Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I did a beginning bronze clay class at Bead Haven last week. With the holiday, I only got around to firing the students pieces yesterday. I tumbled them afterward to preserve the patina and now they're ready to go. In the class we made silicone molds of antique buttons and used rubber stamps to use as textures. Pam went free form with her heart and she used letter stamps to make her I.D. bracelet part. They did a great job and thankfully the kiln gods were with us and we got wonderful colors!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!"
- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Friday, December 24, 2010


Miss Sophie wishing you a Merry Christmas.

All of the Christmas jewelry work is done. I wish I could say my workspace was spic and span, but I'll get to that. I'll have to, as I can never start again with it all in a mess. My head is full of new ideas that I hope I can execute in the new year. I have new techniques I want to learn, shows to sell my wares at, new things to teach, the gem shows in Tucson to drool over and spend too much at (and I never regret my purchases!) all in just the next few months. Ah, but not today. Nothing left to do today but to be merry and dream of sugar plums (whatever the heck those are!).

Saturday, December 18, 2010


A while back my friend Gail posted the above sign (the first one) on her blog. I can't remember if this is a card she got or bought or if it's a sign on her studio wall. It well could be. Such great words to live by. So much of it is very relevant to my life. I love the lines about life being about the people that you meet and what you create with them. It makes me think about the great friends I've met and made in the jewelry world. I am so inspired by all of them and I hope they are a little inspired by me too. We are far flung, but we are still a tribe of our own making and I'm amazed by the strength of these friendships with people that I see so infrequently. What an amazing thing to find in this big world!
Remembering Gail's sign made me want to share the sign that's been on the wall of my workspace for as long as I remember. If there were ever truer or more important words regarding creativity, I don't think I've heard them. I believe we can be whoever we want to be creatively speaking. There aren't any rules except to be who you want. I've noticed that when students struggle, it's not learning technique that they grapple with most often. Usually, it's fear of their own creativity that can stand in their way. When we're kids, we don't think twice about creativity, we just make stuff. We color trees purple and the sky orange. It's not until we grow up that we learn the "rules" and are taught about the right and wrongs of creativity. We lose the ability to give ourselves permission to color outside the lines. We learn to think the things we make are irrelevant or bad. I think this is a shame. This isn't to say that I don't teach and hold fast to there being a right and wrong way to do certain techniques. There are inherently correct ways to form, etch, heat, join, and color metal. It's important to learn the "right" way to do things so that you can be successful and safe. After that, the sky's the limit.
Humans are creative by our nature. Trying is never a failure.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Chaco Spiral.

Big pile o' bronze charms.

My bronze clay clay that was scheduled to happen at Bead Haven tonight was cancelled due to a snow storm (it is Iowa after all!). Bummer. The upside is that there were still a couple of spots left, so if any of you were interested and didn't get signed up, the class will be happening December 22nd. Call Bead Haven if you're interested.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


The Bronze Clay for next week's class arrived today!

We'll be doing simple mold making in this class, to get acquainted with the different and sometimes difficult properties of bronze clay. I made these charms from a clay model that I made, then made a silicone mold from the model.

Wednesday, December 15th at Bead Haven. I'll be leading a class in mold making with Bronze Clay. It will be a simple beginning class on the medium, so not much experience will be needed. Bronze clay is somewhat different to use than Silver clay, and in my opinion more difficult. Once you get past these differences it's fun and really beautiful and I thought it was time we delved into it at Bead Haven. We'll be making two part silicone molds from antique buttons as well as rolling out simple charms and pendants if you wish. I have several buttons for us to use, but feel free to bring one of your own if you have one. We'll be discussing the clays properties and how it's fired and finished. I expect it to be fun and informative and I'd love to see you there.
Please call Bead Haven in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at 319-247-2323.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


A group shot of our texture plates. Mine's in the middle and is my take on West African mud cloth.

Julie's zebra-inspired plate.

Alice's plate really suggests flowing water to me.

