Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dana Point: Weekend with the Wire Masters

After many months of anticipation, we are finally here at the Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa in Dana Point for the Weekend with the Wire Masters! Teachers and students are checking in, getting acquainted in the lobby, and heading down to the restaurant for a quiet dinner and an early night. Tomorrow at 9 am sharp, our workshops begin.
I arrived late this afternoon and a soon as I was checked in and my luggage unpacked, I took a walk around the hotel grounds, which are absolutely stunning! Here you can see the hotel on a small hill above a series of parks, right along the cliffs above the harbor. The weather is perfect, and our setting couldn't be more beautiful!
Here's my room, looks like a comfy bed...
I even have a little porch all to myself (above), with spectacular views of the harbor below.
This is the view right outside my porch!
And here you can see beyond the sea of umbrellas a sliver of pool (I'll be checking that out tomorrow) and the sea beyond. Everything's within walking distance. I love the grounds so far...
This is just one of several walkways near the hotel. The grass is super-green because last week we received the heaviest rainfall you can imagine. The bellboy told me they had some amazing thunderstorms last week. I know, we got them up in Idyllwild, too!
Dana Point Harbor, with some fantastic nearby restaurants and a beautiful beach...
This walkway leads directly to the beach. I didn't have time to go down there this evening because I heard it's quite a steep hike to the sand and I wanted to get a shower in before I head downstairs for dinner. But it's definitely in my plans for tomorrow.
I'm amazed at how lovely the weather is for late October! Balmy with a fresh sea breeze... you could not ask for more. I'm so glad, because at this time of year it could be quite chilly and foggy. We got lucky so far!
And here is my computer (brought from home) in my hotel room. I'll be putting in some time here each evening after class, blogging about our fabulous weekend at the beach. My first class tomorrow is the Colorful Tribal Necklace, a "wirework 101" course that results in a beautiful keepsake necklace or bracelet. Time permitting, I'll demo some earrings as well. We'll see; we have lots to accomplish in one day!
Stay tuned and I'll update daily with posts from Weekend with the Wire Masters...
Happy Wrapping,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

NEW Vintage Button Brooch Workshop

Just got back home from Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert, where I dropped off a couple of my newest creations: Vintage Button Brooches! I'll be teaching this fun class on Friday, Oct. 22, from 11 am to 4 pm. I hope you can make it!
The brooch—which can easily be converted into a pendant—includes a large (1- to 3-inch diameter) vintage button with a shank, coiled silver or copper wire, and additional beads, charms, small vintage buttons, watch parts and found objects of your choice. I made one in sterling silver wire (pictured above) and one in copper wire (pictured below). Looks fabulous on a jacket or sweater lapel, or you could attach it to a cool fabric purse as an embellishment.
You can find a class description and supply list by clicking here.
Vintage buttons are easy to find on auction sites such as ebay, in flea markets, at garage sales, or perhaps inside your own grandma's button box. I have purchased quite a few buttons off the internet, and also from some bead stores (such as Monica's) that carry them. One of my favorite activities while teaching in Europe is to attend as many flea markets as I can, in search of vintage buttons, coins, keys, and other fun items to use in my jewelry. Perhaps you have such a collection at home and don't know what to do with it? Bring it to Monica's and we'll discuss the possibilities!
In class I will show you how to use your vintage button to make a lovely coiled wire frame that also works as a pin-stem and catch, a handmade chain of wire links, various bead dangles and charms made with wire, beads, found objects, small buttons, etc. You can also use watch parts to make a "steampunk" version of the brooch.
Time permitting, I'll also show you how to artificially age your brooch in liver of sulfur, and polishing techniques. I'm really looking forward to this class and I know you will love the brooches you make with my new design! I'll also show you how to convert your pin into a pretty pendant.
To register for the class, call Monica's at 760-772-2400.
Happy wrapping,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Colorful Tribal Necklace at Weekend with the Wire Masters

