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
video

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

video

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