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,
Sharilyn

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 www.blurb.com, 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,
Sharilyn

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 amazon.com's bestselling craft book for 2011!
Happy wrapping (and enameling),
Sharilyn
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 www.blurb.com!
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 www.blurb.com! 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,
Sharilyn

November Snow

Our first snowfall of the winter, and it's gorgeous! I just took a few really quick pics to share... I'm going to try for more later. The sun was just rising over the mountain when I got this shot from my deck overlooking the national forest.
Ivy jumped out when I scattered some peanuts on the deck for our blue jays, but she came right back in! She's no fan of snow.
Time to fill the bird feeder...
Rosie's stationed in her favorite place, right in front of the heater vent!
Sparkle (Rosie's mom) says, "Hey you fools, get back in bed!"
Happy snow day to everyone,
Sharilyn, Ivy, Rosie, & Sparkle

Thursday, November 3, 2011

News flash: Save $10 on Any of My Blurb Books!

This just in today: From now through November 30, 2011, you can save $10 on any of my books published on www.blurb.com! That includes my artist portfolio, 100 Art-Jewelry Inspirations (pictured above) and all three of my Arty Jewelry titles! Just use the promo code BIGTEN when you check out.
To find my books, visit www.blurb.com and type in "Sharilyn Miller." Four of my titles will pop up. Arty Jewelry features 11 projects stepped out and photographed in detail (216 photos!) on 140 pages. Like all of my books, it's printed on premium paper in full color, and measures 7x7 inches. To see big photos of the finished projects, click here. To see a free preview of the first 15 pages, click here.
Arty Jewelry II (pictured above) features 10 gorgeous jewelry projects stepped out in 219 full-color photos with large text that's easy to read. It's a beautiful book, printed on 140 pages of premium paper. To see all 10 projects click here. To preview the first 15 pages for free, click here.
Arty Jewelry III is also a gorgeous printed book of 160 pages, with nine projects stepped out in 421 full-color photographs! You can see the projects by clicking here. And preview the first 15 pages by clicking here. Remember, if you order any of my titles by November 30, you save $10!
Keep visiting my blog, and as soon as Arty Jewelry IV is available in a printed version, I'll let you know.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Arty Jewelry III Now in Printed Full Color!

I was so excited to receive a copy of my latest book, Arty Jewelry III, in the mail last week! It's printed in gorgeous full color on beautiful paper and the binding is first-quality. I thought I'd share a few details with you here.
Altogether nine projects are stepped out in detail with hundreds of color photos and large, easy to read text. You can see the projects in the photo above, but if you'd like a much better view of them click here.
After providing a large photo of a finished project, I describe the piece and provide a supply list.
This is followed by detailed step-by-step images on the right-hand page, and printed text on the left-hand page. It's very, very easy to follow the steps, I promise! In the printed version of Arty Jewelry III, I did not have enough pages to include basic techniques such as "how to make a jump ring" or "how to wrap an eye-pin loop."
Although I do list all the tools and materials you need to make each project, I did not include a detailed description of each tool as I did in the eBook version of Arty Jewelry III. Trying to save space! Every page I add to one of my books adds significantly to the cost of printing it, so I do whatever I can to keep these costs down.
However, all the basic wire-working techniques plus detailed descriptions of tools and materials with a resource guide are all included in the eBook version of Arty Jewelry III, which you can download for just $7.99 on amazon.com, bn.com, and through ibooks. The printed version (with a first-15-pages preview) is located here.
Right now I'm hard at work on the next book in the series, Arty Jewelry IV. I have turned it over to an editor who is converting my book into an eBook, and I'm also working on designing it for the print-on-demand service, blurb.com. As soon as Arty Jewelry IV is available in either version, I'll let you know.
In other news, on 11-11-11 I'm teaching a fun wire-weaving class at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert, California. If you're interested in making a gorgeous pendant using an antique dolly (Monica has lots of them now in her store, and they are all authentic antique dolls), wire, beads, and vintage buttons, be sure to join us from 10 am to 4:30 pm a week from this Friday!
To register, call 760-772-2400
I also have a small group of ladies joining me here in Idyllwild, California the first weekend of December for a Wild Wire Women retreat. My retreats max out at six adult female participants, so if you think you'd like to join us, please contact me at sharilynmiller@mac.com. We'll be doing some enameling, of course, but also wirework and metal arts including sawing, forging and engraving copper sheet, knotless netting, embellished forged wire pendants, and my popular Silver Sampler bracelet.
A very full weekend of three intensive workshop days, lots of great food, and a wonderful retreat in the mountains. Sound like fun? For more info, visit my Wild Wire Women retreats blog here.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn