Monday, March 29, 2010

Wild Wire Women Retreat was toooo much fun!

Of all the photos I took during our Wild Wire Women retreat this past weekend (March 25-29), this one of the messy table seems to say it best! We had fun, made a mess, ate lots of great food, drank some excellent wine, and made lots of jewelry samples.
Most important of all, we made lasting friendships. Here's Susie from Leesburg, Virginia. She and her sister Dagmar flew out together and landed at LAX—not my favorite airport—and it took them about three hours to drive up to Idyllwild. I hope that when they return next time they'll consider flying into Palm Springs airport, about 25 minutes from my house!
Anyway, they arrived just in time on Thursday for a big glass of wine and then we were off to Cafe Aroma for our welcome dinner, which was delicious as usual and accompanied by live music. We visited late, and by the time we got back home again it was time for bed. "Breakfast starts at 8 am," I had informed my guests, but their time clocks were way out of kilter with California's so we were all up and gulping hot coffee and breakfasting by 6:30. Then it was down to the workshop for our first lesson, "10 Trippy Tricks 2," a sort of wirework 101 class. We also had time for a lesson on making headpins with a kitchen torch (we used copper wire), and the Chunky Leaf link (also found on my DVD, Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop), plus a link from my Snake Vertebra bracelet workshop (also found in my book, Wire Art Jewelry).
Pictured above you see a sample bracelet in progress, with some of the links from this class. This is Jen from La Mesa, California. She's more quiet and studious than the rest of us, and you can see her displaying the proper hand position as she creates a tight spiral with her thumb pressed firmly against the wire. Jan (on the left) from Princeton, Wisconsin sat next to Dagmar from Howell, New Jersey. Dagmar is Susie's sister. Before the weekend was over, we all felt like sisters. Jan's holding up her links from the Snake Vertebra bracelet workshop. I taught the gals how to make this link in addition to a full day of instruction, and some of them wanted to use the link to make a bracelet during their free time. Not that we had much free time, I keep everybody very busy during my retreats! Here's our workshop mascot, Ivy. She loves to sit in the baskets on top of my cabinets, looking down on all the action. She's saying, "Hey, whydoncha put a pair of pliers in my paws?"
On Saturday we tackled the Etruscan Spiral necklace (Susie's partially completed necklace is at the top of this post) and I also demonstrated some earring basics.
It was a long day because we started off with a review of all the basics we had gone over the day before. The wrapped eye-pin loop is a challenge for newbies, so we spent some time on that. Thankfully, in a retreat setting there's plenty of time to go over things repeatedly until everyone really gets it down pat.
Pictured above you see the sample pendant from my Autumn Dance workshop, one of two that I taught on Sunday. We also learned the knotless netting technique with wire (found in Wire Art Jewelry), and finished with using liver of sulfur and some polishing techniques. Dinners out were fun; on Saturday we got some delicious Chinese takeout, which we devoured at around 9 pm. On Sunday night, our farewell dinner was held at Cafe Aroma again.
Dagi really surprised us all. She came to the retreat with the idea that she would learn a few techniques but really focus on making some jewelry pieces to wear home. She told me she doubted that she would actually make any jewelry after our retreat, so it was important for her to return to New Jersey with some finished pieces.
On Sunday evening after dinner, down to the workshop she went to work on her Autumn Dance cuff bracelet (pictured above). We don't know how late she worked, but it was well worth the effort! By Monday morning, she had finished her gorgeous bracelet to her great satisfaction.
But even better, Dagi found a new passion to pursue: wire-art jewelry. Susie called me later to tell me that her sister is now well and truly hooked, and Dagi has written several times to tell me how much she loves her new hobby. She's buying tons of books and DVDs and tools and wires and beads.... and on it goes.
Those of us who love to make jewelry with wire know just how addictive it can be... and how much fun. There's nothing like making wire jewelry! I'm so glad I was able to share my passion for this art form with other like-minded artists.
If you'd like to come out to Idyllwild for a Wild Wire Women retreat, I still have some openings on the following dates:
June 10-14
July 29-August 2
August 12-16
September 30-October 4
October 14-18
October 21-25
November 4-8
Drop me an email for more information!
Happy wrapping,
sharilynmiller@mac.com

