Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wild Wire Women Retreat: A Grand Finish!

First, a picture of my flirty cat, Sparkle! She likes to join us sometimes in the studio. Next, a studious Barbara working hard on her engraving:
To make a beautiful brooch that fastens with a spiral stick-pin:
And here's Iryna, filing her petroglyph pendant (she spent at least an hour filing, sanding and polishing the finished piece):
I absolutely love how her pendant came out, and her earrings made with twisted-wire jump rings. Keep in mind, prior to this weekend Barbara and Iryna had never really worked with metal or wire to make jewelry.
Here's Iryna's bracelet, made with caged beads and twisted-wire jump rings:
And Barbara's textured metal earrings:
And finally, Barbara's cage-bead bracelet:
I really enjoyed this weekend with my two students, and I was sorry to see them leave! But I know they learned a tremendous amount in a very short time, and will come back for more when they recover from all of their hard work. I really put them both through their paces! But I think they found it all worthwhile....
Would you like to join us for a Wild Wire Women retreat in two weeks? I have four openings in my next event, scheduled for October 11-15. For more information on my retreats, click here.
To email me for information, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wild Wire Women: First Day!

Our first day of a very intensive wire workshop series began this morning, and I have to hand it to my students, they are very ambitious! And hard working, with great attitudes and patience with the process of learning skills that are entirely new to them. Before we began making things, we talked about the different tools used in wire jewelry making, including pliers, hammers, bench block, cutters, jeweler's saw, and how to flush-cut wire properly. Then we started with a simple project: jump rings. But shortly after that, I challenged my students to twist heavy-gauge wire in a drill to make twisted wire jump rings (see Barbara in the top photo).
Besides learning how to use the different pliers and flush cutters and the Pepe jump ring maker, we also tried out the jeweler's saw. Only one broken blade all morning! I think that must be a record. I also taught the ladies how to make wrapped eye-pin loops and double-wrapped eye-pin loops to make bead connectors for bracelets and necklaces. A lot to learn in just one morning...
We broke for lunch, a fabulous salad bar (if I do say so myself) including organic lettuces, steamed and chilled broccoli, my famous egg salad with white truffle oil and capers, chicken salad, and more... mmmm!
Our lunch also included lots of raspberries, cottage cheese, fresh tomatoes, avocados, green onions, and cauliflower as well as yummy dressings, chips, and beverages. I want my students to be well fed while they're here, because we burn a lot of calories bending all that wire!
Here's Barbara and Iryna just before lunch. Right afterward, we went back into the studio for more wirework intensives! First, a review of what we had already covered. It's really challenging when you're completely new to wire jewelry making, remembering all the steps involved in making even the most basic links and wraps. We reviewed the wrapped eye-pin loops again, and then we made something fun: cage beads. Barbara and Iryna made several, which they linked with their twisted-wire jump rings and other beads.
We also made some cute spiral charms and I can honestly say, these ladies now know how to make spirals with tight belly buttons! By the end of our second session, both ladies had completed a bracelet which we will be artificially aging later, using liver of sulfur.
Now the house is quiet while my guests have a quiet dinner at Gastronome, and I have some time to put the dishes away and finish up my blog post...
Tomorrow, we'll tackle the Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet, which is going to be lots of fun because there's so much sawing involved, and texturing, engraving metal, dimpling, dapping, filing and polishing. Then we assemble a beautiful bangle bracelet with wire and beads and a handmade clasp, and, time permitting, we'll make some wire charms too.
I'm already looking forward to tomorrow's class—stay tuned!
Happy wrapping,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dinner at Cafe Aroma

Our Wild Wire Women retreat begins tonight with a delicious pasta dinner at Cafe Aroma, a favorite Idyllwild restaurant. I have two students this weekend, Iryna (left) and her good friend Barbara, who told me she's "just along for the ride"—never having made jewelry before. Brave lady!
We enjoyed dinner "on the couch" in the Casey Abrams lounge, which is always fun. While you enjoy a delicious dinner and a glass of wine, you're literally surrounded by images of Casey singing his heart out for American Idol.
Our first workshop (10 Trippy Tricks 1) begins tomorrow morning. I hope to have photos up by the evening, so be sure to visit!
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wild Wire Women retreat begins tomorrow!

Our Wild Wire Women retreat begins tomorrow evening with dinner at Cafe Aroma, an Idyllwild favorite. And then we dive right into the classes, starting on Friday morning with 10 Trippy Tricks 1 (pictured above), which features at least 10 different wire bead wraps and links, with a handmade clasp.
On Saturday we'll tackle the Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet (pictured above), which can take on many different forms. Last time I taught this class, everyone made a totally different metal motif for her bangle. I made a butterfly instead of my usual flower, and it was fun to see the different designs that each artist came up with. If you'd like to see their creative results, click here.
On Sunday, we'll dive back into wirework with the 10 Trippy Tricks 2 necklace, again featuring 10 or more different wire bead wraps and links with a handmade clasp. We'll also antique all of our jewelry in liver of sulfur, polish it, and photograph it using my EZ Cube system. There's a lot to learn and explore in three days, and I'm sure that my students will come up with some amazing pieces. I always say, my students are the most creative and talented jewelry artists anywhere!
To follow us, just check in with this blog over the weekend. I'm going to try to blog every day, but if we have a very, very busy and exhausting day I may have to skip one. But no worries, everything will be caught up by Sunday night. I'm really looking forward to seeing what my students create...
And I still have four openings in my October 11-15 Wild Wire Women retreat, just in case you're interested. Find more information by clicking here.
Happy wrapping,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Four openings in the next Wild Wire Women retreat!

