Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mom's Christmas Necklace

Now that Christmas is behind us, I can share the necklace I made for my mom's gift this year. (Mom reads my blog, so I had to wait until now.)
This is a modified Tribal Treasures necklace, made with some rather expensive Venetian beads, ocean jasper, Thai silver charms, and some spotty green beads that I don't have a name for. The silver toggle was purchased, but the chain is handmade (from easy-links featured in Bead on a Wire).
I teach this class often; your next opportunity to learn how to make your own Tribal Treasures necklace will be on February 21st when I offer this workshop at The Gathering Place Studio in Naperville, Illinois. To sign up, contact Portia Mandel: 630 201-7970.
Hope to see you there!
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Friday, December 26, 2008

10 Trippy Tricks Workshop offered tomorrow!

OK, it's your last chance to take a workshop with me this year!
Tomorrow I'm offering one of my very most popular workshops: 10 Trippy Tricks 2. This is a continuation of my 10 Trippy Tricks 1 workshop, but the first workshop is not a prerequisite for this class. You will learn at least 10 very different ways to wrap beads and make beautiful wire links that can be used interchangeably in hundreds of jewelry designs.
You'll come away with a variety of new skills and new techniques. Learn:
Hook & eye clasps
Double-spiral links
Eye-pin links
Wrapped eye-pin links
Jump rings
Silver-swirl bead wraps & wire links
Coil-wrapped beads
Double coil-wrapped beads
Figure-8 links
Wrapped eye-pin bead wraps
This workshop is fun and suitable for students of all skill levels. The fee is $95 and includes a full day of instruction with handouts, morning coffee, lunch, beverages and snacks. Such a deal! (Workshops at the Bead & Button Show are running $300 and more per day for a seven-hour class and they don't include lunch.)
If you're interested in coming to Idyllwild, California tomorrow for my workshop, please email me right away. Hope to see you there!
Cheers,
Sharilyn
sharilynmiller@mac.com

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas, everyone!

Good morning, and a happy Christmas to everyone!
I wish all of my students, friends and family a blessed Christmas and a new year full of adventure. There is so much talk right now about our poor economy and all of our financial investments in the stock market being in disarray. My strategy during tough times is pretty much the same as in easier times:
1. Trust God. No. Matter. What.
2. Continue giving, and look for ways to give more, not less. As bad as things might be for me, there always is someone out there who has it worse and needs my help.
3. Commit to personal growth and creativity by taking workshops, reading good books, trying new art forms and techniques, and making new art—my own art, not reproductions of others' art!
4. Be grateful for all the good things in my life: family, true friends, great opportunities, the gift of creativity, life itself; and, especially, my best friend, Jesus.
Happy Christmas, everyone!
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Love Knot Necklace

I just had to post a photo of my new Love Knot Necklace, which I made yesterday while teaching a workshop in my home in Idyllwild.
It was great fun sitting around the dining room table with three friends—Dale, Tonia and Barbara—making love knot links, coiled wire bead wraps, S-clasps and jump rings. We spent the entire day making our necklaces and afterward I was able to use liver of sulfur to artificially age my necklace, polish it, and get it ready for the tumbler.
This morning I took some photos to show Dale how I use my EZ Cube photography system, and now we're getting ready to go out to breakfast at Cafe Aroma. I wish all my friends could be here on the mountain with us to share the beauty of this place! The snow is melting gradually, and the sky is a bright blue without a cloud anywhere to be seen... Looking forward to another day of counting my blessings in this gorgeous place!
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Snowy Day

