Thursday, October 25, 2012

WWW Retreat: Workshops Chosen!

It looks like the workshops for our next Wild Wire Women retreat have been chosen, and I'm really excited about how ambitious my four students are to learn all these new wirework and metalsmithing techniques! Beginning on Friday morning (November 9), we'll tackle the links shown above in the Silver Sampler bracelet class. Of course, we'll be using copper wire but the bracelets will still come out terrific. I provide all the copper wire and sheet metal needed to make all the projects in our workshops over the weekend.
My signature Biker Chick Bangle pictured above will be the focus of our afternoon workshop on Friday, and besides working with wire and beads we'll also use a pipe cutter to make our own copper beads from refrigerator tubing. These beads are fun to texture with hammers and make them look at beat up and ancient! We'll also find time this weekend to use liver of sulfur, adding a natural dark patina to our metal pieces.
On Saturday morning after breakfast, we'll tackle the etching process using ferric chloride and copper sheet metal. It's fun to etch and you easily find ways to control the process. We'll discuss various options for creating resists on the metal to make a pattern. I think most students will make a simple cuff, but the linked bracelet shown above gives you an idea for how the metal could be used in other ways. Earrings would be cool, too...
After a delicious lunch, we'll tackle fold-forming metal to make earrings, pendants or pins. We'll learn about annealing metal with a torch and making a non-toxic pickle, as well as texturing options. In the past, my students have made some outstanding pieces in this workshop. I tried to enamel the pin pictured above using liquid enamel, and I wasn't really happy with the results of that experiment! But the fold-forming itself is a fun creative outlet, not to mention all the hammering and texturing techniques we'll explore.
On Sunday morning, we take on my popular Ethnic Coin Necklace workshop. I've been teaching this particular necklace for more than a decade, and it's also featured on my Ethnic Style Workshop DVD (available on In this class we'll learn to make some really cool wire links and do some rough copper tack riveting. Fun and educational, that's my favorite type of workshop!
In the afternoon I'll break to demo fine-silver fusing to make a variety of links and charms. Due to the cost of fine silver, my students have elected not to make any links themselves, but I've assured them that once they've seen it demonstrated in class they'll be able to easily duplicate the process later at home.
One of my students really wanted to learn how to make the Vintage Dolly Pendant as featured in my popular eBook, Arty Jewelry IV. But this is an all-day workshop, and the main feature of the pendant is knotless netting with some wire-weaving. So what I plan to do is to demonstrate basic wire weaving and knotless netting on a large pendant stone (as in the Fisherman's Catch necklace pictured above), and then let students take these techniques where they will.
This is a super-packed workshop weekend, and it would be impossible to cover even half of this much material at any bead show or similar venue. We have four students enrolled leaving room for two more, so if you are interested in learning the techniques featured in this blog post please email me right away about registering. The workshop weekend runs from Thursday evening (Nov. 8) with a welcome dinner at Cafe Aroma (included in your fee) through Monday morning (Nov. 12). It is open to adult women who love working with wire and metal and beads.
The cost for the retreat is $825 and includes four nights lodging in my mountain home, a welcome dinner at Cafe Aroma, four breakfasts, three lunches, snacks and beverages, as well as the workshops themselves and all materials needed to make the projects except beads. I'll advise students on which beads to bring, that would be most appropriate for these jewelry pieces.
In class, everyone will have the use of my high-quality tools and access to a huge library stocked with jewelry books and magazines. There is no need to bring anything other than some clothing and personal items, and your beads.
For more information on my Wild Wire Women retreats, click here.
To email me about registering for the next upcoming retreat, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wild Wire Women Retreat: Finished Jewelry!

