Monday, August 27, 2012

Wild Wire Women Retreat: Jewelry!

Well, it's the end of another Wild Wire Women retreat, and wow, I'm exhausted but so PROUD of my students! They're not only talented, but such hard workers. We were up 'til late every night, working on our jewelry samples. The etched cuffs pictured above are by (clockwise from top-left): Priya, Kim, me, and Heidi.
One of my favorite Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelets was made by Priya, the "Spent Sunflower" bangle pictured above. Priya was somewhat new to sawing, so she designed a rather ambitious image of a multi-petaled sunflower, with curled petals and lots of texturing.
I also love how Kim's "Flower Power" bangle (pictured above) turned out! This bracelet, like Priya's, features some gorgeous handmade ceramic beads that Heidi made. She very generously shared her stash with us!
Pictured above you can see Heidi's "Santa Fe" bangle bracelet, featuring ceramic beads she made herself. Can you believe that she's never really worked with metal before? Talk about a natural talent!
Here's my "Butterfly Blues" bangle bracelet. Cute!
Heidi wanted to use a locket in her necklace, which she made on Sunday. I taught my popular Fruit of the Vine necklace, and it was interesting to see how each student interpreted the theme. I taught them how to make twisted-wire jump rings and worm beads, the Celtic Knot link, coil-wrapped beads, spirals, charms, copper tubing bead connectors, wrapped eye-pins, and a handmade clasp.
The necklace above is my sample from Sunday's class, featuring large ceramic disk beads that Heidi made.
Priya decided to make a pendant during our Bead Embellished Pin (or pendant) workshop yesterday. She decided not to antique it in LOS.
Pictured above is my sample pin from yesterday's class.
And take a look at Heidi's heart-shaped pendant embellished with beads and pearls!
Pictured above is Priya's finished necklace. Gorgeous!
And finally, Kim's beautiful necklace from today's workshop, featuring an embellished pendant made yesterday. Everyone learned so much... had so much fun... ate great food... made good friends! A perfect retreat experience, I believe. I'll sure miss these gals when they're gone!
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Second Day of Our Wild Wire Women Retreat

I can't believe it's already day 2 of our Wild Wire Women retreat! Seems like only yesterday I was meeting Kim and Priya (pictured above) and Heidi for the first time, and having a delicious welcome dinner at Cafe Aroma.
Well, actually it was Thursday night. Since then, we've covered a lot of ground in the classroom!
Above you can see Kim creating some headpins with a torch. We actually began our first day with etching on copper to make some beautiful cuffs. In the photo below, you can see Heidi removing her etched cuff from the pickle pot. Although we cleaned them thoroughly after removing the copper from the etchant, we still felt that five minutes in a citric-acid based pickle solution would make a final cleaning... and it worked out great.
Here are three very, very happy students showing off their etched cuffs. I know, you can't see the cuffs very well in this photo, but you'll get a better view of them in tomorrow's post. We have artificially aged them in liver of sulfur today, but we were too tired for a proper photo session so that will have to wait until tomorrow evening.
Lots of fundamentals were covered in class over the past two days. In the image below, you can see Priya sawing out a very complicated design for a sunflower motif, which she used today to make a Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet. It came out gorgeous!
Obviously, Priya was very happy with her bracelet! You'll get a better photo of the finished bracelet tomorrow, when I can photograph everyone's jewelry in better lighting. For now, I'm just thrilled to see the happy smiles on my students' faces...
Another project we worked on for most of today was the Embellished Pin and Pendant. Everyone made a beautiful jewelry piece and we'll show them to you tomorrow. I also fit in a short demo on fusing fine silver wire to make links, hearts, etc. and we textured copper tubing beads to make them look like ancient artifacts.
The photos above and below show you a collection of glaze-fired ceramic beads made by Heidi, a student who came all the way from North Carolina to participate in a retreat. She lives in a community where they share a ceramic studio with kilns and glazes, workshops, lectures, etc. and after just a few weeks of training she was able to make some truly collectible ceramic beads. The photos do not do them justice, because the colors are just stunning!
Here's Heidi, showing off her Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet embellished with two of her own handmade ceramic beads. I think she's proud of her efforts, and so she should be!
Tomorrow we'll devote the day to making lots of beautiful links and charms to assemble a Fruit of the Vine necklace. It's going to be a very full, busy, fun day in the studio, and I'm already looking forward to it. We'll also have a jewelry photography session using my EZ Cube system, which I love. Stay tuned!
Happy wrapping,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jewelry Making: Crazy About Cuffs!

