Thursday, December 31, 2009

A bright and shining NEW YEAR to everyone!

I chose one of my very favorite images from 2009 to wish you the best possible NEW YEAR, New Decade, New Life in 2010.
From my heart, I wish the very best to all my readers and students, to everyone who embraces true creativity in art, to everyone who is earnestly searching for his/her own voice and making an effort to contribute originality to the world instead of merely copying the artwork of others.
Blessings on you!
Happy wrapping,

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas, Everyone!

Wishing you all a happy Christmas today, and a better future for our dear country. My prayer is that God will bless America—not because we deserve His blessings, but because we desperately need them, as we need Him.
Sharilyn

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New book arrival!

I'm so excited about my brand-new book, 100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations! My first copy just arrived in the mail, and it looks fantastic.
The print quality is very good and my jewelry looks terrific photographed in glossy full color. Each page has at least one photo, and a few have more than one (max of four) smaller photos with a title and brief description. There are no instructions in 100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations; it is a portfolio featuring a selection of original jewelry pieces that I have designed over the years from 2001 to 2009.
If you'd like to see a preview of the first 15 pages, click here.
The book can be ordered in soft cover (pictured) for $24.95 or hard-bound for $39.95. The book measures 7x7 inches and includes 80 full-color pages of high quality paperstock. Although the title is 100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations, there are actually a few more than that! I couldn't resist giving my readers just a little bit more than promised.
I hope you enjoy it!
Sharilyn

Monday, December 14, 2009

Biker-Chick Bangle Workshop this Friday

If you're interested in learning to make the coolest mixed-media bracelets ever, come join me in a workshop this Friday at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert. We'll use silver, copper and brass wire, found objects, coins, copper tubing (from the hardware store), and leftover beads from other projects to make a hip bangle-bracelet.
For info and a supply list, click here.
I haven't been blogging very much lately because I've been really super-busy re-photographing much of my jewelry. This is an ongoing project that began when I decided to publish a portfolio of my jewelry designs from 2001 through the present, and publish the photos in a small book entitled "100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations" (click here for information).
At first I thought that I could simply use the numerous photos that I have already collected over the years, photos that I use to promote my workshops. But then I decided that I'd really like to create a more professional look to my presentations. I considered hiring a photographer, but once I checked out the prices (from $60 to $90 per shot, ouch!) I realized that I would have to do it myself.
In the past I have used a light-tent system from Table Top Studio (click here to see the jewelry photo kit that I use) which has served me well for many years. I love this system because it allows me to create either simple shots or elaborately propped images that look like something out of a magazine. I can use various backgrounds such as handmade paper or fabric, tiles, etc. I love using props in my photos—interesting rocks, tree branches and bark, little arty objects that I pick up during my travels...
But I was hoping for something a bit different this time, and I found it! Table Top Studio has just come out with a new system called "Black Ice" which gives you that really cool black background with a spotlight on your subject. It's not nearly as easy to use as the photo cube, and takes a bit of practice setting it up just right, due to the reflective nature of the surface you photograph on. But, after a few tries I think I've gotten the hang of it. I believe my photos are turning out much better than before. I love the reflections and shadows, mmm-mmm!
The bangles pictured above are just one of many photos you will find in my new book, 100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations, which you can order at blurb.com. Or if you would like to make a Biker-Chick Bangle of your own, meet me at Monica's this Friday and we'll do it together.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Saturday, December 12, 2009

100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations

If you're looking for inspiration, here it is!
I just uploaded a brand-new book featuring a portfolio of my wire-art jewelry to www.blurb.com. "100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations" is not one of my typical how-too books; instead, on each glossy page you'll find high-quality images from my handmade jewelry collection with a brief description of each piece.
I've been designing and making original wire-art jewelry since 2001. I decided recently that it was time to present a full-color portfolio of my work in an affordable format. This 80-page book measures 7˝x7˝, is in full color, and printed on premium paper. You'll find 100 (actually, more than 100 because I always like to deliver more than I promise) jewelry pieces professionally photographed with a brief description in a caption beneath each photo.
Necklaces, bracelets & bangles, earrings, and pins—it's all in "100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations," and I think you'll like it!
To see a free preview of the first 15 pages of the book, click here.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Monday, November 23, 2009

NEW Book Available Now!