On Thursday, Oct. 28, I'll be teaching how to make a stunning necklace like this one at Weekend with the Wire Masters in Dana Point, CA.
I'm really looking forward to this event because we'll be staying in a gorgeous hotel, right on the beach, with beautiful pools and hot tubs and spa services. And great food, I'm sure! Orange County is just gorgeous at this time of year—a bit nippy in the evenings, but balmy and delightful throughout the day. Anyway, the classes I'll be offering are lots of fun as well. Pictured above you see the Colorful Tribal Necklace. In this workshop, you will learn to make:
• Jump rings and sturdy figure-8 links
• Coil-wrapped beads
• Caged beads
• Double-wrapped eye-pin loops
• Variety of wire charms: spirals, leaves, bead dangles
• A handmade hook clasp
• A handmade chain
And we'll put it all together to make a beautiful necklace you can wear with pride! Time permitting, we'll also use liver of sulfur to "artificially age" our jewelry and polishing techniques. I'm really looking forward to teaching this workshop!
The class is nearly full, but we do have space for a couple more students. If you're interested, I hope you join us for a lovely day by the ocean, making gorgeous wire jewelry.
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Update: CCJ packaged with DVD release

I just spoke with the editorial director over at Interweave Press, who is in charge of their books department. We had a long phone conversation about the situation with the re-release of Contemporary Copper Jewelry packaged with a supplementary DVD, which comes out early next month.
Unfortunately I have some sad news for those who had already purchased CCJ and were hoping to purchase the DVD separately. After discussing the situation at length with the publisher and other business leaders within Interweave Press, they decided not to make the DVD available for sale as a stand-alone product.
I am so sorry to have to convey this to you, believe me! I had hoped that somehow they would find a way to make it available, but they had to make a serious business decision and sadly it was not what we had hoped for.
There are two main problems with offering the DVD as a stand-alone product, plus several smaller issues. One problem is that apparently Interweave is releasing a new DVD that covers wire-art basics and they felt that my DVD would compete with it. The other problem is that even if they did offer my DVD for sale, it would have to have packaging, and that would cause it to cost just a couple dollars less than purchasing the new book-with-DVD package. It would be extremely difficult to market a product that competes directly with the same product packaged as a book-with-DVD, so that was one of the reasons they declined to make it available as a stand-alone product.
I think that I have said before that the new DVD packaged with copies of CCJ is a good DVD, but it is not necessary to have. It has a lengthy tools & materials section because we didn't even mention tools & materials in the book. It has a couple of techniques stepped out, but nothing new, nothing that is not also covered in the book. If the DVD had a project on it that was not covered in the book, then I would feel really badly about this situation, but since it does not, I know that you are not missing any content at all by not having the DVD.
To be frank, if you are experienced in making wire jewelry, you truly do not have to have this DVD. If you are a beginner in this art form, my own "Tribal Treasures Bracelet Workshop" DVD, available on, covers the basics thoroughly and is much better (being 2-1/2 hours long) than the short DVD enclosed with the book.
I know that some of you are disappointed with Interweave Press's decision. I'm really sorry. Sometimes we ask for things, and the answer is no. I wish it could have been otherwise in this case, but we just have to accept what is.
That's all I really have to say about it, but if you have any questions please feel free to email me and I'll do my best to answer them.
Best regards,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mixed Metals Charm Bracelet at Weekend with the Wire Masters