I have four openings in the next Wild Wire Women retreat to be held in my mountain home in Idyllwild, California. Would you like to join us for three intensive days of classes on metal arts and wire jewelry? Sign up for the Sept. 27-Oct. 1 retreat and we'll have a great time together.
I also have some openings in the remaining weekends for 2012:
October 11-15 (FOUR openings)
November 8-12 (THREE openings)
November 29-December 3 (SIX openings)
December 6-10 (SIX openings)
December 13-17 (SIX openings)
We don't start getting snow up here until after Christmas, so the weather should be very fine. I hope to see you in Idyllwild soon! For information on my Wild Wire Women retreats, click here.
To email me for more information, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bead on a Wire: over 80,650 copies sold!

Every six months I receive a royalty check from my publisher, F&W Media, with a statement that lets me know how my two books published with them (Rubber Stamped Jewelry and Bead on a Wire) are doing... well, I was very excited to see a recent jump in sales for Bead on a Wire, which has now sold over 80,650 copies! That's a huge number in sales for a craft book, and I'm really grateful for all of my students and customers who have supported me by purchasing my books, eBooks, and DVDs. Thank you, everybody!
In other news, I have two new signups for a Wild Wire Women retreat scheduled for Sept. 27-Oct. 1, the ideal time to visit Idyllwild, in southern California. We have warm days and cool nights, with plenty of daylight hours to enjoy while we make gorgeous jewelry in the mountains. Since I have two signups for that weekend, I have met my minimum enrollment and we are definitely a "go!"
If you'd like to join us for three intensive days of one-on-one instruction, I have more information on my retreats in general posted at my other blog; click here.
Or if you would like to email me for more info, click here.
I hope to see you sometime soon in Idyllwild. If you can't make it out for a live workshop this year, I have 11 great instructional books to choose from and four very long, detailed instructional DVDs available. Just click on the links for more info.
Happy wrapping,

Monday, September 3, 2012

Book Review: 250 Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets for Potters

Sorry about the terrible resolution on the cover photo of this beautiful book! It was the best that I could do. Anyway, I just had to say a few words about "250 Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets for Potters." I already gave it a FIVE-star review on for several good reasons, but what really excites me about this book is how terrific it works as an eBook for the iPad.
I purchase a lot of kindle eBooks to read on my iPad (and sometimes my iPhone; novels, for instance). When it comes to art and craft eBooks, it's hit or miss. Some art/craft eBooks formatted for kindles, nooks, iPads, and other eReaders are pretty good. The text is easy to read on virtually all of them, they're laid out well, there usually is a navigable table of contents, and there are usually enough full-color photos to follow the instructions. Some have very, very few photos and I have pointed this out on some of the book reviews I've posted online. But most are adequate. A few eBooks generously supply hundreds of full-color photos to accompany the step-by-step text, and I think that this is very important.
This is why, when I first started publishing my own series of jewelry-making eBooks last year (the Arty Jewelry series), I insisted on providing hundreds of full-color photos in each one. It's expensive, though. Because I work with a professional book editing and conversion company, they charge a lot to format my digital eBooks (about $1,000 per book), and on top of that, and etc. charge me quite a bit of money to download each of my eBooks to customers. When you pay $9.99 for one of my eBooks, I am receiving a royalty payment that comes out to slightly less than half of that. This is why you'll never see my eBooks on sale for a ridiculous price like $3.99 or $1.99 as you often see novels and short-story collections. Because my eBooks have so many photos, it simply isn't possible to make them available at such a low price.
So, what does this have to do with 250 Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets for Potters? Well, the download price on currently is $15.67, a lot to pay for an eBook. But I suspect the reason is that this eBook must have been terribly expensive for the publishers to produce, and the download fee charged by must be pretty steep. So, as a consumer, is it worth paying for? YES. Oh, yes!
If you're interested in learning more about ceramics and pottery, as I am (thanks to a student who attended my last Wild Wire Women retreat, who shared her gorgeous ceramic beads with me!), you will find this go-to resource very helpful and informative. And this book is by far the best art/craft eBook I've ever seen or purchased. The quality of the photography, text, layout, and easy navigation throughout the book is unmatched. And this book looks GORGEOUS on my iPad! The photos are big and bold, the text easily readable, and thanks to the way the publishers laid everything out, it's super easy to swipe through the contents to find different sections of interest to you.
The text covers the basics of the subject very well, with a generous number of photos and some diagrams, too. It does not cover the topic of ceramic beads at all, but this is OK for me because I'm such a novice in this field, and I really need to know about the different clays and glazes, firing times, etc. that are covered in this book. If you're a jewelry artist interested in dipping your toe into this fascinating art form, I can confidently recommend 250 Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets for Potters to you. And if you are hesitant to pay $15.67 for an eBook (as I was), let me assure you, this one is worth it.
Happy reading,