Sunday, June 27, 2010


Finished pendants from yesterday's class, minus one (someone, I'm not sure who, got away without me getting a picture).

I had a 2 good groups of students yesterday. The ear wire class was fun. It's good to know that there are other freaky people like me who think it's fun to sit around and bend wire! They all did a great job and some even came up with their own designs, like Bonnie who made a really cool twisty ear wire with a bead that I'd show you if I had remembered to take any pictures.
The second class was good too. Everyone did a great job with their riveted copper pendants. It's fast paced class with a lot of steps and I was proud that they all did so well. Thanks to Bonnie, Pam, Alice, David, Mary Lynn, Sheree, Pauline, Margaret, Nancy, and Sandra (who had the fortitude to sit through both classes.)!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Oscar is one special cat.
(Photo by Associated Press)

Sometimes I get frustrated with modern medicine. While I know that the intent is good, it seems that the more good that we try to do, the more trouble that we cause. For example, prescribing drugs whose side effects require more drugs to control those side effects and so on, and so on, and so on. Having said that, believe me, I'm grateful to have such brilliant and caring minds working for societies' greater good (I'm married to one of those people after all!). When I see a story like this one all that frustration melts away. Medical science truly can produce miracles. Check out Oscar the bionic cat here. I just want to give that veterinarian in the video a hug!


Samples for the findings class.

Pieces from the last riveting class.

Tomorrow (Saturday), I'll be teaching 2 classes at Bead Haven. The first is a sterling and fine silver ear wire and head pin class at 9am-noon. I'll be showing you how to form and finish all these ear wires, plus some others, if we have time. The ear wires will be formed from sterling wire and the head pins are made from fine silver. Making your own ear wires is great skill to have whether you want to make your own to save money or you want to make special ones that aren't readily available commercially.
The second class is a sweet little riveted, textured copper pendant with a fine silver bail. This is a fun introduction to the skill of riveting and has been a popular class. The pendant class is from 1-4 in the afternoon. Please call the store at 319-247-2323, if you are interested in one or both of the classes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Vintage bronze pieces from Ghana. These came from a wonderful African man named Ebrima who with his wife has a store in Oberlin,Ohio called Bead Paradise. My friend Gail introduced me to them a few years ago. It's one of my favorite stops at the show. I'd love to visit their shop one day. These pieces will be used as pendants, combined with my handmade bronze chain and some of the wonderful quartz, jade and lapis that I bought.

Not ancient, even though they look like it. This is lampwork by Joanne Zekowski. I met Joanne in Santa Fe. I think her beads are some of the coolest I've seen (and touched).

More beautiful lampwork, this time by Angi Graham. I am usually so focused on gemstones that I often blow right by great lampwork. Thanks to Gail for pointing these out to me. I bought another beautiful piece of lampwork from my friend Melissa Rediger of Sea of Glass that's not pictured here because I'm in the process of making a pendant out of it. Maybe a photo tomorrow.

Hardware from Urban Remains, found on Gail and my field trip to Chicago. I've never had dirtier hands in my whole life.

Cabochons by the fabulous Gary Wilson, who is always my first stop at Bead and Button. Clockwise from the left, Crazy Lace Agate, Rhodochrosite, Chrysocolla.

More cabs from Gary Wilson. Clockwise from the left, 2 Rulitated Quartz, Native Copper, Hematite Ammonite. The copper piece is really special. It is from the old copper smelting operations in Michigan. The firebricks from inside the kilns became infiltrated by copper after many years of use. The white spots in the copper are remnants of the fire brick. Gary is well known for finding the beauty in the unusual.

One of my favorite things in the world, Lapis. This is from Afghan Tribal Arts. The owner Abdul is a wonderfully knowledgeable person who's lots of fun to chat with.

Ancient quartz beads from Bead Paradise. They are from the Djenne people in Mali and were fabricated 2000 years ago. When I was in college, I spent a lot of time studying African art. Some of my favorite objects in the Stanley Collection (the University of Iowa's unsurpassed collection of African Art) were the objects made by the Djenne. I am humbled by the thought that I own something that they made. I'm in awe of these. I'll need to make something befitting them. The beautiful green beads are jade from Afghanistan, from Afghan Tribal Arts.