The "Mixed Metals Charm Bracelet" is just one of four workshops that I will be offering the last weekend of October at the Weekend with the Wire Masters, which takes place in Dana Point, CA. If you're interested, please sign up soon because this class is filling up quickly!
What will you learn? I've made a list, but time permitting there will be more things than I can list—so much happens in a workshop, both planned and unplanned, that it's hard to believe afterward! Anyway, here is what I have planned so far:
• Twisting 16ga wire to make big, sturdy jump rings without soldering
• Using copper tubing in a variety of ways to make beads (lots of texturing!)
• Double-wrapped eye-pin loops for bead connectors
• Wrapped hook clasp
• Time permitting, I'd like to show a couple varieties of hook clasps not pictured
• Incorporating foreign coins in your jewelry
• Hammering and punching metal to make disk charms
• Double-spiral dangles
• Leaf charms
• More charms and dangles as time permits
• Using liver of sulfur to artificially age our jewelry, and polishing techniques
This is a full-day class but at the event this means just six hours, so we'll have to cooperate together to get everything in... and we will! The class is fine for beginners, too, believe it or not. I hope you have strong hands!
By the way, I do NOT have a kit or supplies to sell in class (exception: I will be bringing a free supply of copper tubing beads), so if you sign up for this please look over the supply list very carefully and bring everything on it, and please bring the best jewelry tools you can. Please, no cheap tools! They're awful for your hands.
UPDATE: This particular class is just half-full, so I'm going to do a special promotion: FREE Bohemian Bangles Bracelet Workshop DVD to everyone who signs up for this workshop. You'll get your DVD when you show up for class. I'll even sign it for you...
I'm really looking forward to teaching this class and meeting you!
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Release of CCJ with DVD!

Lots of my followers have written to ask about the new re-release of my book, Contemporary Copper Jewelry, which is packaged with a short (one hour) DVD. The new package will be available for sale on November 9, 2010. It retails on for $17.79.
The trouble is, this book was released last September without a DVD, and several thousand copies have been sold. Some readers are a little upset (understandably) that if they want the same book with a DVD, they must purchase it anew. They want to have the option of purchasing the DVD separately when it becomes available. Until now, I had been told that this would not be possible.
Last week I emailed the gal in charge of marketing at Interweave Press and she suggested that anyone who is interested in purchasing the DVD separately should email me with this request. We'll see how many requests we receive, and then perhaps we can persuade the publisher to bring out a DVD separately from the book. No promises, but it never hurts to try.
In case you're wondering why the book is being re-released with a DVD a full year after it was first published in Sept. 2009, let me just say that this was not the plan of the publisher. Before the book came out, they approached me asking if I would be willing to create a short DVD to accompany the book, and I said "no" at that time. The reason? I have four really terrific instructional DVDs of my own, including Tribal Treasures Bracelet Workshop (2-1/2 hours long), Rings of Beauty Workshop (also 2-1/2 hours of content), Bohemian Bangles Workshop (4 hours long!), and Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop (3-1/2 hours of content).
These DVDs were very expensive to produce and in fact I am still paying off my business debt after producing the last one in 2008, believe it or not. So any competition with my own DVDs seemed to me (at the time) to be a bad business decision. I repeatedly refused to make a short DVD to accompany CCJ, and then over the months since it came out last fall I began to reconsider. After many discussions with the acquisitions editor, I finally agreed to tape a short DVD to accompany CCJ, which we did last spring.
The new book release this November will include a DVD, and I hope (no promises!) the publisher will consider offering the DVD separately to those who have already purchased the book. It's a nice DVD, but short (about an hour long). If you are experienced in wire jewelry, you don't need it. But I understand wanting it anyway. I love books and instructional DVDs, especially when live workshops are so expensive.
So, remember to email me and let me know you'd like to purchase the DVD separately. I'll update you all on this topic as soon as I have news.
Happy wrapping,

Friday, October 8, 2010

Secretariat Movie: A++++!

