Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sept. 26-30 Wild Wire Women Retreat: Happy Sunday!

Another wonderful Wild Wire Women retreat has come to an end, and, as usual, I'm really sad! I'm so incredibly proud of my students—not only of their talent, but of their persistence and willingness to keep working hard for hours every day learning new techniques and pressing through frustration to reach victory. I'm really going to miss them. I'm happy for them, but I'm sad to see them go!
Sparkle will miss Anne and C.J., too! She's our studio mascot. Our pounding hammers may send her scooting out of the room sometimes, but she always comes back to join us a little later.
I really enjoyed getting to know Anne. What a terrific gal, with a willing attitude and an unforgettable smile:
And C.J., who is so kind and patient, creative, hard working, and focused. She inspires me:
OK, Sparkle, that's enough flirting...
Back to Anne, who is busily polishing her gorgeous foldformed jewelry pieces. This is the less-than-glamorous side of jewelry making: artificially aging the metal in liver of sulfur, and then polishing it for hours to bring up the shine:
C.J. said she was really glad I had nitrile gloves to share with my students. Me, too!
The necklace pictured below is one of Anne's almost-finished pieces. She used one of my hand-painted porcelain pendants, enameled discs she made yesterday, wrapped and textured copper tubing bead connectors she made today, worm beads made with twisted fine-gauge wire, twisted wire jump rings, wire charms, and bead dangles. Anne fell in love with torch enameling and wireworking this weekend:
Meanwhile, Rosie (Sparkle's daughter) was snuggling up in C.J.'s bed! Naughty girl:
Here's a finished necklace made by C.J., featuring textured copper discs, altered copper tubing beads, twisted wire worm beads, bead dangles, figure-8 links, and handmade jump rings and charms:
Finally, some of Anne's copper discs altered with various texturing tools and wire-wrapped in preparation for a piece of jewelry. Anne loved using those hammers, as I guess anyone can tell:
What a fun weekend! I'm very sorry to see it come to an end. I'm really proud of my students for working so hard and applying their creativity to every task, and I know that they will return home with many new wireworking and metalsmithing techniques in-hand. I look forward to seeing the jewelry that they make in the future (they've both promised to send me pix), and watching their artistic development.
I have a few more Wild Wire Women retreats scheduled for the remainder of 2013; for more information, click here.
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sept. 26-30 Wild Wire Women Retreat: Saturday Results Are In!

After two full days of hard work in the studio, the results are in, and I am impressed!
Pictured above you can see Anne's foldformed and textured earrings, with big overlapping "A"s stamped along the bottom half and cute square holes punched above the folded metal. Anne is absolutely brand-new to jewelry making (before today, she'd never even made a jump ring!), but she took to wirework and metalsmithing and foldforming like a real pro.
Here's Anne, a happy camper at our Wild Wire Women retreat:
And here's C.J., concentrating hard as she holds a small piece of copper on the bench block and hammers the fold:
This is what I call a "happy table"; you can see Anne's notes and sketches, some ear wires she made, foldformed metal pieces waiting to be made into earrings, headpins she made with a torch herself, and lots of bead dangles. My foldformed cuff is pictured in the upper left corner of the photo.
Another "happy table"; this time C.J.'s workshop notes, ear wires, bead dangles, charms, foldformed metal pieces and finished earrings, and sketches:
We tackled torch enameling today, and you can see that Anne is all geared up properly wearing a leather apron, green safety glasses, and particulate mask (I also have a ventilating fan that sucks out all the gas fumes). Here's Anne, learning how to ball up headpins and enamel them with a map-gas torch:
C.J. also took to torch enameling and made lots of colorful charms:
A girl's gotta eat, right? So we took a break for lunch, which included a bountiful salad bar with organic greens, homemade black beans, my famous egg salad (with white truffle oil and capers), fresh raspberries, and pickled sweet beets (yummy!):
More goodies from our salad bar:
And the best part of the meal, my homemade roasted cauliflower soup with cheddar cheese and sour cream garnish:
Back to work, C.J. is sawing out a big heart to foldform and texture later on. Sawing metal wasn't on our original itinerary, but we had time this afternoon so I showed C.J. how to get started. She did a fantastic job; I'll show you her beautiful heart pendant in tomorrow's post.
Everyone made lots of foldformed earrings, but I just made one very simple pair, pictured below. Using a variety of stamps (my favorite supplier is 2 Moon Tools on and dimpling pliers makes it easy to create very unusual and eclectic earrings in just a short time. Super easy, with unlimited creative possibilities!
Pictured below, a pair of earrings made by C.J.:
Another pair of earrings that C.J. made in class:
And here's an interesting wire-wrapped pair of charms made by C.J. I did not teach her this pattern, it's her own design:
Pictured below, some more C.J. samples including bead dangles and enameled filigree beads:
OK, I just had to share this funky ring I made using some beads and wire that I enameled during my demo today:
Pictured below, some sample pieces made by Anne, who loved (LOVED) torch enameling and was thrilled to make her very own twisted-wire worm bead. Like C.J. Anne has a lot of natural talent. Can you believe this is Anne's second day ever making wire and metal jewelry? 
So far, we've explored a TON of jewelry making techniques in just two days. We've made jump rings and bead dangles on headpins, balled up our own headpins with a torch (and enameled some of them), created wrapped eye-pin loops and unwrapped (simple) eye-pin loops, made several wire charms and earring hooks, cut out metal pieces using a jeweler's saw, shears, and a circle punch, filed and polished our metal with jeweler's files and steel wool, punched a variety of different holes in metal, used chasing tools to texture and decorate metal pieces, learned two different foldforming methods (including annealing metal with a torch, quenching, pickling and forging with cross-peen hammers), torch-enameled copper pieces and filigree beads to make a variety of charms, used liver of sulfur to artificially age our jewelry pieces, and polished our jewelry with steel wool.
Woot! I'm tired now, and off to bed...
Tomorrow we tackle a variety of techniques for making copper tubing bracelets with altered pennies, spiral charms, coin charms, and more.
Happy wrapping,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Project: Necklaces (book review)

