Thursday, September 30, 2010

Welcome dinner, Cafe Aroma

So here we are... (from left) Chandra, Joan, Mary, me, Cynthia, and Kristen! Our Wild Wire Women retreat is off to a great start. I can already tell, this is a wild group of crazy ladies! Crazy about making jewelry, at least. And we all enjoy some girl-time, some fine wine, and a weekend of freedom.
Tomorrow we'll begin our first workshop: 10 Trippy Tricks 1. Stay tuned...
Happy wrapping,

WWW Retreat starts today!

My Wild Wire Women retreat begins today, with the arrival this afternoon of five ladies from all parts of the US! Tonight we'll dine at my favorite Idyllwild restaurant, Cafe Aroma, and tomorrow we'll begin our workshops with 10 Trippy Tricks 1 (photo above).
We'll also make Celtic knot links and possibly a bracelet... and I'll show everyone how to use a common kitchen torch to ball up copper and sterling silver wire to make headpins. That's a full day!
Be sure to follow our adventures here on my blog. If you'd like to take part in a future Wild Wire Women retreat and take advantage of 2010 prices, I have a few openings on the following dates:
Oct. 21-25
Nov. 4-8
Nov. 11-15
If you're interested, email me soon!
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Teaching at Bead Fest Santa Fe

I'm really excited to be teaching some cool classes at Bead Fest Santa Fe (New Mexico) this coming March. Santa Fe is one of my very favorite cities in the US, and I haven't been there for at least three years... it's time to change that!
I hope to see you there. You can start registering now! Here's a link to the workshops:
Bead Fest Schedule of Classes
Happy wrapping,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wow: WWW retreat now FULL!

Rosie says: "Wow! Our next retreat is FULL!"
As of today, we have six signups for the next Wild Wire Women retreat, to be held Sept. 30-Oct. 4. I'm very excited about the workshops we'll be exploring during our time together. It's going to be a terrific retreat, and you can follow all of our adventures right here on my blog.
If you were interested in joining me for another retreat this year, I have openings on the following dates:
Oct. 21-25
Nov. 4-8
Nov. 11-15
That's it for 2010, so if you wanna be a Wild Wire Woman, email me soon!
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Next WWW retreat: Sept. 30-Oct.4

My next Wild Wire Women retreat scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 4 has three registered participants so far, which means that we have room for up to three more. Would you like to join us in Idyllwild, California for three days of semi-private instruction in the art of wire jewelry making? If so, email me right away!
On Thursday evening, we'll have a welcome dinner with wine at Cafe Aroma. On Friday, after breakfast we'll begin our first workshop (likely to be 10 Trippy Tricks 1, pictured above). I also provide lunch and snacks throughout the day. That evening we'll learn to use a common kitchen torch to make our own ball-headed headpins, too.
On Saturday, we'll have another full day of workshops and again I provide breakfast and lunch. We'll also use liver of sulfur, polish our jewelry, and learn how the jewelry tumbler works.
Sunday also includes a full day of workshops, breakfast and lunch, and finishes with a jewelry photography lesson! Wow, lots to learn in a very short time, but that's what makes my retreats such a terrific value. The cost for a retreat is $625 and includes three full days of workshop instruction with handouts, 24-hour access to the studio, use of my top-quality studio tools, four nights lodging in my home on the national forest, four breakfasts, three lunches, and your welcome dinner at Cafe Aroma.
The fee does not include transportation to/from Idyllwild, three dinners (Friday-Sunday nights), wire, or beads. But for a limited time, I am also giving each participant a FREE DVD and one of my handmade rings as a keepsake souvenir.
I really hope you can join us, and if you contact me soon you'll have some say in the workshops we participate in over the weekend.
Happy wrapping,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New: Book with DVD release!

I'm very excited to announce that Interweave Press is about to release a new version of my popular book, Contemporary Copper Jewelry, with an instructional DVD included! This new DVD was filmed last April in Loveland, Colorado, and you can read my previous post on that experience by clicking here.
The new DVD is about an hour long, and it covers the tools used to make wire jewelry (because we didn't include any of this information in the book due to lack of space), as well as some close-up action on some of the techniques that are also stepped-out in detail in the book.
The new book-with-DVD package will be available in late October or early November. It retails on for $17.79, a bargain in my opinion. To pre-order, click here!
A few readers have asked me if they can purchase the DVD separately. I don't believe that this will be possible, because the DVD was made specifically to accompany the book and is not a stand-alone type of DVD. It references the book in several places, steps out some techniques from the book, but does not offer any new techniques or projects not offered in the book.
I realize that it may be disappointing not to be able to obtain the DVD separately. But consider this: Most DVDs offered by Interweave Press are about an hour long and retail for anywhere from about $20 to $40 (on The new book-with-DVD package retails for $17.79. If you feel that you absolutely must have the new DVD, just purchase the package when it becomes available and then donate your old copy of CCJ to your local library, or give it to a friend, or perhaps you belong to a bead society that has a book lending library. I'm sure you can easily find a new home for your old book.
To see a taped interview relating to this new DVD on youtube, click here!
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tool Review: Wire Stripper

