Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wild Wire Women retreat itinerary

Lots of people ask me what I teach during a typical "Wild Wire Women" retreat, special workshop events which are held in my mountain home in Idyllwild, California.
The answer is, it's really up to the participants in each retreat! This way, you get to choose what you'll learn. First, I ask every participant to send me a list of her top-3 workshop choices, taken from my web site, my books, or DVDs
I then go over each list and make sure that everyone gets her first choice; most also get their second choice as well. As for her third choice in workshops, that depends on what other participants have chosen. A good example is the next WWW retreat coming up this Aug. 12-16. On Friday, we'll take my super-popular 10 Trippy Tricks 1 workshop, which features at least 10 (and often more) wire links and bead wraps, including clasps. This is a great class because you can use the techniques you learn interchangeably to make dozens of different jewelry pieces (see sample necklace above).
In addition, I will show the Love Knot link and also how to make head pins with both silver and copper wire, using a common kitchen torch.

On Saturday, we'll tackle the 10 Trippy Tricks 2 workshop (sample necklace pictured above), which features 10 more bead wraps and wire links, a new clasp, etc. All great techniques to learn that can be used over and over in multiple ways for the rest of your working life as a jewelry artist.
In addition, I will show how to use liver of sulfur to darken silver and copper jewelry, polishing techniques, and how to use a jewelry tumbler to bring everything to a high shine.
Sunday is day three: our last full day of work in the studio. We'll start with a workshop on earrings, and after breaking for lunch we'll make Basket Rings. Then we'll break a little earlier than usual so we can spend a couple of hours on jewelry photography using props and lights in my EZ Cube system. I'm very excited about the photos that my students will come up with!
I guess it should be obvious that we'll be packing in a lot of instruction and technical information as well as time working in my spacious studio using the very best top-quality tools to make jewelry pieces and components. We'll learn more in three days than you could possibly take in during a typical bead show, because the nature of a retreat allows for much more relaxed time and space to learn in.
If you would like to join us, we do have three spaces available in the retreat coming up Aug. 12-16. This workshop retreat is open to adult women only, of any skill or experience level, who would like to devote a long weekend to perfecting their skills in wire jewelry making.
The cost is $625 and includes three very full days of instruction with handouts, a welcome dinner with wine at Cafe Aroma on Thursday, four breakfasts, three lunches, four nights accommodations, and use of studio tools and equipment. The fee does not include transportation to/from Idyllwild or materials (beads and wire), and you will be dining out on your own on Friday-Sunday evenings. Idyllwild has plenty of restaurants to choose from, for all budgets.
If you are interested in participating, please contact me soon so that I can provide you with more information. Also visit my other blog: Wild Wire Women Retreats.
Happy wrapping,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Artists Book Workshop at Idyllwild Arts

Just finished up a wonderful week of Artists Books (image & structure) with Laura Wait, and it was fantastic! These photos are awful—please forgive me—but I just took them tonight in my kitchen under horrible lights because I promised a friend that I would send her jpgs this evening. I'll take better ones later and re-post when I have more energy.
It was a great class and I so appreciate learning from Laura, a great teacher who gave of herself unselfishly throughout the week. She's an experienced book artist and also does the most amazing encaustic art; I hope you will visit her Web site.
In class we learned all about paste-painting with our own hand-cut stencils (not the U on the smallest book pictured above, that was a found item!) and rubber stamps, combs, etc. I have wanted to work with paste paint for a long time, and taking a live workshop gave me the inspiration I needed. I also learned to love working with BFK printmaking paper. It's quite thick, like 140# watercolor paper, and really takes a beating! Loved the painting sessions. We made about 10 sheets of hand-painted paper (painted on both sides) and several book structures.
My favorite book is pictured above, a big handmade book bound with wrapped linen cords. A fun way to bind a book, quite time consuming but very easy if you take it in steps. Honestly, if you're good at making jewelry you'll have no trouble making artist books. The same types of skills are required: patience, creativity, willingness to take things step by step, attention to details, fine motor skills, and careful craftsmanship.
We also explored a variety of ways to wrap paper covers, sewing bound books over leather straps, and a basic coptic stitch. A fun week at Idyllwild Arts, but exhausting! I'm so glad I took this class.
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bead Fest Santa Fe 2011

I just had to make a quick announcement: I've been accepted as a jewelry instructor at the Bead Fest event taking place in Santa Fe (NM) this March!
The event takes place March 9-13, 2011, and classes will be held at the Santa Fe Community Center and at the La Fonda hotel right in the center of town. I love, love, LOVE Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I am so thrilled at the opportunity to teach in my favorite town in the US.
I suggest flying into Albuquerque and then getting a shuttle to Santa Fe from there. No need to rent a car; parking in SF is very expensive and taxis are cheap! Just about everything is within walking distance and if you need to get somewhere outside of town, again, taxis are cheap. Interested in exploring Taos or other small towns/villages nearby? I suggest taking a tour of some type rather than going alone. It's no more expensive than a car rental and it's nice to be in a group with an informed guide.
Meanwhile, back to classes! We're all about making jewelry, aren't we?
So far I have a tentative schedule and I'll post it here, but later will update with photos and final information. You cannot sign up for classes yet, but keep checking the Web site for details and registration dates. Click here for more info (note that their site has not been updated yet with anything for the event in 2011).
My schedule:
March 10, 8:30 am to 4 pm 
Embellished Copper Bracelets 
March 11, 8:30 am to 4 pm 
Santa Fe Bracelet 
March 12, 8:30 am to 4 pm 
Fisherman's Catch Necklace 
March 13, 8:30 to 11:30 am 
Squiggly Wrap Bangle 
March 13, 1 to 4 pm 
Angel's Earrings
I hope to see you there!
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review: Stamped Metal Jewelry

Interweave Press just sent me a preview copy of this fantastic new book-with-DVD by Lisa Niven Kelly: Stamped Metal Jewelry. I was very curious to see what the artist/author had to say about the technique of stamping letters and symbols into metal, especially since it seems such a simple, straightforward process that hardly merits coverage in a 136-page book.
I just love it when my initial impressions are proved wrong... that means I've learned something new, and I love to learn! The contents of Stamped Metal Jewelry (SMJ) go far beyond what the title suggests. Besides providing 19 metal and mixed-media jewelry projects, a brief but inspiring gallery of stamped jewelry, resources, and a tools/materials section, this book does a very good job of laying out the basics of beginning metalsmithing and wirework. For this reason alone, I feel confident recommending SMJ to novice jewelry artists seeking instruction in these areas.
First, let me comment on the tools section: very thorough, well done, informative, important information is conveyed here. Experienced jewelry artists may feel that this chapter can be skipped, but I suggest having a look anyway—some interesting tools are discussed that may be unfamiliar to you. Consider the fun texture hammers and large wrap-n-tap pliers on page 12, tube-cutting pliers on the following page, hole-punch pliers, scribe, bracelet bending pliers, sanding sticks, and leather-working tools.
Now on to my favorite chapter segments: Basic Metalsmithing Techniques. The author addresses hammering and texturing first, suggesting the use of metal stamps for adding texture to metal besides the obvious usage of adding text or designs. She discusses using a riveting hammer and the ball end of a chasing hammer to create texture, and using hard metal objects and a brass-head hammer to forge textured designs into soft metal sheet.
Cutting and sawing metal (with a helpful blade-size guide) take up one page; hole punching and drilling (with another helpful guide: drill bits), how to dap (doming metal shapes), and riveting follow. I love the riveting section because the author carefully describes forming wire rivets, nail-head rivets, and tube rivets, with big photos making every step crystal-clear.
The metalsmithing section concludes with a discussion of oxidizing and polishing methods and annealing (softening metal with heat). If you read the book carefully up through page 31 and practice all the techniques presented, you will be well on your way to becoming an informed metal jewelry artist.
The "main event" follows: six pages devoted to stamping text and designs into metal. Lisa has been perfecting this skill for years, so naturally she has a few things to say about safety, work station set-up, the basics of stamping (alignment, centering, stamping with design stamps, and the author's own tilt-n-tap method—also demoed on the DVD).
That's the heart of the book, really, and if you read it carefully and follow the author's instructions, you can immediately start stamping metal with confidence. But we're just getting started: page 38 begins the projects section, with 19 jewelry designs from simple to more complex and challenging. Once you stamp a simple pendant, you'll be ready to try making an I.D. bracelet, stamped pre-fab rings, linked bracelets and bangles, stamped and riveted rings, a really cool textured metal pendant framed with coiled wire and beads, a leather cuff, and much more.
I really appreciate the author's inclusion of work from other designers such as Kriss Silva, Janice Berkebile, Lisa Claxton, Kate Ferrant Richbourg, Tracy Stanley, and Connie Fox. These artists contributed some unique ideas and jewelry projects you may recognize from the workshops they teach at bead events across the US, such as Janice's famed "Crown Jewel" pendant.
A short gallery and two pages of wirework basics finish the book, which is indexed. But wait—there's more! A 33-minute instructional DVD accompanies SMJ, featuring the author as she goes over the use of tools, basic stamping techniques, tilt-n-tap (very helpful!), and a bonus jewelry project not included in the book. You don't want to miss it. Although Lisa has covered her subject with great care in her book, sometimes seeing the basic techniques in action can really help make everything more clear. Be sure to watch the DVD, practice the basic techniques demonstrated, and you're ready to make beautiful jewelry using wire, sheet metal, leather, rivets, and more.
SMJ releases on July 27, and retails for $24.95. You can get it for $16.47 on amazon; click here to pre-order.
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm in Creative Beading Vol. 5!

