It’s getting better all the time

Wow, summer 2022 just flew by! I had a great summer camp silversmithing gig in Maine and the girls made some beautiful jewelry! I am so happy and so proud of them.

BeadFest was terrific in a new location in lovely Lancaster, Pa., and my classes were mostly full, so thank you for attending and thank you for restoring my faith in the world. And, I just finished teaching a tremendous week-long Cold-Connections class at Snow Farm with an awesome group of students combined with gorgeous Autumn New England weather plus great food – the experience really lifted my spirits. Happy, Happy, Happy!

Dare I say it? Life for me seems to be returning to normalcy with a side order of crazy rather than the other way around in this brave new COVID world, and it feels nice to not live in an anxiety-driven state 24/7. I hope it’s the same for you!

In the near future and into 2023, I’ve got a nice group of Tucson Winter workshops on the horizon at the To Bead True Blue Show at the Casino del Sol Resort, plus a couple potentials in April, Snow Farm again in May, possibly a return to summer camp, BeadFest again in August and Wow! Life is looking good!

There is lots of fun and interesting work happening on my bench, some new pieces I really like are in progress, and best of all? I HAVE FINALLY finished a bunch of UFOs (unfinished objects) that have been sitting collecting dust (and my ire) for ever. Doesn’t it feel great to sweep away the old without giving up on it? I finished that stuff and I am proud of myself for not abandoning it.

So, happy fall, hang in there, finish up those UFOs and keep going. It’s so worth it when you come out on the other side. See you soon!

Catching up

Quick update: I know it’s been a year since posting here, but I, along with everyone else in the world, have been preoccupied…

So, yeah, Lapidary Journal went belly-up this past fall, and it’s really quite sad that after writing more than 135 columns, countless projects, articles and briefs over more than 15 years of my life it’s done. I read that magazine for most of my life and it’s going to leave a big hole in the industry for sure.

Then, right after that, my very much-anticipated and desperately-hoped-for 2022 classes in Tucson were cancelled because of COVID for the second year in a row (grrr). Yet another bummer in a four-plus-year run of bummers. So really, I have just been too grumpy to write anything here. Sorry about that.

All grumpiness aside, the current state of bummerness doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything constructive, and I’ve been keeping busy and employed with blogging and some social media work for Instagram for the Gesswein Tool Company, and also writing my At the Bench series for MJSA Journal, so it hasn’t been a total wash.

I also joined my local rock club, the Tuscarora Lapidary Society, and have already taken 3 very enjoyable casting and mold-making workshops since the early winter, so that’s made up for some of the lack of human contact I’ve experienced due to cancelled events and classes. And, there’s nothing like learning how to use a ginormous slab saw to chop up some boulders to drastically improve a bad mood.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but it looks like things are inching back to a facsimile of normal, and BeadFest in August looks like a go. Workshop signups haven’t gone live yet, but I have listed my classes on my schedule. I’ve also booked a fall Cold-Connections workshop at Snow Farm. so, it’s getting better all the time. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, yes?

Here’s me adding some wax-injected mold parts to a tree. Casting is a process I don’t have much experience with, so it’s nice to try something new.

Sorry it’s been so long…

So, this was the year of COVID-19, and like all of you – I have an excuse. Despite all of my best wishes and intentions, an entire year has passed into a disappointing whirlwind of cancelled classes, loss, rescheduled events, debilitating sadness, fear and worry. If you’ve read my writing for long, you’ve probably realized by now that when there’s a shit storm, I retreat to the sanctity of my peaceful inner world. I step out of the line and go away. I check out. Can’t help it, sorry guys, but you know that’s who I am.

Taking COVID19 seriously at Snow Farm

I haven’t got very much jewelry work to show for 2020, because after getting back from teaching in Tucson last year, I became compelled to make my home the safe space for everything and everyone I love and all that is good in this poor, sad and suffering world. I finally did get to teach a workshop for three intrepid students this past October, and all I can say is Bless You Snow Farm, you saved my spirit and got me through early winter. It was the one other good artistic thing that happened for me in 2020.

For the past year, I did “mom” in a huge way – and cooked, cleaned, organized, read dozens of books, took care of cats and kids, grew an absolutely perfect and bountiful garden, purged junk and did my very best to be brave, strong, feel life and keep us all alive and well. We have each other, a roof over our heads, good food to eat and although it wasn’t easy, I’ve kept a stiff upper lip and soldiered on. I always do what has to be done, and the thought of making art during hyper-survival mode just seemed alien and ridiculous. My bench has been idle for months and many months and I could only look at it like a dear friend I had loved so long ago and kept meaning to call but never really made the time for. There was just so much other survival stuff to do instead.

I started fabricating a new multi-stone bracelet earlier this month.