I'm so excited to announce today that, at long last, my new book Wire Art Jewelry is available to order!
I just received the "proof copy" today, and it looks great. Full-color glossy paperback cover, black & white interior, 200 pages, 16 projects, 19 chapters on basics, plus resources.
Wire Art Jewelry retails for $24.95. To order, click here.
If you'd like to see full-color photos of all the projects you will learn in this book, click here.
Here's the table of contents:
Introduction
Tools & Materials
Basic Techniques:
Cleaning wire
Jump rings
Cage beads
Spiral headpins
Heart-shaped headpins
Celtic knot links
Rosette jump-ring clusters
French ear hooks
Hook & eye clasp
Twisting fine-gauge wire
Worm beads
Simple (unwrapped) eye-pin-loop bead connectors
Bead dangle with single-wrapped eye-pin loop
Bead connectors with double-wrapped eye-pin loops
Bead dangles with double-wrapped eye-pin loops
Coil-wrapped bead connectors
Freeform knotless netting
Using liver of sulfur & polishing jewelry with a tumbler
Bracelets:
Bird's nest bangles
Cage-bead bracelet
Snake vertebra bracelet
Faux 4-in-1 bracelet
Double-spiral bangle
Celtic knot bracelet
Stacked washer-link bracelet
Earrings:
Gypsy-stick earrings
Angel's earrings
Triangle drop earrings
Squiggle earrings
Snake vertebra earrings
Necklaces:
Thai heart pendant
Grateful heart necklace
Wrap a rock pendant
Dancing man necklace
Resources
If you have any questions about my new book or would just like to comment, please feel free to email me at sharilynmiller@mac.com.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn
www.SharilynMiller.com

Friday, November 20, 2009

Getting ready to teach tomorrow...

Tonight I'm getting ready to teach my Grateful Heart Necklace workshop at Brea Bead Works in Brea, California. (To see a photo of the class sample, click here.) The necklace comes from my newest book, Wire Art Jewelry, which will be available to order within a few days!
What I'm really excited about is seeing some very good friends afterward: Kathy, Sylvia, Tonya, and possibly Lisa. We all used to work together for a magazine publisher, and now that we've gone in different directions with our lives, it's a rare pleasure when we can get together.
Hence the bracelet photos in this post; they are my little Christmas gifts for my dear friends. We'll meet for dinner at Peppino's in Lake Forest after class tomorrow, and catch up on all the latest news. Kathy told me not to bring any gifts, but I couldn't resist making each of my friends a little something.
We hope that Lisa can make it, and perhaps our friend Nancy as well (although she tells us she already has plans to see the New Moon movie). This is what I love about the holidays—instead of shopping til I drop, I make things with my favorite beads and sterling silver wire. Later I have the joy of knowing that my friends will always have a little part of me with them.
Since Thanksgiving is next week, this is a good time to pause and think about what we're grateful for. It's funny how being in a long economic recession can help lend focus to the things that really matter, like the people we love and the art we are able to pursue. I'm also grateful for my students, who continue to make beautiful things with their hands. What a gift, and how easy to share!
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A lazy Saturday afternoon...

So this is what we're up to today... not much. Sparkle is her usual animated self...
But Ivy wants to get in on the action, if there is any...
...when she's not busy gazing off into space...
...she's hanging out in her favorite perch...
"Wassup?"
"I mean, wah-wah-wah-wassup?"
"I may appear to be posing nicely for the camera, but I'm actually getting ready to pounce on..."
Rosy, who is less than thrilled with all the camera action going on this afternoon!
Happy Saturday, everybody...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Organizing again?

