Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jewelry Made This Weekend

Well, it's Sunday night and that means the end of another unforgettable weekend retreat with three "Wild Wire Women" who traveled a long distance to learn some new jewelry making skills. The Ethnic Coin Necklace pictured above was made by Jackie.
The two Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelets pictured above were made by sisters Jackie (left) and Ronnie. The bangle pictured below was made by Jody. Don't you just love the vintage buttons they used in their bangles!
Pictured below you can see Jody's Ethnic Coin Necklace, which features textured coins, copper tack rivets, heavy-gauge twisted wire jump rings, coil-wrapped eye-pin loop links, and figure-8 links. You can't really see the textured copper tubing beads she made as well, but they show up in another photo.
Jackie and Ronnie made beautiful fold-formed earrings, with handmade ear wires. We explored fold forming on our first day, followed by the Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet, and we made ear wires plus tons and tons of wire links and knotless netted rocks today.
Yesterday was devoted to the Ethnic Coin Necklace, including textured copper tubing beads. The necklace below (with a knotless netted rock) was made by Ronnie.
I taught lots of different wire links today, including three different ear wires, Celtic knot links, coil-wrapped beads, caged beads, knotless netting, jump rings, and more. It was quite a day! Below you can see the beginnings of my found-object necklace, which needs a few more links and a clasp before I can artificially age it in liver of sulfur.
We all learned so much over the weekend, it's difficult to grasp what we've accomplished in just three days. We also ate (a lot!) great food and had a good time getting to know each other. I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend's retreat and I'm sorry it's almost over now.
My next retreat will be held the last weekend of August and there are three openings available. If you're interested in attending, please email me quickly and I'll get you some information.
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Working Hard, Playing Hard, Drinking Hard?

Our first day in the studio (yesterday) was somewhat grueling... You can see Jody adding texture to a fold-formed metal piece, which may later become a pin or a pendant. We're still undecided. Meanwhile, she also made a gorgeous metal flower for a beautiful bangle with a creative wire clasp. We haven't used liver of sulfur on our jewelry pieces yet, so photos will have to wait until tomorrow.
Pictured above you can see sisters Jackie (left) and Ronnie, taking a break after working really hard on their jewelry pieces. Today we worked on Ethnic Coin Necklaces and also incorporated some textured copper tubing beads into our designs.
Ivy is our studio mascot!
After a tough day in the studio, raspberry margaritas were a well-deserved treat.
Jody kept saying, "I don't drink!" but we've got the evidence now that she can hoist a pitcher of margaritas with the best of us...
Mmmmmmm... fajitas! Need I say more?
Today we worked very long hours, and by the afternoon it was time for another glass of wine. What time was it? Who knows, we just call it wine-o-clock-time! Well, the truth is that we really did work hard and we accomplished a lot in one very full day of work and play. We all finished our Ethnic Coin Necklaces by the end of the afternoon, and Ronnie (pictured above) actually made two! Naturally, we hate her. She says it's A.D.D.; I say it's talent and perseverance.
Tonight the girls have gone out for dinner again, and I opted to stay here to update the blog and do a load of laundry. And get to bed early, because we're going to tackle two 10 Trippy Tricks necklaces in one day! And make some enameled headpins, artificially age our jewelry in liver of sulfur, and photograph all of our jewelry pieces. Like I said, I'm hitting the sack early tonight!
More tomorrow...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Our Wild Wire Women retreat begins!

Our Wild Wire Women retreat has officially begun with a delicious pasta dinner at my favorite restaurant on the hill, Cafe Aroma. Pictured above you can see one of my students, Jody, from the Southern California area. She drove a long way to get to my home in Idyllwild, and she was quite relieved to arrive in one piece!
And here's a photo of my other two students for the weekend, Jackie (left) and her sister Ronnie, both from Florida. They got up at 2 am to drive to the airport in time to catch a flight to California... and they flew coach! And then they rented a car and drove up the mountain from the Palm Springs airport. I think they deserve an award of some kind... or at least a bottle of wine!
Our first class begins tomorrow: Form-folding metal, followed by the Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet. Wait till you see what we do this weekend!
Happy wrapping,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Classes Chosen for Retreat this Weekend!