More from Gary Wilson. Clockwise from the top, Highly polished Flint (can you believe that?), 2 fossil Coral cabs to make into rings, Turquoise from S and S Lapidary in Tennesee.

African Opal cabs from S and S Lapidary.

Very inexpensive slabs of polished Crazy Lace Agate to practice the prong settings that I learned in Susan Kazmer's class. Beautiful, and only 3 bucks a piece!

Rhodocrosite from Gary Wilson, Turquoise and Brecciated Jasper from S and S Lapidary.

A fancy new German-style goldsmith's Fretz hammer that I got from Joe Silvera, who shares my love of hammers.

A huge piece of Pyrite/quartz from Gary Wilson.

This is a hollow, carved quartz crystal skull done by Gary Wilson. This is drilled as a bead, and truly is a miniature work of art. It looks huge in this picture, but is about the size of a dime.

Ancient Djenne Apatite beads from Mali, purchased from Bead Paradise. I love these. They are quite large, one about the size of a quarter and the other fifty cent sized. These will be great as focal beads with handmade bronze chain and bead caps.

Another view of the Crazy Lace Agate, because I love it.

I know it looks like a lot, but truthfully, I was very restrained. I had a good idea of what I wanted to look for at the show and I mostly stuck to it, though I did go a bit wild in Gary Wilson's booth! The first couple of years at Bead and Button, I wandered around like a crazed person buying what ever caught my fancy. It's really overwhelming when you haven't been there before. It's amazing to see how my taste in what I buy has changed over the years.
I have a show coming up in August at Brucemore for which I will need a lot of finished jewelry, so the timing of my purchases couldn't be better. Of course, it will be hard to let all of these things go, and yet I will. Though, I think that the skull and a few pieces of the lapis, quartz, and apatite might have to be mine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


My bronze Ammonite, cold-joined pendant from Susan Kazmer's class.

My friend Karen Elmquist, won first place for lampwork in the Bead Dreams competition.

Paul looking happy with Gigi and Karen.

Gail's wardrobe malfunction involved her Optivisor.

The troupe of finger puppets that Karen bought for all of us (mine was actually a present for my sister's sweet new kitten, Sassy). These puppets provided us with hours of fun (let's just say that it's a good thing that it'll be a year before we go back to the swanky Capital Grille!).

My third class at Bead and Button was another Susan Lenart Kazmer class. It turned out to be kind of a continuation of the metal techniques that we learned in the glass casting class. That was cool though, because I really enjoyed practicing the new prong setting that we learned. I used a bronze Ammonite that I had made at home before the show. I sawed out a backing plate from sheet bronze, complete with prongs. I set the bronze piece onto the plate and then riveted the whole piece to another piece of bronze sheet. I like it, it was sort of an exercise in cold joining. It was a fun class and a good chance to further refine what I'd already learned.
My last class was supposed to be a reticulation class. I woke that morning with a horrendous headache, so I didn't make it to class. Paul went to see the teacher for me, Robyn Cornelius, who made she got the class kit complete with handout. I think I'll be able to learn the technique with the help of her excellent handout. I've never missed a class before and I felt pretty rotten about it. I felt better later in the day and was able to shop the show a bit early with the help of a friend! So the day wasn't a complete loss. More pictures tonight!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


My bezel set Chrysocolla ring.

Karen's lampwork cab, bezel set into a ring.

Me and friends Karen Elmquist and Gail Lannum at the King and I Thai restaurant enjoying girly drinks with umbrellas in them.

Poor Karen's wardrobe malfunction. She was leaving bits of her shoe all over Milwaukee. Gail and I actually found a large piece of her shoe on the street. Too funny.

My friend Anne Mitchell and Paul also at the King and I. They could be siblings couldn't they?

