piece by Gaea Cannaday, and a few strands of stone beads.  The prize is worth over $150 retail!  (And like all good mysteries, there might be some surprise prizes for other participants who don't snag the grand prize!)


Judges' deliberation concludes and the winner will be announced Saturday, June 3rd, 2017!

Now, here's the fine print:  There are only 40 Design Kits available!  There are 20 water kits and 20 fire kits.  Participants will not be able to pick what kit they get unless they get both kits and then they will get one of each.  (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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Wishing Well Mystery Challenge

Throughout the genre of fairytales, the archetypal well appears frequently.  Often times it represents a portal to adventure, a doorway to another world.  It also enters into these fantastical stories as a place of purification and a catalyst of wish-granting.  These stone structures, with their circular holes that tunnel into the shadowy, unseen underworld, are plentiful and pop up in tales from around the globe.  Thus, the Wishing Well Mystery Challenge was born!  This kit is loosely inspired by this mysterious symbol.  The kit combines a mix of silvery grays, riverstone browns, cool blues, and earthy violets.  
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, April 6th, 2017 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  This will be the first Design Challenge of the new year!  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!  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 Wishing Well kit!
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Forest Journey Mystery Challenge

Last year, we had our first-ever competition!  It was a huge success and a lot of people were really excited about participating in the Tribes: Competition Challenge.  We get asked all the time when we're going to do another one.  Even though we've done over 40 design kit challenges, we're always reluctant to make the kits about competition.  To us, it's not about winners or losers.  When we created the challenges, we set out to inspire others to create and to see how different the same materials could be transformed in the hands of each individual artist.  It really is humbling when we think about the hundreds of kits that have been shipped all over the world and how those kits have turned into amazing works of art!

The community that has emerged around the kits is one that we hold dear and is one that is both kind and encouraging.  When there's so much in this world that asks us to be divided, the kits are a reminder that we are stronger and better together.  To celebrate our community and to recognize and reward exceptional design, the Forest Journey Mystery Challenge was created!
Before I go further, I want to stress that while there is certainly a competition aspect of this particular challenge, the option to participate in that portion is completely voluntary!  We do not want people to be dissuaded from engaging in the challenge because they feel they're not qualified (for whatever reason) to be in the competition.  This is open to all skill levels and we encourage participation from beginners to long-time makers!

When we created the concept of this challenge, we thought about the hero's journey.  Often times the protagonist of the story in faced with entering the woods.  They must leave behind the status quo and go on a journey.  Usually it's a scary prospect.  The forest is a place of mystery and many times it can be perceived as a foreboding place.  But the forest is also a place where remarkable things can happen.  Into the woods, the hero of the quest can find amazing gifts and insight.  Despite the initial challenge, hidden in the sheltering embrace of branches and trunks the hero stumbles upon unexpected friendships, ardent bravery, otherworldly magics, and a deeper knowledge.  It is a place where magic swords are found, wells of wisdom burble forth, and champions are born.

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!  (I will say that the colors were based off the forest, in shades of vibrant greens, burnished coppers, and earthy browns.)  Mystery Challengers will have several weeks to make something with the kit.  They can use as much or as little of the kit as they like and can supplement the kit with beads from their own stash if they so desire.  And then... on Thursday, April 13th, 2017 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group just for our design challenges.

The Reveal date is Thursday, April 13th, 2017!

From April 13th to April 20th, all of the members of the Facebook group can vote for one of their favorite designs (but not their own).  The judges will narrow down the top selections and award a prize to one deserving designer.  The prize is composed of a signed copy of Cynthia Thornton's Enchanted Adornments, a selection of fine pewter pieces from Green Girl Studios, Czech glass, recycled sari silk ribbon, bronzite, waxed Irish linen, copper-plated filigree beads, serpentine, and coconut shell beads!  The prize is worth over $120 retail!  (And like all good mysteries, there might be some surprise prizes for other participants who don't snag the grand prize!)

Judges' deliberation concludes and the winner will be announced Saturday, April 22nd, 2017!