Bonnie's plate uses negative space really well.

Pam's spike-a-lishous heart texture!

Margaret's plate will look great fabricated into a piece of jewelry (which is what she's planning to do).

Tonight at Bead Haven, I led a class where we acid-etched a textured plate from a piece of 18 gauge copper. The plate creates a low-relief texture that is very similar to a tear away sheet, commonly used for adding texture to metal clay. I love the look that tear away sheets achieve, but I find that they don't really last too long. These etched plates are much more permanent and are so fun to make. Of course, they can also be sawed up and fabricated into jewelry pieces too. I can't wait to see what these ladies make with theirs.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Some of our Sunday group. David is such a good sport to put up with all of these women.

Don't Pam and Laurie look happy?

Pam's work. She even found time to forge a bracelet and rivet a piece together.

Laurie's pieces. I love her big, red copper bead.

Bonnie N's work. I think her oxide pigment pieces came out really well.

Margaret got nice color on her big copper bead that she colored with flux and heat.

I like the way May Lynn used the Gilder's paste to color her chain.

David's big copper bead came out really great. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of it after he burnished it and sealer it. It looked even better.

I think Alice really like the Gilder's Paste and the dye oxides. I really like the blue filigree butterfly.

Anne's area is just like her, creative and a little crazy! She did great work.

Bonnie G's pieces. I really like the large brass piece that she colored with the green verdigris patina. That product takes a while to develop it's final color, but it's well worth the wait.

Last Sunday I had a class in surface decoration of metals. It looks beyond liver of sulfur for adding color to metals. We had a messy good time. We got to try dye oxide patinas, flame patinas. Gilder's Paste, nail polish, and acid patina (Midas Green). I think we could probably have an all day class on any one of these techniques! I'm really excited about the dye oxide patinas for my own work. With all of the methods, prep is crucial. If you spend enough time cleaning and prepping the metal, you'll have better, longer lasting results. I hope to do another patina class soon! Somehow, I didn't get a picture of Julie's pieces, which is too bad because she gave up her day to help me out with the class and I really appreciate! Thanks Julie!

Sunday, October 31, 2010


EEEKKKKK! It's Halloween already!!??

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Acid etched pieces by my students last week.

Metal pieces colored with assorted dye oxide patinas, solvent oxides, pastes and simple flux and heat patina.

I've been playing a lot with the surface of metals again lately. Creating texture with hammers, etching patterns with ferric chloride, coloring with enamels and heat patinas and now creating color with dye-oxide patinas. I will be offering an all day class called the Surface Embellishment On Metals on November 14th at Bead Haven. We will be using ammonia based verdigris solution on copper, dye-oxides, Gilder's Paste (a type of colored wax), flux and heat patina on copper, and other techniques as well. I'll have tools and supplies for riveting as well, so we practice up on building our patinaed parts into some finished jewelry as time allows. The class is limited in size and there are just a couple of spots left, so please call Bead Haven if you are interested.
In December I'm hoping to do an acid etching class where we will make copper texture plates for texturing PMC. While there are countless rubber stamps for this purpose, it's really nice to be able to make your own textures that no one else will have. There is no better way to distinguish your work from others. I'll let you know when this gets added to the Bead Haven calendar.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Here are photos of what I've been up to since we last talked.

Lily in the bath tub, for no particular reason, except that she's cute. Sophie was not interested in being photographed that day.

Making a ring in the studio with the Little Torch. Don't try to take a picture of yourself using a torch, it's a bad idea.

A lovely bracelet made by Michelle, who was wearing it at the Preview tonight at Bead Haven. She used one of my toggles for it, so I asked her to let me take a photo of it. Very pretty and she used my favorite color of Miyukis.

My friend and photographer, Jonathan Sabin, taking new photos for my website. I will have those up soon. We spent many hours together recently shooting and editing. I really like this photo of Jonathan, it kind of captures his spirit.