We just had a couple of major snowstorms blow through Idyllwild this week, and I was housebound for three days.
But yesterday the sun came out and the sky is such a beautiful, deep-cerulean blue, it's hard to believe it's real. Today, more of the same gorgeous sunshine sparkles on a white and green world, and I'm so glad I was able to capture it in several photos.
During my "downtime" earlier this week, it would have been easy to get depressed. Outside, the storm raged and it was dark and gloomy, and very cold. Inside, I had the lights on most of the time and my heater ran continuously, burning up expensive propane.
At times like these, it's easy to become discouraged. But I choose to stay encouraged, to believe that, as I work, God will provide for my needs. While I do work hard and employ all of my creative abilities, I also know where my provision really comes from, and it is not from my own weak self. My provision comes from the Lord, and with that trust comes the peace of resting in Him.
In other words, while our country is in recession and the entire world is in a financial tailspin, I am at peace. I simply trust God, put Him first in my life, and thank Him every day for His presence and loving concern. I also look for ways to increase my giving, even in the toughest economic times. It may not make sense in the natural, so to speak, but it makes perfect sense in the supernatural. Give what you can, help others, be a blessing. Trust God to take care of you, and look for ways to help others.
This week while it was dark outside, I turned my thoughts toward the future and made some new jewelry designs to share with my students next year. I have several more ideas that I'll be creating over the coming days, and soon I'll be sharing them through books, DVDs, and live workshops. I hope to meet you in a workshop someday.
Tomorrow I'm hosting a day-long workshop in my home on the Love Knot Necklace, and on December 27 I'll be offering another day-long workshop on the 10 Trippy Tricks 2 Necklace. If you're interested in attending, contact me soon! I do have a few openings in both classes.
My workshop schedule changes regularly and I add classes to it almost every week, so be sure to stay tuned by visiting my Web site: www.sharilynmiller.com.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Two new openings in upcoming retreat!

I suddenly have two openings in my next Wild Wire Women retreat taking place next week, December 11-15.
You can save $100 by signing up for this retreat, which costs $625 for three full days of personal instruction, four nights lodging, a welcome dinner, four simple breakfasts, and three lunches. Transportation to and from Idyllwild, wire, beads, and three dinners are not included in the workshop fee. In 2009, the fee goes up to $725, so if you were considering attending a retreat, I'd pick this one.
Itinerary:
Thursday afternoon arrival, unpack and get settled, then join us for a delicious dinner at my favorite restaurant in Idyllwild.
Friday morning breakfast is followed by the Tribal Treasures workshop, bracelet or necklace, with a break for lunch (included). Dinner is on your own in town.
Saturday morning breakfast is followed by the Love Knot Necklace workshop, with a break for lunch (included). Dinner is on your own in town, but we may opt to have pizza and wine at home and enjoy a movie.
Sunday morning breakfast is followed by an abbreviated version of the Etruscan Spiral Necklace workshop. After lunch, we will make Fantastic Fibula pins. Dinner is on your own in town.
This will be a terrific retreat and I hope you take advantage of the reduced price. If you're interested in attending, please email right away: sharilynmiller@mac.com
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Monday, December 1, 2008

Next Wire Workshop Coming Up Soon...

My Saturday workshop at Brea Bead Works was a terrific success, and I am so pleased with and proud of my talented and hardworking students. We learned a lot from each other as we each made an Etruscan Spiral Necklace inspired by my latest trip to Cortona, Italy. One gal in the class surpassed us all (yes, me too!) by making a complete necklace, bracelet and earrings set (two pair of earrings, not just one) in one day. She did stay during lunch to work on her projects, but still! I'm always amazed by my students.
So now I'm gearing up for the next workshop on my schedule: the Faux Metals technique, which can be applied to making necklaces, earrings, and/or bracelets. The workshop runs from 9:30 am to 5 pm (approximately) this Saturday, December 6, at my home studio in beautiful Idyllwild, California.
Some materials are even supplied for this class: thanks to Lucky Squirrel for providing our shrink plastic and Jacquard Products for donating gorgeous metallic paint. I also have rubber stamps, scissors and punches, heat guns, and other supplies needed to make the beautiful "faux metal" charms. You just need to bring your own wire (copper or silver) and the beads of your choice, and lots of headpins.
The fee is $95 and includes morning coffee and a delicious salad-bar lunch! You can't beat that.
If you're interested in signing up, I have three openings in this workshop. Send me an email and I'll register you right away.
Cheers,
Sharilyn
email: sharilynmiller@mac.com

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Deer in My Driveway!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
This morning I awakened to paradise—after a long, drenching rain (sorely needed up here in Idyllwild), the sun came out and lit the mountain with gold. The California quail are out in droves, bobbing their little heads as they scoop up their breakfast and trip across my driveway. But the real surprise was this beautiful little deer, who stepped daintily onto the pavement and then quickly jumped up onto a hill covered with manzanita trees and natural brush. He was just a few feet away and couldn't really see me that well, because I was watching him from my home office.
The deer posed for quite some time while I quickly took as many photos as possible; unfortunately I had to take all of my pictures through my office window, so the images are not as clear as I'd like. But it was a welcome surprise this morning, and another reminder of why I am so thankful to live here in the beautiful mountains.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Monday, November 24, 2008