Now, here's the fine print:  There are only 40 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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Mystery Challenge: Queen of Hearts

I remember sitting at a table wrapped in shiny checkered plastic at a little diner inside of a thrift store in Tucson, Arizona once.  I was eating my brisket sandwich and enjoying the people watching.  A few tables down was a group of very exuberantly dressed women.  They were draped in purple gowns and bedecked with red hats, gloves, and boas.  They were laughing and carrying on and one woman in particular stood out.  She would throw her head back and howl with delight and she kept shouting, "Baby, I'm the Queen!  I'm the Queen of Hearts!"  She said it with so much conviction and gusto, that if there ever were a formal position as Queen of Hearts, she mostly certainly would have at least been in the running!  I wasn't familiar with the Red Hat Society then, but I have since learned that it is a group dedicated to friendship and women empowerment and I like that message.

Now, whenever I think of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I can't help but picture that woman playfully slapping the table and herself in turn.  The two characters couldn't be more different; Carroll's Queen of Hearts being quick to anger and seen as the antagonist of the story and the thrift store diner's Queen of Hearts was quick to laugh and relish camaraderie.  I'd like to think that they are two sides to the same coin... two sides to living life with great passion.

That was the starting off point for this month's Mystery Challenge.  I wanted to capture that flavor and since the reveal fell in February and Valentine's Day was also in February, I thought that everything tied in nicely.  

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, February 23rd, 2017 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  This will be the first Design Challenge of the new year!  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!  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 Queen of Hearts kit!
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Mystery Challenge: Frog Prince

Let me introduce you to our latest Design Challenge!  This is another Mystery Challenge and no one knows exactly what they're going to get until it arrives at their door!

Our last Mystery Challenge was our first that was directly inspired by fairy tales.  We're going to continue on with that theme and highlight the story of the Frog Prince.  We also wanted to shine a spotlight on the Pantone Color of the Year for 2016: Greenery.  We thought it was a perfectly froggy shade of green and used that as the starting point for our kit.  The kit also plays with other Spring 2017 Color Report selections, like Kale with touches of Primrose Yellow.

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, January 26th, 2017 we'll share all the creations in our Facebook group.  This will be the first Design Challenge of the new year!  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!  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 Frog Prince kit!
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Project Next Step Retreat

One of the most exciting aspects of Project: Next Step is that we're offering more than just material objects to express our gratitude (which are all cool too), but we've also posted a lot of experience-based perks.  This includes a selection of classes and retreats.  I teach all over the country and travel to do TV appearances, but rarely do I get to have a class in our town.  It's really a shame, because I really love Ligonier and we have wonderful venues and amenities that makes taking a class here a real pleasure.

We've got four classes: Polymer Tool Making Class, Bling Pendant Class, Reliquary Doll Class, and the Metal Clay Class.  I think it's a lovely mix of classes.  When we sat down and thought up the classes, I tried to pick classes that could stand alone, but could be taken in conjunction with each other and enrich the overall experience.

The biggest prize we have up for grabs for Project: Next Step is our retreat.  The retreat is a really fun opportunity and takes advantage of our proximity to Frank Lloyd Wright's historic homes.  While the retreat isn't necessarily about Frank Lloyd Wright, we will be making a field trip to either Fallingwater or Kentuck Knob.  Some of the things that I want participants to take away from this experience is the amazing dedication to vision, a balance of nature, and the freedom to take risks.  All of these things are embodied in Frank Lloyd Wright's awe-inspiring architecture and design.

Over the course of three days, we'll work on mixed media techniques and I'll share some of my favorite sculpting and painting methods.  We'll work individually and as a group to embrace our creative spirits and create from a mindful, in-touch place.  Each participant will create unique works of art and we'll have over 18 hours of dedicated class time.

This retreat includes lodging for three nights, a ticket to one of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses, and will be accompanied with a goodie bag, filled with all kinds of rewards featured in the Project: Next Step offerings.  To find out more about our retreat, CLICK HERE.  To learn more about all of the great rewards for participating in Project: Next Step, CLICK HERE.
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Project: Next Step Grand Prize Giveaway

Over the past few weeks, we have received so much support and we are truly humbled by the outpouring of encouragement and well-wishes.  It is very comforting to know that there is a sincere support group out there that wants us to succeed.  To show our appreciation for all the good energy, we wanted to do an extra special giveaway.