A friend called me today to ask what I was up to, and I somewhat sheepishly admitted that I was reorganizing my stuff... again.
It's a never-ending process, and the only justification for it is the end result. When my art studio (I'm so grateful to have one!) is clean and tidy, with all my beads, jewelry tools, wire, paintbrushes and paints, fabrics, and fibers all neatly organized, I work so much more efficiently. I'm more creative and certainly less frustrated when I can find my tools and materials quickly and easily.
The latest organizational problem that I have noticed has to do with my beads, which I have been storing for years in small fishing-tackle boxes. Nice for travel-teaching, but not so great for working at home! So I've gone back to my original system of storing my bead collection in small clear plastic baggies. These are then divided into color groupings (black beads, metallic beads, Thai silver, pearls, etc.) and stored in drawers, one color to a drawer. I believe this will help me to keep track of what I actually have, and I hope this will in turn keep me from purchasing duplicates of beads and supplies that I don't really need.
My other task is to write up the instructions for the Grateful Heart Necklace pictured above, which I'm teaching at Brea Bead Works in Brea (southern California) on November 21. I don't know if there are any openings in this class, which is suited for intermediate wire artists (for instance, you must know how to make a simple wrapped loop). But if you're interested in attending, by all means give the store a call: 714 671-9976.
I recently revamped my two Web sites (www.SharilynMiller.com and www.WireJewelryDVDs.com) and I think they look great. Of course, I'm also anticipating the release of my brand-new book, Wire Art Jewelry, which will be published any day now. The Grateful Heart Necklace is featured in my new book, just in case you're interested in making it but unable to attend the class.
I've also scheduled several workshops to be held at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert this winter, beginning December 5 with my Faux Metals Necklace workshop. If you'd like to see what I'm teaching in the near future, you can access my workshop schedule by clicking here. I hope to see you in a workshop soon!
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Review: Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders

While I'm waiting patiently for my next new book to come out (the graphic designer is finishing it today!), I thought I'd re-post a book review that I did last July on my other blog.
What prompted this idea? Well, the publishers (Kalmbach) contacted me today asking if they might quote parts of my review in some of their marketing materials for Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders. I said sure, why not? Then I got to thinking that it might not be a bad idea to re-post the review on this blog for those of you who are regular readers.
I feel really confident recommending this book to you—and I don't often say that about jewelry books in general, wire-jewelry books in particular. Anyway, here's what I had to say about the book:
This is such a terrific book, I can hardly wait to tell you about it! A friend of mine purchased a copy of Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders, and she recently loaned it to me because she was curious to see what I thought of it. I've seen all the jewelry making books out there, you see, and I own many of them, too. Would I be inspired by the author's designs, or bored by the same-old, same-old content that is typical of so many jewelry books these days?
Well, I'm so happy to report that this truly is a stand-out book on wire jewelry! Many of the author's designs are quite original and refreshing, such as her Whimsical Pins on page 48, her unique Wire Wrapped Heart on page 55, fantastic Zigazag Rings on page 65, and—my personal fav—the Beaded Leaf on page 78.
You know, when I first started perusing the book, I thought it was going to be ordinary. That's because the first 46 pages are taken up with the usual stuff: tools & materials, a discussion on wire, etc. plus lots of beginner-basics that we've all seen before: wrapped loops, spirals, attaching commercial chains to wire to make jewelry pieces, and lots of simple, easy projects for newbies.
Since I have written six art & craft books myself, I understand the importance of providing this information and instruction. It levels the field, making jewelry techniques more accessible to everyone. But sometimes, after picking up one book after another that is taken up with beginner basics, I just want to say, "please, no more wrapped loops!!!" Can't we get beyond that?
Well, no. I myself included plenty of beginner-basic instruction in my most recent book,Contemporary Copper Jewelry, which released in September. I had to do it—there's no way around it. But getting back to this terrific new book by Irina Miech: If you're an intermediate to advanced (experienced) wire jewelry artist, once you get past the first half of the book you'll be rewarded with some very rich and satisfying content.
I love the author's fun and whimsical yet sophisticated and feminine approach to jewelry design. Irina offers some really cute projects, some challenging ideas, designs that can easily be altered to your own taste, and—best of all—a wealth of creative options. I like her step-by-step instruction with full-color photos, her galleries of art jewelry that follow each project, and her originality. You'll find no copies of other artists' work here. The author shares some really terrific new designs that I have not seen elsewhere in other books or magazines.
One of the best features of this book is that the projects have been divided into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced groupings. The publisher color-coded the pages with a strip of color to alert the reader: a burgundy strip for beginner projects, brown for intermediate, and green for advanced. This way, you can easily find the type of project you'd like to tackle based on your skill level. Brilliant idea!
I don't often find a book that captures my respect the way that Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders has done. This title gets a very high recommendation from me! To order it for just $14.93, click here.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wire Art Jewelry: the latest news...

