Wednesday, December 8, 2010


It's been at least 4 years since I have done an art show, and why? NO BOOTH!! (Left and below, my glass cases before repair and new stain and new inserts, and phase 1 of the counters.)

I decided the best way to get myself back out into the art show world was to schedule a show so I would have to build a booth for it.

It took about 2 weeks of almost constant work, more money than I expected, and several days with almost no sleep, but I made it! I built cabinets, took them apart and rebuilt them again. I took apart glass cases, stained and cleaned them, and put them back together. I created counter tops and figured out how to get them to sit properly and safely on their bases for every show. I mounted photos and signs on backer boards and sewed fabric panels to set them off.

And then, I FORGOT TO PHOTOGRAPH IT!!! So here are some of the before (above) and after (below) photos of the construction. (Left and below, cabinets are rebuilt, and given fabric inserts, and everything has a nice new coat of matching stain.)

I am really pleased with the results, although you won't get to see any of the nice colorful elements here. At the show, I added black drapes, some patterned turquoise fabric hangings to add color, and tan fabric hangings behind my photos. And nice booth and case lighting, too. But now that I'm back in the show world, I'll have to get some photos at my next show. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Don’t retreat, run TO the retreat!!! Last week, I returned from the Jewelry Artists Network’s East Coast Retreat, fondly known as JAR, or Jewelry Artists Retreat, in North Carolina. What fun, what fun!!! I was lucky enough to become a part of this wonderful group three years ago, and I have gone to the retreat every year since. I’m a solid devotee now, and wouldn’t miss it for the world!

The Jewelry Artist Retreats all begin with Janice, who created the retreats, and who also administers the Jewelry Artists Network. If you love making jewelry, you will want to check out the forum at and become a member. Join us, it’s free, and a better group of people you won’t find anywhere! I was thrilled to find a place where jewelry artists could ask any question at any level, and find others who care and take their questions seriously. I have been privileged over the last few years to meet Janice and a number of the other forum members in person, and they are a truly wonderful group. The first east coast retreat was held in 2007, and some of this year’s retreaters have been there every year since! Our house was full this year, with 13 retreaters. Although we have developed a core of returning members, we always have room for new blood, and 4 of this year’s attendees were brand-spankin new to JAR. We had a blast!

The retreat house is a lovely large house on Lake Gaston in north-eastern North Carolina. It has 2 kitchens, 5 bedrooms, and a beautiful private dock on the lake. Our most common view, however, is usually of another metalsmith, intent on their work and viewed over a sea of tools and torches. We have taken to setting up shop in the large garage, where we can leave the doors open to the breeze and sun, and still sit together to share ideas, designs, techniques, and tools. We might run an impromptu demo for others, or help one another with a particular technique or tool. This year for instance, I had the opportunity to try Janice’s flex shaft hammer hand piece, and Ann helped me to use her Koil Kutter, where I cut enough jump rings to last me much of the coming year.

We shared the liquor-and-chocolate table, many home-made cakes, food, meals, tools, bedrooms, and lots of laughter. Some of the demos and sharings included chain maille patterns, torch-fired keum –bu, forging a ring from a silver coin, cuttlebone and broom straw casting, using a hammer handpiece, making bezels, salt water and ferric chloride etching, and so much more that I can’t remember it all!

The JAR East Coast retreats are really a treat! More details will follow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Just Off the Bench!

Things have been really hot around here! OK, so it's been the hottest summer in years, but I'm talking about the bench work going on at the Silver Vine! I haven't come up with so many new things in ages!! What a great feeling.

My current inspiration are some eucalyptus leaf skeletons I bumped into in a local shop some time ago. They have been living in the back of my mind for a long time, so I went to buy them. It turns out they haven't sold these for five years!! I guess I have a better memory than I thought. Well, they were great, ad gave me some tips to hunt them down. i finally got the chance to play, and here are the results!

I am in love with this pendant. As soon as I get the chance to make some more, I think one will get to become mine! I want to make these in all different sizes. They are just too much fun!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Great Vacation, Great Book!

We just got back from a great time on vacation at Rehoboth Beach, DE. What a great place to relax! It’s good for singles, but great for families. We always have a wonderful time. We lay on the beach all day, sunning and wave jumping, out past the breakers. I love to jog on the beach, and then go into the ocean for a cool-off swim. We love to park our car and not move it for 5 days! There are so many places to eat and shop, and the alleys between streets are filled with lovely flowers, great shops and cafes, and even water bowls for the ever-present pups. You can rent bicycles and pedal to other nearby beach communities, too. Each one has a different ‘flavor’, and they are all good!