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Faux 4-in-1 Bracelet Workshop

Lots going on around here as I prepare for my Wild Wire Women's Retreat this week (March 25-29), and for teaching my Faux 4-in-1 Bracelet workshop taking place this Tuesday at Monica's.
This bracelet looks a lot like the European 4-in-1 chainmaille design, but it's not. I use 12ga wire (copper shown, but it can also be made in sterling silver) to make cool links that are beautifully forged and textured with hammers before we assemble them into a bracelet. We also add a handmade clasp that "disappears" into the design.
It's a gorgeous bracelet that drapes beautifully on the wrist, with a lot of substance–get ready for compliments! For a supply list, click here.
If you can't make it to Palm Desert this Tuesday for the workshop, this bracelet is stepped out in detail in my new book, Wire Art Jewelry. To see all the projects in this 200-page book, click here.
I hope to see you at Monica's this week!
Phone: 760-772-2400
And keep checking my blog this week, as I'll be photographing our Wild Wire Women retreat as it progresses through the weekend. We'll be tackling my 10 Trippy Tricks 2 workshop first, adding a couple of extra links as well (time permitting), and we'll also learn how to use a kitchen torch to make ball-headed headpins using both sterling silver and copper wire.
On Saturday we'll make the Etruscan Spiral necklace using forged and textured copper tubing, and we'll also make some earrings. Using liver of sulfur to artificially age our jewelry, polishing it afterward and using the tumbler with jewelry shot will conclude a very busy day.
On Sunday, we'll make pendants using the Autumn Dance technique, and also learn knotless netting on large beads. We'll finish the day with a session on professional jewelry photography using my EZCube system.
Whew! Lots of work ahead of us, but lots of fun (and good eating, too!) as well. I can hardly wait to begin...
Happy wrapping,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hyla's Necklace

This is Hyla (I hope I spelled her name right!), one of my students from my class held on Feb. 20 at Monica's. We did the Autumn Dance necklace workshop, and Hyla brought some huge beads that I was rather concerned about using in her necklace. One, I could see. But she wanted to use seven of these ginormous turquoise cabs on her necklace frame, and then embellish it with additional amethyst beads, pearls, and glass beads.
I was worried. I advised her not to use all those big beads in one necklace. I was wrong!
Hyla finished her necklace at home and a few days later while I was teaching my Embellished Copper Washer bracelet, she strolled into Monica's wearing her stunning creation. Wow, practically knocked my eyes out with this beauty! We were all very impressed.
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Embellished Copper Washer Bracelet Workshop Tomorrow

Don't miss tomorrow's workshop at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert!
I'm teaching a truly unique bracelet, my own original design, a linked bracelet like you've never seen. First we'll use various hammers to add textures to copper washers (Harbor Freight). Next, we'll learn a variety of ways to add wire-wrapped embellishments and beads to our washers.
I'll show you how to make figure-8 links to attach your components for making a very beautiful bracelet (or a short necklace, your choice).
Finally, we'll make our own toggle clasp. Super fun, and easy (for the most part) with some challenging bits. But I think you're up for it!
Time permitting, we'll also use liver of sulfur to artificially age our bracelets and polish them, too. Hope to see you there.
Click here for a supply list.
Call Monica's to register: 760-772-2400
Happy wrapping,

Monday, March 8, 2010

FREE shipping on my books!