Some of my friends and students have been asking for the latest news on my new book release, and I can understand their anxiety because, after all, I did promise to make it available by October 31!
I just ran into a little snag on the production end, and decided to go with a different printer. It's no big deal, but my decision has delayed the book's release by a few days. My talented friend, Nancy Oh, is redesigning the layout (yet again!) to fit the parameters of the new printer's requirements. Once her work is done, Wire Art Jewelry will be ready to order—we expect by November 10.
I'm really very proud of this latest endeavor: my sixth art-instruction book and the first to be self-published. I learned a tremendous amount in the process of creating a new book full of my favorite designs, with my own photographs and (naturally) self-edited text. I have an ISBN code and a Library of Congress number, making me feel like an official book publisher. Who knows what this could lead to? More books, perhaps...
Wire Art Jewelry turned out to be much larger than I had originally intended. Instead of the 148 pages max I had planned for, it finished at 199! There are literally hundreds of step-out photos accompanied by detailed text describing how to make 16 new projects. In addition, you'll find a helpful guide to my favorite tools and materials and a big "basics" section up front, with 19 chapters on the various techniques you need in order to make the finished jewelry projects.
Is there some content overlap between this new jewelry making book and my previous ones (Bead on a Wire, Contemporary Copper Jewelry)? Well, yes, there is—by absolute necessity. It would be terrific if I could present a how-to book that presumed all potential readers had already read my previous books and mastered all the basic techniques. But, unfortunately, you just can't do that. So yes, there is some repeat info (how to make jump rings, wrapped eye-pin loops, etc.), but there are also some new ideas as well, even in the Basic Techniques section.
If you'd like to see all the jewelry samples from Wire Art Jewelry in full color, click here.
I hope you like it! It's coming out very soon now...
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Saturday, October 31, 2009

All dressed up and...

Idyllwild has a way of drawing dog-lovers from all over. Even the nicest restaurants provide doggy bowls for food and water (out on the decks), and nobody criticizes their fashion sense. Take these two poochies, for example. Don't they make the cutest couple! All dressed up... and nowhere to go?
Actually, they were waiting for Idyllwild's annual Halloween parade to get started. Each year on Halloween, hundreds of townspeople (and others from off the hill) dress up as fairies or devils or clowns or whatever, and at about 4 pm they all march from Cafe Aroma to the center of town. Families feel safe trick-or-treating in the local stores and galleries, and everybody enjoys the live music, games, and entertainment.
It's silly fun in a small town... and that's why we love Idyllwild!
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fun in the classroom...