Brand-NEW Workshop at Brea Bead Works this Saturday

This coming Saturday I'm offering a brand-new workshop at Brea Bead Works: the Etruscan Spiral Necklace workshop.
This full-day class is jam-packed with great techniques, including beautiful textured beads made from copper tubing, a heavy-gauge double spiral pendant, and light metal-smithing plus lots of wire working techniques. A great learning experience, but, even better, the result is a gorgeous necklace you'll be very proud to wear.
The Etruscan Spiral necklace was inspired by my 2007 trip to Cortona, Italy, when I taught a small workshop "Under the Tuscan Sun." I enjoyed spending time in the Etruscan museum in Cortona, viewing the exhibits of weapons, utensils, and luscious pure-gold jewelry, and hearing lectures on the local archeologists' attempts at excavating treasures from the earth. It's not easy, when hordes of grave robbers have been before you!
The Etruscans were a fascinating people; very little is actually known about them, but we do know that they were highly cultured, artistic, and wealthy. They lived in the Tuscany region, an area that has been coveted over the centuries and remains a dream destination for many of us to this day.
While spending time in the museum last year, I was truly inspired by the jewelry displays. So much of what I saw was based on wire techniques that we use today—coiling fine-gauge wire, making bead dangles on headpins, spiraling, and making loop attachments. The artists of the time were very creative, and I felt a strong kinship with them. I was inspired to make a jewelry piece that would always remind me of my time in Cortona, and my Etruscan Spiral necklace was the result.
A big double spiral of heavy-gauge wire symbolizes the blazing sun, links made from textured copper tubing pieces and heavy sterling silver wire are darkened in liver of sulfur to make the piece look like an archeological find, and copper rings are textured and beaten to resemble coins and jewelry remnants like those on display in the Etruscan museum.
While it would be much easier to simply copy the jewelry of the Etruscans (as others have done), I find it much more satisfying to make my own art. I also enjoy teaching and helping others to do the same. If you're interested in learning how to make a beautiful Etruscan Spiral necklace of your own, I hope you can join me at Brea Bead Works this Saturday for my workshop.
For information, call 714 671-9976.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Friday, November 21, 2008

First "mini retreat" a great success

I just hosted my first "mini retreat," or one-day workshop at my home in Idyllwild, California, and it was a terrific success.
Joanne from Dana Point and Pene from Indio joined me today for a 10 Trippy Tricks 1 Necklace Workshop, learning 10 different ways to wrap wire, make links, and wire-wrap beads (including the S-clasp, with and without beads). We also enjoyed visiting and getting to know one another. I hope to see them again soon.
I have a few more day classes scheduled for the remainder of 2008:
Dec. 6, 9:30 am to 5 pm Faux Metals Necklace Workshop
Dec. 19, 9:30 am to 5 pm Love Knot Necklace Workshop
Dec. 20, 9:30 am to 5 pm repeat of Love Knot Necklace Workshop
Dec. 26, 9:30 to 5 pm 10 Trippy Tricks 2 Workshop
Dec. 27, 9:30 to 5 pm repeat of 10 Trippy Tricks 2 Workshop
The fee for each workshop is $95 and includes morning coffee, lunch, a full day of instruction, and handouts. Students are responsible for providing their own wire and beads for each class. For the Faux Metals workshop, I provide shrink plastic, paints, rubber stamps, heat guns, and other supplies needed for making the charms.
If you are interested in attending, please email me for details: sharilynmiller@mac.com.
Classes are limited to six adult students, and they are likely to sell out quickly.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

