Bead Fest Summer 2016 Jewelry Making Wrap Up, Part 1: What I Learned, What I Made, What I Bought!

I’m finally back to nearly normal after having oh-so-much-fun at the most fun jewelry -making event, Bead Fest Summer, a couple of weeks ago. I took two jewelry making classes, spent a couple of days walking the show floor seeing what’s new in jewelry making supplies (and shopping, of course), and got to catch up with dear friends every day. Now we’re already planning some special activities for Bead Fest Fall in Tacoma this October–but first, I have to tell you about Bead Fest Summer!

how to make metal clay tiny house charms

Metal Clay Jewelry Making: Creating Tiny Cottage and Birdhouse Pendants

I arrived a day early to take a metal clay class with the lovely Sulie Girardi. Sulie was a perfect teacher; she shared her tiny metal clay cottage samples, some helpful technique pointers, and advice for using her templates or creating our own–and then she let us run free! For the rest of the day, the other students and I drew templates and used them to cut out walls and a roof; we made window panes, flower boxes, textured walls, roof shingles, and tiny birds; and then after every tiny little detail was done, we left our tiny houses in Sulie’s care for firing. I couldn’t wait to pick up my tiny cottage and round birdhouse the next day.

making a tiny metal clay house

Even though I had two shingle tragedies during finishing and had attached other precarious bits like a bird on a perch, tiny window panes, a window box of flowers, and a swirly chimney, I was relieved and thrilled to learn that they all made it! I worked hard to repair my two broken scalloped shingles, and it paid off. We used FYI silver clay (along with ArtClay Silver syringe for “spackle” and “glue”), which has a higher shrinkage rate that worked in our favor, making our tiny cottage details even tinier after firing. I went off-instructions a bit in the order I constructed my house, but it worked out.

separation enamel wings by Kieu Pham Gray

Kieu’s separation enamel wings

Torch-Fired Enameling Special Effects: Using Separation Enamel

On Friday, I had a half-day separation enamel class with Kieu Pham Gray, which I had to take after seeing her separation enamel jewelry making project in the August/September 2016 issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine. I’ve known Kieu for awhile but never had a class with her before; lucky me, I finally had the opportunity.She’s so funny, energetic, and knowledgeable. After she showed us the various steps involved in using separation enamel, we all set to work on our samples.

separation enamel before and after

separation enameling, before and after

Separation enameling is definitely not hard to do, it just has a lot of steps that need to be followed in proper order. But as with most jewelry-making techniques, once you’ve learned the proper way to do it, you can experiment to see “what happens if . . . ” and create your own effects.

In addition to learning how to create fun separation enamel patterns, I also learned something important about micro torches: I want yet another torch. We used both the small, handheld kitchen-style butane torches that I have and sometimes use in my studio for jewelry making, which I’ve always been fine with. But we also used canisters of butane with a larger torch head simply screwed onto the can, and wow. It made a huge difference during some of the lengthier enameling steps, like the long firing required at the end of separation enameling. I know you will agree that there’s nothing wrong with having four torches for jewelry making, right? You are my people.

trick to improve sifting enamel

Here’s another enameling tip. The student beside me kindly shared this simple pointer for sifting enamels onto metal without ruining the edges when you pick it up. Just place your metal on open pliers or something similar, depending on what’s at hand) to give it a bit of height and make it easy to lift from underneath. So simple, so smart!

metal stamping tools and supplies

Metal Stamped Jewelry Making: Custom Metal Stamps and Metal Stamping with Danny Wade

I was thrilled to finally meet Danny Wade and Gabriel Lopez from Ferro Valley Tools (and the Metal Stamp Addicts group on Facebook) and to get more of their handmade metal stamps and a repoussé stamp set. I also got one of my favorite items at the show, a cool Metalsmithium apron to wear in the studio. I loved it so much, I wore it in my class on Friday and then all over the show floor that afternoon!

Metalsmithium apron from Danny Wade and Ferro Valley Tools

Fortunately for them, the Ferro Valley Tools booth was busy every time I stopped by, but on Sunday, Danny had time to give me and our COO Joe Seibert a metal stamping demo. Joe liked it so much, he made a cool metal stamped cuff bracelet and took home some metal stamp sets. Add one to the ranks of jewelry makers!

metal stamping

I wish all of you could’ve been there to learn and have fun along with me. If you didn’t make it–or even if you did–and are itching to learn some of these¬†jewelry making techniques and others, take advantage of our Labor of Love sale for Labor Day weekend and save 30% on hundreds of jewelry making books, videos, and other resources. Prices are marked, no coupon code needed! But hurry, the Labor of Love Sale in the Jewelry Making Daily Shop ends tonight!

miniature Fretz hammer pendantI packed so much fun into four days at Bead Fest, but I couldn’t fit it all into one blog–so check back later this month for part two! I’ll show you all the jewelry making tools, supplies, gemstones and more that I bought and new stuff I discovered at the show–plus how you can get one of these adorable Fretz hammer pendants!

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