Saturday, October 5, 2013

Coming full circle...

Last weekend I had the pleasure to attend the ArtBLISS retreat for the fourth time! (Four of four - I haven't missed one...) The weekend for me is a chance to replenish, renew, and feel reinvigorated. I try to select classes that will challenge me and inform my body of work. This year I was taking "Three Ring Circus" with Richard Salley and Jessica Jordan; two of the three days of ring classes if not all three. I have worked with Richard before; having met him over 10 years ago at The Shepherdess in San Diego. (Any chance I could get, actually...) and I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica online and recently, briefly, at Beadfest. I knew the weekend was going to be great - but ... 

Spinner band textured and soldered. Day 1. 

I have a tendency to drop into conversation that I studied metal smithing in art school. It was one of my areas of concentration. Like I am name dropping someone famous... while I feel that was crucial to my development as a designer, to creating my sense of self as an artist... I haven't soldered since. Yes, you read that right. 

Bezel soldering demo. Richard in motion. Day 3. 

Why not? When I learned, torches were attached to large tanks, chained to the tables in the studio. Propane. Oxy-acetalyne. I learned all the basics, and love sawing to this day. But the large tank set up wasn't applicable, or acceptable to apartment living after college. And now, 20+ years later, the technology has changed so, making the tools readily available and safe for the home studio. Where to begin? What to buy? Add to that a love of cold connections, the challenges inherent in problem solving the right way to attach and integrate pieces together. Sans glue, of course. Glue is a four letter word. So I can explain away the absence of soldering in my life. 

Enameled focal, bezel, sterling ring shank. Day 3. 
Needless to say this weekend was all about the soldering.
Bezel soldered. Ready to design and saw. Day 3. 

Test fit of enamel. Tube setting in place. Day 3. 

Day 3. Final pieces. 
The classes were a huge success. Student left with 2-3 spinner rings Friday. They were all diverse, and proudly worn. Sunday was triumphant as well - new friendships formed, assistance lent as needed... and the magic happened. Rings adorned dirty fingers, pendants planned for future necklaces.

Top row right - purple and green ring by AJE teammate Melissa Meman

I felt excited, exuberant, giddy even. I was rejoicing - strong word, I know - at being at the torch again. Becoming comfortable with this or that, remembering and accessing long filed away information. It wasn't until the ride home that it hit me even harder. (The ride home is always bittersweet and a bit sad. After a weekend of camaraderie and creating it can be deflating to head home to the mundane. Knowing you won't see these friends in person for a while...)

I got a little emotional, I will admit - to have back what I had thought was gone. Maybe it was not  gone, but not currently accessible. This may not make sense to everyone - if you recently learned _____  ( you fill in the blank ) skill and enjoy practicing it and continuing to learn - that is very different from reawakening a passion. My classmates were happy with their class, their acquired knowledge, the experience, and their pieces. SO was I - but it was deeper than that. It felt like a part of me that I had lost was returned.

But - enough philosophy! I have an order to place, and pieces to sketch... its an interesting journey. As I pick up seed beads to do a bead embroidery piece I am ordering solder and CZ's. Wishing you all a day with joyful contrasts and rejuvenation!



  1. What a beautiful post! I am so happy for you and can hardly wait to see what comes from your time at Art Bliss. Gorgeous rings!

  2. I got a little choked up reading this one. Awakening is so emotional. I am happy for you!

  3. It is indeed a beautiful and unique ring. I never see such ring shape anywhere. Hats off dear.


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