Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas 2011

A very happy Christmas to one and all!
It's become an annual tradition for me to create a new necklace for my mother around this time of year, so I thought I'd share my latest creation with you. It was made with lots and lots of sterling silver wire, which is pretty amazing since silver has gone up so much over the years (I haven't purchased silver wire since it was $7 a troy ounce!). Most of the time I use copper wire, which I like nearly as much as silver.
The necklace also features some beautiful raku-fired ceramic beads purchased last March in Santa Fe, a glass focal bead and some of my own enameled cage beads.
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wild Wire Women Retreat 2012 Dates Posted!

I just posted new dates for the Spring 2012 session of workshop retreats in my Idyllwild, California studio:
March 22-26
April 19-23
April 26-30
May 3-7
May 10-14
May 17-21
May 24-28
If you've always wanted to come out for a Wild Wire Women retreat, the spring of 2012 is the ideal time to do it!
I'm now offering a wide variety of workshops in wire jewelry design & craftsmanship, metalsmithing techniques, torch-fired and kiln-fired enameling, form folding, etching, and more. Come and learn the latest techniques in very small classes (limited to six adult females) from an artist with over a decade of experience in jewelry making with wire, metal, and beads.
The fee of $825 includes:
Three very full days of workshop instruction in small class sizes
Workshop handouts
All materials (with the exception of beads) such as copper wire and sheet, enamels, etc.
Four nights shared accommodation in my beautiful mountain home
Welcome wine & cheese reception followed by dinner at Cafe Aroma
Four big breakfasts and three delicious lunches, beverages & snacks
All FOUR of my instructional DVDs, a $120 retail value!
24-hour access to the studio and its vast library of books & periodicals
The fee does not include transportation to/from Idyllwild (out-of-area students usually rent a car) or three dinners (Friday-Sunday nights); Idyllwild boasts a variety of terrific restaurants for you to try, suited for all budgets and tastes.
I hope to see you in Idyllwild soon. More information can be found at this blog:
Or feel free to email me, anytime:
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wild Wire Women Retreat: Day 3

It's the end of Day 3 for us, and, as always a bittersweet feeling accompanies the last supper, the last sip of Tuaca, the last laughs of a weekend filled with fond memories and much laughter. We also made lots of jewelry and learned many new techniques in wirework and torch-fired enamel jewelry making.
The picture above shows the bracelets we made during the Silver Sampler Bracelet workshop—obviously we used copper wire!—which included a variety of techniques: hook & eye clasps, coil-wrapped beads, tapered worm beads, heart links, twisted wire jump rings, and more. It's an intensive, full-day workshop, but we also managed to fit in...
...torch-fired enamel jewelry, including enameled headpins and multicolored cage beads! What a blast. I mean this literally, because we had to open the windows to the studio to let in some fresh air, and it came in with a blast! We're having some very cold weather just now. But what fun to form our own cage beads with heavy-gauge wire and roll them in a variety of different colored enamels, torch-fire them, and enjoy our own creativity.
This project is also featured in my latest book, Arty Jewelry IV.
I am so proud of my students, who were fearlessly creative and threw themselves into their arty explorations with such abandon! And they made some truly gorgeous jewelry. What nice ladies they are, too. I will miss them very much!
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wild Wire Women Retreat: Day 2

Day Two was very productive for all of us, as you can see by the photo above featuring the treasure-trove of jewelry we made! Pins and pendants with wire embellishment, knotless netting, beads & pearls, and lots of creativity...
I was thrilled to capture this photo of Kellie, actually filing a piece of jewelry she made. She likes to tell people that she never files her wire jewelry, but she does, and I've got the photo to prove it!
Kellie also has a store and she teaches tons of classes. Visit her Web site here:
Above you can see a closeup photo of Kellie's beautiful wire embellished pendant. A similar piece that I call the Silver Swirl Stick Pin is featured in my latest book, Arty Jewelry IV.
Here's a picture of Susan, proudly holding up her finished knotless-netted pendant...
And Stephanie, displaying her beautiful pendant as well.
The photo above shows just how talented Stephanie is: She not only made a gorgeous wire stick-pin, she also designed and made the lampwork bead (embellished with a starfish) adorning it. And here's good news: She sells her beads! Check out her Web site here:
Ivy played lounge lady while we all worked really hard all day!
Amongst many other techniques explored in class today, Susan tried her hand at torch-fired enameling. She's now addicted to making her own enameled headpins (as am I).
The photo above shows all three pendants made today with knotless netting. Great job, ladies!
And here is Susan's stick pin which can also be worn as a pendant. I'm so proud of my students.
Stephanie had a little time on her hands this afternoon, so she made a second stick pin. The incredible lampwork bead you see here is her own creation.
After a long day working in the studio, we all went out to dinner at Arriba's Mexican Restaurant. Some of us started with a generous bowl of Abundigas soup.
Stephanie's about to dig into an enormous plate of yummyness!
And look at that grilled burrito... I ate half of it and that's the best I could do.
We returned home rather late, but naturally we had to finish off our adventures with another jewelry photography session. This time I gave the photo styling over to Stephanie, who did a fantastic job, don't you think?
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for Day 3 of our Wild Wire Women retreat!
Happy wrapping,