We certainly had fun in the classroom last Saturday at Brea Bead Works! My students made (or started) some very beautiful pieces, and I was particularly pleased to see how creative they were with their own projects once we got going.
Sorry that the photo above is so poor, but I should have known better than to try photographing a subject in front of a window with strong light. The image came out really dark, and I did try lightening it up a bit in Photoshop. Anyway, I think you get the idea: busy, happy students indulging in their passion for jewelry making...
The project we worked on was taken from my new book, Contemporary Copper Jewelry. (It's found on page 62, for those of you who would like to attempt the same jewelry piece at home.) In the book, the project is a fairly large, complex collar made from a heavy-gauge wire frame embellished with large gemstone chips, medium-size glass and gemstone beads, and small spacer beads and headpins.
The design is organic and freeform, but takes about a week to finish! Yeah, it's pretty big.
So I suggested to my students that we tackle a less ambitious design instead. To assist them, I drew some basic design shapes on the eraser board (geometric and organic forms that always succeed in jewelry design) and suggested that we try making either pendants or bracelets instead of a large collar.
Above you see pictured a simple wire frame made from 14ga wire, with a squiggly organic design. I then placed my largest beads on the frame to get an idea as to how I wanted to start embellishing the frame. I took a photo to demonstrate how easy it is to document your work-in-progress and also help to remind yourself of your direction if you should lose your way later on in the process of making a new jewelry piece.
Anyway, I was so pleased to see each participant in class come up with something original! I hear the old cliche all the time, that "there's nothing new under the sun, everything's been done before, yada yada..." and it makes me so mad, because it's not true! You (yes, you) can make something unique, something original, your own art. Yes, you can. I do it all the time, and so do my students.
This bracelet (pictured above) is Martha's work-in-progress. She decided to use yellow brass wire because she likes the yellow color, which goes so well with her chosen gemstone beads. She made a wire frame for the bracelet and then started embellishing it with finer-gauge wire and beads... asking me how to fit the bracelet later, I told her to try it on her wrist to see how it looks so far. I think she's nearly finished with her embellishment, and ready to bend the heavy-gauge wire into a bracelet form that terminates in two big spirals.
Here's my own finished pendant with agate chips, pearls, labradorite beads, decorative headpins, and a few small crystal beads. I used sterling silver because it's my favorite wire to work with, but the same design could be worked out in copper wire to save money.
I'll be teaching again at BBW on Nov. 21: a brand-NEW necklace called the Grateful Heart. You can find more information and a supply list by clicking here. To enroll in the workshop, call BBW at 714-671-9976.
This necklace is also a featured project in my brand-new (really brand-new!) 200-page book called Wire Art Jewelry. I hope to release this title by the end of this week or the beginning of next! I'm really excited about it, because there are so many great projects that students have been asking me to provide for them. For more info, click here.
I hope to see you in a workshop sometime before the end of 2009. As the holidays approach, I focus on my favorite of the year: Thanksgiving. We've been through a very rough year, and yet I believe that we all have much to be grateful for. I also believe that we have much to look forward to in the near future, including lots of opportunities to express ourselves creatively. What a gift!
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Friday, October 23, 2009

Preparing for class tomorrow at Brea Bead Works

Today is all about paperwork and preparation for teaching a new workshop at Brea Bead Works in Brea, California tomorrow.
I'm teaching the Autumn Dance necklace workshop, and really looking forward to it. I think I'll also bring my bracelet mandrel so that students who are interested can use the techniques we learn to make a big bangle bracelet instead of a necklace, if they so desire. It should be fun!
We still have openings in this class, so if you'd like to join us, you'd be welcome to do so. For a supply list, click here.
To contact Brea Bead Works, call 715-671-9976.
Happy Wrapping,
Sharilyn

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yowza--Free Beads!

Wow, what a gift! I had to blog about it.
Recently I received an incredible gift of beads from a student of mine, Laura Bittner of Antelope Beads. While teaching a workshop series at the Bead Weasel in Midland, Michigan last August (to read about it, visit my previous post), I was fortunate to meet Laura and her family. They have a wonderful family business selling beads and components at bead shows across the US as well as through their Web site.
During class one day, Laura said to me: "I'm going to send you some of my beads, I really want you to try them." She was as good as her word! Above you can see a selection of Tagua Nut beads in delicious colors that Laura thought I might like (yes, love them!) but no photo can do them justice. They are brightly colored, polished and very lightweight (important for jewelry). Thank you, Laura!
In the same package, I received these gorgeous Kazuri Beads in some of my favorite colors. Kazuri are African clay beads: handmade, painted, glazed and fired by people in Kenya who make a fair living (read the full story here) by selling their creations through the Fair Trade Act. I strongly support purchasing Kazuri beads for your jewelry creations because they are not only beautiful and durable little works of art, but they also do much to support people who might not otherwise have any employment.
Laura also sent me some Metalcraft beads by DeZine (pictured above), which are handmade brass and copper components crafted in a small village in Africa. The selection you see here gives you an idea of how beautiful they are. I love them for ethnic-style jewelry! Can't wait to design my first necklace with some of these components.
Knowing that the sale of these items provides employment for women in Africa (20 percent of them are disabled) makes me feel very good about making jewelry. It's nice to know that you can help others simply by creating your art, and incorporating the art of others into your own creations.
Finally, on the same day (believe it or not) that I received so many free beads from Laura, I also received a package of resin beads in brand-new shapes from my friend Judy Tomsky at Natural Touch Beads.
I've been making jewelry with Judy's incredibly beautiful eye-candy beads for years now, and she has frequently sent me packets of free samples to try out as she obtains them in new sizes, shapes and colors. She sent me too many to photograph, so I just chose a few of the beads in some brand-new shapes to show here. If you haven't been to Judy's Web site recently, you must visit right away. Click here.
Thank you, Judy and Laura, for your kindness and generosity! It was a real treat to find such beautiful gifts in my mailbox, and I really appreciate it. I look forward to making some new creative jewelry with your beads.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lovin' those Wubbers...

