Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hummingbird in the Snow

We had a very confused hummingbird this week during a snowstorm. Who can blame him? Our weather has been unseasonably warm for weeks now, and the daffodils are blooming early this year. Then we got hit with a storm that brought about nine inches of snow to my property. My parents' house got about two feet (they live at 1000 feet higher elevation than I do). A few days later, most of the snow is melted and the sun is shining and it's gorgeous! But no hummingbirds today...

Monday, February 27, 2012

NEW Pendant/Necklace Workshop this Thursday-Friday!

I'm teaching a new two-day workshop at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert this Thursday-Friday (March 1-2).
The "Embellished Pendant with Necklace" features a textured wire frame, gypsy-wrap bead attachment, Celtic knot links, twisted wire jump rings, worm beads, wrapped wire links, and a handmade swan clasp. This will be my last workshop at Monica's this season, so if you live in the Palm Desert area please drop in and join us!
The class runs each day from 10 am to approximately 4:30 or 5 pm. We'll be very busy making lots of links and bead wraps, and I will guide you each step of the way as you learn to shape, forge and texture a wire frame, embellish it with beads and twisty tendrils, and make several beautiful wire links that can be used in a variety of different jewelry designs.
I hope you can join us; to register for the class and get the supply list, call 760-772-2400.
Happy wrapping,

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review: Enlightened Polymer Clay

If you're an experienced jewelry artist hungry for new techniques and new ideas for using polymer clay to make unusual jewelry, Enlightened Polymer Clay should satisfy. The author has a delicate touch with clay, rolling it out super-thin and making eeny-weeny shapes (porcupine quills, tiny tendrils, etc.) and even shaving it in thin slices that are overlapped to make authentic looking flowers, leaves, and other organic shapes.
Rie Nagumo teaches different techniques such as mokume gane, canes, image transfers, bead shaping, layering clays in unusual ways to make unique beads, color mixing, and more. Her jewelry samples are truly unique; I own most of the published books on polymer clay and in this text I have found several ideas that are brand-new to me.
As others have noted in previous reviews on amazon.com, this book is not especially geared toward the novice polymer clay artist. Thankfully, there are TONS of books already published with detailed descriptions and photo demonstrations of the basics, and this slim 72-page volume does not repeat much of this information. It is assumed that you already know how to condition polymer clay, form and shape it, roll it out evenly, bake it, etc. And the really basic jewelry skills such as beading, crimping, etc. are assumed.
The first half of the book provides full-page, full-color photos of the finished jewelry with brief descriptions. To learn how to make each piece, you turn to the second half of the book where instructions with excellent color photos and diagrams are provided. An accurate color chart of Fimo classic colors is also included, which is very helpful. Basic instructions with small photos briefly cover conditioning, shaping, color mixing, baking and finishing techniques as well as flattening, rolling, layering, mokume gane (she calls it wood grain patterns), and transferring images.
All of this information is covered very quickly in four pages with very small photos, followed by one page demonstrating how to make a silver ring using fine silver clay. Since the descriptions are brief and the photos are small, I can understand why some reviewers have criticized the book for not providing more in this section.
The instructions for making the jewelry projects in the book begin on page 41, with text provided in a recipe format and some very good line diagrams for some steps. The instructions are well written but very brief and to the point. One note of caution: the text is in small print, so a magnifier may be necessary for some readers!
Altogether I find this an excellent resource; perhaps not the best book for beginners who need help with the basics, but very well suited to intermediate level polymer clay artists who are tired of buying books that repeat basic information already found elsewhere. The author is obviously a very creative and original jewelry designer with a unique aesthetic who shares new ways to be creative and artistic with clay. For this reason, I'm happy to give this book five stars.
Happy wrapping (and clay-ing),

Sunday, February 19, 2012

March 22 Wild Wire Women retreat FULL

We recently had some snowfall—the first of 2012—and it was gorgeous while it lasted, but most of the snow on my property has already melted. The days continue to be warmer than usual for this time of year, with lots of sunshine and beauty all around.
So I'm thrilled to have completely filled my first "Wild Wire Women" workshop retreat for this year, to be held March 22-26. I have five ladies registered, and I decided not to take any more signups because we're doing some enameling with both the torch and kiln. I wanted to be sure that we have lots of elbow room in class, and enameling takes up space! In addition, we'll be etching metal pieces (and/or cuffs) and making big fold-formed copper cuffs with lots of texture, too.
And that still leaves room in the schedule for some wirework and jewelry photography. Whew! It's going to be a very busy weekend retreat, to say the least. You can follow us by viewing the blog here on March 22-26, and if I have the energy I will post photos every day of our progress. I'm excited to welcome five ladies from different parts of the country for a fabulous time making jewelry in the mountains.
Spring is a terrific season to visit Idyllwild; daytime temps are mild with cool evenings, little chance of snow, and lots of wildflowers and baby animals to watch! I love it. If you'd like to join me for an upcoming Wild Wire Women retreat, here are the available dates in 2012:
April 19-23
April 26-30
May 3-7
May 10-14
May 17-21
May 24-28
May 31-June 4
June 7-11
June 14-18
July 5-9
July 12-16
July 19-23
July 26-30
To see what workshops are offered (wirework, metal arts, enameling), click here.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me by emailing me.
Happy wrapping,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review: Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers

When it comes to the art of silversmithing, there are so many good books out there already... but Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers is another one!
What I look for in a book of this nature is lots of full-color photos—preferably big ones—thorough text, and helpful tips. This book delivers on all three fronts, providing excellent instruction accompanied by crystal-clear photography and lots and lots and lots of extra hints and tips. Author Elizabeth Bone, a tutor at the London Jewelry School, writes with authority on such topics as soldering, cold connections, casting, engraving, stone setting, filigree, cutting and filing, chasing and repousse, sawing, assembling jewelry, using various chemicals and equipment safely, and so much more.
The contents are divided into two sections: techniques & artist profiles, and materials, tools & resources. Basics such as annealing and pickling metal, soldering, wirework and chains, etc. are covered with detailed text and photos. In some cases, a technique is covered and then more thoroughly explored in a series of related project tutorials shared by contributing artists. This way, the reader is exposed to different approaches and possibilities.
Once the most basic techniques of silversmithing are covered, the author continues on with more challenging processes such as "married metals" (inlay, overlay, fusing, keum-boo, etc.) and stone setting (bezel setting, claw setting, collet setting). A chapter on metal clay is followed by tutorials on filigree and granulation. Artist portfolios with brief interviews are generously provided throughout the book, which makes it all the more valuable and inspiring.
I recommend this book to beginners as well as intermediate silversmiths who need a go-to resource of step-by-step techniques. It's the type of book that proves itself useful over time, informing the silversmith as she grows and matures in her craft.
Happy silversmithing,

Friday, February 3, 2012

Save $$$ on my Blurb.com books!!!

There are two brand-new promo codes available for purchasing my books published via www.blurb.com:
SAVE10 Good for $10 off any order when you type in the code at check-out. It's good through Feb. 27, 2012.
WRAP20 If you purchase two or more books, use this code and get 20 percent off your order! This discount is good through April 30, 2012.
I have five books on blurb now, all published within the last couple of years featuring brand-new jewelry designs and lots of step-by-step color photos and instructions. You can see 15-page previews of the contents of each book by clicking here.
To see big photos of all the projects in Arty Jewelry, click here.
To see big photos of all the projects in Arty Jewelry II, click here.
To see big photos of all the projects in Arty Jewelry III, click here.
To see big photos of all the projects in Arty Jewelry IV, click here.
Remember, these books in printed form are only available via www.blurb.com, but they ship worldwide and the quality of the printing is fantastic. Take advantage of your $10 savings soon!
Happy wrapping,