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wild Wire Women Retreat: Day 1

Day One of our Wild Wire Women retreat has come to an end, and above you can see the fruit of our labors: Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelets made with sheet metal, wire, vintage buttons, and beads. We had way too much fun today!
Here are my three students, clockwise from left: Kellie and Stephanie (from B.C. Canada) and Susan (from California). They look happy and energetic... that's because I took this photo first thing in the morning.
We started with a demonstration on how to design and create motifs suitable for sheet-metal pieces to incorporate into a bangle bracelet. After making several sketches (hearts, flowers, leaves, sea motifs, and more), we transferred our designs to the metal with a Sharpie pen.
Here you can see Stephanie sawing out a small hole in the center of her floral motif.
Here's Susan, sawing away!
After we sawed out our pieces and filed and polished the edges, we used a Dremel engraver to create lovely designs on the surface. Then we hammer-textured our metal pieces with various hammers and used metal stamps and daps as well as dimpling pliers to add fun designs.
Above you can see our finished metal motifs, ready to be attached to bangle bracelets.
Susan was thrilled with her finished bracelet!
After using patina on our bracelets (liver of sulfur) and polishing them, we headed upstairs for a lesson in jewelry photography.
We all made some fun, funky clasps for our bangles and it was important that we get good photos of them for future reference.
After a very full day in the workshop, it was time to head out for dinner at the Hidden Village Chinese restaurant, a local favorite. Here you can see Stephanie and Susan, champing at the bit!
And yet one more photo of Kellie, taking a portion of Sweet & Sour Pork... we all tried some of everything, and it was hard to decide which dish was our favorite. After working hard all day on jewelry, we had developed a big appetite!
The bracelet we made today is just one of nine projects featured in my latest book, Arty Jewelry IV, currently available as a printed full-color book via If you'd like to see a preview of the contents, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Here is my wish for everyone to have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday today, with peace and joyful times spent with family and friends. I'm making a list of all the things I'm thankful for this year, and it is a very long list! Although this past year has been tough, I have much to be thankful for.
   1. My parents are in good health, and we see each other regularly and have a great friendship.
   2. I turned 50 this year and I continue to enjoy good health.
   3. My friends... so many true, loyal friends! I love them all so much.
   4. The gift of creativity: what would I do without it? I wouldn't even be myself if I wasn't creative.
   5. My beautiful home in Idyllwild.
The list goes on from there, but those are my top-five. I wish all of you much joy in the coming year, and many happy hours creating beautiful things with your hands.
Happy Thanksgiving,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Finished: Two Wire-Woven Antique Dollies!

At long last, I can post photos of my two finished Antique Dolly Pendants! I just finished them last night. The doll on the left was from a workshop that I taught on 11-11-11 at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert. The one on the right is actually the very first doll pendant I taught, back in August the weekend before I departed for Cortona, Italy (where I taught this workshop yet again!).
Pictured above is Marsha, my friend and neighboring jewelry artist who lives up here in Idyllwild. She's working on her doll... not sure if she's finished it yet!
And here's my dear friend Pene, who lives part-time in the desert. She brought lots of copper wire from the hardware store, which is one of the things that makes this workshop so great: You don't need expensive materials to make an Antique Dolly Pendant.
Two more happy students, hard at work on their creations, are pictured above.
Just before lunch I'd made decent progress on my doll (pictured on the left) with inspiration from my sample piece (pictured on the right).
In the picture above you can see that another student has made progress on her pendant.
She seems happy about it!
One of the gals decided to turn her doll into a mermaid. It's easy enough to do, just takes some creativity with wire!
Another happy student, concentrating on her sterling-silver wire doll.
And finally, a close-up of my finished doll, which I like to call Butterfly Girl because she has some cute wire wings. I love teaching this workshop, it's so much fun! I'm sure to be teaching it again soon, and I hope that you can join me in a class someday.
If you can't make it to a live workshop, I have stepped-out the pendant in detail with lots of great photos in my latest book, Arty Jewelry IV. Right now it's only available on, but you can get $10 off your order by typing in the code BIGTEN at check-out. Or, save 15 percent off your entire order by using the code HOLIDAY. These codes are good through 11-30-11, so take advantage of them today!
Happy wrapping,