On the Tuesday of Bead and Button I took a class with metal smith Joe Silvera and his wife Anat. It was a class in traditional bezel setting of stones. I've done this before, but I've never been great at getting the bezel to fit the stones just right. Joe was such a great teacher and both he and Anat are so nice and so much fun. He spent a good amount of time discussing how to choose stones that will be good for bezeling. I found this to be invaluable. It turns out that I was making one little mistake when fitting my cabs that Joe helped me correct very quickly. My friend Karen and I were both in the class. We were supposed to make pendants, but rebels that we are, we made rings instead. My stone was a Chrysocolla and Karen used one of her own lampwork cabs. I was so jazzed by the class that when the show started, I bought many beautiful stones from the amazing lapidary, Gary Wilson. I was able to get into the show early and his was the first booth I went to because it's always jammed with customers.
On Wednesday, Gail and I both had a day off and headed to Chicago to Urban Remains, a architectural salvage company. We picked through old house hardware for bits and pieces that we can use as inspiration and to incorporate into jewelry pieces. There was a great old doctors' cabinet that Gail really wanted until she saw the price, nearly $1100! I need to get her out her to Iowa, as I've seen similar cabinets in antique stores for less than $200. There was also a cool little coffin (not a real one) that I thought would look cool on the wall of my studio. I don't know what it was for, it looked kind of like the kind of thing you'd see in an old Dracula movie. Weird, I know, but I liked it. Also priced out of my league at $350.
More on classes later and photos of all the great stuff that I bought.

Monday, June 21, 2010


My giant, decoder ring made in sisters Cheri Lenart and Susan Kazmer's class.

Gail's pretty blue/violet/lavender pendant changes in different light.

Gail wearing a giant bead ring of Karen's and both my and Karen's ring from class.

Gail and I volunteered (ok, I volunteered us) to mix the silica/plaster goo.

My sea glass, pronged pendant.

Wow, that was a long unintentional break from the blog. Sorry about that. I got back from the show and it seemed like I've been going non-stop since. Not that I've gotten too much accomplished. The show was wonderful as always. I learn so much while I'm there. I learn new techniques that I can integrate into my own work, for sure, but I always come away with new ways of seeing the things that I already know how to do.
Paul came with me this year for the whole week. We had a lot of fun seeing so many of our wonderful friends (and meeting new ones) all in one place. I needed another week of rest when I came back from Milwaukee.
The first couple of days I took a class from Susan Lenart Kazmer and Cheri Lenart. Both of my friends Gail and Karen were also in the class with me, making it even more fun. The class was in glass casting. The first day we mixed up a silica and plaster mixture and made molds with it. This mixture was poured into small containers and when they were set up we carved into them. I carved a textured, oval shape that I hoped would make a good cabochon once filled with glass. The molds were filled with chunks of glass that we broke off of Bullseye Glass billets which is available in many beautiful colors. The pieces fired overnight and the next day we moved on to fabricating metal pieces to hold our glass pieces. We made a prong setting for the cast glass piece and a sort of tab/prong setting for a piece of sea glass that we altered with a Dremel and oil pastels. I made a crazy, giant ring with my piece of glass. It's so different from what I usually make, but I love it and it's really comfortable to wear. That's what Susan's classes do to you. They stretch your imagination and you end up making wild things. It was so rewarding. I can see that I'll be doing more casting. A few years ago I thought I wanted to get into glass fusing. I bought a ton of Bullseye glass. Soon, my enthusiasm for fusing petered out, leaving me with lots of pretty glass. I'm happy to have a use for all of the glass I have stored in my basement. More on the show and classes tomorrow.
ps. Thanks to my friends, some from whom I shamelessly ripped off photos from their blogs.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Well, I'm back from the Bead and Button Show. I have so much to tell you all. I had intended to blog the whole time, as I enjoyed sharing it as it happened so much. I just got a new iPad and thought it would be perfect for blogging on the road, and it will be when I get the required camera to iPad cable that the nice folks at the Apple store neglected to tell me that I needed for loading photos directly from the camera or iPhone to the iPad. Isn't technology wonderful? Actually, it is, but sometimes I don't have a handle on all of the intricacies of all of the required cables and do dads that we need to make it all work. I promise to post all about the show, classes, photos and all of the peripheral insanity this week.