Over the years my interest in jewelry making as a form of creative expression has never waned; in fact, I'm crazier about it than I've ever been! And that includes metal art jewelry as well as wire-based art jewelry, which I'm perhaps better known for. I love working with wire, especially solid sterling silver and copper wire—not too crazy about brass wire yet, but I'm keeping an open mind—to make art-to-wear pieces. The medium seems to be unlimited, and even after working with it intensively for over a decade, I'm still coming up with new ways to use it in my designs.
But lately, I'm really crazy-crazy-crazy about cuffs! I think it started about a year and a half ago. Suddenly I wanted to make cuff bracelets using wire, sheet metal, and sometimes a combination of both. From there I've branched out into other materials, and this exciting new journey is just beginning to unfold with an abundance of creative possibilities.
After sawing and piercing out this cool copper cuff (the colors come from a heat patina), I found myself yearning to work with wire again. So I made a very heavy-gauge cuff bracelet embellished liberally with coiled and knotted sterling silver wire (pictured at the top of this post). The base is copper wire, making it more affordable. But isn't it a bangle?
Just what is a cuff, vs a bangle, vs. a bracelet anyway?
You'd think I'd know the answer after writing so many books on jewelry making, but suddenly I felt unsure. So I did what most of us do in situations of uncertainty: I googled it. And here are some interesting facts that I dug up:
A cuff is a rigid structure (i.e. not jointed like a linked charm bracelet) with an opening that allows the wearer to more easily slip the cuff on and off.
A bangle also is a rigid structure, but traditionally has no opening. It's large enough to slip on and off. The challenge of designing a bangle that fits is that it must slip over your hand onto your wrist, but it can't be so large that it easily falls off again. Tricky if you're like me, with large hands and relatively small wrists!
A bracelet can be a chain of links, some type of metal band such as a cuff, a thin band, or a bangle. So, when in doubt, simply say that you're making a bracelet and you're covered! But now that I have firm definitions for cuffs vs. bangles, I'm happy to know that both bracelets featured on this post are cuffs: They are rigid structures with an opening. Best of all, I really enjoyed making them and look forward to making many more!
Happy wrapping,

Friday, August 17, 2012

NEW Class: Sawing & Piercing

Get to know your jeweler's saw in this fun new class!
We'll start by talking about design and how to come up with something that would work well as a cuff (pictured) or as a pendant or a matching pair of earrings. Then we'll draw it out and use a photocopier to enlarge or reduce the image as needed to make a beautiful jewelry piece. From there, we'll transfer the image to copper sheet and use a jeweler's saw with the proper size blade to saw out the piece.
Piercing out the negative shapes is next, followed by lots of filing and polishing with files, sandpapers, steel wool, and polishing pads.
Annealing the metal to soften it, pickling, and then texturing the piece with a variety of tools and hammers will follow. Finally, we'll shape our pierced pieces as needed to make finished jewelry and use liver of sulfur to artificially age them (optional). A final polish finishes the project, ready to wear and remind you of everything you learned in this fun workshop.
I have three openings in my upcoming Wild Wire Women retreat, beginning Thursday, August 23. If you're interested in seeing the classes offered, click here. If you'd like to have more information, email me and I'll be happy to answer your questions.
Happy wrapping (and sawing & piercing!),

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Three Openings in Retreat Next Week!

