Friday, December 31, 2010

Last day to save $10 on Arty Jewelry or 100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations!

Today is December 31, 2010, and that means it's the last day for you to save on my two most recent books: Arty Jewelry and 100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations.
Arty Jewelry includes 11 jewelry projects that I recently designed, each one clearly stepped out in full color photography and large-print type on premium paper. It's easy to follow the steps to make your own "arty jewelry" using your favorite beads and either copper or silver wire.
100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations is my artist portfolio featuring more than 100 jewelry pieces photographed in full color. You will find bracelets, necklaces, pins, and earrings made in 2001-2009, but no instructions. Lots of eye candy, though! I hope it inspires you.
To take advantage of the $10 discount you can receive by ordering these books, type in the following codes when you check out:
If shipping to the USA, type in CHEER.
If shipping to a UK address, type in CHEER1.
If shipping to Europe, type in CHEER2.
If shipping to Canada, type in CHEER3.
If shipping to Australia, type in CHEER4
I wish everyone a happy and safe NEW YEAR! May 2011 be a blessing for all of us.
Happy wrapping,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Busy-busy with NEW jewelry designs!

Friends have been calling lately to ask what I'm up to now that the Christmas holiday is behind us. Taking it easy until New Year's? Well, no.
I've actually been super busy making some brand-NEW jewelry designs to teach in my workshops. Lately I've been using silk flowers and vintage buttons in my designs, as you can see in my wire-woven Cuff with Vintage Buttons (above) and the Fleur Bangle bracelet pictured below.
These two designs are just a couple of potential candidates for my "wire-art adventure" in Cortona, Italy this coming August 27-September 3, 2011. If you're interested in learning how to use flea-market finds from your travels to make stunning jewelry to commemorate your trip, I hope you'll join me this autumn for an unforgettable adventure!
My new Vintage Button Brooch is a smashing design, and it's great fun to wear not only as a lapel pin but on the flap of a crocheted purse or even on a knitted scarf. I've made these brooches in copper as well as sterling silver wire, to rave reviews!
I love my new Ripple Pins. So many creative possibilities! As you can see, they look great in sterling (or fine) silver as well as copper wire. No beads! Just lots of fun with 14ga wire and tools...
If you're interested in learning how to make beautiful jewelry with found objects, have a look at my Cortona, Italy page by clicking here. You'll find all the information you need to start making plans, but if you have further questions please feel free to email me as well.
Happy wrapping, and a happy and safe new year to all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Idyllwild!

After six days of unrelenting rain mixed with just a bit of snow—all melted now—today the sun came out bright and clear with a deep-blue sky and not one cloud to be seen. I've never been so grateful for sunshine! What a blessing for Christmas eve.
I took the photo above a while ago, before our dusting of snow had melted. Sparkle was basking in her bed by the window, but jumped down just before I could get a shot of her, so you'll just have to imagine a kitty in the window! All is beautifully warm and glowing now, and believe it or not the BEES are buzzing in my rosemary blossoms! I'm taking this beautiful winter/springlike day as a sign of hope, literally from the heavens. I'm hopeful that 2011 will be a much better year than 2010 was: a year full to bursting with creativity, possibilities, and loving friendships.
Tomorrow will be a very quiet Christmas day spent with my parents; Mom has already warned me that she hasn't managed to pick up any presents for me and I'm actually glad about that! While I love giving and receiving gifts throughout the year—for various occasions and for no reason at all—there is something about the overwhelming pressure to buy-buy-buy for Christmas that has me almost completely turned off to the holiday. It takes a real effort to turn off the pressure and focus on the beauty of the season.
This year my number-one goal is to focus on the small blessings in life that come and go so swiftly. The little moments are easily forgotten if I don't take the time to make a mental note, or sketch it out in my "idea book."
Yesterday I saw a pretty young mule deer walking down the hill above my driveway, and later in the afternoon I saw a coyote trotting down my driveway in search of a fat squirrel. The day before, while it was pouring rain I saw my bobcat (I consider him my bobcat), also crossing my driveway, looking rather sad and bedraggled in his soaking-wet fur! But what a beautiful winter coat. Such a funny tail, though! I wish my camera had been close to hand.
This year will also be a time of exploring more drawing and painting exercises. Just this week I found some time for my sketchbook and it's amazing how stimulating that was. In just a few hours as I was attempting to paint some florals the idea came to me that I might want to start incorporating silk flowers into my jewelry designs... which led to a brand-new silk-flower bangle with a newly designed clasp, a new ring design, and some cute earrings. I was not planning for that to happen, I just wanted to sketch and paint for fun! I also designed a new wire-woven cuff bracelet with vintage mother-of-pearl buttons. It took two days to make, but I just love it, and I'll be teaching similar items when I travel to Cortona, Italy this September for a week of flea-market shopping and jewelry making. More on that in a future post....
In the meantime, I want to wish you all a beautiful holiday and a year full of hope, creativity, time for family and friendships, and joyful self-expression.
Blessings and happy wrapping,
ps: My book, Arty Jewelry, is still on sale until Dec. 31, 2010. To get your $10 discount, use the following codes:
If shipping to the USA, type in CHEER.
If shipping to a UK address, type in CHEER1.
If shipping to Europe, type in CHEER2.
If shipping to Canada, type in CHEER3.
If shipping to Australia, type in CHEER4

