Thursday, June 18, 2009

Freeze Frame

“You learn something every day if you pay attention.” ~Ray LeBlond

The first time I attended the Bead & Button show was in 2008. I only had a few days and so much money to play with, so I opted to spend my time on a two day class. This year I knew that I couldn’t miss out on the World’s Largest Bead Expo, but the classes were still the main draw. So I loaded up my plate with four classes in 48 hours with just a few moments to spare in the shopping.

Since they say that you will have a hard time getting past the first row in the Bead Expo, I knew that the classes would be the wisest way to spend my money. I was not disappointed.

First up on my agenda was a 6 hour class called “Frame It” by the wonderful Tracy Stanley of Wired Arts . (She does teach this at other venues around the country, and I highly encourage you to take one of her classes!) Since I had done some work the previous year with Susan Lenart Kazmer on metals and resins, I thought that I would expand on those skills. The description for “Frame It” is this: Using metal stamping, sawing, and riveting, you will make your own personalized framed necklace. This is your chance to use those special pictures to create a piece of jewelry that will say it all.

I have a healthy fear of tools. I did not grow up using them. But they fascinate me. So I was a bit daunted by a supply list that read like the inventory of a really specialized hardware store…bench block, jeweler’s saw, bur life, two-hole punch, various hammers, etc. That meant I had to shop before I even got there (woohoo!)! But I now have the tools and the know-how to do all that we did and more.

Here is a look at the tools that I used for this project.
I got to hammer and use shears to shape the metal. Then I had to break out my new jewelers’ saw to carefully cut the center out. Oops! I only broke one blade! Pretty good for a novice…just don’t ask me to cut a straight line. Rustic is in, right?

Did I mention how cool the tools were that we used? We were told to bring various sized letters to stamp words and quotes on the piece, and also design stamps to decorate. We had the use of stamps from Beaducation that had some nifty effects. For my extravagant purchase (did I mention that I have no filters when it comes to shopping?), Tracy sold me a Fretz texturizing hammer (okay, so she didn’t need to twist my arm that hard…I snapped up the last one she had before anyone else could get it!). It was completely an impulse buy and very pricey, but it stamps an image that looks like raw silk onto the metal…let’s just say that I won’t need another texturizing hammer for the rest of my life! (But those Fretz hammers are just the best!)

And we punched holes in the metal with this nifty little device. You just put the metal to be punched in one side or the other depending on the hole size desired, and start twisting. Voila! Practically perfect hole straight through! (I'm probably telling you about a tool you already know, but I thought it was magically delightful especially since I thought I had to buy a drill to do what this little screw punch did!)

After cutting, sawing, stamping, designing, punching, patina-ing and riveting, my little piece was complete. (Of course, not before I stamped a few letters backwards and upside down…on my specially purchased silver sheet no less! Good, if pricey lesson to be learned!) I had a ton of fun in the class and it inspired me to set myself up so make it my own for future projects. In fact, I already have two custom jewelry orders that will utilize these new techniques.

And here are my mostly finished pieces…still works in progress, but you get the idea… (The flower frame says, “My Time To Bloom” and the egg frame-in-progress says, “Hatch Your Very Best Self.”)
The thing about taking classes wherever you can find them is that you get to meet the nicest people. Tracy Stanley was a very cool teacher…knowledgeable, approachable and just plain fun. She was encouraging and exciting to be around. And the people in the class were instantly bonded by being there and so willing to share tools and tips and talents. If you have a chance to go to Bead & Button you are missing out if you just come for the beads. There are over 500 of them that week and so many more at venues near you. Take a class! (And buy some cool new tools!) You won’t regret it!

What class or technique would you love to learn if both money and time were no object?

Erin Prais-Hintz designs one-of-a-kind jewelry for her company Tesori Trovati, Italian for “treasures found.” She is excited to use the new-found knowledge to expand her designing repertoire. You can read more of her inspirations at see more of her designs at or read more about her creative process at Enjoy the day!


mairedodd said...

i am in awe! what a wonderful class and thank you for sharing the process with words and pictures... the expo must be incredible... these pieces will surely help you to meet your goal of being in a periodical a month... best luck to a very talented woman...

Rosanne said...

Looks like a great class you picked. I love metals, and some things I am having to learn on my own. But the class I had took with Mary Hettsmanberger was so good. (I hope I spelled her name right). It does take a whole new set of tools, but lucky me I raid my husband's tools.
If I had unlimited funds I would take PMC classes...and some chainmail, and a Viking knit...I have a long list.
You're pendants turned out great.

Alice said...

I am so jealous of anyone going to the Bead & Button shows! I am also jealous of those who get to take classes. My little budget does not this time. But if I could, I would like to learn all I can about metal including cold connections, soldering, and all everything in between!

Your pendants are gorgeous!

Jeannie said...

Erin, your finished pieces are beautiful and so is all your work. Each piece seems to tell a story.
I agree taking a class really helps when you're in a designer rut. Sometimes the people taking the class are just as inspiring as the class.
New Tools? I can always use some cool, new tools.

Dale said...

Wow! I am fascinated by all these tools you are using here! I absolutely love the idea of the fabulous letter stamps for metal... sounds beautiful, and a great way to personalize a project. These necklaces do look quite fantastic.

As for myself, if i could take a class, i'd love to learn to make more steampunk style jewelry... i'm fascinated by the concept of the intersting combination of victorian/industrial/futuristic. That, or a class by Susan Lennart Kazmer. I've never taken a class before, and i'm kinda far away now, but i will take one one day...

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

Love what you made! Sounds like you had an excellent time too. If time and money were no object, I would add glass bead making and precious metal clay, to what I know about polymer clay. It would be a nice combination!