FREE Jewelry Making Tutorial on YouTube.com

Great news! I've just posted a FREE mini-tutorial on bead reaming (enlarging and smoothing holes in beads and pearls) on youtube.com.
This clip was taken from a longer segment on the subject presented on my DVD, Rings of Beauty Workshop with Sharilyn Miller. If you're at all interested in learning to make wire rings, I highly recommend this workshop on DVD, which covers all the basics and then-some.
ThunderbirdSupply.com will soon begin carrying all four of my instructional DVDs in the near future, and they asked me to send them a short video clip from each one to present on their Web site so that viewers could see examples of what they will learn. I thought it was a great idea, so now I'm working on that project.
Meanwhile, I thought it would be a great benefit to share these short clips with a wider audience seeking instruction on some of the basics related to wire jewelry making. Using an electric bead reamer is an important technique; once you have this tool and learn how to use it, you'll wonder what you ever did without it.
I got mine—the brand name is Mr. Miester—through Rio Grande, but I'm sure there are other sources for bead reamers like it elsewhere. Try your local bead store first, and if you can't find it there then I would recommend ordering it from Rio Grande (and get their catalog while you're at it).
I was also excited to see that www.ThunderBirdSupply.com has posted a photo of my Tribal Treasures bracelet on their home page. I allowed them to use some images of my jewelry to advertise their sale on half-hard wire. Check it out!
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Swans on Lake Como

I just uploaded this silly video to youtube and thought I'd share it here as well.
When I traveled through Europe last month I took along a small video camera called FlipVideo. It's the coolest gadget; for about $100 you get a cellphone-size digital video recorder that will take up to an hour of footage. It operates on a simple battery. When you want to download your video(s) to a computer, you hit a button and a connector springs out which you then insert into the computer. It couldn't be easier.
While spending the week in Varenna on Lake Como, I especially enjoyed people-watching. It seemed that everybody was enjoying the ducks and swans on the lake. I thought it was pretty funny because the swans would bob underwater for food, kicking their big black feet behind them for balance as they searched the lake bottom for snacks.
Since it looked so comical, I captured it on my FlipVideo and just recently uploaded it to youtube.
Enjoy!
Sharilyn

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My parents' 50th wedding anniversary party

Do they look happy or what?
These are my parents today, a little tired toward the end of a wonderful party celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Thanks to a few great friends who really helped to pull it all together, we had a lovely party for them with live music and a luncheon with special dark chocolate cake, wine, and a toast.
I don't often speak in public, but was asked to say a few words. Well, you know how that goes—how does one sum up a marriage that had its beginnings in 1958 and has lasted over half a century? I've included some of my speech here:
"We're taking some time today to mark a very special occasion: 50 years of commitment to marriage.
"When I was first asked to give the toast today, I was seriously alarmed. You see, I've never been married, so I don't know the first thing about what it takes to hold two lives together as one. Unlike my parents, I don't know anything about the give-and-take, the compromises, the selfless giving and joyful receiving that comprise a true and lasting marriage.
"In the movies, marriage is usually portrayed in one of two ways: it's either a fairy-tale ending to a romance, or a hopeless struggle between two people trapped in a miserable existence, with no way out. Well, thank goodness, Al and Lenore Miller do not have the Hollywood version of marriage; they have the real thing.
"They have 50 years of loving commitment to each other. My parents have had great joy in their marriage, but they've also seen each other through some tough times. They've had their fair share of arguments. Theirs is not a perfect, sanitized version of marital bliss.
"To me, the important thing is that my parents know how to love each other through it all, good times and bad, faithfully, without wavering. And we are here to celebrate that, to raise a glass to two people who not only took their marriage vows but kept them, too, for 50 years—and that is no small thing.
"So here's to Al and Lenore Miller: We toast you and honor your commitment to one another, we celebrate with you as a community that has been deeply touched by your lives here in Idyllwild. You have shown us, by your example, what a true and lasting marriage really is. Here's to Al and Lenore!"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Preparing to celebrate: 50 years!

I thought I would just submit a quick post to update things since it has been a full week since my latest post.
I've been somewhat busy this week, hosting a women's luncheon and earring demo at my home yesterday, and helping my parents prepare for their big 50th wedding anniversary party that we're celebrating tomorrow. Dad wanted to go on a cruise, but we convinced him that this event is just too special for that! So we're having a nice luncheon with friends to celebrate their 50 years of commitment to marriage.
My parents have been through some very interesting times over the past half century, weathering some difficulties of course—who can live long without them—but as a close observer of their marriage, I can say that the good times and the positive experiences have far outweighed the bad. I really admire my parents for sticking together faithfully, no matter what, for 50 years. In this day and age, that is quite a testament to their character and to their abiding love for one another.
I'll see if I can post a photo of their anniversary party tomorrow...
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Wild Wire Women mini retreats!

