Monday, December 31, 2012

First Snowfall, Last Day of 2012

Today is the last day of 2012, and it seems fitting that we finally got our first real snowfall here in Idyllwild last night. It's not much, maybe five or six inches at my house (I'm at 5,000 feet elevation) but it's just enough snow to drape the landscape in loveliness.
I love the icicles that form overnight. Some of them are two feet long!
I have to break them off, though, because if I don't they'll eventually fall with a crash that scares the squirrels! And I might be underneath one when it happens, so I always break them off as a precaution.
This little spindly tree is so beautiful in the summertime, when it's full of lime-green leaves.
Here's the vista just outside my living room window. I have a gorgeous view of the valley from my house, perched on the edge of the National Forest. The panoramic view from my art studio is the same... which can be very distracting. I love it! But I have to turn my back to it while I work, or I'd never get anything done.
Sad to think that all this beauty will have melted away within about 48 hours at most. But that's snow in Idyllwild: always gorgeous, never so much of it that we feel snowbound for any length of time. I wish everyone one last glorious day in 2012 before we step into the future tomorrow. I believe that 2013 will be a wonderful year full of promise and grace. I wish you all the very best!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Classes at Brea Bead Works!

Next Spring, I'll be teaching a couple of new classes at Brea Bead Works, one of the biggest bead stores in southern California and my personal favorite (it's located across the street from the Brea Mall).
I love teaching for storeowners Wendy and Scott, because they take really good care of their customers and they provide spacious, well lit classrooms for teaching. Trust me, not everybody does that! Their workshops are also limited to 10 students, a real value.
We haven't chosen dates yet, but I'll post them as soon as they're set. For now, I know that I'm teaching the above workshops: Worm Bead Bracelet (at the very top of this post) and my brand-new class, the Altered Penny Charm Bracelet.
These classes will take place sometime in February and March, and will cost $95 each plus materials. If you make your jewelry using copper wire, your materials will be very economical. But I must add, these bracelets look stunning in sterling!
I just received an email notification about some classes taking place at a very popular bead show. The classes were typical full-day workshops, with six hours of instruction, the amount of time it takes to make one of my bracelets pictured here. But these classes cost $195 per day, not including materials!
That's about double the cost of taking a class at BBW, and I know from experience that classes at a bead show are HUGE, with up to 25 students in a workshop. Try getting any personal attention from the teacher under those circumstances....
Happy wrapping,

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas & a Creative New Year!

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a new year filled with creativity, productivity, laughter, love, and lots of fun. I hope our paths cross sometime in 2013!
Very best wishes,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Handpainted Porcelain Pendants 4 Sale!

I'm really excited to announce that my brand-new, handmade and hand-painted porcelain pendants are finally available for sale! Currently, Monica Gonzales is having a trunk show of my pendants in her store located in Palm Desert, Southern California. If you live in the area, I encourage you to make a quick trip to Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations so you can have first-pick of the pendants currently available!
Each pendant is handmade individually by me, which means that I cut out the shapes, stamp and texture them with various tools, have them high-fired to cone 10 in a professional kiln, and then paint them by hand before sealing them with a protective spray formulated for ceramics. Each pendant is unique; there are no two alike.
My pendants are available in various shapes (such as round, square, oval, heart, and leaf) and in two sizes: approximately 1-1/2 inch square ($10 each) and 2-1/4 inch square ($20 each). These measurements are approximations; due to the handmade quality of each pendant, there are variations to be expected.
What is high-fired porcelain? Porcelain clay is known for its quality, hardness, extremely tight density, and whiteness. High-fire clays like porcelain and stoneware mature in the kiln at high temperatures, usually between cone 8 and cone 11. This type of clay is often used for dinnerware, sculpture, and other items that must stand the test of time and useage.
My porcelain pendants are exceptionally durable and resistant to chipping or breakage. While it's possible to break them deliberately through very rough handling, my pendants are not easily damaged through normal useage. They are high-fired to vitrification, meaning that the glass particles in the clay melt at the high temperature they are cured at, making them very durable.
Because my pendants are heavily textured with stamps and other tools, it was not possible for me to glaze them. Glazes are beautiful, but they create a rather thick layer of color on top of the fired clay which would obscure the textured patterns and designs that I spend so much time creating.
For this reason, I chose to paint my fired pendants with a variety of acrylic-based paints and stains, sealing them all (front and back) afterward with a spray that is specially formulated for use with ceramics.
I do not make custom orders at this time, so it's best to check out my pendants at Monica's store and see if you find some that you like.
These pendants can be used as focal pieces in necklaces, chokers, bracelets or earrings. Early next year I will be teaching my Green Heart of Envy necklace at Monica's (on February 3), so if you'd like to use one of my handmade, hand-painted pendants in the workshop this would be the ideal time to pick one up.
I also made a beautiful necklace for my mother's 80th birthday present, which I'll be posting here soon. It features five of my pendants (one large, four small) and it's now one of my mother's favorite pieces to wear.
I hope you like the samples shown here, and if you visit Monica's store soon you'll be able to choose from almost 200 pendants available in different sizes, shapes, and colors.
Thanks for having a look, and I hope to see you next year in a class or during a retreat in my home in Idyllwild, California!
Monica's store: 77780 Country Club Drive, Suite C-D, Palm Desert CA 92211
Phone: 760-772-2400
Have fun shopping!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