I forgot to mention in my previous post that Patti Bullard, inventor of the Wubbers brand jewelry pliers, very generously gave me a full set of my very favorite pliers as a parting gift! How could I forget her generosity... perhaps I was just overwhelmed. I'm not used to receiving gifts from my hostess when I teach for a guild or a bead store, so it was quite a surprise for me. Pictured above you see the full set of tools in the "Classic" size: (from left) bent chain-nose pliers, round-nose pliers, and flat-nose pliers, followed by a nice little 6-inch ruler, regular chain-nose pliers and two more flat-nose pliers.
Why so many flat-nose pliers? Because Patti decided to widen our design choices by inventing tools with three different widths (no other manufacturer does this, to my knowledge). Pictured above you see a close-up of the flat-nose pliers in (from left) narrow, medium, and extra-wide widths.
My personal favorite is the very tiny pair on the far left, which I like to use whenever I'm working with fine-gauge wire or when I must bend a little tiny bit of wire, just right. Until you've actually tried this tool for yourself, you won't understand why I'm so crazy about it!
I also love these tools because the handles are easy to hold, with a foam grip that's easy on the hands. Less stress, no pain, all gain! I love these tools.
Patti, if you happen to read my blog, thank you so much for my new Wubbers!!!
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Monday, October 12, 2009

Adventures in Wubberland

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of teaching for Patti Bullard of Wired Up Beads in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. As you can see, the ladies pictured in class were having a pretty good time with their hammers! I must say, some of the nicest and funniest women I've ever met.
Everywhere I go, I find that teaching women how to wield their hammers has a cathartic effect... it is somehow so satisfying to grasp a good tool firmly in hand and smack it down on a piece of metal! We had plenty of opportunity to do that when I taught my Embellished Copper Washer Bracelet class on Friday, followed by the Etruscan Spiral Pendant workshop on Saturday. Pictured above, you see the ladies from Sunday's class, the Ethnic Coin Necklace.
Here's part of the necklace that Patti made, using disks in copper, brass and silver. I like to hammer out old pennies to make my charms for this necklace, but you can also purchase metal disks in various sizes from Rio Grande or other sources, and use them instead of coins. I believe you can purchase these disks in copper and silver as well as gold (if you can afford gold these days!), which widens your design options.
While we were putting together our necklaces on Sunday, we discussed other design options such as using our coins to make cool gypsy-style bracelets. I love teaching workshops that provide instruction in lots of wire-working techniques so that students come away with not only new knowledge and skills, but also plenty of creative ideas for designing their own jewelry creations.
I was very impressed with the ladies in Dallas. Everybody got along so well, worked very hard on their jewelry pieces, and laughed... a lot! There's much to be said for that.
If you can't make it to one of my workshops, you might like to get a copy of my Ethnic Style Jewelry DVD which includes four bracelets demonstrated in step-by-step detail, plus the two necklaces we made on Saturday and Sunday. It's three and a half hours long, and retails for just $24.95. To order, click here.
Until next time, happy wrapping!
Sharilyn