I'm pleased to announce that I am now offering a NEW series of workshop "mini retreats" in my home studio in Idyllwild, California!
Many of my readers have attended my weekend "Wild Wire Women" retreats that take place from Thursday evening through Monday morning, and my 2008 season is now sold-out. I have 16 more of these retreats scheduled for 2009, but due to popular demand I am also offering day-long workshops that will appeal to those of you residing in the Idyllwild/Palm Springs/Hemet area of southern California.
The workshop fee is $95, and includes morning coffee, salad-bar lunch, beverages and snacks, use of my studio tools as needed, a full day of instruction, and workshop handouts. The fee does not include transportation to/from my studio or dinner. Students are required to bring the appropriate wire and beads; detailed supply lists are provided on my Web site: www.sharilynmiller.com.
Workshop Schedule:
December 6: repeat of Faux Metals Necklace Workshop
December 20: repeat of Love Knot Necklace Workshop
These mini retreats are restricted to SIX participants, and I believe spaces will sell out quickly. If you are interested in registering, please contact me soon: sharilynmiller@mac.com.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Finally, we have hope!

Finally, finally, we have hope!
I am so inspired by the events that have transpired over the past 24 hours, I don't know if I can express what I'm feeling. I woke up this morning and, as always, began my day with prayers to God thanking Him for giving me my life. I always thank God every day for my family and friends, for giving me the gift of creativity, and for all the many, many blessings that He has given into my hands.
But this morning I had a new reason to thank God: We have a new president-elect, and he is destined for greatness.
I believe that Barack Obama will be one of the very best presidents the United States has ever seen. It's just a gut-level belief, a deep feeling I have that only time can prove out. I cannot tell you why I have this feeling, I just know that I know that I know that Barack Obama will be a catalyst for dramatic improvement in our country's future. His presidency will change our nation for the better, and the world with it.
It was wonderful beyond words to see our poor struggling country get together for one historic night and elect the man who will lead us into a hopeful future, but he cannot do it alone. We must all work together as a united people, forgetting our differences, putting our shameful past behind us.
I am so happy to BE happy for a change, so relieved to shrug off the bitterness and deep shame I have felt over the past eight years of simply being an American, the citizen of a country that I no longer recognized from my youth. I can be proud again to belong to this nation, because now we have hope.
Finally, finally, we have hope!
Thankfully an American,
Sharilyn Miller

Monday, November 3, 2008

2008 Wire Retreat Season Sold Out

It's official: My 2008 Wild Wire Women retreat season is completely sold out!
But the good news is, there are still plenty of openings in the 2009 season, which begins February 12-16. If you're interested in signing up, contact me soon. The first person to sign up for a retreat with her deposit gets first-choice of rooms.
A friend wrote to ask me if I would post a picture of some jewelry samples I made during last weekend's retreat, so here's a photo of two pendants wrapped in knotless netting and a bangle bracelet embellished with my Twining Vines technique.
Enjoy!
And if you'd like to attend a retreat in 2009, email me for details at sharilynmiller@mac.com.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jewelry Making Retreat

I don't know if words can describe just how proud I am of the three students who joined me this weekend for a Wild Wire Women retreat!
Pictured above you can see just a sampling of the beautiful jewelry made by one participant, Chris Pasta, who flew all the way from Hilo, Hawaii to attend. Chris, Karen and Nettie each described themselves as beginning wire artists when they first arrived at my home in Idyllwild on Friday, but by the time they departed this evening it was amazing how much they had improved on their skills.
Throughout the weekend we created Tribal Treasures necklaces, Beaded Bangles incorporating my own unique Twining Vines technique, knotless netting with tiny bead dangles, wire-wrap embellished copper washer bracelets, artificially aging silver in liver of sulfur, using the tumbler to polish ethnic-style jewelry, and photography using the EZ Cube system.
It was sad to see my new friends depart for home this evening, but I feel very good about the weekend and what we accomplished together. I hope to post more photos in the future of jewelry pieces made by the other participants.
If you're interested in attending a Wild Wire Women retreat in Idyllwild, California, I have openings in 2009; the earliest date with openings is Feb. 12-16. Please feel free to email me for details.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Friday, October 31, 2008