Just got home from seeing the new Secretariat film in Palm Desert... it was fantastic! So moving and inspirational—and it wasn't sentimental at all, as some movie critics have alleged. I remember watching this magnificent horse win the Belmont on TV when I was a kid, at that time about 12 years old with a new horse of my own, and it was one of the most inspirational moments of my young life.
If you love horses, see this film! Even if you don't, and you just need a little jolt of inspiration, see this film! It's very suitable for families, too. No cursing, no sex, just a great story with inspiring characters (especially the horse, but Diane Lane was great too), and a finish that will knock you out.
If you don't leave this movie believing in the impossible, I don't know what else will do it for you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Egg Basket Rings

Now that my Wild Wire Women retreat is over, I'm turning my thoughts toward some new projects. I'm actually thinking about writing another book of wire jewelry designs, and looking forward to spending the remainder of the week in my studio working out some fun projects for you to try.
One of the more popular workshops this past weekend was my Basket of Eggs ring, which I'll be teaching on Oct. 31 at the Weekend with the Wire Masters in Dana Point, California. But did you know that if you can't make it out to California for Halloween weekend, you can still learn how to make this ring PLUS 10 more beautiful projects? They are all found in my latest book, Arty Jewelry.
Arty Jewelry was designed for intermediate wire-jewelry artists who already have the basics down (making jump rings, eye-pin loops, stuff like that), and are seeking creative challenges. The 11 projects include four wire rings, a fun spiral-top fibula pin, my popular Gem-Cuff Bracelet, knotted beaded beads for bracelets, two earring designs, a three-part wire pendant, and one of my favorite new designs, the Squiggly-Wrap Bangle.
If you'd like to see large, full-color photos of all the jewelry designs found in Arty Jewelry, click here.
You can order this book as well as my artist portfolio (100 Art Jewelry Inspirations) by clicking here.
And if you can make it out to Dana Point for the Wire Masters Weekend retreat, I sure look forward to meeting you there!
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, October 3, 2010

WWW retreat, day 3...

The third day of a Wild Wire Women retreat is always a little bit sad for me, because I know that before long my guests will be leaving for home. So much talent in one studio over three intensive days of instruction... it's very inspiring! Here you can see (from left) Cynthia, Chandra and Kristen hard at work on their jewelry pieces.
Here's Mary (left) and Joan, having a laugh.
Cynthia is pressing down her wire ends in preparation for making a basket ring...
... like the ones pictured here. We all ended up making rings more like my Basket of Eggs ring (as seen in my book, Arty Jewelry), which I will be teaching on Oct. 31 at the Weekend with the Wire Masters. Check it out here!
Here's a picture of Chandra's Basket of Eggs ring. She's also wearing a couple of her brand-new Biker Chick Bangles, which she made this afternoon. Love that silver rabbit bead!
Here's a picture of Cynthia's Basket Ring and two of her Biker Chick Bangles. My students are amazing!
Here's a picture of my Biker Chick Bangles, which you can also find on my instructional DVD, Bohemian Bangles Bracelet Workshop.
This photo shows four bangles made in class today.
Wow, and here's a whole bunch of bangles made this afternoon. Amazing! Joan and Cynthia told me how much they enjoyed making theirs, and I'm so pleased to hear that!
This is my sample bangle, demoed this afternoon. I used a silver charm that my mother bought for me in Mexico, and I also added my fine-silver fused heart charm made yesterday morning. Seems like a long time ago now...
Kristen took our picture before she and her friend Chandra headed down the hill for home. Here you see Cynthia, Chandra, Joan, me, and Mary. Nicer ladies cannot be found anywhere.
Chandra and Kristen had departed for home, and then Mary decided she would head down the hill too before it got dark. That left just me and Cynthia and Joan to have a yummy Mexican meal together at Arriba's in Idyllwild. Look at that margarita!
None for me, I'm afraid. I was driving.
And here's Cynthia again, one last time, really enjoying her well-earned margarita. I worked the girls pretty hard this weekend and I think they deserved a break.
Our retreat is now over, and after breakfast tomorrow my last two participants will be headed for home. It's always sad on Mondays when the house is empty again. I'm not looking forward to that...
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

WWW retreat, day 2...

