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This past weekend I spent in Oakland, California at a jewelers' retreat called Bay Area Bead Extravaganza, or BABE for short. It's a real treat to go to one of these as you're surrounded by creativity, positive energy and joy. Spending time with like-minded individuals is relaxing and inspiring at the same time. Learning something new is always something that gets me up and to also have the chance to shop in a vendor hall filled with a myriad of tools, stones and beads... well, you can imagine the high we were all on! (And it was not from the residual pot smoke that infiltrated every hallway of the hotel by Sunday! Not from the same group of guests, mind you... I think!)


Friday I had the good fortune to take another class with Kelly Russell. She's an experimenter and one of the innovators of new techniques, especially in the metal clays. I love her design aesthetic and have several of her beads as focal points in necklaces I wear. She's also generous with her knowledge and comfortable to have as a workshop teacher. This class was the reverse of the class I'd take from her previously, 2 years ago. Instead of porcelain on silver clay, we were putting silver clay on porcelain.

Photo above is the before, these below are the after.
Practice, as with anything, will be in order after I get my new kiln that will also do porcelain! I've got some ideas to try...
Next, on Saturday, I had the fortune to take a class from fellow Washingtonian, Janice Berkebile. I met her in Tacoma this past summer when I was drawn into her classroom by one of her students that I'd met in the hallway. (Retreats are like that, you make lots of friends even with folks you meet during breaks!) I liked Janice's sunny vibe and her work in metals a lot. When I saw she was teaching a class that included some repousse, a technique I'd been wanting to try, I jumped on it. We all shared a lot of laughter, stories about our past and present dogs and walked out with beautiful nature-inspired pendants of pods and leaves. We started with raw materials of wire in bronze, copper and silver, and some copper sheet.
10AM Sunday morning wouldn't come fast enough! That was the time I set aside to shop. I have some favorite vendors that come every year, including Gary Wilson, that I always stop by to see what's new. His lapidary work is amazing and I think he must have an in on keeping all the best stones. They're all beautiful. I like to daydream that I have his display in my studio and can look at them at any time and be inspired. Don't feel sorry for me though, I have some great stones from him. Below are just a few:
Fossil Rock with Flabellum - I see rockets amongst the creatures...
-more of that fossilized coral that I love - this time carved
-a baby geode, just because I love surprises and who would've thought to open such a tiny rock the size of a quarter!

"Leland Blue Antique Slag" - result of slag from an iron ore factory near Leland; such a pretty blue

I found a new lampwork vendor that is making cabochons that I couldn't resist for seedbead work. Pam, one of the sisters behind Bondi Beads, and I shared tips on working with cabachons and seedbeads. I had to buy one of her lavender cabs due to our proximity to Sequim, that is the lavender capital of North America. as well as one of her grape cabs that looked sweet and old-fashioned to me. Something new to try instead of just my stone cabs.

It was a great weekend out of my studio which can feel pretty quiet sometimes. I work best that way, but it's nice to get out and mingle with the artists one admires and shop for new unique materials.


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