Monday, December 13, 2010

Arty Jewelry on SALE!!!

For a brief time, my latest self-published book is on sale at!
Arty Jewelry is a wonderful instructional book featuring 11 jewelry projects stepped out in full-color detail with instructions in large, bold type. Lots of eye-candy and inspiration, and the instructions are very easy to follow. This book offers you 11 projects at a reasonable price, cheaper than buying them as individual tutorials.
Normally $30.95 (paperback) or $50.95 (hardbound, image-wrap), for a limited time you can order Arty Jewelry for $10 off! Just type in the discount code as indicated below when you order:
If shipping to the USA, type in CHEER.
If shipping to a UK address, type in CHEER1.
If shipping to Europe, type in CHEER2.
If shipping to Canada, type in CHEER3.
If shipping to Australia, type in CHEER4.
Wherever you hail from, I wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy a new year full of love, creativity, and much joy.
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ivy in a Box

It was a gorgeous day up here in Idyllwild, with mild weather like a summery autumn. Ivy was cooped up indoors, but she had fun playing in her favorite toy, a cardboard box. Here she is, hiding from the camera. Ivy says: "What? You're taking my picture?"
Ivy says: "Awe, what for?"
Ivy says: "Can't a kitty get a little peace and quiet around here?"
Ivy says: "Com'on now, that's enough!"
Sparkle says: "If Ivy was smart, she'd hide in the sink with me!"
Happy holidays from Ivy & Sparkle...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's 78th birthday, and she and I celebrated with a friend by going out for tea and dessert at our local bakery. We also enjoyed some delicious soup and salad. Mom looked great and she loves her new necklace, which I made for her using copper wire and some of my favorite beads. The glass leaf pendant comes all the way from Venice, Italy.
Here's the necklace in more detail. I enjoyed making it, had lots of fun shaping a wire daisy and cute heart with beads. I love making things for my mom. She's my best friend and her support is amazing! I'm so fortunate to have her in my life, and I'm especially grateful that her health is excellent and she has a very full and active life up here in Idyllwild.
Dropped off Mom after tea and then went grocery shopping, arriving home just in time to catch the pink sunset right off my deck. Gorgeous! I love living in Idyllwild...
Happy wrapping,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Pin Design

I just had a really fun day in the studio this afternoon after hosting a big women's luncheon at my house...
I was a bit tired out, but somehow felt creative, too, so I sat down at my workshop table and created a brand-new pin design in copper (pictured left) and fine silver. After oxidizing them both and polishing them in the tumbler, I like them quite a lot. 
I look forward to showing my new pins to my mom tomorrow; it's her 78th birthday and we're going out to tea!
Happy wrapping,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Colorful Tribal Necklace workshop this Saturday