Another Wild Wire Women retreat has come to an end, and I was so sad to see my student leave for home last night... I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Sharon and her husband, Allan, both from Ottawa. Sharon was particularly keen on learning to etch metal and fold-form, along with some wire-working skills. We covered it all for her. Above you can see a photo her husband took of Sharon's new etched copper earrings. The design comes from a rubber stamp.
Here's a cute picture of Sharon washing her hands as she scrubs her newly etched earrings, before we antiqued them in liver of sulfur and suspended them from ear hooks. If she looks super-fit, she is! Sharon and her husband gave me lots of useful tips for healthy living, eating nourishing (but still tasty) foods and exercising daily. I think it also helps us "seniors" to stay active mentally by pursuing favorite hobbies such as jewelry making (that would be me and Sharon) and photography (Allan).
Here's a bad photo I took of Sharon's raw etching right out of the bath after she scrubbed it clean. Ready to saw, saw, saw! And pierce out a hole, then filing, sanding, polishing (by hand) until it's absolutely perfect. Sharon told me that she went from not liking sawing metal too much to really loving it. "I love sawing!" she told me more than once by Sunday afternoon. Music to a teacher's ears!
We also pursued wire-work, especially on Saturday. Here you can see the fruits of Sharon's labors, twisting heavy-gauge wire to make jump rings, then twisting very fine-gauge wire to make worm beads (which are found in my book, Wire Art Jewelry Workshop), an S-clasp and a wonderful heavy-gauge hook to suspend her fish pendant. Sharon did a fantastic job, wouldn't you say?
I had to share this picture of Sharon working with her metal piece; she's wearing a professional loop gadget that used to belong to her husband, a retired dentist. Surrounded by tools and metal and wire, Sharon is in heaven...
A closeup of her fish. The "$3,000 necklace" we joked, because it took so long to make it. But that's how it is when you're learning something brand-new: everything takes a long time to make! Once you've learned the techniques, making your jewelry will go much faster.
Finally, a fold-formed pin that Sharon made on Sunday. She really wanted to learn the basics of fold-forming metal and she already owns the classic text on this subject, Fold Forming by Charles Brain, so she was ready to try it out. She also used various tools to texture the piece and made her own funky stick-pin so she can wear her creation on a favorite scarf or jacket.
We had a great time making lots of jewelry and I hope to see Sharon and Allan again someday!
If you'd like to come out to Idyllwild in Southern California for a Wild Wire Women retreat, I still have some openings in 2012:
November 8-12: Two openings
November 29-December 3: Six openings
December 6-10: Six openings
December 13-17: Six openings
For more information, visit
Happy wrapping (and folding and forming),

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My First Handmade Ceramic Beads!

So, these are my very first attempts at ceramic bead making! I think I've found a new passion. It all started when a student from a recent Wild Wire Women retreat brought some of her own handmade ceramic beads to share with us. She'd been making beads for just a few weeks, but her results were so impressive, I think we all wanted to try it ourselves. If you'd like to see Heidi's beads from that retreat weekend, click here.
It took me a while to find a relatively local ceramics workshop where I could learn how to make beads myself; Silica Studios in Palm Springs (very close to the airport) is an hour and a half drive from my home in Idyllwild, but it's worth every minute traveling down the twisty, windy road to the desert. I was taught about the different types of clay used to make ceramics, and then given some samples to work with. I'd brought some of my favorite texture stamps, including some that I hand-carved myself (I don't want to confess how many years ago I did that!), and I had too much fun stamping into the soft, squishy clay!
Before leaving my stamped beads and pendants to dry, I applied a dark "slip" (which is a sort of liquid clay) to the surface of some of the beads. I then left the beads behind me and waited to hear back from the studio. In about a week, they called to tell me that all of my pieces had been successfully bisque-fired.
Step one was finished, but I still had to apply glazes to my ceramics. And I had never done that... so, it was an exercise in trust when I returned to the studio to dip and paint various colors of glaze on my treasured beads. The liquid glaze often looks nothing at all like the finished, fired glaze. Some liquids look red but when fired turn yellow or other colors. So, it took a step of faith, but I wanted to just experiment and let nature take its course.
I returned to the studio last Monday when I found out that my beads had all been glaze-fired and they were ready to pick up. So excited, but a bit scared too! The beads in this post are all from that firing. I made pendants, beads with holes drilled through the sides, cabochons with no holes, and charms. Naturally, I see areas where I could have made some improvements, and I'm eager to try again with more porcelain clay. I'd like to make much larger pendants with more complex designs, and I have a lot to learn about glazes and how they work. But it's one of those challenges that I'm really looking forward to. I'll post my results in the future.
The charms pictured above are scrap "shards" of porcelain clay that were leftover from my larger beads and pendants. I could have actually made lots more, but during my first lesson we were short on time so I left behind lots of scrap clay that was reclaimed for other projects in the studio. Next time when I make more beads and pendants, I'm going to purposely make lots of charms from scrap clay because I think they're pretty cool! They were fun to make, anyway.
Tomorrow begins another Wild Wire Women retreat, with two students who are eager to fold-form and etch metal, twist wire to make a "Silver Sampler" bracelet, make some earrings, and saw out some pierced metal. It's going to be a fun weekend with an ambitious class lineup, and I hope that you'll follow our adventures over the next few days.
Happy wrapping,