In the Workshop

We're having fun in the workshop this weekend, and pictured here are three eager "Wild Wire Women": Nettie, Chris, and Karen!
Today we've been working on Tribal Treasures Necklaces (as featured on my DVD, Tribal Treasures Bracelet Workshop) and we just finished making ball-headed headpins with a kitchen torch.
In the course of one day, all three students have learned:
• all about the tools used to make beautiful wire jewelry
• how to clean, measure and cut wire correctly and safely
• how to make beautiful double-wrapped eye-pin loops with spiral embellishments
• how to make wire cages for beads
• how to make coil-wrapped embellishments for beads
• how to twist heavy-gauge wire and turn it into shapely jump rings
• and basic jewelry design and assembly. Whew!
I confess—I'm tuckered out, but not these gals. As soon as they'd finished making their headpins and had a quick dinner out at Cafe Aroma, they headed back downstairs to the spacious workshop/classroom in my home where they're busy hammering wire and making more jewelry.
I guess I'd better get down there, too. I want to be in on all the fun!
Stay tuned for more developments...
Sharilyn

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Girls of Santorini

As I prepare for tomorrow's Wild Wire Women retreat in my home in Idyllwild, California, I find myself looking back just a couple of weeks to my time spent with four fabulous gals in Santorini.
Pictured from left are Juli, Paula, Dia, and Barbara. The five of us had a unique adventure on a beautiful Greek isle near the end of the tourist season, which meant that we escaped some of the crowds and yet enjoyed beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery.
We spent a good part of our time in the workshop, of course, learning new wire-art jewelry techniques and being inspired by the colors and textures and surprises around every corner. But we also took time for delicious meals every day (courtesy of Patrick Mahoney, our tour organizer) and excursions to Ia and a day-cruise of the Caldera.
I'll post more photos of our jewelry retreat in Santorini in the future, but tomorrow I start sharing photos of the "wild wire women" and the beautiful jewelry they'll be making during our special time in the mountains this weekend.
Stay tuned!
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lake Como adventures...

As promised in my previous post, I am sharing one of the first photos I took upon arrival at Hotel Olivedo in Varenna, on Lake Como (a.k.a. "lago di Como"), Italy.
The ferry system works very well and is relatively inexpensive, especially if you purchase a day-pass for multiple trips to and fro. In retrospect, I realize that it would have been even more economical for me to purchase a week-pass, since I stayed in Varenna for eight days.
I enjoyed riding the ferry as I explored various towns and villages around the lake. My first adventure was to the touristy town of Bellagio, which is ideal for window shopping if you enjoy looking at designer handbags, jewelry and scarves. Walking up the steep hill from the waterfront, one encounters more shops—offering more handbags, clothing, jewelry, Venetian ornaments, and gorgeous Italian lingerie—and some excellent restaurants and cafes with more reasonable prices than can be found lakeside.
I also found a yarn shop! This was not as easy as it sounds. I was looking for yarn in the first place because it was a bit chillier in the evenings than I had thought it would be, so I needed a warm scarf for my neck. Of course, scarves and shawls are offered in just about every shop in Italy, especially around Lake Como, but what I had in mind was a hand-knit, thick wooly scarf, not a thin cashmere pashmina. So I decided to knit my own, if I could only find some yarn and knitting needles...
After asking several storeowners in Bellagio if they knew of a place to purchase yarn, and receiving absolutely no help from them at all, I persevered anyway and eventually found a tiny yarn store near the top of the hill where, as Rick Steves says in his guidebook to Italy, the locals shop. The kind proprietor showed me all of his skeins in many colors and provided me with knitting needles, too, so I was thrilled that my perseverance had paid off.
So now I had something to do while waiting for ferries, while sitting on park benches after touring sumptuous lakeside villas (such as the Villa Melzi), while relaxing with a cappuccino in a quiet cafe, and late at night, too—Varenna is a small town with no nightlife to speak of. And within 48 hours I had knitted a beautifully warm wooly scarf to wear around my neck during those bracing ferry rides across the lake.
Cheers,
Sharilyn 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm back from Europe!

Hi, everybody!
I'm finally back from my month-long trip across Europe, and so thrilled to be home again and blogging. I found it impossible to contribute to my blog while I was away, in part because all the computers I was using at the Internet cafes were somewhat difficult, and also because I didn't know how to download my photos on foreign computers.
So, I reluctantly gave up the idea of a travel blog and focused instead on having a great time and taking lots of photos.
I'll be blogging in the future about upcoming workshops and retreats (such as the Wild Wire Women retreat that begins this Thursday) but from time to time I'll reach into my photo files for an image of Italy, Greece, or the Czech Republic and share stories about my amazing trip.
It all started with a terrific weekend workshop that I taught at Art in the Loft in beautiful Alpena, Michigan last September. If you ever have a chance to visit this part of the country and take a workshop at Art in the Loft, DO it. The Loft is big, gorgeous, and filled with natural light and lots of inspiration. Many thanks to Nan Katzenberger for organizing my weekend workshop series! I hope to return sometime next year to teach more fun techniques to the talented students who frequent the Loft.
On the Monday morning following my workshops, I departed Michigan for Milan, Italy. My destination was the tiny village of Varenna on Lake Como, just a one-hour train ride from Milan but truly a world away from the big city. I loved my accommodations at the Hotel Olivedo, which is situated right on the lake. I had a sweet little room at the top of the hotel, which is located near the ferry landing. This made it easy to hop on the ferry every day to explore Mennagio, Bellagio, Como, and other towns in this area.
Every day, I walked and walked and walked, up hills and stairs, and I also took a few tours such as an Italian cooking class, a tour of Bergamo, and a day on the Bernina Express train to St. Moritz, Switzerland. Magical!
Of course, my primary purpose for my latest European trip was the wire jewelry workshop I taught in Santorini, Greece. After eight memorable days on Lake Como, I departed Milan for Athens and then took an Aegean Airlines flight to the island of Santorini. Patrick Mahoney of Toscana Americana took care of all the arrangements, providing hotel accommodations, a wonderful studio workshop, and fabulous restaurant choices every day for lunch and dinner. Thank you, Patrick!
So by now you're wondering, so what's with the bones (pictured)? Well, after spending about eight days in Santorini, I departed for Prague, Czech Republic, where I met with my dear friend Robin Harsh who is a YWAM missionary there along with her husband and two children. I had asked Robin if she wouldn't mind taking a day-trip from her home in Plzen to the town of Kutna Hora, which is famous for its "bone church." She agreed somewhat reluctantly, and we had an amazing opportunity to see and photograph this strangely beautiful and moving monument to the transient nature of life. If you ever have the chance to travel to Prague, do it—for the best bead shopping in Europe, gorgeous architecture, art-nouveau murals and other art, terrific food, and excellent coffee (besides the best beer in Europe)—and take a side trip to Kutna Hora to see the bone church!
I'll be blogging in the future with more photos of my trip, and I appreciate everyone who has waited so patiently for me to return home and continue my blog. I've really missed sharing my experiences with you and look forward to reading your comments in the future.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wire Workshops in Alpena, Michigan this weekend

I'm offering a wire workshop series in Alpena, Michigan this weekend at Art in the Loft!
If you live in the midwest, this is the ideal opportunity for you to join me in a live workshop. It's my last opportunity to teach in the area this year.
On Friday, I'm teaching my popular Biker Chick Bangles workshop, which is one of four bangle designs featured on my DVD, Bohemian Bangles. After lunch we'll tackle Hoops & Triangles Earrings (pictured above).
On Saturday, I'm teaching my 10 Trippy Tricks 1 workshop.
On Sunday, it will be 10 Trippy Tricks 2.
I hope to see some of you there!
For information, contact Art in the Loft at 989 356-4877.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Class at Brea Bead Works this Sunday!

If you're in the Southern California area this weekend, check out the workshop I'm teaching on Sunday at Brea Bead Works.
"Convertible Jewelry" is a great how-to class, because we accomplish so many things in so little time. I start everyone with the basics, and then quickly build upon your skills from there. I teach you how to make beautiful S-clasps, handmade jump rings, heavy-gauge twisted wire jump rings, bead connectors, and bead dangles on headpins.
Next, we assemble our jewelry components—all of which are useful in many other jewelry designs—into a long necklace that easily "converts" into a short necklace and bracelet set. In a sense, you get three jewelry pieces in one, besides gaining a wealth of wireworking skills in the process.
Every student will walk out of the class with a finished jewelry piece. You are welcome to use copper wire instead of sterling silver if you prefer. Do consider using sterling silver wire, however, because lately the price has come down significantly, making it a very affordable art material for everyone.
If you're interested in this workshop, which runs from 10 am to 5 pm this Sunday, be sure to contact Brea Bead Works immediately and sign up. Call 714 671-9976.
The class is limited to 12 participants. I hope to see YOU there!
Cheers,
Sharilyn