I'm teaching a fun workshop this Saturday at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert, CA: the Colorful Tribal Necklace.
You can learn a lot in one day, and walk out with a beautiful keepsake necklace made with sterling silver or copper wire and the beads of your choice. Monica has some gorgeous beads in her store right now, especially pendants and handmade glass beads, and luscious strands of pearls... you don't want to miss the shopping opportunities!
In my workshop you'll learn to make:
Coiled-wire beads
Caged beads
Jump rings
Handmade wire chain
Handmade clasps
Wrapped eye-pin loops
Various wire charms such as spirals, leaf shapes, and more
This is a great class for beginning to intermediate wire artists. I hope to see you at Monica's this Saturday. To register, call 760-772-2400.
For a workshop supply list, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Journaling with Jane LaFazio

Although it's still Saturday night, I feel as though I've been away for a long weekend—nearly four days spent with my bff Louise Duhamel, award-winning jewelry artist and amazing woman, a true blessing in my life. Louise and I had been wanting to take a watercolor journaling workshop with Jane LaFazio for a very long time, since last summer in fact, so we signed up for Jane's "Watercolor Painting: Journal Style" workshop several months ago. It finally took place in San Diego last Thursday and Friday, sponsored by the San Diego Watercolor Society.
Above you can see one of the subjects for our first painting exercises. We first tried painting some silk flowers Jane had brought for our use, and then we went outside the workshop facility into the rose garden to try our hand at live botanical paintings. I took several photos as well.
The emphasis of this workshop was on simple watercolors and page layout with handwritten text and titles; signing and dating our work was also encouraged. I call Jane's approach "travel journaling for the rest of us," meaning those of us who are rather new at this and somewhat intimidated by the gorgeous journals we've seen in books and magazines.
Naturally we had to break for sustenance, so at lunchtime many of us headed for the nearby bakery for some of the most delicious sandwiches I have ever eaten in my life (the bread was so fresh and deliciously soft-yet-crunchy, mmmm!); and we salivated over the scones and other desserts on offer. We also commented on what a terrific journal subject a bakery could be...
Speaking of food, here's a typical entry from one of Jane LaFazio's travel journal sketchbooks. Lovely persimmons... love those shadows, too! She uses a Moleskine book and basic watercolors, a niji water-brush (for portability) and sketches with waterproof black pens (Pitt artist pens) but also likes to use a water-soluble pen sometimes to make interesting sketches with a watercolor effect.
BTW, Jane is teaching this same workshop again on Jan 20-Feb 24, 2011 at Click here for info. She's also teaching a live workshop in Encinitas on March 19, 2011. Check out her blog for more info.
At the end of class our first day, I wanted to go out to eat at Cheesecake Factory (love their French market salad), and the nearest one was in a San Diego mall. Louise and I walked through the Nordstrom dept. store to get to the restaurant, and we stopped by this gorgeous painting by Scottie Flamm. LOVE IT!!! I asked Louise to pose in front of it, thank you Louise!
On our second day, Jane decided to stretch us a bit creatively, and had us all gather around a bunch of rusty pipes that I am sure have a very practical purpose of some sort... but for us, they were a source of inspiration for drawing (and perhaps painting). I drew three very quick sketches in black ink on watercolor paper, and then decided to do something more creative.
I started with a simple sketch in vertical format, which I worked on for less than a minute. I then turned my watercolor page around to a horizontal format, and continued sketching the same object but this time in a new orientation. I made myself start the second sketch from the edge of the first sketch so that it would have continuity. Don't ask me where I get these ideas!
After about a minute or so I turned the page again and continued sketching. The end result, created in less than five minutes (for sure), might be the basis for a fun abstract painting or it could be used by an art quilter (like Jane!) as the basis for a new quilt design. Or whatever. It was fun and it kept my impatient, easily bored mind entertained (always a challenge when I take workshops).
By this time I had taken lots and lots of photos of the rose garden and I was a bit tired of the prettiness of it all, so I stopped for a quick photo of the above... bird poop! I love it. Kinda reminds me of a Jackson Pollock painting. In any case, I consider this a good reference photo for a future work of art!
Here's one of my unfinished journal pages. I need to sign and date it, and also add some text to turn a simple watercolor into a real journal page. I'll finish it by tomorrow...
Louise and I both fell in love with the magnolia pods that had dropped off the trees across the street from the facility where the San Diego Watercolor Society has its meeting rooms and workshops. I collected a few and gave some to Louise.
I used mine to begin an abstract drawing, again turning my watercolor paper a quarter-turn about every minute or so as I sketched. This drawing is unfinished, but it has great possibilities.
This morning as I was preparing to drive back home to Idyllwild, I asked Louise to help me with my camera. For some reason I have never been able to get the macro lens to work, and I hate reading the manual! My friend showed me how to access it and I went to town, photographing closeups of all her flowers and shrubs. The photo above is a Bird of Paradise, in Louise's kitchen.
Here's a closeup of a weird, dead plant that Louise's husband had thrown away when he was clearing out their yard, which has several huge palm trees. Louise plucked it out of the trash in the nick of time, and I had fun photographing it from all angles.
And finally, here's a fun photo of Louise's little darling. He followed me into the garden when I was out snapping photos. I was sorry to say goodbye! I'm looking forward to spending some time with Louise again, perhaps as early as next month.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wild Wire Women Retreats: 2011 NEW DATES!