For a limited time, www.blurb.com is offering FREE shipping on my two books, 100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations (pictured above) and Arty Jewelry (pictured below).
100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations is a portfolio of my jewelry designs created from 2001 through 2009, and features full-color photos of more than 100 jewelry samples: bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, and pins. There are no instructions for making the jewelry, just lots of eye candy!
The book is 80 pages, full color, and printed on premium paper. Gorgeous! In softcover, it retails for $24.95; in hardcover with image-wrap, it retails for $39.95. For a free preview of the first 15 pages, click here.
Arty Jewelry (pictured above) is a terrific new book featuring 11 stepped-out projects in full color. I show you how to make some fun "fishing lure" earrings, knotted beads for bracelets, the "egg basket" ring, a spiral fibula pin, my popular squiggly-wrap bracelet, the Aegean waves ring, posy ring, and moth ring, dunce-cap earrings, and a new design, the Gray-Gardens pendant.
If you'd like to see large, full-color photos of the jewelry samples, click here.
To see a free preview of the first 15 pages of the book, click here.
Arty Jewelry is 120 pages, full color, and printed on premium paper with plenty of step-out photos illustrating each project and very large, readable type. It retails for $29.95 in softcover and $44.95 in hardcover with image-wrap.
So here is how to get it with FREE shipping, through March 22!
Once you've ordered one or both books, follow the instructions below, provided by www.blurb.com:

Just enter the promo code below at checkout and your book will be in your hands in about a week. Be sure to use the appropriate currency, based on your location.

  • USD $ promo code: WESHIP
  • GBP £ promo code: WESHIP2
  • EUR € promo code: WESHIP3

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Great fun at Monica's yesterday...

The Squiggly-Wrap Bangle workshop held yesterday at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations was great fun—as always—with five enthusiastic students and a full day of fun techniques.
Lizzie's bracelet (pictured above) was made using Unicorn beads from a trunk show that was going on in the store. I believe the trunk show is continuing this week, so if you're in the Palm Desert area be sure to drop by.
Here's my class, looking a little tired by the time I shot the photo! Some of them made two bangles in class, while Gloria (pictured center) made one bangle and then started work on a pendant using the same wire wrapping techniques we learned in class.
Here are a couple of Squiggly-Wrap bangles made in class. I apologize for the photo! It's really difficult getting a good shot in such poor lighting. But I'm sure you get the idea...
Here's a picture of Gloria wearing her incredible necklace, which she started in my class on Feb. 20. You can read more about the class in my previous post.
Three more bangles, made by my students (pictured above). Gorgeous! But they could use some more polishing after we dipped them in liver of sulfur.
These are my four sample bracelets. They need more polishing, and a tumble with jewelry shot. I might as well do that today while I watch the Oscars.
If you like the Squiggly-Wrap Bangle but can't make it to a workshop, I have stepped out the project in my new book: Arty Jewelry.
For information, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A busy week, and a Squiggly-Wrap Bangle...

This has been a busy week, preparing for a brand-new workshop to take place this Saturday at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert, plus submitting proposals for some bead retreats taking place toward the end of this year. The class on offer this Saturday is my Squiggly-Wrap bangle workshop, held from 10 am to 5 pm (approximately). Learn to make this beautiful bangle (pictured above) but with a handmade clasp (not pictured) in either copper or sterling silver wire. I have three sample bracelets on display at the store, so if you live in the desert area be sure to drop by and check them out.
For a supply list, click here.
Call Monica's at 760-772-2400.
I just finalized my plans for teaching two workshops at Art in the Loft this August, and can now tell you about them!
Saturday, August 28, I will offer my popular Grateful Heart necklace workshop (featured in my book, Wire Art Jewelry).
Sunday, August 29, I will offer the Autumn Dance pendant workshop.
Both classes take place at Art in the Loft in Alpena, Michigan, a gorgeous art space on the top floor of a commercial building right in the heart of town. I love this art studio/gallery, and only wish that every small town was as fortunate to have such an ideal, creative environment.
For information or to register for my class(es), call 989-356-4877.
Finally, my mom came over yesterday for a short visit and brought some new clothing that she'll be wearing on her cruise this April. We went through my bead stash looking for "just the thing" to use in some new jewelry that I'll be making for her to wear on her trip. Don't you all wish you had a personal jeweler in your family?
I'll post photos of her finished jewelry soon. In the meantime, I hope to see you in class this Saturday. If you can't make it to the workshop, you can always make your own Squiggly-Wrap Bangle by following the instructions in my new book, Arty Jewelry.
Happy Wrapping,