Football! Night game at Kinnick Stadium. It was Iowa vs. Penn State. We won.

Homecoming was the Black and Gold game. Fans were instructed to wear either black or gold, depending on your section number. We Iowans are a obedient bunch.

Paul and I spent a pretty fall afternoon at Wilson's Orchard recently. They have the best fresh, hot apple turnovers I have ever eaten.

The view at Wilson's Orchard.

I can't believe it's been a month since I blogged. I really enjoy writing this blog, so I don't know why I took such a long break. Truthfully, since we lost my Mom, I have a had time with tasks that require communication. Mostly, I hole myself up in my studio and just make things. It's the one thing that I can do that seems to come naturally to me right now. I will work harder to post here more regularly, because I really did miss it.
Fall is here in full swing and that means football, apples, pumpkins, and the fall open house at Bead Haven. The preview was tonight and we had a nice turn out. It goes all day tomorrow too, so be sure to stop out and see me.
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Friday, September 17, 2010


Photo by Jonathan D. Sabin

Maybe I've seen 'Gladiator' one too many times?

This is a piece that I recently finished for a competition. I find a lot of inspiration in the natural world, museums, history books, etc. But have you ever found yourself watching a movie and you realize that you're paying more attention to the scenery, costumes, props, and most importantly, the jewelry, than the plot? I do that a lot. Especially with a movie I've seen several times, like one of my favorites, Gladiator. In the movie, actress Connie Nielson wears costumes and jewelry inspired by pieces from the era of the Roman Empire. The things she wears in the movie are really beautiful. It all must have cost a fortune. I've often wondered if she got to keep any of it. The jewelry was especially beautiful. Most of it was designed by Martin Adams, who also designed jewelry for movies like Dangerous Liaisons, The Last Emperor, Atonement, and The Kingdom of Heaven. He also made the crowns in the musical Wicked. What a fun job. But it would be a lot of pressure to be very accurate. Thank goodness I don't have that! To see some of the dresses and jewelry from Gladiator check out this link.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Paul, at the famous Big Creek Bridge on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Somewhere near Big Sur.

Seals sunbathing near Cambria.

A Harbor Seal at low tide. Is that not one of the cutest things you've ever seen? I think he looks like a puppy.

The Sun setting into the Pacific as seen from Moonstone Beach.

My friend Abner, who lives at a garden store in Cambria.

The Big Sur coast shot from Nepenthe, a cool restaurant and shop set high above the ocean. The Stellar's Jay looks like he's enjoying the view.

Ranch land along the PCH near the Hearst Castle. Thousands of acres of ranch land in this area still belong to the Hearst family. Still wielding power many years after W.R. Hearst's death. He'd be proud.

Turquoise waters. My mind always goes to metals and gems, doesn't it?

The McWay waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, near Big Sur. I'm so happy such place exist in our country.

We had a great trip to California, though it wasn't long enough. I'm back to work, getting ready for a trunk show at Bead Haven and a show in Fairfield and finishing up a piece that I'm submitting to a competition. I need to take new photos for my Etsy store and I'm teaching a bunch of classes at Bead Haven in the next couple of weeks, so there's a lot to do! Can I please go back to California? No? I thought not.
We flew into San Francisco and drove to Monterey, then onto Big Sur the next day. We spent most of the week in Cambria, a cute little town along the Central Coast. We picked up jade and moonstones (they're not true moonstones, but they are beautiful pebbles of glowing white Chalcedony) off of Moonstone Beach in Cambria. The jade is actual jade and I think I may polish some of it and try my hand at some elementary lapidary skills. I haven't done any stone polishing so if anyone reading has any advice for me on polishing jade, I'd appreciate it! Once, I actually found a big chunk of Malachite on that very same beach. I'd love to polish that!
Along with beach combing we saw lots of Harbor Seals, Elephant Seals, Sea Otters, And even a couple of the impossibly large California Condors. I thought I'd post some pictures of the lovely scenery from along the way.