My next Wild Wire Women retreat begins on Thursday, and we have finally chosen the workshops and classes that will fill our days from Friday morning through Sunday night. It's going to be pretty intensive, but I believe that we will get through it! Thursday evening begins with a welcome dinner at Cafe Aroma, followed by a good night's sleep (we'll need it) and a hearty breakfast on Friday.
Our first workshop begins at 9 am: fold-forming metal to make a cuff (pictured above) or a pin. Because we don't have an entire day to devote to this, I'm going to encourage everyone to take it easy and make a pin, but it is possible to make a simple fold-formed cuff in a half-day. We'll be annealing metal, forging it, texturing and stamping it, and basically beating it into submission to make something gorgeous...
After a delicious lunch, we're back in the studio to design a Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet (pictured above), featuring a sawn-out metal piece that's textured forged, stamped, punched, and engraved. Then we'll attach our flowers to a heavy-gauge wire bangle bracelet and make coiled-wire segments, metal charms, and a handmade clasp. Time permitting, we'll use liver of sulfur to add an antique finish to our jewelry.
On Saturday, we'll fortify ourselves with a good breakfast before beginning our project for the day: the Ethnic Coin Necklace (pictured above). This class features lots of wire work, including a handmade clasp, riveting, twisting heavy-gauge wire, and making various wire links.
Some of the students asked about using copper tubing to make beads, and so I'm going to fit in a demo on this and we'll probably incorporate a few textured copper tubing beads into our Ethnic Coin Necklaces but those students who are really ambitious can try making an entire bracelet instead... they are likely to be up all night at this! We are also going to make our own balled headpins with a torch and I'll give a quick demo on torch-fire enameling. I think we'll finish the day with a big margarita!
Sunday will arrive with another challenge: To make as many bead wraps and links from my two 10 Trippy Tricks workshops (pictured above and below) as possible in one day without killing ourselves. You see, each necklace usually takes an entire day to make because there are 10 "tricks" in each one. But given the fact that some of the links from these necklaces will have already been demonstrated previously, I believe we might, just might, complete all the instruction from them in one day. I make no promises, though!
Using liver of sulfur to darken our jewelry, polishing techniques, and then some jewelry photography in the EZ Cube system will finish our weekend. It will be very exciting to see what my students come up with and how many jewelry pieces they actually finish in our three days together. I tend to pack about four days' worth of instruction into three intensive days, so I have high expectations of productivity from them! I hope they're ready for it...
If you think you'd like to join us for this incredible weekend of workshop instruction, there is still time to sign up. I have three spaces available, and adult female students are welcome to participate. For information, just email me (soon!).
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, July 22, 2012

DVD Review: How to Solder Jewelry

Having watched many teachers demonstrate soldering, I can confidently recommend this instructional DVD set, which is geared especially to the beginner. Lexi Erickson is a professional metalsmith with experience, a calm manner, and a methodical teaching style that is easy to understand and follow. She demystifies the process and takes the fear out of using a torch to solder jump rings, rings, bezels, and more.Safety issues, tools required, how to set up a Smith torch (her favorite), fitting joins together, cleaning metal and solder, applying paste flux, correct placement of solder, and finally heating with the torch are all covered, step by step. Quenching hot metal and pickling in a crock-pot (she uses pH Down as a pickle; personally I prefer citric acid) and then shaping the metal, etc. are also included. All of this is covered in the first DVD in the set.Lexi also shows you closeup shots of her few mistakes (on one ring, she didn't use enough solder). I appreciate that so much!The second DVD begins with a lengthy segment on stick/sweat soldering, which is really terrific and worth the price of the entire DVD. Using a thick 16ga stick of solder, Lexi heats the fluxed metal and then gently touches the solder to the metal with the solder in three places: wa-la, just enough solder has been placed on the metal.Next, she places the second metal piece and holding it down gently with a pick she heats the two pieces to "sweat solder" them together. After searching all over the web for information on sweat soldering jewelry, it was such a relief to find excellent instruction on this technique right here. Yes, there is an abundance of free information on jewelry making and soldering on the web, but sometimes it's worth paying a small fee to obtain a professionally produced DVD with all the information presented correctly.Lexi shares numerous tips on all aspects of soldering as she teaches each segment. She also demonstrates many different techniques, including a few easy-peasy ones like soldering a pre-made silver earring post onto a metal backing, and then shows how to solder fine-silver bezels. She does not go into fitting the stone into the bezel (that is the subject for another class!) but she does go into great detail discussing and demonstrating the process of choosing the right bezel wire and measuring, cutting, fitting, and soldering it together.Like all of Interweave Press's instructional DVDs, How to Solder Jewelry is professionally produced in a well-lit studio with numerous camera angles and lots of closeup shots. I recommend this DVD set to anyone who is new to soldering, or can't afford to take a live workshop (which would be ideal), or needs a review after taking a class.

Friday, July 20, 2012

THREE openings in July WWW retreat!

