Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Weekend at Art in the Loft

My final day at Art in the Loft (Alpena, Michigan) was marked by mixed emotions—sad on the one hand to be saying goodbye to such a terrific group of people, yet very pleased and proud to see their work displayed on our show-and-tell table at the end of the weekend. We had spent two intensive days making wire-art jewelry, including the Grateful Heart necklace and the Autumn Dance technique, which can be used to make a pendant, a cuff bracelet, or a pin.
But I'm getting ahead of myself! Let's start on Saturday morning, when I woke up to this amazing view off the balcony at Nan's house where I stayed for the weekend. A fairy-tale forest leads to the lake's edge, and her balcony is decked with flowering shrubs and chairs set up just right for a picnic tea in paradise.
This is Sammy, Nan's adorable little dog. He loves to play... and play... and play... all day if you let him, and into the night, too! We wore him out tossing his favorite stuffed animals (you can see Sammy's piggie behind him) into the kitchen where he cheerfully fetched them back. His teeth are showing in this picture so he appears to be growling, but I assure you, he is the sweetest little dog you could ever know.
We arrived on Saturday morning and got set up with our tools and wire, etc. and then took some time for a quick nibble on the lovely breakfast set up by volunteers at Art in the Loft. They provided yoghurt, juices, muffins, bagels, fruit, coffee and tea. Amazing! I've never taught anywhere else that provided breakfast. The picture above shows some of my students getting set up and starting to work at their tables; we had another table close by with the second half of the class. We divided ourselves this way to take advantage of the lighting.
Best friends Kathy (left) and Teresa shown here sharing a table and working hard on their jewelry pieces.
Here's one of the displays of art for sale you can find at Art in the Loft. Such a lovely space for workshops as well as art sales! If I was to design a workshop space of my own, it would be exactly like this.
Using bail-forming pliers to make jump rings and other large links for the Grateful Heart necklace...
This photo (above) shows another angle on the Loft. Gorgeous!
Here's another beautiful display of handmade art: pottery that was simply irresistible. Yes, I bought some!
Another pair of good friends sharing a table and making beautiful jewelry with wire.
After class on Saturday we went out for dinner at a local Italian restaurant and I had to snap a few photos of the gorgeous sunflowers growing right in the parking lot!
Pictured above, my Sunday class. This photo was taken in the morning before we got started on our Autumn Dance workshop, which is why everyone looks so cheerful and perky!
Here's Teresa hammering away on her looped wire in preparation for wire-wrapping beads onto it.
Choosing beads and their arrangement on a wire pin is a challenge, but it's all part of the fun.
At the end of the day, we set out our jewelry pieces on a show-and-tell table, and everyone snapped photos for later inspiration.
Here you can see a few unfinished jewelry pieces from the previous two days.
While most students worked in copper wire to save money, some brave souls used sterling silver to great effect. Silver is about $19 a troy ounce right now, so I admire anyone who is gutsy enough to make something new with it.
More jewelry samples: A heart pendant from Saturday and two gorgeous pins from Sunday's class.
We all enjoyed admiring each other's work. I hope that my students learned lots of techniques that will help them to make more beautiful jewelry in the future!
Happy wrapping,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Workshops in Alpena this weekend!

I'm really excited to let you all know that I will be traveling to Alpena, Michigan this weekend (Aug. 28-29) to teach two incredible full-day workshops at Art in the Loft.
Saturday's workshop is called the Grateful Heart Necklace and includes a ton of techniques that result in a spectacular showpiece necklace (pictured above). In this class you will learn to work with heavy-gauge wire to make a beautiful pendant, forged and textured, with elegant wire-wrapped tendrils that are used to suspend the pendant from a necklace of handmade links and bead wraps.
Students of all skill levels are welcome to attend this workshop, and the finished piece looks just as good in copper as it does in sterling silver wire, so please don't hesitate to join us. We anticipate small classes this time due to the economy, so it's an excellent opportunity to receive lots of one-on-one attention in a beautiful art space. If you've never been to Art in the Loft, you don't want to miss it!