Two weeks ago, something in the universe moved. I was awarded a huge pile of hope and an important reason to get myself back to my bench. I felt a slow change engulf me over the course of about three days, and then really, really good news came from several different places, seemingly all at once. I have no clue how it happened and I always look for reasons because, you know, there must be a reason. The only explanation I can offer is that one morning in mid-January, I woke up and picked up a pen and started drawing ideas that had come to me from dream world. Sleeping through the night has become a little easier for me since November, and I’ve had really vivid and instructive dreams for about a month now. Anyway, something has lifted and cleared away in my psyche and I have been nudged to get to work again.

It’s amazing that once I started to draw again, the Universe reminded me of my path. I truly believe that when you do what you are supposed to do, the Universe will reward you. I feel optimistic again and I really want to work – even though the Pandemic is still raging out there, I am still poor, and nothing else has really changed. The only difference is that the wolf at my door finally went somewhere else. I hope he stays there.

A Few Quick Updates!

Hi, all. I’ve been pretty busy with a packed teaching calendar and writing commitments for the past few months and meaning to get back to my personal blog. A couple of quick updates, before I jet off to Tucson for my next round of classes:

• Come visit Tucson’s new Jewelry Craft and Design Expo show starting next week at the La Quinta Reid Park, 102 N. Alvernon Way in Tucson, Arizona 85711. I will be offering 8 different 3-hour workshops at the show, covering a wide variety of techniques and with some object-making, too.
Walk-ins are welcome, so
Click here to sign up!

• In October 2020, I’m set to teach a four-day Intermediate Soldering Workshop at Snow Farm, and the online signup link just opened. You can sign up by clicking this link.

• I’ve proposed a neat batch of workshops for August BeadFest in Philadelphia, and I am totally excited to teach them. Keep watching my Current Classes page for updates and direct links. As soon as I know, you’ll know.

• On the local front, my usual slate of beginner metal and wire evening classes at Haddon Township Adult School are beginning in about 2 weeks.

• And at The Artery Studio in Medford, NJ, my tween, teen and adult beginner jewelry workshops and classes are ongoing.

• If you can’t come to Tucson, check out my new blog on the GemCrowd Marketplace. We are in the early stages of site development, but in the meantime, it’s free to sign up and start your own profile page to buy and sell and catch my blogposts.

• I’m still writing my columns. Check out Cool Tools & Hip Tips which has been running in every issue of Jewelry Artist magazine for ten years now!

• And the MJSA Journal, runs a frequent At the Bench column from me which can be found roughly every other month. They have just published a new compilation called At the Bench 2, which includes my 5 favorite tips from recent years.

• My first book, Jewelry Maker’s Field Guide is now out of print, so you’ll have to search for it on Amazon or used. However, you can pick up a copy of my latest book, Metal Jewelry Workshop from the fine folks at Fox Chapel Publishing.

Wow. No wonder I feel like I have no time, lol.
That’s it for the moment, and I hope to see you soon!

Beneficial information from recent workshops

It is my tradition to create a debriefing blog post after any multi-day workshops I teach to answer all of those lingering questions on my tickler page that came up during class because my poor, overloaded brain couldn’t immediately retrieve the information.

I recently taught two awesome workshops at Snow Farm, and came home with two extensive lists of follow-up information to provide to my students there. And, good news for you as well – you also get to benefit from the information!

So, here goes, kids, and just click the links to get to the goods…

Workshop: Rock & Roll: The Art of Lapidary
Diamond Pacific Lapidary – Genies, Pixies, Wizards and a whole slew of fantastic Lapidary Equipment to fill you every stone-centric desire… I have used their equipment in my classes for nearly a decade.

Kingsley North – Another full-service lapidary supplier; they have hundreds of products, including the Cab King, Hughes 300 Epoxy and other awesome equipment.

Lasco Diamond – One of the best suppliers of Diamond attachments for use in the flex shaft and/or other rotary tools. Their drill bits (from your kits) and other diamond accessories are rockin’

Slabs to Cabs – My good friend, Gemologist  John Heusler, G.G. (GIA) is the mastermind behind those fantastic templates we used in class. Check out his work, follow him on Facebook, and tell him I sent you!

Allcraft Tools – New York City. If you coveted my bezel wire snips, call Tevel at Allcraft and tell him I sent you. He has every hammer known to man, plus tons of other awesome hand tools, too, and his shop on 29th Street is not to be missed if you ever find yourself in the Big Apple.

Chris’s Cables – is the source for those slim closure, precious metal necklace cables I used on our target object project pendant.

Contenti Tools – Is one of my favorite all-around tool suppliers, you can get Wubbers Pliers, the L-square, scribes and the slim line centerpunches from them, and for most of my workshop students, in your home state – Road Trip!!