I'm hosting another Wild Wire Women retreat next week, July 26-30, in my mountain home in Idyllwild, California. Because I never teach more than six students in a retreat, we have just three openings left!
If you find that you've got some time next week and you're hungering for some creative time in the studio, please email me for information about signing up. We don't have the class itinerary fixed just yet, but I'll be able to update you by early next week with our lineup.
In the meantime, I'm pretty sure that we'll be making some cool Ethnic Coin Necklaces (as pictured above) and some fold forming to make either pendants or cuff bracelets like the ones pictured below.
That leaves us with plenty of time to explore lots of other possibilities, depending on what students want to concentrate on. Wirework, torch and kiln-fired enameling, fold-forming metal, sawing and forging, texturing and punching, riveting, wrapping, etching, weaving and coiling... when it comes to wire and metal, the possibilities are truly endless.
I'm excited about our upcoming retreat next week and I hope that some of you will be able to join us. Your $825 fee includes:
Four nights accommodation
Welcome dinner at Cafe Aroma
Four breakfasts and three lunches, beverages and snacks
Three full days (about 20 hours or more) of expert instruction in very small classes
Use of professional studio tools, access to library of the latest jewelry books and magazines
All the copper wire and sheet metal needed to complete the projects
Miscellaneous materials such as enamels, gas, flux, etc.
All four of my instructional DVDS ($120 retail value)
Instruction on jewelry photography
Sound like fun? Come join us!
I also have three openings in my WWW retreat to be held August 23-27, if you'd like to come up to the mountains then...
email for information
Happy wrapping,

Friday, July 13, 2012

THREE openings in August 23-27 jewelry retreat!

My Wild Wire Women retreat for August 23-27 is filling up quickly, and I'm really excited about the lineup of classes that have been chosen by the three participants who have signed up so far! There is still room for three more students to attend, so if you are interested be sure to email me right away.
For this retreat, we begin on Friday morning with a session on etching; the etched cuffs pictured above were made by my students during a recent retreat. We begin with design, sawing out a cuff or pendant shape, lots of filing and polishing, application of patterns to metal, and then the etching process itself.

After lunch, we'll take on the Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet, which gives students an opportunity to design a focal piece, saw it from metal, file and polish, texture with hammers and stamps, and attach it to a wire bangle with a handmade clasp.
I love this bracelet and wear it all the time; best of all, once you've made one in copper you can make many more using other metals (wouldn't it be gorgeous in sterling silver!). As part of the workshop fee, I provide all the copper wire and sheet metal needed to make every project, but students must bring their own beads, pearls, charms, buttons, etc. And if they wish to work in metals other than copper, they must bring their own. But most use copper and love it to make prototypes that they can later duplicate at home using different metals.
During the afternoon, I will also show students some wire basics such as how to ball up wire to make your own headpins, which saves money and is fun besides.

On Saturday morning, after a delicious breakfast we'll tackle the Embellished Pin (can also be made into a pendant instead). Students will learn how to make a curvy stick pin and embellish it with wire squiggles, beads, pearls, and charms. 

Using copper tubing from the hardware store is a fun option for metal artists, so I'll demonstrate this for my students and give them time to forge and texture their tubing beads to make a necklace or bracelet. We'll also make some wire charms and twisted-wire jump rings, as time allows...

...which may be difficult, because one student really wanted to see foldforming metal to make pins, pendants, earrings, cuffs, etc. and there isn't much time for that! But we'll at least have time for a demo on this fabulous, fun technique. I love wearing my foldformed pins and I always get lots of compliments on them, too.

Sunday is going to be a very intensive day! After breakfast we'll jump right into the Fruit of the Vine necklace workshop, which includes various wire links and wire beads, a clasp, wire charms, and more. To finish this complex necklace in one day, plus use liver of sulfur to darken all of our jewelry, then polish everything and prepare it for an evening session of jewelry photography using the EZ Cube, well, it will be a challenge! But I think we're up for it.
People often ask what is included in the $825 retreat fee, so I'll repeat it here:
Dinner at Cafe Aroma on Thursday evening
Four simple breakfasts and three hearty, delicious lunches plus snacks and beverages (coffee, juice, tea, wine)
Four nights shared accommodation in my home
Three full, very intensive days of instruction (about 20 hours in total)
24-hour access to the workshop, and use of my high-quality studio tools
All the COPPER wire and sheet metal needed to make the jewelry projects
Miscellaneous materials such as etchant, enamels, gas, solder, etc.
What's not included: transportation to/from Idyllwild, dinners on Friday-Sunday night, beads, metals other than copper such as brass and silver
If this weekend's lineup of workshops is appealing to you, consider joining us on August 23-27 for a wonderful Wild Wire Women retreat in the mountains of Idyllwild, California. If that particular weekend is not going to work for you, I have several more retreats scheduled through the end of 2012.I hope to see you here soon!
Happy wrapping,