New Workshop: Altered Penny Charm Bracelet

I have a new workshop project to offer students, the Altered Penny Charm Bracelet!
Use ordinary pennies or other coins to make distressed metal charms for bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Learn to use texturing hammers, punches, metal stamps, chasing tools, dimpling pliers, and wire to convert your coins into treasures. We also twist heavy-gauge wire to make twisted wire jump rings, figure-8 links, and a handmade hook clasp to complete the class sample.
Other options include using foreign coins as-is in your designs, and adding beads, pearls, charms, and found objects in your bracelet or necklace. Time permitting, we'll use liver of sulfur to artificially age our jewelry and polish it for a final finish.
Sound like fun? I teach this workshop during my Wild Wire Women retreats and I'm also scheduled to teach it next year at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations, on January 17 and March 14. Day-classes run from 10 am to 4 pm (approximately) and you will leave class with a finished creation.
To sign up for a class at Monica's store, call 760-772-2400.
I hope to see YOU there!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Earrings Class on Saturday!

This post is just a reminder that my first workshop of the winter season at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations will take place this Saturday, December 8. The class runs from 10 am to about 4 pm (or longer if necessary to finish the earrings!) and it's going to be lots of fun and informative, too.
My "Cleopatra's Earrings" design pictured above takes about three hours to make, believe it or not. It's a fun design but there's a lot to it, and students will learn how to make a handmade wire-link chain, bead dangles on double-wrapped eye-pin loops, and more. I'll also show you how to make your own ear wires. This design is also featured in Arty Jewelry III.
The second earring design is easier and is also lots of fun. "Squiggly-Wrap" earrings are not difficult to make, even for beginners, and you'll love making them for yourself, family and friends. They make great gifts because they're easily customizable depending on the colors of beads and pearls you use for the dangles. Fun, easy, giftable!
And finally, my Winged Things earrings (a tutorial on these is found in Arty Jewelry IV) which can be made with or without antennae, with big or small wings, or with bead dangles instead of ending on big spirals—it's up to you. I love wearing mine, and they certainly attract a lot of attention.
If you'd like to attend this fun workshop at Monica's store in Palm Desert, in Southern California, contact them at:
Hope to see YOU there!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Save $10 On My Blurb Books!

From now through 12-12-12, Use the code 10SAVE to save $10 on my self-published books on!
I have four "Arty Jewelry" books on, each one printed in full color on beautiful quality paper, with detailed instructions and step-by-step photos for numerous jewelry making tutorials. My fifth self-published book, 100 Art Jewelry Inspirations, features over 100 full-color images of the jewelry I designed between 2001 and 2009.
For more information on my Arty Jewelry books, visit
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Porcelain Artist Book

I love making little arty things like jewelry... and artist books. Last week as I was playing with my new porcelain pendants, I thought, why not shake things up a bit and use a couple of them as book covers instead of jewelry pieces?
And that's how I came to create this little book with hand-painted pages just 2˝x2˝, a fun binding technique using waxed linen thread, and an assortment of beads (naturally, I have lots of those!).
I think it came out really cute! Best of all... opens up flat, making it easy to add collage and journal entries to the painted pages. Not that you'd have room to say much! But I like it anyway. It's a book, it's a little miniature work of art, and it's my very own. I think I might make some more...