Another Wild Wire Women retreat begins on Thursday evening, August 23, in my mountain home in Idyllwild!
We have an incredible lineup of classes planned for a very intensive weekend of metal working and wire art jewelry, including etching, forging and texturing metal, sawing, filing and polishing, engraving, fine-silver fusing, altering metal and patinas, plus lots and lots of wire working (coiling, spiraling wire, making our own creative clasps, twisted-wire worm beads, Celtic knot links, funky wire charms, squigglies, and more...
Pictured above: Etched cuffs made by my students during a recent Wild Wire Women retreat.
Pictured below: The Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet.
Our itinerary includes etching metal for pendants or cuffs and torching our own headpins, then the Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet which may include engraving metal, forging and texturing, or we may use etched metal pieces in the final design... you never know!
Next, on Saturday we'll make a beautifully forged and textured pin (pictured below) with lots of beaded embellishment and wire squigglies. This set of techniques can also be used to make a pendant or a cuff bracelet, we'll just see what everyone decides to make.
Another request students made was a demo on fine-silver fusing, which I am happy to do for them. I'll show how to use an ordinary kitchen torch to make beautiful silver links and charms that can be used in a variety of different ways in our jewelry. The bracelet pictured below is just one example of what can be made with fine-silver fused links.
If you like working with copper tubing from the hardware store, this next workshop is for you! We will cut our own tubing into beads and then use a variety of methods to texture them, adding heavy-gauge wire to turn them into links with lavish wire embellishing. The beads can be used in a bracelet like the ones pictured below, or they can be used in necklaces or other jewelry pieces.
On Sunday, we'll devote ourselves to a total immersion into wire-art jewelry with the Fruit of the Vine necklace (pictured below). This is another intensive workshop, and it might be a challenge to fit everything into one day because there's so much to cover!
One of the benefits of a retreat such as mine is that you have a lot more time each day to complete your projects than you would in a typical class held at a bead show or mixed-media convention. It's just possible that we will all finish our elaborate Fruit of the Vine necklaces by the end of the day... and we still have to use a liver of sulfur patina on all of our jewelry pieces from the weekend, and have a jewelry photography session in the evening. Whew! We have our work cut out for us, that's for sure.
Fortunately, our weekend will also include lots of great food because we're going to need it. We begin the retreat with a delicious dinner at Cafe Aroma on Thursday evening, and every day I provide a yummy breakfast and hearty lunch plus beverages and snacks to keep everyone fueled up.
Every weekend is a bit different, but I usually serve a big salad and/or sandwich bar one day, pasta with organic sauce and sausages another day, my famous potato bar with delicious toppings, or sometimes we make our own quesadillas for lunch. I use high-quality, organic produce and dairy in all of my meals. We also have lots of chocolate on hand!
The retreat coming up next week still has three openings, if you like the workshops we'll be participating in and you'd like to join us. We're going to have a terrific time together and we will learn tons of new techniques, and make new friends as well. Sound like fun?
For more information on my Wild Wire Women retreats including fees and what's included, click here.
To email me for more information on the upcoming retreat, click here.
I hope to see you in Idyllwild!
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

New "Air-Chased" & Riveted Pendant

I had fun working on this one! An article in the July issue of Art Jewelry magazine inspired me to try "air chasing" and texturing metal, which I really enjoyed. I then riveted the piece (with a stick-pearl embellishment) to a heavier gauge metal and turned it into a pendant. Pretty cool, and lots of fun!
Happy wrapping (and chasing),

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Finished Found-Object Necklace

I finally finished my found-object necklace with a big riveted pendant, which started out as a Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet during my Wild Wire Women retreat last weekend. Somehow, this piece just wanted to be a pendant instead; I'm sure you know how that goes. Anyway it's a heavy piece so there were some challenges making it into a wearable pendant, but from then on it was simply fun, fun, fun adding creative handmade wire elements to the necklace.
Here's a closeup of the 12ga wire clasp, a big, loopy fellow! Kinda reminds me of a seahorse or something. I love manipulating big fat wire, hammering and texturing it, and then making it into something functional like a clasp.
The heavy brass piece pictured above was purchased at a flea market in Italy last summer. It's riveted with 14ga wire to a heavy-gauge sheet medallion with a very simple design to frame it.
Here's a closeup of some of the wirework in this necklace. I think it would make a great full-day workshop for intermediate students or even beginners who are up for a challenge. The necklace includes design work, sawing, polishing, and texturing sheet metal, riveting, plus making several different wire bead wraps and links, and a big loopy clasp. If you're interested, let me know!
To see some of the other projects created during last weekend's retreat, click here. To learn more about my Wild Wire Women retreats, click here. I hope to see you in Idyllwild someday soon!
Happy wrapping,