Beadfest Texas! WooHoo

I’ve been teaching a long time.  A quarter of a century (!) seems to have passed in no time.  Some classes have been great, some not so great.  But October in Texas is such a glorious time of year that I knew these classes would be special.  The drive in from Denver is always a grueling drive when  I leave at 4 AM, and drive down Hwy 287, through all those Texas towns.  And to make matters worse, this was Texas-OU week-end, plus the opening of the Texas State Fair,  the week-end for the big Cottonwood Art Festival, and the Intergem show, plus a Rangers game.  So no wonder I spent 30 minutes driving around  in the new Cowboy Stadium parking lot, which was packed with overflow cars.  I could see the Sheraton, I just couldn’t drive to it!  But the days of packing, planning, making copies, ordering tools, supplies, etc  were through, and I was so pleased I remembered everything.  I was feeling quite good, thank you very much.  I met my dear friend Jane from Fairplay, who now lives back home in Pauls Valley, OK. She was my “roadie”.  We had some dinner Friday night and got to bed early, I was prepared for a good day of classes, and Jane planned a day of lounging by the pool.

At 4 AM I sat straight up in bed.  OMG!  I had forgotten the strikers for the torches!  Where would I get strikers at 8:30 in the morning for class?  Oh, man!  How could I be such an idiot! So I gnashed my teeth over that for a while, until I got to Beadfest, and I should have known, my sister Texans would come to my rescue. (The phrase, “Don’t Mess With Texas Women” comes to mind.)  Wild Beads has become my favorite bead store in the world!  They had a booth at the vendor section of  Beadfest,.  They must have seen the panic in my eyes, and they asked the owner, Beverly, bring me three strikers. They let me use their workshop strikers. Thank you so much.  You saved me from tool disgrace!

I knew from the moment people started arriving, it would be a good class.  We were in a tiny room, all 20 of us, ready to learn sawing, filing, and soldering.  The seed beaders had huge rooms.   But we made it work.  (They’ve promised me a larger room next year.) I had the joy of re-acquainting myself with Joanie, one of my favorite students from Big D who took my class in Santa Fe.  We later had dinner at Papadeaux’s (yum) and we will meet again for Santa Fe Beadfest on my birthday in March.  This was a great class, they laughed at my jokes and I got to laugh at Bruce and Kathryn’s “matching luggage”–all their tools, like mine, were packed in the same matching green plastic boxes.  What exquisite taste we have.  The day went fine, and I enjoyed teaching people who don’t make fun of my Texas accent–which got a bit broader as the day progressed.

The students made my signature triangle earrings.  Because I use no electricity when making jewelry,  I introduced them to a tool that has been around for centuries, the old bow drill.

The Egyptians built the pyramids using a drill very much like this, and it’s what we use when I’m teaching in South America.  It’s a bit tricky, and the drill bit broke a few times, but those who got the centrifugal force going really enjoyed it. During the afternoon we  got into “The Joy of Soldering”, and everyone made 3 stacking rings and saw how easy my soldering technique is to learn.

I loved getting the hugs as we parted and want to keep in touch with all of you. I want to say a special hello to Janna from Thrall.  Your smile lights up a room!

I was most impressed with Tony, (pictured) who took the class because his wife was taking another class at the same time, but wanted to learn soldering techniques, so mucho kudos to Tony!  You certainly deserve the Golden Torch Award.  And to Kathryn (pictured with Tony) and Bruce, you were so much fun.  And I can’t forget a big “Thank you” to Tom who gave me some great flush cutters.  They are very appreciated.

After dinner with Joanie, Jane and I went to sleep tired, but happy.

Sunday was another great day.  I snuck away during the lunch break to buy some Gary B. Wilson stones from Gary’s daughter Jesse and future son in law, Spencer. I got some great shapes in petrified turtle shell, which I’ll pair with fossil palm and red jasper, and maybe dino doodoo.   In this class I met more wonderful women, especially Jude and Monette, who we later shared Sunday breakfast with. J, you are my inspiration.  And Glory, no one works that Egyptian drill better than you.  Laura, I love being your friend on Facebook!  Thanks for “Friending” me.  And a special thanks to Patty for  dinner at Gloria’s.  What a cool place!

And mostly, Jane, I can’t thank you enough.  I couldn’t have gotten everything moved without your help.  And thanks for making me stop now and then and laugh.  I love you!

Then it was off to Easter Island, (called Isla de Pascua or in the native tongue, Rapa Nui.)  The Navel of the World is indeed a long, long way away.  Though I was hoping to find some nice beads, I did purchase some unique shell  necklaces, the kind worn by the islanders for the last 400  years. I will hang those with my personal beads, those I can’t part with from the 4 corners of the world.  Rapa Nui is amazing, and the moai are haunting.