Kent’s Tools – in glorious Tucson, AZ. is a must-see shop when you eventually get to the Gem Shows in February. I get my Moore’s Snap on Sanding discs, Coin, Pearl and Bead Clamps, Diamond Attachment Boxed Sets, Riker Mounts for stones and other esoteric goodies there.

The Gem Shop, Inc. – is a great mail order source for slabs, cutting rough, tumbler mixes, books and reference materials on rocks and minerals and also finished cabs cut from classic rockhoundy materials. Their agates and jaspers annual calendar totally rocks.

The Tuscarora Lapidary Society is my local club, and they have a free newsletter listing area rock shows, too.

Workshop: Exploring Textures and Patinas in Metal Jewelry
Wowsa, what a list!

First, my list of Incredibly Useful Hand Tools will appear on this blog shortly… If you are reading this later and the link is there, I wrote it, so click away…

Ditto for my Useful Products to Seal Patinas and Base Metals…

Reactive Metals Studio – Rokusho powder, Cupric Sulfate and other essential materials for Japanese Patination. Check out the Titanium, too…

Jax Patina Solutions – The Hazmat fee is so worth it. I use the Black-Brown, Brown, Green for Copper and Brass, the Cleaner for Copper, Brass and Bronze especially for those rapid oops removal situations, and you owe it to yourself to try the sampler set, too.

Potter USA – is the go-to place for hydraulic presses and dies, plus great shop tools and equipment. Affordable, sturdy, well-made in America. What more could a self-respecting jewelry maker ask for?

So, that wraps it. I will get to those other two blog posts shortly, and have a happy June!

 

 

Workshop spots available!

I just returned from Tucson with a treasure trove of nice material for my upcoming Lapidary workshop at Snow Farm: The New England School of Craft. Here’s a quick peek at some of the lapidary rough I could not come home without:

And I have been cutting slabs for student use, too — despite the fact it has been freezing in the studio and my hands get too cold and wet to work for too long.

I am also creating new demo objects for a three day Textures and Patinas workshop that immediately follows my lapidary class, with a focus on some less common but stunning Japanese patinas you might want to learn more about and try.

Here are the signup links:

https://www.snowfarm.org/workshops/topics/rock-roll-art-lapidary and https://www.snowfarm.org/workshops/topics/exploring-textures-patinas-metal-jewelry

I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

News You Can Use!

Hi all! It’s been a busy summer and I have a bunch of updates…

MJWJacket

 

First, and most exciting, my new book goes to press this week!!! TA DA!!!!!
That’s a photo of it at left, and you can pre-order it here: Metal Jewelry Workshop on Amazon.com, or if you are more patient, find it at most brick-and-mortar booksellers, in large chain craft stores and at many other book vendors in late fall when it arrives from the printer.
I am really very happy with this book and it was a huge pleasure to work with the amazing editorial and design teams at Fox Chapel Publishing.

 

Next, and just as exciting : BeadFest Philadelphia is just around the corner and I will be teaching a load of new classes from August 15 – 19 at the Oaks Expo Center. We are packed, printed, prepared and my little store is fully loaded with tools, media, supplies and materials you’ll need for a week or more of jewelry making fun. Check into my classes here, and read about the annual BeadFest Event here.

Shortly after BeadFest, I will be jetting over to Tucson, Arizona for a stint at the JOGS Summer Restock Show  between August 31 – Sept. 3, 2016. We are currently solidifying the actual class schedule, but I intend to be there teaching some fun new fashion-forward object-making classes for 4 sunny days. JOGS is a great place to stock up on supplies before the busy holiday crush, and the fall show is much less frenetic than the winter one. If you’ll be there, swing by, take a class or just say hi!

I’ve also been contracted to teach several workshops for 2019, and I am currently developing an entire slate of new classes for next year. I also continue to write Cool Tools & Hip Tips for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine, and keep an eye open for my At the Bench column in every issue of the MJSA Journal – PS: You can get a free 4-month trial subscription here, so sign up today!

Other than that, the garden is calling, every flat surface in the studio is covered with student kits, partially finished demo pieces, UFOs (unfinished objects) and workshop proposal folders. In other words, life is normal, lol! Have a great day, and I will see you next time!

 

 

 

 

 

A dispatch from jewelry making frontier

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a bit, but I have good news: the manuscript for my second book has been delivered (on time!) and all of the object step-outs for the photography plus the final jewelry objects are completed. Woot-Woot, Ra-Ra, Ya-Hoo!