I've just added some new dates to the 2011 schedule of Wild Wire Women retreats! Here they are:
January 5-10, 2011
February 10-14, 2011
February 24-28, 2011
March 31-April 4, 2011
April 7-11, 2011
April 14-18, 2011
May 5-9, 2011
May 12-16, 2011
May 26-30, 2011
June 2-6, 2011
Yes, you will find some winter dates (Jan.-March) listed as well as spring and early summer. The weather up here in Idyllwild is unpredictable, so anyone who winters down in this area (Palm Springs, Temecula, Hemet, etc.) is welcome to come on up for a retreat if the weather is fair.
I don't recommend out-of-state students flying in for a retreat until April. In any case, I always recommend purchasing travel insurance; it's cheap, and it can save you a bundle!
The cost for a retreat in 2011 is $725, with a nonrefundable deposit required at the time of registration: $225. Why nonrefundable? This is to keep folks from registering for a retreat and then backing out at the last minute. It's standard practice in the art & craft retreat industry, and again, if you purchase trip-cancellation insurance you should be able to get a refund if you find that you must cancel.
If we have really bad weather up here (not likely after March) or if I myself must cancel the retreat for some unforeseen purpose, I will refund your deposit.
To learn more about the retreats, what's included in your fee (LOTS!) and what you can expect to learn, please visit my retreat blog. Click here.
Any questions? Feel free to email me and I'll do my best to answer them.
I hope to meet you in Idyllwild soon!
Happy wrapping,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bead on a Wire: 102 Five-Star Reviews!

Wow, I just found out recently that Bead on a Wire has 102 FIVE-STAR reviews on!
This is great news, and I am so thrilled because this book has continued to teach thousands of jewelry artists how to make beautiful, durable wire jewelry since it was first published in 2005.
I hope you all enjoy it... As for me, I'm doing a happy dance!
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wild Wire Women: Sunday