Monday, November 26, 2012

NEW class schedule at Monica's!

I just arranged my winter teaching schedule at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert, California, and I can't wait to tell you what's coming up!
On December 8, I'm offering a "Day of Earrings" from 10 am to 4 pm. We'll finish three pair of gorgeous earrings and if time permits, I'll demonstrate another pair. First, we'll tackle Cleopatra's Earrings pictured above (a tutorial on these is found in Arty Jewelry III). Next, we'll make my brand-new Squiggly-Wrap earrings (pictured below):
Finally, we'll make a pair of Winged Things Earrings (a tutorial on these is found in Arty Jewelry IV):
Are these cool or what? And remember, if time permits I'll demonstrate a fourth pair. Depends on how experienced my students are in this class, and how quickly we move things along. In any case, you'll learn lots of techniques including making your own ear wires, making beautiful spirals and wrapped eye-pin loops, hammering and texturing techniques, and lots more.
The class runs from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, December 8. I hope to see you there! To register for the class and obtain a supply list, call Monica's at 760-772-2400.
More classes at Monica's are lined up through the early spring of 2013:
January 17, 2013: Ethnic Coin Bracelet 10 am to 4 pm
January 25, 2013: A Day of Earrings 10 am to 4 pm
January 26, 2013: Colorful Tribal Necklace 10 am to 4 pm
February 3, 2013: Green Heart of Envy Necklace 10 am to 4 pm
February 14, 2013: Metallo del Fiore Bracelet 10 am to 4 pm
March 2, 2013: A Day of Earrings 10 am to 4 pm
March 7, 2013: Colorful Tribal Necklace 10 am to 4 pm
March 14, 2013: Ethnic Coin Bracelet 10 am to 4 pm
March 28, 2013: Metallo del Fiore Bracelet 10 am to 4 pm

Hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wine Tasting in Temecula

My friend Susan and I drove together to the Temecula wine country today for a fun afternoon of wine tasting and lunch in one of the most beautiful rural areas of Southern California. We started at her favorite winery, South Coast Winery, Resort & Spa. The photo above shows the backside of the winery and restaurant, where we had lunch (with ice water only, because we'd been tasting so much wine!) and then took a walk around the grounds and enjoyed the vineyards.
Here's Susan, posing on the steps that lead up to the restaurant. I had one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever, simply stuffed with grilled mushrooms and a little bit of spinach, with a small bowl of tomato soup. Susan had the beef dip sandwich, and said it was delicious.
Whenever I'm in Europe, I always take lots of pix of the gorgeous ironwork fences and gates. South Coast Winery had similar beauty treatments outside and I enjoyed taking some photos for inspiration.
Roses and other flowers abounded everywhere we went, but most of them were past their prime so I only took one photo. Gorgeous, though! Here's one of the hand-carved and painted wooden doors leading to the gift shop. Amazing:
Fans of Harry Potter will love this one:
I couldn't resist taking a photo of the metal wall decor. Imagine this as a sawn and pierced brooch! But you'd have to be really good at sawing such an intricate design. Something to aspire to...
So, we tasted wine at three vineyards:
South Coast (I purchased a bottle of their sparkling wine, a bottle of Black Jack port, and a red wine that I just loved called Romanza)
Wilson Creek (I purchased just one bottle of Late Harvest Zinfandel, just gorgeous, but I would have loved to have picked up their peach-flavored sparkling wine as well; they're famous for their almond-flavored sparkling wine, which I also enjoyed but I was running out of cash)
Inn at Churon Winery (I purchased a bottle of sherry and a bottle of Chocolate Bliss desert wine)
I highly recommend taking an afternoon for wine tasting. It's a great opportunity to try before you buy, instead of taking wild guesses while shopping at Trader Joe's or Costco or Bevmo! You find yourself purchasing things you never would have believed, like sherry (I'm not a sherry drinker, but the Churon Winery's sherry is incredible), port wines... and sparkling wine. We'll be popping the cork on that baby this Thanksgiving.
Cheers, everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Green Heart of Envy Necklace

I just finished my first necklace using one of my own hand-painted porcelain pendants, and I decided to call it the "Green Heart of Envy." Something about the green and copper color combination went really well with my big turquoise beads and copper wire, and copper pipe from the hardware store...
Here's the finished necklace. Took me all day to make it, but I love it. It's very fulfilling to design a necklace around beads that you've made yourself. In the past, I've always purchased gorgeous beads made by other artists and used them in my wire-art jewelry designs. Now I have my own handmade pendants to work with, and I find that deeply satisfying.
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Painted Ceramic Pendants!