I just received a free copy of Creative Beading Vol. 5 in the mail, quite by surprise! Inside I found that the publishers of Bead & Button had reprinted an article of mine on using a flower loom to make a lovely sterling silver wire flower that can be used as an unusual pendant.
They hadn't warned me about this so it was quite a surprise, but I was thrilled. If you want to see my article (Rosy Posy Pendant) in this book, it starts on page 204. They also presented a huge blow-up photo of the finished necklace on pages 180-181. What an honor!
I like this book a lot, although subscribers to Bead & Button may not... it's just a compilation of some of their favorite articles from past issues of the magazine. But the pages are big and bright, you can very easily read the text and see the details in every photo, and it's in hardcover so it makes a nice reference book.
Retails for $29.95, but you can get it for $19.77 on Click here.
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Travel Painting & Journaling: Anytime, Anywhere!

First let me apologize for this lousy photo of Barbara Roth (above), which does not do her justice! She is a beautiful lady, and a very talented watercolorist and teacher. Barbara came out to Idyllwild this weekend to teach a three-day intensive on travel sketching and drawing using pencil, pen & ink, and watercolors in a journal that we made in class. What fun! She taught a variety of skills, including what seemed like hundreds of tips on capturing landscapes and buildings with accurate color washes, drawing people, pets, scenery, and flowers, and much more than can be related in a blog post.
I'm so glad I had this opportunity. Barbara teaches these courses regularly in Europe and had just recently returned from the south of France where she taught for two weeks at La Cascade, Gwen Gibson's gorgeous villa.
Anyway, I signed up for the class at Idyllwild Arts partly because I knew that my friend Gwen would be accompanying Barbara and also because I loved drawing when I was in my teens and early 20s, and somehow lost touch with that part of myself over the years. I was hoping that Barbara would help me to reconnect... and she did!
What I discovered in the class is that I love sketching with a pen. I do enjoy using watercolors to add spicy color to my drawings, but the quick sketches that I did over three days of class time were the most satisfying for me. I learned to sketch quickly for best results; overworked tentative drawings are no fun, and nobody wants to look at them, either. When you draw fast and loose, you can more easily capture a sense of emotion in the ink lines and add a certain liveliness to your drawings.
Now that I have a small watercolor sketchbook and a palette of watercolors with a handful of pens to use (love using a white gel pen on watercolor!), I'll be sketching lots more. THANK YOU, Barbara Roth!
If you'd like to know more about her workshops in Europe, click here.
Here's a picture of Gwen, taking a picture of me. We were out late at night for dinner at Cafe Aroma, all of us a bit tired and very hungry! We had a terrific time together drawing and painting, taking photos, visiting, and catching up. Gwen has such a lovely art studio/workshop destination in Durfort, southwest France, and in fact it was at La Cascade where I got my start as an international art teacher. She and I are discussing the possibility of having me come out to La Cascade in September 2012.
I'll keep you posted on that...
Happy wrapping,