Bling! Challenge Winner – Advanced Category

May 4, 2021 | Challenges

Meet Valerie Bealle

Winner, Advanced Category, Bling! Challenge

Congratulations to Valerie Bealle, winner of the Advanced Category in AMCAW’s Bling! artist challenge! Her winning entry, Necklace for a Princess, features rough amethyst slab beads with dozens of tiny, stylized metal clay flowers, with a matching clasp.

Bling Advanced winner Valerie Bealle“I purchased the rough amethyst slab bead collar at the Tucson gem show,” says Valerie of her winning entry. “At the time I had no idea what I would do with it, I just knew that I needed to have it! I thought it would be interesting to contrast the rough slab beads with something delicate. At the time I was making stylized flowers by pressing metal clay into a texture that I had carved into linoleum. I decided to make tiny versions of the flowers, centered with 2mm cubic zirconium stones, and have them cascade over the amethyst slabs. After much thought and trial and error, I developed a way to make the flowers fit the stones.”

Some years ago, a severe shoulder injury ended Valerie’s weaving career. “Because I always needed to be making something with my hands, I then tried bead weaving on a loom,” Valerie said. “Sadly, this was not to be as I had the beginnings of carpal tunnel syndrome. I tried my hand at setting cabochons in seed bead bezels and found that although I enjoyed the process, I really liked the look of stones set in metal better. Then I heard about this new product called metal clay and thought I would give it a try. I was able to take a course with Vera Lightfoot. It was love at first sight and I haven’t looked back!”

“I love the immediacy and freedom of expression that metal clay affords. I especially like the challenges that the creation of various structures poses.”

“I love working with scratch foam,” she adds. “It allows me to create both very delicate background textures and rather bold reliefs. I also like to make hollow forms. Some hollow forms can be technically challenging, and I enjoy that.”

Valerie finds her inspiration in various places. “Although it seems that I keep coming back to nature as an inspiration,” she says, “I have developed collections based on such diverse things as Minoan art, Japanese arches, art deco designs, and stones that I find inspirational. I also often get ideas from unrelated items laying around my usually very messy studio!”

For some years Valerie taught a class in metal clay at Great Neck Continuing Education on Long Island (New York, U.S.) “I retired from The Great Neck facility a few years ago and began teaching at my home studio. My students/friends, along with a wonderfully supportive husband and my many friends in the arts, has afforded me an environment that allows me to be creative. This year, because of the pandemic, I have not taught but have been in contact with friends which has been helpful.”

Valerie’s advice to artists interested in metal clay? “Try everything that you can and don’t be afraid of failure! You will learn more from your mistakes than from your successes. If you possibly can, get a kiln. It is absolutely worth the money.”

Find Valerie online at