The Moai at Anakena

On the way back from Chile, it was announced that the drill had broken through to free the Chilean miners.  God bless those brave men and their families.  My husband is a metallurgical engineer, and I understand their plight so well.

Upon landing, its rush-rush now to get ready for the Denver Botanic Gardens, Jewelry Show.  Twenty eight of us will be showing our jewelry.  Our artists, including the  famed Harold O’Connor, are all very talented and every one is totally different.  Please join us this coming Saturday and Sunday at the Denver Botanic Gardens, from 9-5. You will be amazed at the talent in Colorado.

Thank you everyone in Texas for two of the most wonderful classes I’ve ever had, and I will always remember your eagerness and enthusiasm (and matching “luggage”) and keep these memories in my heart. It was good to be back home in Texas for a few days..  Please keep in touch, as each and every one of you is forever my friend. Email me!

Hugs,

Lexi

What a Week!

Whew!  This past week has been such a whirlwind of activity.  Though I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of  this time of year, it’s good now to sit back and relax for a few weeks before beginning another big adventure.

First, last week-end was the Castle Rock Artfest, in the neighboring town of Castle Rock, CO.  I had visited this show for many years, and the quality of the work was amazing. There are 175+ excellent artists in the show.   I always found many things that inspired me, and always made at least one large purchase.  This year I decided to apply.  I made it.  I was thrilled.

Saturday was a good day, and I made several large sales. Kathleen and Dan Krucoff came to visit and offer best wishes, and I saw several other friends and former students.  But about 3:30 the sky opened up and it poured, the wind started, and the temperature dropped to about 47 degrees. We all closed up at 5:00.  I came home and filled the bath with the hottest water available, and while my body thawed, I contemplated if I would ever do another show.

Sunday dawned beautifully.  Another day in Paradise.  About 10:30 the entourage of judges walked down my aisle, and stopped and told me they were glad I had participated in the show.  As I was responding what an honor it was to be in the show, one of the judges pulled out a “Best of Fine Crafts” ribbon, presented it to me,  and proceeded to say the nicest things to me.  Everyone applauded.    I WAS IN SHOCK! Then she handed me a check, too.  I was speechless.  I’m not often speechless.   This is the first big show I’ve done in over 10 years. You would have been so proud of me when the radio station interviewed me and I couldn’t remember where I live!  Am I suave and sophisticated or what?  But I cannot  express what a thrill it is to hang a ribbon like that over your work.  My things are very different, totally one of a kind, and all hand done.  My inspirations, as you have read on my website, are my adventures and travels during my years in archaeology. My pieces are not beautifully carved stones with diamonds, gold and platinum. (In fact, at the Philadelphia Buyer’s Market of American Craft, what we call “The Rosen Show”, one lady actually looked at my stuff and said “Yuck!”)  There were many wonderful jewelers at Castle Rock.   Not only this, the glass, wood, and ceramics  artists had fabulous pieces, both in design and craftsmanship.  There were so many outstanding artists, and I congratulate each of them, also.  Their work is inspiring and beautiful.   I am deeply, deeply honored the judges chose my work.  I thank you each from the bottom of my heart. What a feeling!!!  I’m already scoping out shows for next year.

So I guess what I say to you all is “Go For It”!!!  You don’t know what the judges will be looking for.  Work from the heart, do what you love. And most of all, don’t compare your work to anyone else’s.  As Julia Cameron says in “The Artist’s Way”, “Leap and a net will appear”.

The next day, Monday started the Denver Gem and Mineral show. WOW!  Sensory overload. This show takes up 2 hotels lobbies and ballrooms (plus 3 stories of show rooms on each floor),  circus tents in the surrounding parking lots, the enormous Merchandise Mart and Annex, the Denver Western Stock Show Complex, and another hotel out at the airport. I try to do some pre-show appointments because its easier to buy on a one-on-one basis than on the showroom floor. I bought almost exclusively from the 4 cutters I previously mentioned. This year I added Greg King, from Taos , NM to my list of cutters.  I bought from him years ago, and still buy from him when I go to Taos Gem and Mineral. He had gorgeous ocean jasper and dino bone.

After so many years of walking this show, I know just about where everything is, and it takes days to see all of it.  I walked the entire show this year, partly to see if anything was new.  Also, if my students asked where anything was, I could point them in the right direction.  Believe me, when all my friends and students arrive, and we go to the show together, it’s like herding cats. For us, it’s a huge social event…running into friends we haven’t seen for a year, standing the aisles, our arms around each other, sharing what we’ve bought, ohhhing and ahhhing, moving on 3 feet away and seeing another group of friends, sharing,…you get the picture.

