Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bobcat alert!

So I'm in my office, working on some new jewelry-making class ideas and putting together my supply lists, when a flash in the hillside brush just across my driveway alerts me to the presence of ... well, at first I thought it was a rabbit. We have so many cute little cottontail bunnies here in Idyllwild, and I see them frequently on my property, especially in the spring.
But this was no bunny!
This was a bobcat. About twice the size of a typical house cat, bobcats are no threat to humans. They are shy creatures, quick-moving, alert to prey and being preyed upon by larger animals. I have only seen one in my area twice before, and never for long enough to capture him (or her) on film. I was lucky this time... I got 13 shots.
If you look closely, you can see this fellow's funny little bob tail. He's leaving now, having caught wind of the coyote who just sauntered into my driveway. No, I wasn't quick enough to capture wily coyote on film. Maybe next time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bangles on the brain!

I've been seriously remiss in not posting earlier a photo of the Autumn Dance bangle bracelet that I finished after teaching this technique at Monica's store on Feb. 20.
Well, here it is! You can see most of it in the photo above, and the clasp underneath is fairly simple. It's made of a heavy-gauge wire frame embellished with laboradite, amethyst, and turquoise beads, plus a few glass beads, small chips and other gems for effect.
I must confess that this bangle took a couple of days to complete, but most of my students finished or came very close to finishing their projects in class. It helps to make something smaller and a little less ambitious to begin with, and then to challenge yourself later with something more complex.
I'll be returning to Monica's (Palm Desert, CA) on Saturday, March 6 to teach my new Squiggly-Wrap bangle bracelet (pictured above). I just completed two more samples of these bracelets and dropped them off at the store so they can be displayed for prospective students. I thought it would be fun to make one in all-copper wire, with just a few small silver beads and gemstones, plus a handmade hook clasp, and I was really quite thrilled with the finished result.
If you want to see them, drop by the store! Or better yet, sign up to take the workshop with me on Saturday. I hope to see you there.
Call Monica's at 760-772-2400.
If you can't make it to a live workshop, this bangle bracelet is featured in my new book, Arty Jewelry. To see a FREE 15-page preview of the book, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ethnic Coin Necklace workshop this Saturday!

If you'd like to make a gorgeous necklace using your favorite foreign coins—or plain old pennies, which we'll hammer and texture—why don't you join me in Del Mar this Saturday?
The Bead Society of San Diego is sponsoring a terrific full-day workshop which will take place in the home of a member residing in Del Mar, which is just north of San Diego. We'll have plenty of room to spread out and play! Here are some of the techniques you'll learn in the Ethnic Coin Necklace workshop:
Forging and texturing coins
Metal hole punching (a great alternative to drilling holes)
Riveting with copper tacks
Twisting heavy-gauge wire to make jump rings
Figure-8 links in two sizes
Make your own clasp
Assemble a gorgeous necklace!
Time permitting, we'll also antique our necklaces in liver of sulfur and polish them. This is a great workshop, lots of fun, and you'll learn lots of metalsmithing techniques that can be used in other jewelry pieces. I hope you can join us!
For a supply list, click here.
If you're interested, please contact class organizer Susan Blessinger at:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sparkly Gem Cuff at Monica's this Thursday!

Sorry I haven't blogged lately, it's been a very quiet week and not much to blog about!
Right now I'm getting ready to teach my Gem Cuff Bracelet workshop at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert this Thursday, from 10 am to 2 pm. It's just a quick, half-day class and provides just enough time to start the gem cuff; you'll have to finish it at home.
This is a really fun project, but for those of you who cannot make it to Palm Desert for the class this Thursday, I do offer it as one of my projects in my new book, Arty Jewelry. Check out the first 15 pages of Arty Jewelry by clicking here.
Hope to see you in class!
Monica's number: 760-772-2400.
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jewelry making "under the Tuscan sun"

I just heard from Patrick Mahoney today; he's the tour organizer and facilitator who runs a variety of art-related programs in Cortona, Italy as well as other areas throughout Europe.
Patrick took the photo above of an angel in Cortona, covered in a surprise late-spring snow from 2009 or 2008, I'm not sure. I like to think of this cheery fellow (the angel, that is) as a sort of mascot for our trip. He must be freezing under all that snow, but he's still smiling—and why not? He's in Italy, after all!
Hearing from Patrick cheered me up, reminding me that our bleak winter weather will soon be over and spring is practically on my doorstep. And that means summer and fall are truly around the corner, and that means that soon I'll be packing my bags for my jewelry making workshop in Cortona this Sept. 1-11, 2010. Naturally, you're invited to join the party!
In the meantime, I've been searching the Internet for information about the events and festivals and other items of interest relating to all things Italy, and came across some pretty terrific blogs. One of my favorites is While it's true that they don't always update very frequently, their posts are still informative and enjoyable to read. Their latest, dated Nov. 17 of last year, features an overview of the flea market in Arezzo.
"Surely the best day out you can have at this time of year has to be the Arezzo antique market," writes one of the authors.
I love the photos they've posted; in particular, if you scroll down the page a bit, you'll find some great pics of the Ex Votos (Latin for "from the vow made") or votive offerings available for purchase during the market.
And guess what? We'll BE there this Sept. 12, when the entire city essentially turns into a street market and fair, when the most amazing, authentic Italian antiques and trinkets are on display. I can't wait! We'll also have the opportunity to observe the biannual "Joust of the Saracen" and have great food and wine, too.
We'll use the trinkets we find in Arezzo to make some cool "found-object" jewelry using wire and hand tools (no soldering) during our retreat in Cortona, Italy. And Arezzo is only one of the amazing cities/towns/villages that we'll be visiting on this tour. We'll also spend a day in Siena, Orvieto, and Florence, and visit three villages during a wine-tasting tour.
Our base of operations is Cortona, Italy, a gorgeous little hill town made famous by the book and movie: Under the Tuscan Sun. I've been there, and it really is just as beautiful as you can imagine. Our accommodations are comfortable and the food is incredible. As for the cappuccino, well, once you've tasted it you'll never go back to Starbucks again. Sorry, it's the truth!
I hope you can join me in Cortona this year. It's going to be a very special trip, with plenty of touring, eating and drinking, plus four full days spent in the workshop making amazing wire-art jewelry. If you need any information, please feel free to email Patrick at, or visit his Web site:
Happy wrapping,