Friday, October 5, 2012

NEW: 20% Off Printed Books, Arty Jewelry Series is offering a 20% discount on printed books, through October 23, 2012! Now when you order any one of my four Arty Jewelry books in printed form, use the promo code FANS at checkout and you'll save 20 percent.
I have five titles with 100 Art Jewelry Inspirations (not pictured), Arty Jewelry (pictured above), Arty Jewelry II, Arty Jewelry III, and Arty Jewelry IV.
These books are all available as eBooks as well.
My first Arty Jewelry book offers 11 different wire jewelry tutorials, each one original and geared for the jewelry artist with some wire experience. All of the projects are photographed closeup, with meticulous instructions. To see images of all 11 projects in Arty Jewelry, click here.
Arty Jewelry II (pictured above) features 10 project tutorials, and is a bit advanced over the first Arty Jewelry book. If you'd like to see images of the projects, click here.
Arty Jewelry III (pictured above) offers 9 new jewelry tutorials including one of my most popular workshops, the spiral-embellished copper washer bracelet featured on the cover. If you'd like to see photos and descriptions of the projects offered in this book, click here.
Arty Jewelry IV is my most recent title and it also features 9 new jewelry tutorials, each photographed in full color with plenty of step-by-step photos and great instructions. Try your hand at enameled cage beads, Winged Things earrings, my incredible wire-woven vintage doll, engraved metal, vintage button brooch, and more. Photos and descriptions of all 9 projects are provided here.
When you order my books from, you can get them in paperback or hardbound. They measure 7x7 inches, the perfect size to slip into your jewelry box or bag to take with you on the road. Each book is printed on high-quality paper and the text is large, bold, and easy to read (great for those of us who are 50-plus!). Remember, use your coupon code FANS when you check out to receive 20% off each title.
And if you prefer eBooks over printed and bound books, all four titles are available on and to read on your kindle, nook, smart phone, iPad, etc. Current prices for my eBooks:
Arty Jewelry: $9.99
Arty Jewelry II: $9.99
Arty Jewelry III: $8.19
Arty Jewelry IV: $8.19
More information on all four titles can be found by clicking here.
Happy wrapping!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Workshops selected for the next Wild Wire Women retreat!

The workshops have been chosen for my upcoming Wild Wire Women retreat, to be held on October 11-15, 2012 in Idyllwild, California. Pictured above you can see two fold-formed and textured cuff bracelets, which we'll make on Friday. As an alternative, we may make a pin (pictured below) or a fold-formed pendant instead.
All materials are provided for this project, which will probably take up an entire day. On Saturday, we'll take on two challenges: etched cuffs (see the samples made by my students below):
...and the Silver Sampler bracelet, pictured below. I provide all the copper sheet metal and wire needed to make the projects, so students who prefer to make a silver bracelet will need to bring their own wire. But I've made this bracelet using copper wire and it looks gorgeous once it's been antiqued in liver of sulfur.
On Sunday, we'll spend a half day working on various earrings. The pair pictured below are just an example of what is possible. Naturally, we'll also make our own balled headpins using a torch.
Finally, the second half of our last day in the studio will be taken up with sawing metal and piercing out holes, which must then be filed, sanded, and polished. Texturing metal will also be covered, as well as using liver of sulfur to give all of our jewelry a rich patina.
After three very full days of working so hard on our jewelry pieces, naturally we'll want to photograph our creations using professional lighting and props. I'm looking forward to seeing what my students come up with! If you'd like to join us for this workshop series, there are still four openings remaining.
To learn more about my Wild Wire Women retreats, click here. To email me for information, click here.
Happy wrapping,