There are and lots and lots of galleries and craft shops, and - you guessed it – endless hand-crafted jewelry to see and enjoy! That’s always part of my exploration when I go on vacation. At Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Ave, I picked up a great new book that I recommend highly; Joanna Gollberg’s The Ultimate Jeweler’s guide – The Illustrated Reference of Techniques, Tools, and Materials. I thought it was the perfect souvenir for my vacation. I love Gollberg’s books. They are always chock full of great color photos, and packed with lots of information. This one covers all the basic details and specs of precious and base metals, solders, and even mining ethics, then moves on to a wide selection of basic tools, full of great photos and info about ways to use them, and even how to make some of your own. She continues through all of the basic jewelry-making techniques, from cold-connections through fabrication, forming, texturing, stone setting, and finishing. This book is just perfect for beginners and still full of info for the experienced metal worker. I learned a lot just from a quick skim, and I think my jewelry students will love it! It’s an easy book to browse through and read, and with its spiral spine, it will stay open on your bench while you follow the techniques. I think this one’s destined to be a classic, second only to Tim McCreight’s Complete Metalsmith.

Well, I'm back now, and YEOW!! I can’t work in this mess. Mess-clearing has been my summer, but that's another story. It’s time to clean off my bench, and get some making done!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wholesale and Retail and Dares - Oh My!

In my seemingly endless quest to find ways to make an income through jewelry, I have decided to do something that feels inherently daring to me, and investigate wholesale venues!

I have been thinking about wholesale for a very long time. I had a great catch-up call with an old friend recently, and conversation turned to her store, a wonderful herb shop in southern California called In Harmony Herbs and Spices. It’s in Ocean Beach, San Diego, for any of you who have the opportunity to visit. Jodi is amazing, so completely knowledgeable, and she works so hard to make her shop a place her customers love to visit. She has been carrying jewelry for some time, and we soon began to plan what kind of jewelry I might make for her shop. Whew! This feels a lot less daring to me. What a great way for me to keep in touch with a good friend, and ease into wholesale jewelry at the same time!

This brings up so many different questions. Are my retail prices in line with my making a profit at wholesale prices? What kinds of pieces do I begin with? Which of my pieces lend themselves to the kind of production work that would be necessary for establishing standard pieces, sizes and prices? Because the shop owner is my friend, I am even more motivated for this collaboration to work out well. I find myself asking, can I squeeze my prices a little lower to make them more affordable for both wholesale and retail buyers? Can I streamline any of my production methods to decrease time, and create lower prices that way? Wholesale really causes a person to evaluate their work and practices differently!

We settled on starting out with a few different earring designs. I plan to start wholesaling with one line, keep things flexible, adjust, and add lines as I go. Will I really dare wholesale? I sure plan to - next stop, some earring designs to go!

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's been a while!

Feb 14 2010,Happy Valentine’s Day!

I can’t believe how long it has been since I have posted last! I guess I haven’t figured out how to fit blogging into my regular schedule. A year seems like a long hiatus, no? But it’s been a good year, full of many happy things, and lots of jewelry fun and sales.

I love teaching metalsmith classes at the Garden of Beadin in Bartonsville, PA, and classes are going strong. I like it so much that I have been dreaming of finding new places to teach. Maybe something will turn up soon. I had begun teaching classes at a wonderful new shop (for me), My Father’s Beads, In Coopersburg, PA. Sadly for me, they are closing soon. I will miss the owner, Jeri, and the people I was beginning to meet and know there.

Here are some samples I made in a great workshop I took last fall, with Janna Gregonis. Steeling Kisses is an example of the Korean art of Po Mak San Dum. First, make a nice sharp chisel. Then, chisel an intricate pattern in steel sheet. Finally, hammer in some metal foil. Anything from 24K gold foil to colored candy foil will do. That’s how Steeling Kisses got its name: Mild steel combined with Hershey’s Kiss foil! (Extra perk – you get to eat the kisses.) Here, another pair of earrings for a friend’s gift, this time with 24K gold foil.

Below, some Keum bu earrings from the same weekend, 24 K gold foil heat bonded to sterling silver. Janna taught keum bu with both a hot plate and a torch. I have done keum bu before with a hot plate, but I didn’t want to have to buy and store yet one more piece of equipment. I just loved learning how to do keum bu with a torch! It was right up my alley, and helped avoid a case of hot-hand. Now, if only the cost of 2 K gold foil would drop. Ha!