What fun to receive a review copy in the mail last week of this brand-new book from Kalmbach Publishers! Project: Necklaces is an 88-page paperback project book filled with fun designs for beadwork enthusiasts, wire artists, stringers, or anyone who just loves making colorful beaded jewelry.
My project, the Rosy Posy Pendant, is featured on page 80:
In the four-page article, I also teach how to make a beautiful wire-wrapped and beaded necklace including a chain with a handmade clasp. But the real star of the show is the rosy-posy pendant, which is made with sterling silver wire on a flower loom! Cool... and so much fun. You can also make wire flowers using copper wire and the beads or pearls of your choice. I hope you enjoy this project.
Altogether there are 30 beautiful beaded necklace designs in Project: Necklaces ($13.67 on You can choose from wirework, stringing, single stitches, or combined techniques. The book begins with a brief introduction followed by tools & materials, basic techniques, a very useful section on Necklace Fitting 101, and then we dive into the pretty projects starting on page 12.
Big, colorful photos, step-by-step images, detailed instructions, materials lists and helpful tips make all the designs in this book quite doable. Most of the projects are complex enough to challenge the experienced jewelry artist. I enjoyed the use of commercial chains, vintage beads, seed beads, wire, and found objects.
Lots of fun projects, ideal for making holiday gifts!
Happy wrapping (and beading),

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wild Wire Women Retreat: Sept. 26-30 Workshops Chosen

Our workshops have been chosen! My three retreat participants coming out to Idyllwild for a Wild Wire Women retreat on Sept. 26-30 have chosen some very ambitious (but doable) projects to complete in the three full days we have together.
First up: Fold-forming sheet metal to make a simple pair of earrings or a pendant or pin. The pin pictured above was made last year during a retreat by my Canadian student Sharon Nodelman. We'll have time to learn how metal works when heated, how to quench and pickle it with a non-toxic acid, and (best of all) how to make metal move using a variety of different hammers and texturing tools.
After lunch we'll tackle earrings. I'm not sure which style my students are most interested in learning, but we'll have time to make one or two different pair and I hope we can all wear our new creations when we go out for dinner on Friday night. That would be fun. Margaritas, here we come!
On Saturday we have a lot to accomplish. First, worm beads. We won't have time to make a complex bracelet like the one pictured below, but we will be able to make a couple of worm beads that can be used in a pair of earrings or some other project.
What we're all looking forward to on Saturday is torch enameling! We're going to explore as many possibilities as possible in one day, and I'm sure we'll go through at least two canisters of mapp gas. We will torch enamel headpins, caged beads, iron filigree beads, and copper disks or pennies.
We'll make lots of enameled components for use in tomorrow's final workshop. The great thing is, my students don't have to bring anything for this class because I provide all the copper wire and sheet metal they need, plus enamels, torch, safety equipment, etc. So we're going to have a fun, stress-free day. Dinner out again, this time maybe we'll order a pizza and have some good wine with that.
Our final day includes the combination of two workshops: the copper tubing mixed-media bracelet pictured below, and altered pennies workshop.
The plan is to make components from both workshops, including handmade wire charms and a clasp, and then put everything together in one gorgeous piece of jewelry. Perhaps a bracelet, maybe a necklace... we don't have to decide just yet.
We'll be punching old coins, texturing metal, twisting heavy-gauge wire, texturing copper tubing, making lots of charms, and using our enameled components in our final design. Fun!
The workshops conclude Sunday night with a jewelry photography session using my EZ Cube and photographic lights. We'll say our goodbyes on Monday morning after breakfast. What a weekend!
If these classes sound great to you, why don't you join us? We have room for three more ladies to join our Wild Wire Women retreat. You don't have to bring much other than your clothing for a weekend and a few beads to use in your jewelry. I supply everything else, including wire, metal, enamels, and the use of my tools.
For more information, visit my WWW blog.
Otherwise, you can watch our progress Sept. 27-30 as we post our finished pieces. I'm super excited about our weekend and can't wait to see what my students make. Stay tuned!
Happy wrapping,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

