Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wild Wire Women Retreats: 2011 NEW DATES!

I've just added some new dates to the 2011 schedule of Wild Wire Women retreats! Here they are:
January 5-10, 2011
February 10-14, 2011
February 24-28, 2011
March 31-April 4, 2011
April 7-11, 2011
April 14-18, 2011
May 5-9, 2011
May 12-16, 2011
May 26-30, 2011
June 2-6, 2011
Yes, you will find some winter dates (Jan.-March) listed as well as spring and early summer. The weather up here in Idyllwild is unpredictable, so anyone who winters down in this area (Palm Springs, Temecula, Hemet, etc.) is welcome to come on up for a retreat if the weather is fair.
I don't recommend out-of-state students flying in for a retreat until April. In any case, I always recommend purchasing travel insurance; it's cheap, and it can save you a bundle!
The cost for a retreat in 2011 is $725, with a nonrefundable deposit required at the time of registration: $225. Why nonrefundable? This is to keep folks from registering for a retreat and then backing out at the last minute. It's standard practice in the art & craft retreat industry, and again, if you purchase trip-cancellation insurance you should be able to get a refund if you find that you must cancel.
If we have really bad weather up here (not likely after March) or if I myself must cancel the retreat for some unforeseen purpose, I will refund your deposit.
To learn more about the retreats, what's included in your fee (LOTS!) and what you can expect to learn, please visit my retreat blog. Click here.
Any questions? Feel free to email me and I'll do my best to answer them.
I hope to meet you in Idyllwild soon!
Happy wrapping,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bead on a Wire: 102 Five-Star Reviews!

Wow, I just found out recently that Bead on a Wire has 102 FIVE-STAR reviews on!
This is great news, and I am so thrilled because this book has continued to teach thousands of jewelry artists how to make beautiful, durable wire jewelry since it was first published in 2005.
I hope you all enjoy it... As for me, I'm doing a happy dance!
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wild Wire Women: Sunday

I just found some photos on my camera that I didn't realize I had, so this post relates to last Sunday, November 7!
On our final full day in the studio, we made Bangle Bracelets, the Heart Pin, and some basic earrings too. We had used liver of sulfur the night before to artificially age our jewelry, so Sunday was also devoted to cleaning and polishing. Looks like the three sisters from Iceland are having a good time, but believe me the process is a bit tedious!
First you have to polish the darkening effect from your jewelry (copper or silver) using 0000 steel wool. Afterward, as Helga demonstrates above, you should brush out the bits of steel wool using a brass brush (look for one in the barbecue section of most hardware stores). This is because in the next step, you give your polished jewelry a high shine by tumbling it for about half an hour with stainless steel jewelry shot, burnishing compound, and water. The steel wool will rust, so you don't want those little bits to accumulate in your stash of steel shot.
Here you can see Eva dumping out the contents of the tumbler barrel into a sieve in the shop sink.
Now she's rinsing each jewelry piece and carefully picking out the steel shot, which has a habit of clinging to the little nooks and crevices of your jewelry. It takes some time to rinse and clean your jewelry and pick out the shot as needed, but it's worth it.
Here you can see several jewelry pieces laying out on paper towels. They can be allowed to air-dry or you can rub them dry with towels or even use a hair dryer to speed the process. The entire process of using liver of sulfur, polishing and cleaning it in a tumbler is demonstrated in all of my four instructional DVDs, which can be found here.
Eva is really proud of her mixed-media necklace, made over the previous two days (Friday and Saturday) in my 10 Trippy Tricks 1 and 10 Trippy Tricks 2 workshops. 
Here's Sista, showing off her necklace as well. 
And this is Frida (above) with the beginnings of her necklace. The emphasis on my "10 tricks" workshops is not a finished product, but a day spent learning the basics of wire working plus some very cool intermediate-level wire wraps and links. We spend a lot of time on the wrapped eye-pin loop and spiraling, coiling, etc—all the really important basic stuff—but we always make time for creative explorations as well.
Here's a fun abstract pin accented with Icelandic lava beads; I believe it's Frida's creation.
Finally, I was really pleased with how my knotless-netted turquoise bead came out. You can see it's quite large, and rather heavy. The eye-pin loops are sterling silver, and the netting is in fine-gauge copper wire accented with three purple crystal beads. I haven't used this wrapped bead in a necklace yet, but I think what I'd do is keep it really simple and make a heavy chain of links, perhaps in 14ga or even 12ga, and a really cool clasp. My creative wheels are still spinning, so I'll have to keep you posted on the results!
I'm really sad today, a week later, missing my friends from Iceland as well as Holly who came all the way from New Jersey to participate in a Wild Wire Women retreat. I love conducting these retreats because everyone really has a great time, we learn a lot from one another, and we bond as friends. It's hard to describe the feeling of a retreat, which is so very different from attending a workshop in a store or at a bead show. The experience becomes one of those never-forget, lifetime memories that you always look back on with great fondness.
I haven't scheduled new retreats for 2011 yet, but I will soon. I promise to post the new dates as soon as I have them; probably beginning in late March or early April. I hope you can come out to Idyllwild in 2011!
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wild Wire Women: Saturday

Here we are in the studio again, ready for a full day of workshops! From left: Helga, Eva, Sista, and Holly.
Here's Frida (left) and Helga, ready to get to work.
This is the 10 Trippy Tricks 2 workshop, which includes 10 different bead wraps and links.
As part of this workshop, we made "silver swirl" beads (in copper, though) and I was able to show the ladies how to turn this creative link into a pendant embellished with beads.
Here's Eva, showing off her pin! During my Wild Wire Women retreats, I have a lot more time to teach more techniques than I would during a typical bead show.
This is the view just off my deck, right before sunset. The air is so fresh up here, it's delicious!
Here's Frida, hammering away on her wire pin.
At the end of the day, we all trooped upstairs to my kitchen where I demonstrated making copper headpins using a common kitchen torch. Here you can see Sista giving it a go.
From left: Eva, Sista, Frida, and Holly waiting their turn. After we'd all made about 10 headpins and pickled them, we decided it was time for a pizza dinner. We've just returned home, and the ladies are working downstairs again! I can't believe their energy level. As for me, it's another early-to-bed night. Tomorrow is our last day together, and I'm already missing my new friends. But I have an invitation to teach some workshops in Iceland—perhaps as early as next summer—so I hope to see them again within the year. Fingers crossed!
Happy wrapping,

Friday, November 5, 2010

From Iceland to Idyllwild!

