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.

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