I just found some photos on my camera that I didn't realize I had, so this post relates to last Sunday, November 7!
On our final full day in the studio, we made Bangle Bracelets, the Heart Pin, and some basic earrings too. We had used liver of sulfur the night before to artificially age our jewelry, so Sunday was also devoted to cleaning and polishing. Looks like the three sisters from Iceland are having a good time, but believe me the process is a bit tedious!
First you have to polish the darkening effect from your jewelry (copper or silver) using 0000 steel wool. Afterward, as Helga demonstrates above, you should brush out the bits of steel wool using a brass brush (look for one in the barbecue section of most hardware stores). This is because in the next step, you give your polished jewelry a high shine by tumbling it for about half an hour with stainless steel jewelry shot, burnishing compound, and water. The steel wool will rust, so you don't want those little bits to accumulate in your stash of steel shot.
Here you can see Eva dumping out the contents of the tumbler barrel into a sieve in the shop sink.
Now she's rinsing each jewelry piece and carefully picking out the steel shot, which has a habit of clinging to the little nooks and crevices of your jewelry. It takes some time to rinse and clean your jewelry and pick out the shot as needed, but it's worth it.
Here you can see several jewelry pieces laying out on paper towels. They can be allowed to air-dry or you can rub them dry with towels or even use a hair dryer to speed the process. The entire process of using liver of sulfur, polishing and cleaning it in a tumbler is demonstrated in all of my four instructional DVDs, which can be found here.
Eva is really proud of her mixed-media necklace, made over the previous two days (Friday and Saturday) in my 10 Trippy Tricks 1 and 10 Trippy Tricks 2 workshops. 
Here's Sista, showing off her necklace as well. 
And this is Frida (above) with the beginnings of her necklace. The emphasis on my "10 tricks" workshops is not a finished product, but a day spent learning the basics of wire working plus some very cool intermediate-level wire wraps and links. We spend a lot of time on the wrapped eye-pin loop and spiraling, coiling, etc—all the really important basic stuff—but we always make time for creative explorations as well.
Here's a fun abstract pin accented with Icelandic lava beads; I believe it's Frida's creation.
Finally, I was really pleased with how my knotless-netted turquoise bead came out. You can see it's quite large, and rather heavy. The eye-pin loops are sterling silver, and the netting is in fine-gauge copper wire accented with three purple crystal beads. I haven't used this wrapped bead in a necklace yet, but I think what I'd do is keep it really simple and make a heavy chain of links, perhaps in 14ga or even 12ga, and a really cool clasp. My creative wheels are still spinning, so I'll have to keep you posted on the results!
I'm really sad today, a week later, missing my friends from Iceland as well as Holly who came all the way from New Jersey to participate in a Wild Wire Women retreat. I love conducting these retreats because everyone really has a great time, we learn a lot from one another, and we bond as friends. It's hard to describe the feeling of a retreat, which is so very different from attending a workshop in a store or at a bead show. The experience becomes one of those never-forget, lifetime memories that you always look back on with great fondness.
I haven't scheduled new retreats for 2011 yet, but I will soon. I promise to post the new dates as soon as I have them; probably beginning in late March or early April. I hope you can come out to Idyllwild in 2011!
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wild Wire Women: Saturday

Here we are in the studio again, ready for a full day of workshops! From left: Helga, Eva, Sista, and Holly.
Here's Frida (left) and Helga, ready to get to work.
This is the 10 Trippy Tricks 2 workshop, which includes 10 different bead wraps and links.
As part of this workshop, we made "silver swirl" beads (in copper, though) and I was able to show the ladies how to turn this creative link into a pendant embellished with beads.
Here's Eva, showing off her pin! During my Wild Wire Women retreats, I have a lot more time to teach more techniques than I would during a typical bead show.
This is the view just off my deck, right before sunset. The air is so fresh up here, it's delicious!
Here's Frida, hammering away on her wire pin.
At the end of the day, we all trooped upstairs to my kitchen where I demonstrated making copper headpins using a common kitchen torch. Here you can see Sista giving it a go.
From left: Eva, Sista, Frida, and Holly waiting their turn. After we'd all made about 10 headpins and pickled them, we decided it was time for a pizza dinner. We've just returned home, and the ladies are working downstairs again! I can't believe their energy level. As for me, it's another early-to-bed night. Tomorrow is our last day together, and I'm already missing my new friends. But I have an invitation to teach some workshops in Iceland—perhaps as early as next summer—so I hope to see them again within the year. Fingers crossed!
Happy wrapping,