Sunday, August 31, 2008

Instant Abstract Art at Brea Bead Works

I call this "instant abstract art" because it's so easy and fun.
While teaching my Faux Metals workshop at Brea Bead Works on Saturday, I used a paper towel to blot my paintbrush, removing excess acrylic paint (metallic Lumieres) from the brush because we dry-brush paint our faux-metal charms. The paper towel looked kind of pretty, so I thought I'd see what I could do with it.
Squirting some watery, dye-like acrylic paint (turquoise) all over the towel was easy enough. As you can see, the blobs of acrylic paint resist the dye, so it forms a background color. A bright hot color such as orange or red-orange would have looked great, too.
Anyway, once the dye was dry I decided to unify my "design" (such as it is!) by squirting out a line of periwinkle paint in a squiggly abstract shape all over the towel. I then used a paintbrush to feather the outer edges of the line, which makes it more interesting.
I then heat-set the paper towel and dried the paint by using a heat gun. All my painting needs now is a signature and a mat.
My process took about two minutes—instant abstract art!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wire Jewelry Workshop a Great Success!

I had the best time teaching today at Brea Bead Works!
My popular "Faux Metals" necklace workshop is a full day of fun using artist-grade Polyshrink plastic, Lumiere metallic paints, deep-etched rubber stamps, and a heat gun to make some very cool charms. We also used 16ga copper wire to create easy S-links, sturdy jump rings, and a hook clasp for a necklace. We used headpins and small beads to make bead dangles, which add a sparkly touch to this eye-catching necklace.
Although my students' results were quite professional (the earrings pictured above were made by a student in class), this workshop is one of my easiest classes. Everybody had a great time and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.
I am kinda bummed about one thing. When I returned home to Idyllwild, I called my mother to let her know that I had arrived safely and she told me that I had missed an incredible rainstorm with huge thunderclouds and even hail. For a few hours, the gentle stream behind her house became a roaring river, and I'm so sorry I missed that...
Oh well, with autumn just around the corner, I have a few more storms to look forward to. It's been very hot and sticky here in Idyllwild, and I'm more than ready for a change. Meanwhile, I have a Wild Wire Women Retreat to prepare for—September 4-8—and I'm looking forward to meeting my five students. I still have two openings in the retreat slated for October 30-November 3, and four openings in my December 11-15 retreat.
I've also posted new retreat dates for 2009 on my workshop schedule, and I hope you can make plans to join us sometime. Students of all skill levels are welcome to attend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Update: New Classes at Brea Bead Works

Here's a quick update on the workshops I'm offering at Brea Bead Works in Brea, California:
Faux Metals Necklace from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday, August 30
Learn to use PolyShrink and Lumiere paints to make gorgeous charms for a unique necklace, bracelet, and/or pair of matching earrings (time permitting).
Convertible Jewelry from 10 am to 5 pm Sunday, September 21
Make a beautiful necklace with sterling silver wire and your favorite beads or pearls! The piece easily converts into a short choker and bracelet set.
Etruscan Spiral Necklace from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday, November 29
A brand-NEW workshop based on a design first conceived while traveling through the Tuscany region of Italy—you'll love this one!
All of these workshops are suitable for beginning to intermediate-level students of wire art jewelry. I hope to see you in class! But if you can't make it to Southern California for a workshop, the Etruscan Spiral Necklace is demonstrated in close-up detail on my new DVD, Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop with Sharilyn Miller.
For information on the workshops or to sign up, contact Brea Bead Works.
Phone: 714 671-9976
Or visit my Web site:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Opportunity to Support Ovarian Cancer Research

Recently I was invited to participate in a fantastic opportunity to help raise money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. A group of like-minded artists (creative, generous, charitable!) has banded together to create little works of art, or "charms," to embellish a handmade art doll that will be auctioned off to raise funds for this charity.
The project is called "Ties That Bind." You can read their mission statement by visiting their blog.
I like this project a lot because it takes so little (time, energy, money) to participate, and it makes me feel really good knowing that a piece of my art is doing something to support cancer research. My charm, pictured above, is a rectangular resin bead donated by Natural Touch Beads and painted with Lumiere paints from the Jacquard company. I used 16ga copper wire from Thunderbird Supply to make a zigzag wire embellishment and big spiral headpin.
Other participants have contributed charms made from metal, fabric, fibers, beads, wire, lace, found objects, and more. I'm sure that your contribution would be most welcome.
If you're interested in participating in this project, please contact organizer Kris Henderson as soon as you can. She'd love to get lots of charms donated for this project, which will make the art doll much more valuable and more likely to generate funds needed for ovarian cancer research.
Kris Henderson's email:
Thanks, everybody!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jewelry-Making DVDs on