I am so very happy with this book, and it was a total pleasure to write it. Photo sessions are tentatively scheduled for the beginning of April, and as soon as there are some PR images to share, I will post them here. Some preliminary information that I can share without revealing any state secrets is this: Metal Jewelry Workshop will be published by Fox Chapel and released in the Fall of 2018. The book should be on sale in large chain craft and hobby stores and available from traditional booksellers soon after that. There should be pre-sale information soon from major online sellers and I’m happy it will be out just in time for holiday shopping. Best of all, I can finally, finally change that old news picture of my first book that’s been sitting over there on the right sidebar of this blog for almost 5 years, lol!

In other news, I thought I might be teaching in the next week or so at Innovative Bead Expo in Oaks, Pa. but alas, I had no advance sign-ups. I decided I should be making some new work for myself that is non-book, non-curriculum and non-workshop for a change and cancelled those classes, because, sometimes, you just need to make something for yourself. No guilt here at all. You see I know that very soon, those never-ending garden tasks will come, jewelry workshop season will swing into high gear, I’ll need to get ready for Fall Adult School courses and life will get too, too crazy again so I am grabbing this time slot while it’s there.

Before I go any further, it’s way past time for me to send some shout outs I missed in the flurry of life over the past weeks: thank you, Alison Lee of Craftcast for an incredibly fun experience creating my Color on Metal with Cold Connections Webinar just before I went to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Shows to teach five workshops, including a live webcast from JOGS Show Tucson that was recorded for Jewelry Tools. It was great to see everyone I caught up with there, make future plans for some new classes and most of all to get out of the freezing weather for several days. Again, Thank yous go to Alec and Debbie at JT.com and to Vitaliy and Yelena plus the whole JOGS crew for making it happen every Tucson.

I’ll share some upcoming workshop news soon, so thanks for reading, try to stay warm for a few weeks more, make some cool work, and don’t forget to check my upcoming class schedule for breaking news on the workshop front. Ciao!

 

 

 

Winter means Tucson and more!

In the feast-or-famine rhythm of my life, I am happy to report that feast season has entered the building.

To a teaching artist, the time between late September and end of January equals a constant stream of work. Instead of getting that quiet transition into early winter, a peaceful holiday with maybe some snow, cocoa, good food and darkening days, it’s just BAM, BAM BAM! For the past few weeks life has been proposals, photos, class descriptions, kit packing, tool repair, orders, handouts, meetings and early writing deadlines 24/7. This is the time the proverbial doo-doo hits the fan, and with the arrival of Tucson I’ve got a severe case of non-stop run, run, run.

Believe it or not, I actually thrive in that kind of situation, unlike most people. That old saying, “If you want something done right, give it to a busy person” is my Modus Operandi. So, some quick news in bullet form:

• If you will be in Tucson, come check out my in-person classes at the JOGS Show between Jan. 28 and Jan. 31., I’d be happy to have you in class!
• If you will not be in Tucson, but would still like to take my class there, you can sign up for a live stream version of my Beachcomber’s Bonanza class on Jan. 28!
• You can also take a different online class before Tucson, if you check out my Color on Metal with Cold Connections webcast with Alison Lee and CraftCast on Jan. 27!
• Join GemCrowd – the new and exciting B2B community that is currently under development and soon to launch. I am working with them now, and this community will be geared specifically to lovers of Gems, Jewelry and Minerals. It’s free to sign up, and you can follow me via GemCrowd on Instagram and Facebook, too!

And now, some pictures of my upcoming live classes for 2018 just to get your heart rate elevated … enjoy, have fun, and I will see you in the desert.

 

 

 

 

Busy? Yes, busy…

Hi all! I have been missing for a month (almost 2!?!) due to a very full teaching schedule and lots of work – which I am NOT complaining about! I have successfully pitched a load of new spring classes for my local evening gig, at the Innovative Bead Expo in April, and Tucson, of course. I will also be doing a live webcast on January 28, 2018 for CraftCast and also live from the JewelryTools.com classrooms at the JOGSShow in Tucson just a few days later. It’s been a busy but delightful fall full of creating demo objects, class proposals, handout design and creation and all the other fun stuff that goes with being a jewelry instructor and having a full, rich and rewarding life. If you are interested in whats on deck, my current teaching schedule is posted here.

So sorry, but this post is a quick hit, because I am on deadline for my latest At the Bench column for the MJSA Journal, and one other secret: I am writing my second book as we speak. It is scheduled for a Fall 2018 release, will be a jewelry making book, and I am really thrilled with it so far. I took a break to blog because I reached the halfway point late yesterday, and now the fun begins: creation of the jewelry objects and project pieces, WHOO HOO! Watch my Instagram feed for photo updates…

So, hang in everybody, I hope you are all keeping sane, resisting lunacy, keeping busy and having fun making work. I know I am. I’ll try harder to post more often, so see you sooner next time… I hope!