I've been wanting to post about this tool for a few weeks now but it has taken a while to find the time. This has been a very busy summer!
Anyway, during my last Wild Wire Women Retreat, one of the gals, who came from Hong Kong, brought a wire stripper with her that she had just purchased at a local hardware store. Because I provide participants all the tools needed to make beautiful wire jewelry during a retreat, it's unusual for a student to bring a tool to class. Emcee bought a wire stripper because once she returns to China she may need to purchase her copper wire covered in a rubber sheath which she'll then need to strip in order to get at the wire inside.
This is fairly common, by the way. I know several artists who purchase wire that has to be stripped first.
As for me, I couldn't be bothered! I always purchase my copper wire from either Thunderbird Supply or Rio Grande, or from my local hardware stores in a pinch.
What makes this tool well worth looking into is the sharp, tough blade just behind the area on the tool where you strip wire. If you look at the tool above you'll see a serrated area near the tip; this is where you strip wire. The area just behind going back to the joint is straight. And surprise: It's a very nice flush cutter! I used it in class to flush-cut 12ga wire and to be honest it worked better than my most expensive wire cutters. It creates a decent flush cut on both sides of the wire. Not perfect—you'll have to file your wire ends a little bit to smooth them after cutting—but if you need a good cutter for heavy wire gauges, I strongly recommend this tool.
I just googled it, and you can find a lot more info here.
Happy wrapping,
p.s. I have a few more Wild Wire Women retreats scheduled! Here are the remaining dates in 2010:
Sept. 30-Oct. 4: four openings
Oct. 7-11: six openings
Oct. 21-25: five openings
Nov. 4-8: two openings
Nov. 11-15: six openings
For more information, click here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Book from Mary Wales Loomis!

I was SO excited to receive this beautiful Wire Jewelry book newly published by my friend Mary Wales Loomis! Mary and I go way back... I interviewed her several years ago for a profile that I wrote for Belle Armoire magazine (I created Belle Armoire and launched it in the spring of 2001). From the start, I was struck by her artistry with heavy-gauge wire.
Mary learned her craft the old-fashioned way back in the 1970s when street artists were selling their jewelry made from heavy brass wire. There were no books, videos, DVDs or CDs, and certainly nothing available on the Internet such as tutorials or articles explaining how to shape and forge wire to make unique jewelry pieces. Mary had to figure it out for herself, and I applaud her for that!
"I went to the hardware store and bought some brass wire in different gauges and a pair of pliers," Mary explains in her new book. "I began 'drawing' with the wire. For inspiration and ideas I went to the library and checked out books on ancient jewelry from Egypt, Italy and Greece. I noted that they had always used nature for ideas. My favorite shape is butterfly wings. I didn't know how to solder, so I tied the pieces together with smaller gauge wire."
If you want to read more of Mary's fascinating story, you'll have to pick up a copy of her beautiful book. I've looked it over several times now, and I simply love it. This is not a how-to book, but a portfolio of some of her unusual jewelry designs. But I find it very inspirational to see how Mary has used common materials such as brass wire and copper tubing to make her amazing ethnic-inspired art jewelry.
She does give us some glimpses into her process, explaining for instance that a butterfly pendant was shaped with "about 30 inches of 14ga wire," along with some really basic information on how she ties things together with finer gauges of wire. You'll have to figure it out from there, because this is not an instructional book. Nevertheless, I think you'll find this book a very valuable resource to turn to when you run out of ideas (this happens to us all) or when you just feel the need for some eye-candy.
Details: Wire Jewelry is a 70-page, full color paperback book of gorgeously photographed jewelry pieces with basic descriptions of each piece, but no instructions. It is well presented and concisely written, lots of fun to look at, and very inspirational. It retails for about $30 with tax (in California) and shipping. For information on purchasing Wire Jewelry, please click here.
Mary's book reminds me a lot of another terrific wire-jewelry book that I purchased three years ago featuring the artist portfolio of Alexander Calder. His book is called Calder Jewelry, and it too is a portfolio of brass wire jewelry designs dating back to the 1950s or so. No instructions, of course.
It seems to be out of print now so you'll have to purchase the book used. I found some vendors on offering it for slightly over $100 in paperback, and over $300 in hardcover. I'm so glad I bought it in hardcover (and another copy for a good friend of mine) back when it was much more reasonably priced!
Check it out here: Calder Jewelry 
I hope you enjoy having a look at these two books. I always find it helpful when I'm not in a creative mood myself to look at the artwork made by others who are highly creative and original. So many jewelry "artists" calling themselves "designers" have never actually designed an original piece of jewelry in their lives, so it's truly inspirational to view the work of such artists as Calder and Loomis, and see that it is indeed possible to make art, real art, with wire.
Happy wrapping,