To participate is easy.  Just CLICK HERE to visit our post on Facebook.  Like and share the post and we'll randomly draw a winner.

The prize is made up of all kinds of goodies!  There's a lot of vintage glass, and Czech glass (some new and some vintage).

We've included some of our Luxury Bead Blends.  These are mixes that we make for our design challenge kits that we send out all over the world.  They're lovely little assortments of beads and sequins.  When we're making them, it's almost like we're mixing spice blends... trying to get them just right.

 There's also a handful of stone chip strands.  There's quartz, aquamarine, peridot, and tiger's eye.

The prize also includes porcelain and polymer clay pendants that were handmade by Andrew Thornton.  We have also thrown in a bunch of vintage plastic and manik-manik Indonesian lampwork glass beads.

It's a really colorful and diverse selection worth over $240 retail!  It is just one of the little ways that we wanted to thank everyone for all their help in getting the word out about Project: Next Step and for participating!

We'll announce the winner on our Facebook page on Friday, December 16th!  Don't forget to visit our webpage for Project: Next Step and read all about it and the wonderful prizes we have available.  CLICK HERE to learn more!
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Polymer Clay Pendant Club

One of the pledge rewards for Project: Next Step is a really cool mail subscription program.  Instead of a cheese of the month or a wine of the month, you'll receive a polymer clay pendant handcrafted by Andrew Thornton.  Above are some examples of his previous work.  The designs featured in this pledge reward are all new and designed specifically for this project!

There are two different options.  There is a six-month subscription and a year-long subscription.  Every month you'll get a new pendant in the mail and it'll be a complete surprise until it arrives at your doorstep!

CLICK HERE to find out more about this particular patron prize!  CLICK HERE to read all about Project: Next Step and peruse all the different rewards.
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Etched Copper Pendant Reward

One of the nice things about working on Project: Next Step is that we've had a wonderful opportunity to work with our family over at Green Girl Studios.  They've been extremely supportive of our efforts and Cynthia has been really kind and worked on several collaboration pieces for the project.  One of the pieces that Cynthia designed for Project: Next Step is this Etched Copper Pendant.  It features a lovely bunny rabbit motif.  (You might have noticed that there are a lot of rabbits as prizes – rabbits are symbols of prosperity, luck, abundance, and fertility!  All good things for a fundraiser!)  If you'd like to find out more about this piece, CLICK HERE.  To find out more about all of the pledge rewards, CLICK HERE.
Design by Cynthia Thornton
We feel really lucky to have such an amazing support system behind us!  It is a reminder just how fortunate we are.
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Here Be Dragons

As we get closer to the end date of Project: Next Step, we've been taking suggestions on how we might better boost participation with this fundraiser.  One of the ideas was to share pictures of the rewards.  And as artists, we agree!  Visuals help!  But... due to the very customized nature of some of the pledge prizes, this isn't always possible.  (Plus, some of the prizes are still in development and won't be ready for a few months.)  We didn't want to leave all of you hanging though!

So... here are a few images to give you an idea of what to expect with the Dragon Sculpture Reward option:

Mixed Media Dragon by Andrew Thornton
Polymer Clay Dragon by Andrew Thornton
Polymer Clay Dragon by Andrew Thornton
Each dragon will be customized to the individual pledger.  So the dragon you will receive will be completely unique and different from the pictures.  One person who has already claimed a dragon said that she wanted her dragon to be friendly and approachable and have a "sparkling personality".  Another participant wanted their dragon to be a protector of their family and definitely GREEN.  It has been really fun conducting the interviews and coming up with different ideas to match personalities.

And... if you're not into dragons, but you've got an idea for a whimsical sculpture, we can definitely work with you to create something to fit your tastes (within reason).  If you want a custom sculpture commission, email us at info@allegorygallery.com and we can let you know if we can do it or not.

CLICK HERE to claim your Dragon (or something else) Sculpture and CLICK HERE to see all of the rewards.  We'll add more pictures right up until the end to hopefully drum up extra participation.
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