Day two began with a demonstration on fine-silver fusing. In the studio, we used a jeweler's saw to cut out jump rings made from 14ga fine silver wire. Then we all went upstairs to the kitchen to do our fusing. I tend to fuse and solder in the kitchen because I have very high tiled countertops, ideal for using a small kitchen torch. We placed firebricks on a metal sheet and then had fun trying out the Blazer micro-torch and a creme brulee torch from Williams-Sonoma. Both worked just fine for jewelry making. I have yet to make a creme brulee...
Here's one of my demo pieces, a fused fine-silver heart. Once I had fused it, I hammered the outer edges of the heart and textured the flattened areas with a small embossing hammer. The result is a pretty little charm that would look terrific on a bracelet!
Back in the studio, Sparkle watched over our activities... We went over some of the links and bead wraps that we had made yesterday, including a lengthy demo on the wrapped eye-pin loop. I love doing my retreats because they allow me plenty of time to demonstrate the same technique multiple times as needed, until everybody feels that they have mastered it.
We broke for lunch: sandwich bar, including four different types of bread, various cheeses, deli-sliced meats, ripe tomatoes and lettuce, condiments, etc. and some amazing grapes (huge and juicy), chips, and iced tea.
Cynthia and Chandra look happy with their lunch. Those sandwiches really were yummy!
After lunch, we headed back to the studio for an afternoon of fun making Faux Metal charms using Polyshrink donated by Lucky Squirrel, Lumiere paints, and rubber stamps. The charms came out gorgeous, each one different, even though we all used the same materials and tools to make our charms. Here you can see Cynthia cutting out one of her plastic pieces before she deep-embossed it.
Most of the afternoon was taken up with painting our beautiful charms, but afterward there was time to use liver of sulfur to artificially age our jewelry. Then came the tedious process of polishing our pieces with 0000 steel wool, but the result is well worth the effort.
We popped our jewelry into the tumbler and then headed off for dinner. Three of us went out to a restaurant in town, while the other three picked up a delicious veggie pizza and a bottle of wine. That was just perfect. We ended the evening with a big plate of homemade cookies. Time for bed!
Happy wrapping,

Friday, October 1, 2010

WWW retreat, day 1...

Our first day of workshops began with "10 Trippy Tricks," or 10 different wire links and bead wraps including the worm bead pictured above. We also worked on making perfect jump rings, wrapped eye-pin loops, caged beads, zigzag wraps, and more... plus, we made Celtic knot links per special request.
Here's Mary (left) and Joan, concentrating as they focus their energy on making beautiful wire links and  bead wraps. Meanwhile, a thunderstorm was cracking the sky outside and we were very happy to be so cozy inside the workshop, making jewelry together.
Here's Ivy, looking like a little pirate. I caught her while she was playing with one of my silk plants. Up to her usual tricks!
Here's a cage bead, in process. Lots of spiraling and hammering takes place before this wire squiggle is turned into a beautiful wire-wrap for a favorite bead.
Cynthia takes jewelry making very seriously, but she's all-girl at heart. Although this was a women-only weekend, she came to class in a lovely outfit, gorgeous jewelry, and full makeup. She looked so beautiful, I was quite ashamed of myself!
Here's Rosy, looking rather demure. But don't be fooled; this little feline has lots of tricks in mind for the weekend...
Best friends Chandra (left) and Kristen came up to Idyllwild for the retreat together. They brought wine, too, so they were more than welcome. I've really enjoyed getting to know them. I've already learned a lot from them about cooking and some cool web sites they recommend I check out. I need to make the chocolate chip cookies they've been describing, with melted butter! Mmmm.
Anyway, we finished the first day of workshops with a demonstration on making ball-headed headpins (using sterling silver and copper wire) with a common kitchen torch. Really fun to find out how easy that is, and how much money you can save by making your own.
I'm already looking forward to our workshop tomorrow: fine silver fusing, and faux metal charms, plus using liver of sulfur and the tumbler.
Happy wrapping,