Mark and Christa Lasater  (The Clamshell) had the most fantastic chrysacolla I’ve ever seen.  Ka-ching. And gorgous amethyst sage. Ka-ching. Of course Gary B.Wilson had some neat new jaspers.  As I’ve never met a  jasper I didn’t like, I bought several.  (Several????) He has a Cobra Jasper that is orange and yellow…fabulous. More Ka-ching. These two cutters are real artists in stone, they never fail to amaze me.  Their stuff really melts my solder!

There was a lot of shiny stuff from Asia, pre-made jewelry, African beads,  rare trilobites with all these tendrils in matrix, ammonites, mammoth tusks, gold nuggets, emeralds, cool tools, and many things I cannot afford.  Something for everyone. Lots of vendors had some fabulous new dark red beads, that when the light shines on them, they look like red velvet,  Fabulous. Ka-Ching. The fun was hanging with my friends and students, the Lapidary Journal staff and writers, and Colorado Metalsmithing Assoc. friends, both during the show and after.  My friends and I got to bed each night between 2 and 3 AM, and the alarm went off at 6 to start again.  Thank goodness the week is over!

Please consider joining us next year, or if you can do it earlier, try for March, 2010,  for Beadfest in Santa Fe. I’ll be there, just in case I have left one stone unturned!

I’m off to take a nap.

Lexi

Thank you, everyone, for the wonderful welcome.  I’ve had a great time reading your responses.  I’m still learning how to do this, not being a  computer oriented person, but again, Kathleen has been wonderful. If you ever get to meet her in person, your life will be greatly enriched.  Those of you wanting to learn to solder, I  hope we will be able to help you.  If you live in or visit the Southwest US, I’ll be teaching soldering at the Lapidary Journal’s Jewelry Artist Beadfest in Santa Fe in March.  Please come join us.

We’re getting ready for the Denver Gem and Mineral show right now.  It’s the 2nd largest gem show in the US, right after Tucson.  In some ways, it’s better.  The Tucson show is HUGE.  It has megatons of rough stone, if you are interested in cutting your stones yourself, and lots of the Big 4, (diamonds, rubys, emeralds, and sapphires).  But the Denver show has more cabochons, and the top cab cutters in the world are here.  My favorites are Gary B. Wilson, Mark Lasater from The Clam Shell, Joe Jelks from Horizon Mineral and Michael Hendricks from Minarex.  If you follow my work in Lapidary Journal’s Jewelry Artist magazine, almost all my stones come from these 4 cutters because their quality is the best and their designs are easy to work with.  They have fabulous stones,  some hard to find things, and the unusual…like a sliced cue ball that makes a cool necklace, or reflectors from an old inventory of 1930’s tricycles. (giggle)

As you look for stones,  you may find a beautiful specimen, and you may be swept off your feet with the colors and patterns in the piece.  You may not think about the actual shape of the stone.  Later, in your studio, when you get ready to design with it, you find  it’s difficult and bulky to design around.  These guys cut stones with us, the artists, in mind.

When you go to pick out a stone, think about these things:

1.  If you only buy stones you fall madly in love with, you will never sell those stones.  (And how would I know this?)  If you can, purchase 2 of them, one for you and one to sell.  This works for beads, too.

2.  Don’t forget to buy small stones, even though they may not knock your socks off, you need small accent stones, especially if you are working at 3 AM and realize you suddenly need a 4mm black onyx to finish the piece.  Have a small supply on hand, always.

3.  Make sure the stone is flat on the bottom if you are doing a cabochon set.  Stones with a curved bottom will never set right..

4.  If you are a beginning stone setter, stick with rounds and ovals.  Squares will take more practice.  Those with very sharp points, though beautiful, will be difficult, and you may break off the point.  Save those for when you are more advanced at bezelling.

5.  Don’t shy away from large stones.  They make stunning focal pieces, usually worn up high on a simple neck wire or omega chain.  Watch what is being worn by the women news announcers on TV. They only have a small area in which to show jewelry, and its usually a gorgeous necklace that just shows under a collar.

6.  You may have your own organizational techniques, but I put my stones in Riker boxes, the glass topped flat boxes, and group them according to the cutter.  That way, if I need another Chinese Writing Stone, like I recently did, you have them grouped with all those from the same cutter, so you can call him and ask for more.  The quality and the finish will be consistent with others you have.

I hope these ideas have helped you with stone selections, and hope you get to go to some fabulous gem shows and find treasures.  If I learn how to post photos I’ll send pics of the Denver Show.  Kelly Bly is flying out from PA.  She’s one of my students from PA, and still flies out to have fun and deplete her checking account. Several writers from Lapidary Journal are coming.  We will all meet and share our goodies,  have a cold adult beverage, “ooooh and ahhhh” over each other’s finds, and then rush off to buy more.   So this is an open invitation to you all to come visit the Denver show.  There are 8 different locations in north Denver, and shuttles between venues.

And if we’re standing at The Clamshell, fighting over the same stone, tell me who you are.  I’ll be happy to let you add it to your collection.

Lexi