NEW Yarn Store Opens in Julian, California!

Last Saturday while visiting Mountain Beadworks in Julian for their bead-shop-hop, I had the great pleasure of meeting an artist/entrepreneur named Katherine Dupre (a.k.a. "Kat"), who's opening a store very soon in the antique mall next to Mountain Beadworks.
Kat's Yarn & Craft Cottage will open this Saturday, offering high-end yarns and natural fibers for knitting, crochet, weaving, and more.
And guess what? Kat wants to carry my handmade ceramic buttons in her store! Pictured in this post are the 50 buttons I'm sending her in today's mail: flowers and ovals (pictured above), plus squares, triangles, circles, and hearts.
My buttons vary in measurement from about 2-1/4 inches in diameter to almost 3 inches. They are definitely not "practical" for fine fabrics, but perfectly ideal as embellishments on beautifully knitted or crocheted items.
I handmade each one using the finest quality porcelain and stoneware clay, hand-painting them with gorgeous glazes. The photos here do not capture the vibrancy of their colors! Trust me, these are beautiful buttons.
You can also use them in your quilting projects... Imagine a big, gorgeous handmade button attached to one of your handmade handbags, totes, shawls, scarves, or other art-wear.
And they're affordable: Each button retails for just $15! I hope you'll stop by Kat's Yarn & Craft Cottage this Saturday for her big opening. The store is located right next to Mountain Beadworks, at 4470 Highway 78, Julian CA 92036.
You can reach Kat for more information by emailing her here. She doesn't have a web site yet, but she will soon. I'll update you with that info as soon as I get it!
And let's not forget the terrific bead-shop-hop taking place across Southern California this coming weekend and next (Sept. 13-15 and 20-22). It's worth visiting Mountain Beadworks just to see storeowner Patty Strong wearing her clown outfit! The store's theme this year is "the circus," and they really got creative with it. Circus music, a popcorn machine, circus decorations, photo booths and more—oh, and some great beads. My handmade pendants are available for sale in the store ($15 each) and anyone who purchases something during the hop gets a FREE DVD!
You can't beat that. Get your "passport" stamped in every store to become eligible for some great prizes and treats. Collect a small charm in each store to create a memento of this fabulous occasion. And while you're in Julian, try some wine tasting or hard cider, and don't forget to sample the amazing PIE! Oh, my. It's not so great for the waistline...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Crocheted Bag: Recycled T-Shirts & Plastic Bags!

Believe it or not, this fabulous hand-crocheted bag was made entirely of recycled products, including old worn-out T-shirts and used plastic grocery bags! My friend Judith Schonebaum (a resident of Idyllwild) made this gorgeous handbag, and I bought it from her two years ago as a birthday present to myself. You gotta do that sometimes! So I indulged myself in this funky bag, and I've never regretted it. But as lovely as my handbag is, I felt that it was crying out for something extra...
A button! Yes, pictured above is one of my own handmade ceramic buttons that I'm simply nuts about making these days. In colors of blue and green, it reminds me of the ocean waves and my previous home in South Orange County. I sewed it on my handbag this weekend.
You know, when you make your own artsy buttons it can be difficult selling them to others because you want to keep them all to yourself! Yeah, I know. Much better to share.
So you can find my buttons for sale at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert, California, and in my etsy store. More stores will be procuring them soon! I have appointments with several storeowners and as they pick up my buttons, I'll let you know who and where they are.
In the meantime, I hope you've found this post inspirational because I am continually inspired by my friend Judith. Although an accomplished, in-demand oil painter, Judith is just as passionate about her handicrafts, and she really loves to recycle. Friends in Idyllwild donate their old T-shirts, which she rips into strips and crochets along with used plastic grocery bags, which I prefer not to think about too much. Oh, she also adds old cassette and VHS tape to the mix, for a little sparkle.
Cheers for creativity!