Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Buttoned Neck Warmers!

I've been busy since I returned from my 12-day cruise through the Sea of Cortez and Puerto Vallarta; just got back on Monday and already making fun gifts for my loved ones. Knitted neck warmers are very practical this time of year, and I love these ones; they're super-soft bulky-weight acrylic.
Best of all, each neck warmer is embellished with one of my handmade ceramic buttons! The scarf pictured above is for my dear friend, Joy Woodman. I made the one pictured below for myself:
It features a cool grungy-style glazed handmade button:
Finally, a neck warmer for my mom:
It's super-comfy and features one of her favorite buttons, a sea-blue spiral:
I'm really excited to announce that another store has just picked up my buttons and is offering them for sale:
1060 South Coast Highway 101
Encinitas CA 92024
Phone: 760.436.9973
If you're not familiar with The Black Sheep, it's a terrific store well worth checking out. They offer gorgeous yarns, beads, and now my buttons! And the classes... well, they're guaranteed to nourish your creative spirit. Check it out here: The Black Sheep
I hope you all stay warm and toasty this winter. In Idyllwild, we're expecting cooler temps this Thursday with snow and freezing rain. Oh, joy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

12 Days in Mexico on the Statendam!

My parents (pictured above) and I just returned from a fantastic trip through the Sea of Cortez and down to Puerto Vallarta on Holland America's Statendam cruise ship. It was 12 days of sightseeing and sweating (a bit) in 90-degree heat with a surprising amount of humidity... not to mention, eating WAY too much yummy food and staying up late for evening entertainment. We all gained weight, but we're working on that little problem this week. No big Christmas dinners planned for us next week!
I have a "thing" for pelicans, and the Mexican Riviera is blessed with many. They like to hang out of the fishermen's boats and they appear to be ungainly and endearingly clumsy (to me); however, once these big guys take off in flight, they soar with agility and grace. In a V-formation, just like geese (I didn't know that until I saw it).
I didn't get very many closeup photos of pelicans but I thought I'd share the following:
We also enjoyed photographing Mexican folk art and since we were in Mexico for the festival for Guadalupe, there was much public art and folk-art to enjoy, such as this huge painted skull:
Mom posed for me next to a beautifully painted sign outside a restaurant; I believe this was in Loreto: 
 Gotta love this painted dog skeleton:
And my mom, at 5-feet 11 inches tall, dwarfed by the more-than-lifesize skeletons on the street:
While on board the Statendam, we enjoyed delicious cuisine and I'm ashamed to admit, we indulged FOUR times a day! After a hearty breakfast and a yummy lunch the last thing we needed was afternoon tea, but that didn't stop us from taking part in that delicious-but-deadly European tradition:
And here's why we staggered off the ship this morning:
Anyway, back to the art. I took lots and lots of photos in each town we visited, including Cabo San Lucas, Loreto, La Paz, Guaymas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. We visited small chapels and huge cathedrals. I love religious art, and this lovely angel was begging to be captured:
In Puerto Vallarta, they use small stones and concrete to fashion lovely mosaics in the sidewalks along the malecon. I couldn't help but note their similarity to such street art found in Santorini, Greece.
I love photographing animals, too, and I couldn't resist snapping a shot of this darling little dog (Freddie), embraced by his owner at a table next to ours in a Puerto Vallarta restaurant:
Here's a shot of the cathedral in Puerto Vallarta, where they were celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe with music, prayers, and many colorful flags:
Perhaps the highlight of the trip for me took place in Cabo San Lucas where I was able to cuddle a month-old baby lioness. It was a dream of a lifetime for me to hold an actual lion, something I have always longed to do, yet never thought I would have the opportunity to achieve.
I was very sad and angered, however, to return home and, after some brief online research, discover that the so-called fundraising this outfit is undertaking for lion rehabilitation may be a total scam. Now, I have not done enough research on this topic yet to state with any authority whether or not this is legitimate fundraising or a scam. All I know is that many people online seem to think that it's a ripoff, and that lions are not actually benefiting from the profits generated by these endeavors.
All I can tell you from personal experience is this: There were two young cats, a month-old lioness and a four-month-old lion. They were kept in a cool enclosure with plenty of water and ventilation. I was able to cuddle the little lioness for about two minutes. She was alert until I held her, and then she snuggled down and went to sleep. She seemed of a good weight and her coat looked good, and her eyes were bright. I saw no evidence of disease, ill treatment, or lack of nourishment. Was she drugged to keep her calm and sleepy? I have no way of knowing.
So I'm not going to pass judgement on this situation until I've gathered a lot more information. I never judge until I know all the facts, or as many facts as can be known. I hope that this was a legitimate operation, but if not, well, lesson learned.
In any case, this was a lovely trip and my parents and I enjoyed our time on the Statendam very much!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

NEW Earrings in my Shop!