Our Wild Wire Women retreat has begun! Here you can see (from left) Sista, Helga, Eva, Frida, me, and Holly enjoying our welcome dinner last night at Cafe Aroma. The first four gals from left are all from various parts of Iceland. They came all the way to Idyllwild to enjoy a weekend making jewelry and relaxing in the mountains. Holly is from New Jersey.
This is what I had for dinner last night: alfredo pasta with mushrooms! Mmmm...
In the workshop today, you can see Eva on the left following instructions very intently, while her sister Helga on the right concentrates on holding her pliers in just the right position.
Sista also worked very hard on correct hand position and did very well. All the ladies are quite talented and I appreciate how hard they worked today!
Here's Frida, looking a little dazed after a full day of wire jewelry instruction! I'm so glad she found me on the Internet (thanks to google) and convinced her three friends to join her on such a long journey to learn how to make wire jewelry.
Here's Holly, spiraling-spiraling-spiraling...
And this is part of the view out my window in the studio. So gorgeous, what a distraction!
These are just a few samples from our class today: 10 Trippy Tricks 1. We'll undertake 10 Trippy Tricks 2 tomorrow. We have our work cut out for us!
Eva appears to be very happy with her zigzag wrap on a large bead. We all enjoyed today's workshop, and now that we've had some dinner in town and are back again, the girls are downstairs working on their links and bead wraps. I'm upstairs blogging, but not for long. Time for bed!
Happy wrapping,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Even More from Weekend with the Wire Masters...

I found some more pictures from our Weekend with the Wire Masters in Dana Point last weekend, so I thought I'd share them here. This first one shows a group wrestling with a drill, preparing to twist 16ga wire and make lovely jump rings.
Here's the class, hammering away on their coins.
A happy student, proud of her Ethnic Coin Necklace!
On Sunday, we made woven-wire rings that I call Basket of Eggs ring. A student's finished ring is above...
...and my finished class sample is above.
Here's another ring made by a student in class. Love that copper wire, and those red beads!
June's ring is all about understated elegance. I really like the pearls she brought to class.
Until next time... happy wrapping!

More Weekend with the Wire Masters

I admit it: I've been a bad blogger!
Last weekend was so much fun and so chock-full of activities (teaching, learning, making, creating, eating out, and celebrating in general), I just did not have the energy to blog at all. And my intentions were to blog every day! Even brought my mac computer to the hotel so I could do it more easily.
But it's really hard to keep up your good intentions when you've taught from 9 am to 5 pm each day without a break (I skipped lunch) and then go out each night for dinner and margaritas... by the time I got back to the hotel each night, I was very, very tired and ready for bed!
So I thought I'd just post some of the pictures from our fabulous weekend and share a little about each one.
Our first day was a class called the Colorful Tribal Necklace (see sample below) and it was great to begin the weekend with such a fun, colorful wire necklace. Lots of cute beads and using our skills to make our own coil wraps, caged beads, handmade chain and dangly charms kept us all busy.
These two are the happiest mom-&-daughter-in-law I've ever known. They adore each other, take wonderful trips, and do arty stuff all the time. June and Julie! A very inspiring pair.
Here's a student hammering a charm using a plastic mallet. I did tell them to keep their fingers off the bench block...!
Above you can see the necklace. I actually made this piece a year ago while teaching a workshop series over in Provence, France. It's quite inspiring for this time of year; I think the colors say "Halloween" quite clearly.
Here I am teaching and demo-ing so to speak, which I do continuously throughout each day. I don't know if other teachers do this or not, but I always teach all day. I feel compelled to give as much as I can to my students in the limited time we have together.
Here's a happy student, looks like she's taking a short break.
Studious attention to detail is one of the keys to success in jewelry making!
The mixed-metals bracelet with copper tubing, wire, coins, handmade charms and more is pictured above. It was fun to give out handmade clasps to everyone so they could have a finished sample to look at, and then teach them two different ways to make them. I also did a fun demo on making the coolest beads with copper tubing. And we made some fun charms, twisted wire to make jump rings... it was a very full day!
A small group of us went down to the harbor to eat at El Torito, where they gave us the most beautiful seating right by a huge picture window looking out on the harbor.
Here's a view of the harbor, taken right from my seat in the restaurant. The food was terrific, and I loved my blackberry margarita!
Another angle on the harbor, at sundown.
And here's my blackberry margarita! Highly recommended if you ever go to El Torito. Their food is very good and well priced. Loved my rita, makes me thirsty now just looking at it...
Here's a sample of the Ethnic Coin necklace, which we all made on Saturday. We used a metal hole punch instead of a drill to punch holes in our coins, used copper tacks to make rivets, made heavy-gauge jump rings and figure-8 links, a clasp, and so much more... this is a fun class but rather intensive. We had a lot to cover in just one day, but we did it! Later I saw one of my students wearing her necklace in the hotel lobby, and it was gorgeous. She was extremely happy, too.
That makes all the hard work more than worthwhile!
Happy wrapping,