Sunday's workshop is called the Autumn Dance, and it can be used to make a beautiful pendant (pictured above), or a necklace (pictured below). The necklace would take a really long time to finish, but I promise you that everyone will be successful at this if they take the class. You'll get a really good start on it, have a shaped and forged wire frame and several beads, pearls, etc. wire-wrapped in place before you leave.
Another option is to make a gorgeous cuff-style bracelet like the one pictured below. It's heavy, so perhaps you'll be smarter than I was and use smaller beads to make your bracelet. In any case, I'm going to show everything you need to know in order to make either a pendant, a full collar necklace, or a bracelet. If time allows, I'll also show how to make a brooch using this same technique.
We still have plenty of room available in both workshops and you can choose to attend either one, the other, or both! We'd love to see you there. For a signup sheet, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 3: WWW retreat!

Day three, and Sue is looking surprisingly perky! You can see her polishing a wire link from the previous day, which we were able to artificially age in liver of sulfur. This polishing process is critical to the process, but it is quite tedious. But Sue doesn't seem to mind. As in most things in life, the finished result is worth the extra effort.
Here's Lauri, polishing her finished necklace from yesterday. She put together a lot of links and bead wraps, and created a true showpiece necklace! I'm so proud of my students.
The view outside was gorgeous and quite distracting, but...
We had a full schedule of wire-art jewelry to attend to, starting with a half-day workshop on the basket ring. Although the rings pictured above are quite popular, all of us opted for the alternative "Basket of Eggs" ring pictured below. It's virtually the same ring, but with a larger woven wire basket and a cluster of pearls or small beads instead of one big bead in the center.
By the way, I'll be teaching the ring pictured above during the Weekend with the Wire Masters in Dana Point, California on October 31 (kinda perfect for Halloween, don't you think?). I hope you can join us, it's going to be an amazing weekend. For more info, click here.
Once we'd finished our rings, there was a little extra time and Lauri asked me to make a basic Twist ring (such as you'll find on my DVD, Rings of Beauty). I did so, and you can see it pictured below in the center (kind of hard to see) along with a Celtic Knot bracelet I made during our weekend together. The bracelet has since been given to my mom, and I gave the ring to Lauri since she asked for it! After lunch,  it was time to make earrings. You can see Emcee pictured above showing off a pair of copper Heart earrings that she made during class.
We worked super hard today! I was truly beat, and needed time to shower and relax a bit so I asked the girls to have their farewell dinner in town without me. Then I got my EZ-Cube photo tent and lights set up so that everyone could take turns photographing their jewelry. We were up pretty late doing this, but it was all well worthwhile.
Here's a picture of Lauri (left) and Emcee, both wearing their beautiful necklaces and bracelets from a very full weekend of making gorgeous jewelry. I hope to stay in touch with them in future. Lauri is already talking about coming back for another retreat! I hope so. It was a fun, exhausting, thrilling, fruitful weekend retreat. I look forward to the next one...
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 2: WWW retreat!

Day two in the workshop: Here you can see Sue (our "Suebelle!") on the left and Lauri on the right, both of them concentrating as they make links from the 10 Trippy Tricks 2 necklace pictured below.
This workshop is extremely popular with students who want to learn lots of techniques in one day: at least 10 (hence the name, 10 Trippy Tricks), and possibly more during a Wild Wire Women retreat! That's because we have more time to practice and experiment over a long weekend. And, even though we relax and everyone works at her own pace, somehow we all accomplish much more during one of these retreats than we ever could in a class held at a bead show or similar event.