Super-excited about my new enameled heart earrings, now available in my etsy store!
Each pair of earrings is handmade with small copper hearts (about 7/8-inch square) enameled in layers of gorgeous color. Coordinating beads and sterling silver handmade ear wires complete each pair.
I find it very difficult to take photos that really capture the subtle variations in color on my enameled jewelry. Different backgrounds help, but I haven't been able to get a photo yet that does justice to these little beauties!
In addition to the enameled hearts, I also used Czech glass beads, faceted crystals, turquoise gemstones, and glass beads to add a little sparkle.
The ear wires are all handmade with 20-gauge solid sterling silver; the design of each ear wire includes a hook-shaped catch that ensures your earrings stay in your ears where they belong. My mom LOVEs this! To purchase a special pair of earrings for yourself or a loved one, head on over to my etsy store.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Bracelets in my Shop

Since my last Wild Wire Women retreat of the 2013 season wrapped up a couple of weekends ago, I've been super-busy making things to sell in my shop. And I've been making some new porcelain buttons, too, but those aren't ready to show yet!
So I decided to make a bunch of bracelets using some of my favorite resin beads and handmade textured copper bead caps, linking them with Celtic knot links and a simple handmade hook clasp. Pictured above, you can see one of my bracelets in one of very favorite colors, a cool gray that matches up with anything and everything I wear.
Pictured below, another Celtic knot bracelet with deep-purple and dark-orange resin beads:
Just to make things interesting, I created this fun bracelet featuring three handmade porcelain beads with dark-brown and mossy-green glaze. It's heavier than the resin-bead bracelets, but it's a fun item to wear with fall and winter clothes:
Another resin-bead bracelet with hand-textured copper bead caps, this one has yellow-orange beads that resemble amber:
And finally, a fun color combination of pale gray, deep-purple and brilliant orange, this bracelet is lightweight and drapes beautifully on the wrist:
You can find all of my new bracelets, all four of my instructional DVDs, and some pretty porcelain pendants and bead kits in my etsy store. I've already sold a dozen resin-bead bracelets to friends in just the last couple of weeks, so if you see something that catches your eye, be sure to snap it up before someone else does!
Happy Thanksgiving to all,

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wild Wire Women Retreat: Final Day

Tonight another Wild Wire Women retreat has come to an end, and I am really sad to have to say goodbye to my students tomorrow. We worked really hard for three days, exploring foldforming, etching, sawing and piercing metal, filing and polishing, torch-fire enameling, texturing copper tubing to make ethnic-style beads, wire wrapping, altering coins to make charms, wire links, twisting wire to make jump rings, and funky spirals. We used liver of sulfur to artificially age our jewelry, polished it, and took photos of our finished results. We ate some great food, drank good wine, and had a lot of laughs. I'll miss these girls!
Pictured above, Melissa's stacked enameled earrings. Pictured below, Donna's mixed-media bracelet with textured tubing beads:
And here's Joan's terrific bracelet:
I didn't accomplish much this weekend because I was kept busy teaching and assisting my students, but I did manage to make a cute textured charm using copper sheet, brass finding, and copper wire:
Pictured below, Melissa's finished bracelet and earrings:
What a terrific wrap-up to a wonderful season of teaching creative, energetic students how to use a variety of tools and materials to make their own artistic jewelry! I enjoyed every minute of our weekend together, and I hope to see Donna, Joan, and Melissa again next year.
My next Wild Wire Women retreats will be held in the autumn of 2014. I'll be posting available dates soon, and I hope to see some of you here in Idyllwild!
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Wild Wire Women Retreat: First Two Days!