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Enameled Cage Beads

A friend who follows my blog recently asked me what I've been up to lately and it's an easy answer this time: more enameled cage beads! I was going for a "faux raku" look here by mixing colors and using transparent enamels on top of my favorite opaque colors... not sure that I succeeded exactly, but I'm really pleased with these beads anyway.
This has been a process of experimentation for me because I have not had the benefit of a good class or workshop in enameling yet, but I have to thank Barbara Lewis again for helping me via email when I ran into trouble with my beads. They were looking great until I put them in the vermiculite to cool, when I discovered to my dismay that they were cracking and sometimes bits of enamel would suddenly split off with a little "ping" up to several minutes into their cooling session. This really vexed me because I love making these beads and I am crazy about the colorful results.
Barbara made several helpful suggestions that made all the difference, and I thought I'd share her wisdom with you here:
1. Start with a layer of clear fusing enamel.
2. Limit the number of layers of colored enamel; the thicker the enamel, the more likely it is to crack.
3. Heat vermiculite in a crock-pot prior to making beads. I now pre-heat my vermiculite for a full hour in a small crock pot before I even turn on the torch.
4. Flame-anneal each bead immediately after you've made it by holding it several inches beyond the tip of the flame where it's still hot, but not hot enough to melt the enamel any more. I hold the bead out in this position for a full minute before dropping it into the crock pot of heated vermiculite.
5. Once I've made all my beads, I leave them in heated vermiculite for about an hour, then turn off the crock pot, and remove the beads hours later (oftentimes the next morning). They should cool slowly.
You might think this is a lot of work to go through to make some enameled cage beads, but if you don't take care it is very frustrating to have made a beautiful bead, only to find little chips and cracks in it later.
Thank you Barbara, for being so helpful! In case you don't already know, she has a terrific book out called Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry and it's's bestselling craft book for 2011!
Happy wrapping (and enameling),
p.s. We'll be making enameled cage beads during my next Wild Wire Women retreat on Dec. 1-5, 2011!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Just Released: Arty Jewelry IV !!!

I'm thrilled to finally be able to announce that Arty Jewelry IV was just published today and is now available as a printed and bound book via!
This new book features nine projects, each one stepped out with full-color photos printed on premium paper. There are 294 photos!
160 pages, text in a big bold font, very easy to read. Learn wire shaping, forging and texturing, annealing metal to make gorgeous sterling-silver rings, wire weaving and knotless netting, metal engraving, etching copper tubing beads for jewelry, enameling copper headpins, wire spirals and cage beads, how to work with super heavy-gauge wire, and more!
To see all nine projects, click here.
To view a FREE preview of the first 15 pages of the book, click here.
Here are the projects:
Winged Things Earrings: Turn your favorite beads and wire into cute buggy earrings.
Wingy-Dingy Earrings: Take it one step further, and enamel those wire wings!
Metallo del Fiore Bangle: Learn to engrave metal and make a cool bangle with vintage button attachment.
Etched Copper Tubing: Etch hardware-store tubing and make beads for necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Step-by-step instructions also included for making the necklace pictured above plus a pair of earrings!
Colorful Cage-Bead Bracelet: Learn to make wire cage beads and torch-fire enamel them. Makes a great bracelet and you can also use these beads in necklaces and earrings, too.
Vintage Button Brooch & Pendant: Detailed instructions on making a brooch using your favorite vintage buttons—or use a favorite bead and turn it into a button (I show you how). Also included: How to turn your brooch into a pendant!
Silver Cutlery Rings: If you have some old silver spoons and forks laying around, I'll show you how to quickly turn them into beautiful, wearable rings.
The Grungy Bangle: Ever work with 8-gauge wire? It's fun! Learn how to make your own bold, grungy bangle with wire-wrapped embellishment.
And finally, the Antique Dolly Pendant! She's all stepped out with over 50 photos and detailed instructions. Learn to make your own gorgeous pendant featuring an antique doll torso.
I hope you like Arty Jewelry IV... it's by far my favorite book and I think the projects are beautiful, fun to make, and educational, too. To read more about it, click here.
Don't forget: From now through November 30, 2011, you can save $10 on any of my five books published on! That includes my four "Arty Jewelry" titles and "100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations," my artist portfolio.
Just use the promo code BIGTEN when you check out.
Happy wrapping,