Pictured above you can see Emcee's amazing Trippy Tricks necklace, which she made incorporating wire links and bead wraps from day 1 and day 2. Note the beautiful pendant she made using heavy-gauge wire (I'm guessing it was about 12ga) shaped into a unique design all her own. See the picture below for a close-up!
You can see that Emcee used Celtic-knot links, double-spiral links, heavy-gauge jump rings, zigzag wrapped beads, and more to create the beautiful wire designs flanking her original centerpiece. I was equally impressed with Lauri's finished necklace as well as Sue's jewelry, but unfortunately I never got a really good picture of those pieces. I hope they send me jpgs sometime so I can share them here!
During the workshop, one of the 10 "tricks" is to make a Silver Swirl wire link and bead wrap. Of course, this element can also be made using copper or gold-filled wire. Well, afterward I thought it would be fun to create a simple stick pin using the swirl link I used as a demonstration sample. I hammered it out nicely and added some beautiful texturing using my small embossing hammer (Fretz of course) and then added amethyst chips, big copper beads, glass beads, and lime-green gemstone beads to the swirl. The "stick" in this pin is made from spiraled and forged wire with a sharp point.
This spontaneous pin was a lot of fun to make and I was so happy to have the time to show the girls how to use just one of the tricks from 10 Trippy Tricks 2 to make something different.
Tomorrow: Basket Rings and Earrings, plus photography sessions!
Happy wrapping,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day 1: WWW retreat!

It's "Day 1" of our Wild Wire Women retreat; pictured above are (from left) Sue, Lauri, and Emcee. You can see them seated at the workshop table, ready to begin our first 10 Trippy Tricks class. I actually had Emcee move over closer to the other girls so she could get in the shot. Then she moved back to her work space on the right. Everyone has plenty of elbow room in my classes!
Here's a picture of my studio interior with brand-new 5x8 foot windows installed. We now have a gorgeous view of the national forest! Naturally, my students are seated at the table facing the view while we work.
This is Emcee from Hong Kong, having a great time. She made some beautiful jewelry components and I hope she'll put them together in a finished piece of jewelry tomorrow.
We learned 10 different wire links and bead wraps today, including an S-clasp with a wire wrapped bead, and then I added the Celtic Knot link per Sue's request. This link is also stepped out in my book, Wire Art Jewelry.

Here's a picture of Sparkle, enjoying the view. Maybe she sees a squirrel...
Here are my students, hard at work! At the end of class, we were a bit tired but I still had one more "trick" up my sleeve: making ball-headed head pins using a kitchen torch. You can even make copper head pins, and I enjoyed showing the girls how easy and fun that is.
While we were working on our head pins, we noticed a baby fawn outside chewing on some leftover watermelon that I had tossed out earlier. I took 12 photos of this baby! Sure was cute, and what a blessing to end our day. By the time we left for dinner at La Casita, it was 8 pm. Back home tonight, we visited a little bit over coffee and flan, and now it's time for a hot shower and bed. I'm looking forward to that!
Check us out tomorrow, when we'll be making 10 Trippy Tricks 2...
Happy wrapping,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Three Wild Wire Women & A Dog

So here are my students, from left: Lauri (from Oregon), Emcee (from Hong Kong, China), and Sue (from Virginia) at Cafe Aroma in Idyllwild, waiting for our first courses to arrive. It was fun getting to know Sue a little bit better this afternoon while we waited for Lauri and Emcee to arrive at my home; they were busy shopping for beads at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations before they headed up the hill to my house. Once they arrived and unpacked the car, it was just about time for all of us to head out to my favorite restaurant for our first meal together.
Cafe Aroma welcomes guests of all types, including Curtis the golden retriever pictured above. His human companion was seated at a nearby table.
Here's Lauri getting a hug from Curtis before he left with his owner.
Now we're back home, and after sharing a big slice of flan from my favorite Mexican market (in San Jacinto), Cardenas, we're saying goodnight in anticipation of a full day tomorrow. Breakfast is at 8 am and then we jump right into our first workshop: 10 Trippy Tricks 1.
Happy wrapping,