My first batch of high-fired porcelain pendants just came out of the kiln on Friday, and I'm so thankful that, during the second firing (after bisque firing), I fired some pendants without glaze. This made it possible for me to add permanent inks, stains, glazes, paints, and metallics to the fired clay to obtain some very cool effects...
Because I made so many pendants a few weeks ago, I was able to experiment with some different sizes and shapes. Big fat square pendants like the ones pictured above are my current favorites.
Circle-cut pendants can be cool as well, if you use stamps and other texturing tools to reshape them a bit, giving them an organic appearance.
I really love the leaves, too. They can be made to represent real leaves, or they can be designed with layers of complex abstract textures.
I also made lots of small pendants, about two inches in diameter. They're quick, and fun to make.
My favorite part of the process is probably the painting. It takes a very long time to apply so many layers of dyes and paints, but the end result is well worth the effort. Now I'm getting ready to put some of these pendants in my necklace designs... stay tuned, I'll be sure to post those when they're finished.
Happy wrapping,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Wild Wire Women Retreat Success!

It's been a very exciting and busy weekend here in Idyllwild, where the "Wild Women" gathered for three full days of workshops. I'm tempted to say three full days and nights, because this group worked until at least 2 am each and every day after class, to finish their projects! Crazy, wild women...
The etched panels bracelet pictured above are all by my four students, who learned to saw sheet metal, file and polish all the edges, use etching mordant to create wonderful patterns, measure and punch holes for their handmade figure-8 links, and create a toggle clasp. Oh, we also dipped them in liver of sulfur and polished them again.
That was a very full day! The bracelet pictured above is my sample; it started out as an etched cuff and I later turned it into a linked bracelet that I just love to wear.
Pictured above you can see my students, all busy in the workshop. Although everybody worked really hard this weekend, there was plenty of laughter too.
Tessa made the gorgeous linked sampler necklace pictured above, and the bracelet featuring ceramic beads given to her by a good friend. We all admired Tessa's creations!
I didn't make much this weekend myself, but I do love the keychain pictured below that I made with some of my wrapped wire samples.
Here's Susan, concentrating hard:
And here is her finished Ethnic Coin Necklace, a sample of which is also featured on my DVD, Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop:
Don't you just love this gorgeous charm bracelet that Ania made? She's a brain surgeon, by the way. For real.
Sometimes we took breaks for meals... here we are at lunch on the first day:
Nonstop laughter:
Here's a photo of Nancy's gorgeous Ethnic Coin bracelet:
And Nancy's wire charm bracelet, which came out gorgeous:
Our mascot, Sparkle, kept us company in the studio:
This is Ania's wire wrapped bracelet:
And Ania's Ethnic Coin Necklace:
We also altered pennies for earrings. Here's my sample pair:
And Ania's earrings:
This was one of the most dedicated and hardworking group of women I've ever had the privilege to teach. Fun-loving, too! I never heard so much laughter in one weekend. Together we made lots of  jewelry using wire, sheet metal, coins, beads, etchant, and copper pipe from the hardware store. We ate lots of delicious food and drank waaaay too much coffee (not to mention Campari & tangerine juice in the evening), worked into the wee hours (one night, I kid you not, the girls were up until 3 am!) and enjoyed the beautiful weather that Idyllwild enjoys year-round.
I have several more Wild Wire Women retreats scheduled through the spring of next year. If you'd like more information on my retreats, click here.
Here's the schedule:
Dec. 13-17, 2012
Jan. 10-14, 2013
Feb. 7-11, 2013
Feb. 21-25, 2013
March 21-25, 2013
April 4-8, 2013
April 18-22, 2013
May 2-6, 2013
May 16-20, 2013
I hope to meet you one day in Idyllwild!
Happy wrapping,