This news is "hot off the press": All four of my jewelry-making DVDs are now available through!
I've been working on this project for about a week now, and it's a relief to see my efforts have paid off. The DVDs look great on and I hope to find a larger customer base for them through this Web site. I've been wanting to do this ever since I found out that a vendor who had purchased my Tribal Treasures DVD through a distributor was re-selling it on for $129.00. So far, two people have bought it at that price (poor things!), and one wrote to say how disgusted she was when she found out later that the same DVD could have been purchased from me through for $29.95. She gave my DVD one star, sadly, saying "5 stars for the DVD - 1 star for the rip-off dealer!"
I can't say I blame her. The other gal who reviewed my DVD gave it five stars, I'm relieved to say. But I still feel very sorry for her! Imagine paying over $100 for a DVD that normally retails for $29.95... is still working on a few bugs; for example, I wasn't able to upload the image of my Bohemian Bangles DVD in the usual way, so I had to upload it as a customer's image, which is not exactly professional in my opinion. And the $129 price tag still hangs on my Tribal Treasures DVD until updates my information, which should be complete by the end of Tuesday. But Rings of Beauty and Ethnic Style look terrific, and all the information is correct.
And here's a deal: All of my DVDs qualify for FREE shipping since the retail prices are above $25.
If I might ask my customers to do me a little favor, I would truly appreciate it if you wouldn't mind going to the site to give my DVDs a review. Product reviews have a huge impact on customers, as I know all too well myself—I'm a huge shopper on! It would make a world of difference if those of you who appreciate my DVDs and want to see me produce more of them would go online to encourage others to buy them. Thanks so much! The sooner I can pay off my business Visa, the sooner I can start producing the next workshop on DVD...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Etruscan Spiral Jewelry Workshop Offered

Yes, I have another new class to offer at Brea Bead Works in Brea, California!
The "Etruscan Spiral Necklace" isn't really Etruscan as far as I know—it has a nice big double spiral made from 14ga wire and I love the mixed-metals look (copper tubing and sterling silver wire), but it could as easily be inspired by Egyptian motifs as Etruscan, or anything else. I call it my Etruscan Spiral Necklace because I designed my first one (the necklace on top, with the silver spiral) while teaching in April 2007 in Cortona, Italy.
Better known as the place where "Under the Tuscan Sun" was filmed, Cortona has long been a vacation destination for British and European travelers. Many ex-pats have purchased second homes here over the years, and if you have ever visited this lovely, peaceful Tuscan hilltown, you know why. (Be sure to check out the Cortona, Italy Web cam listed on the right under Web sites & blogs to visit.)
Among other things, Cortona is situated right above a train station where you can pick up a train that will take you to Florence in an hour or to Rome in a couple of hours... from these big train stations, you can travel anywhere you'd like to go. The last time I was in Cortona, I took the train to Orvieto (a one-hour train ride) where I explored the underground caverns and bought some pretty pieces of pottery. If you'd like to visit Tuscany with a small group of like-minded travelers with an interest in jewelry making, why don't you consider joining me there in April 2009?
More information can be found by clicking here.
In the meantime, you can learn to make the beautiful Etruscan Spiral Necklace in Brea, California by signing up for my workshop. I don't have a date for this one yet, but I'll be updating my blog soon with this information. If you like working with heavy-gauge (14ga & 16ga) wire in sterling silver and/or copper, you'll love this class. I also used copper tubing from the hardware store to make this unique jewelry piece.
Finally, if you'd really like to make this necklace but can't make it to Southern California or to Cortona, Italy, it is demonstrated in close-up detail on my brand-new DVD, Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop. You'll also learn how to make my popular Ethnic Coin Necklace and four new bracelets, too.
I hope to meet you in Brea... or in Italy... Just remember, if you believe in your dreams, they will happen!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Painted Jewelry

Recently I decided to propose some new classes to a mixed-media art convention taking place in 2009, so I find myself back behind the camera again.
Preparation is a huge part of being a traveling freelance art teacher. The fun part is designing new jewelry pieces, like the "Painted Jewelry" bracelet shown above. Then I have to think of ways to make my projects not only beautiful and wearable, but fun to make, too. Once I've come up with something that I like and believe that my students will enjoy making, I photograph it the best I can using my EZ Cube photography system. That's what I've been doing this evening. I have several more to photograph and edit....
Next, I'll consult my notebook for anything I may have jotted down while creating the piece. These notes are invaluable during the next stage: writing up a workshop description, supply list and class handouts. All this, and I have yet to find out if my project has even been accepted by the convention organizer...
The submission form is another task. Each one takes some time to fill it out properly, because every convention has different requirements and the deadlines vary widely. If I miss a deadline, I may have to postpone my proposals until the following year.
Once my project has been accepted—if it has!—I post new photos to my Web site, creating a separate page for every new class. That's when I can let everyone in my terrific Yahoo group (bead_on_a_wire) know about the upcoming event. Nowadays I'll be blogging about it, too, and doing everything else I can think of to promote my classes.
Once students start signing up for my workshops, inevitably they email me with questions about the supply list. I do my best, but occasionally I forget to include an item, so I have to refine the supply list over and over until it's as perfect as I can make it. My prospective students help out with that... and, before you know it, I'm meeting them personally in class.
Maybe I'll be meeting you someday—I hope so.