I can't believe it, but we've come to the end of our first two days of workshops in my studio! Three ladies traveled from near (California) and far (Canada) to participate in a weekend Wild Wire Women retreat in my mountain home of Idyllwild, California, and we have packed in a lot of activities, instruction, great food, and a few glasses of wine. Pictured above are my students; from left: Donna, Joan, and Melissa. Pictured below you can see Donna smiling as she polishes a piece of jewelry from our first day of class, which began with foldforming:
Melissa really got into using the circle cutter and my new favorite tool, the stubby hammer from Harbor Freight (it's only $3 bucks!), which is great for stamping and texturing metal as well as punching out copper circles:
Here's Joan, using a brass mallet to stamp texture into her foldformed earrings:
Pictured below is a pair of my foldformed earrings that I made as a sample. We pursued two different types of foldforming on Friday morning, followed by lots of texturing with a variety of hammers and chasing tools as well as alphabet metal stamps and other items. After a very busy morning hammering metal, we were ready to break for a delicious lunch of grilled paninis and fresh green salad.
The following photo shows one of Donna's earrings that she made from cutout copper circles:
Joan's earrings are pictured below. She really got into the texturing, and after a day in my studio she already has a full page of "wish list" tools and other items she'd like to add to her studio!
Another pair of Donna's earrings are pictured below. The photo was taken with an old iPhone, so we apologize for the blurriness!
After lunch, we were in for another busy workshop. This time, we tackled etching copper to make some beautiful cuffs. Pictured below, you can see Donna preparing two cuffs for immersion in a ferric chloride solution:
And here are our finished cuffs! Pictured below, from left: Melissa's gorgeous cuff with natural leaf stampings, Donna's bold design with hand-drawn images and text, Joan's hand-stamped palm leaf design, and my stamped cuff:
We were exhausted by the end of Friday's etching class, and ready for a nice dinner at Gastrognome, which we all enjoyed very much. But this morning after breakfast, everyone was well rested and excited to take on two more workshops: sawing & piercing metal, and torch-fire enameling. Pictured below, Joan saws out an intricate pattern from copper sheet:
My goal in teaching this class is to eliminate the fear of the jeweler's saw, and to get students excited about sawing metal and pursuing this technique as a true art form in its own right. I was very happy to hear from all three students that by the end of class, they felt very comfortable with the saw and were not so worried about breaking blades.
Lunch today was a huge potato bar with chili, butter and sour cream, black beans, cheddar cheese, green salad, broccoli, avocado, tomato, and beverages. Mmmmm....
This afternoon, we tried our hands at enameling simple charms and headpins using a torch. Joan had great success enameling small copper charms she had punched out, plus some steel charms she had brought to class just to see if they would take the enamel:
The following photo shows a few charms that Donna enameled. She really enjoyed using my corner notcher to make flowers out of copper circles, and then doming them with a dap before torch enameling them:
And here's Donna, after a full afternoon spent behind the torch:
We had so much fun today, it's just hard to believe that we're already two-thirds of the way through our Wild Wire Women weekend! Tomorrow we'll review some foldforming and torch enameling techniques before we take on our biggest project yet, the copper tube bracelet with mixed media. I'll post photos tomorrow night. For now, it's bedtime!
Happy hammering,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Step by Step Wire Jewelry: My Project Featured on Page 20!

I was so happy to receive my eMagazine on my zinio.com app today: the December/January 2014 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry features my "Stacked Hearts" pendant on page 20! What made this project particularly fun was using fine silver wire to fuse and shape, forge, texture, and fuse again to make a bold wire pendant.
Why is it purple and golden-brown? Because I dipped the finished pendant in cool liver of sulfur, then rinsed in water and dipped again, repeating until the fine silver metal had turned these gorgeous colors. Another option is to simply leave the silver as-is. Fine silver has a naturally bright, shiny surface that won't tarnish easily, but I enjoy altering the metal with LOS, one of my favorite patinas. It's very difficult to get the same effect on sterling silver, perhaps because sterling is 92.5 percent silver mixed with 7.5 percent copper and other metals.
I hope you enjoy my project! You can pick up the latest issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry in most bead stores or online by clicking here.
Happy wrapping (and fusing),