Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ISGB Glass Retreat 2011

This past weekend, I was thrilled to attend the annual local ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) retreat at Frantz Art Glass in Shelton, WA. I love to go every year to recharge the old creative batteries by watching great new demos, working on small project techniques, and socializing and making new friends with 30 to 40 fellow beadmakers from around my area.

To start off the first morning, Felicia Wartnik demonstrated how to work with enamels to create several different cool effects on the surface of our beads. Now I finally know what to do with that big sample kit I bought two years ago and never touched! LOL

Next, Jennifer Millsap taught us the traditional pearl knotting technique and we all got to create bracelets using our own beads. I didn't finish mine since I didn't have quite enough tiny spacer beads to get the length I needed, but it was still fun to learn and I'm sure I'll be using this method more often, especially since I love to use pearls so much in my work!

Then several of us hit the Frantz Art Glass store and did some serious damage to the credit cards (well, at least I know *I* did!) I brought home over 16 pounds of glass and now have the daunting task of putting labels on each rod before I can add them to my already huge glass stash in my studio. Definitely not something I look forward to when all I want to do it run out to make beads after being inspired all weekend!

After a delicious lunch, my dear friend Judith Billig showed us three ways to use shards, which are paper thin wafers of glass created by blowing large bubbles of molten glass and breaking them into pieces when they've cooled. We can only hope to make beads as lovely as hers though, even if she did make it look easy!

At the end of the day, we learned how to do the Viking Knit technique from Stacy Frost and Ellen Harbison, which is a cool way to knit thin wire into a thicker, three-dimensional rope. At first, I didn't really care for the process, as it was somewhat tedious and confusing—but once I got the hang of it, I decided it was worth the effort to achieve the stunning results. I can't wait to try this using sterling silver wire and adding some of my beads to it!

After eating dinner together, we all left to go to our hotels for the night (and practice our Viking Knit homework). I roomed with Judith and Ann Chambers in a quiet little hotel right next to the water…

Judith, Ann and Me (aka "Stuffed Chipmunk Cheeks")

This is such a flattering photo of me, I think I'll have it enlarged… NOT!! Why I always end up smiling so big that my face looks twice as large, I'll never know! *sigh* I also didn't realize until I went through my photos that we look like we color coordinated ourselves to go together with the solid jewel tones and shades of black too? LOL

The next day, after singing a rousing chorus of "Good Morning" from the movie musical "Singing in the Rain" to help wake Judith up (which she didn't seem to appreciate nearly as much as my girls do on trips?), we met up with friends for breakfast, then headed back out to Frantz. First, we watched a demo from Jed of Double Helix to learn about the common ways people mess up their beads or don't get the results they want when using silver laden glass. I definitely had a couple of "ah-hah!" moments from this one!

Then Kathy Johnson showed us how to make her darling little Westie dog and pony beads using sculptural techniques. I've been dreaming of making horse beads for over two years and now I'm really looking forward to trying my hand at one:

After lunch, there was a bit more last minute shopping, much ooohing and aaahing over each other's beads, learning how to finish up our Viking Knit chain, and a fun bead exchange. Then it was time to sadly say our goodbyes and head back our homes. Lucky for me, my friend Lara Lutrick gave me a ride to and from this event, so all I needed to worry about were the masses of Scottish Brush growing along the highway that were causing my eyes to water and itch like crazy. :-o

Allergies aside, it was another wonderful retreat experience where I got to learn a ton of fun new things, practice some new skills, reconnect with old friends, and make several new ones—all thanks to the awesome efforts of Laura Bowker and her crew of Merry Beaders… I can't wait to go back and do it all over again next year!

But for now, would anyone like to come over and help me put on my glass labels??? I have plenty of chocolate to keep the energy levels up! *Ü*


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