Monthly Archives: March 2010

BeadFest Final Thoughts…

Hi Everyone–I believe my life is so blessed.  I have the joy of doing my jewelry, teaching and traveling with friends.  Not saying everything is perfect, if it were,  my studio would be completely tricked out and I’d have a maid and an assistant.  But Santa forgot to bring those for Christmas.  But my life is pretty wonderful.  Beadfest brought me new friends (Hi to all the girls from Texas!)  and wonderful students.  But first, I have to give a huge thank you to my to two of my  best buddies, Heather Kautz and Deb Hobgood.  Without these two, I could not have pulled this off  by myself.  They unloaded and loaded through the rain and snow, thunder and cold.  We were just waiting for the plague of locusts.  To say the weather didn’t fully co-operate would be an understatement, but like I said in a previous post, Santa Fe in the snow is enchanting.

We had a great road trip down, taking Hwy 285 down from Denver through the beautiful San Luis Valley,  across the awe-inspiring Rio Grande Gorge and into Taos, where we just did a quick drive by with a promise to return soon.  We took the “low road”  down through Valarde and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.  The  pueblo was known as San Juan Pueblo, and like many in New Mexico, is returning to it’s former name, which is Tewa for “place of the strong people”.  It was  named the first territorial capital of  Nuevo Mexico in 1598, though the pueblo was founded with it’s original name in the early 1200′s.  (Sorry, the Southwestern pueblos are one of my areas of specialization as an archaeologist, and I think everyone is as interested in them as I am.)  Then we arrived in Santa Fe, one of my favorite places. We checked out LaFonda, where Beadfest was centered, and met with some of the other teachers for a Meet and Greet.

Then we headed off for dinner at Tortilla Flats, which is one of Heathyrre’s favorite places for dinner.  We were tired, so we got to the motel about 11:00 and crashed.  The next morning was breakfast at one of my favorite haunts, which no one has ever heard of unless you are a local in Santa Fe.  One of my professors at UNM introduced me to it years ago, and what it’s lacking in decor, it makes up for in green chile!!! Believe me on this one.  Horseman’s Haven is run by the Romero family, and used to be attached to the Phillips 66 on Cerillos Road.  Now it’s a free standing place, still next to the Philips 66.  I think my buddies had to really put some faith in we as we pulled up there  for brunch, but afterwards, there was not a dribble of food left on any of the plates, and we talked about getting some green chile to take back to Denver.

Then we headed off to  shop at Jackalope, to buy some last minute supplies at Santa Fe Jewelry Supply, and off to our hotel  to get tools, torches, etc  re-packed into our truck.  Bless Deb’s heart. She road the entire way with “stuff” packed  into the back seat along side of her, and never complained once.  But suddenly, the sky darkened, the wind kicked up and the thunder rolled.  It rained for a whole 45 seconds, until it started hailing, and then ice and finally five minutes later, snow!  Tons of it just dumped.  We were lucky to find a loading zone and stated uloading in the snow. The Convention Center is gorgeous, and we got all set up and were finishing just as the first students started arriving.  Because of the restrictions, I had to use the EZ torch, which is pure propane, and runs a lot cooler than my Smith ambient air/acetylene, and lights differently.   But after a bit of fooling with it, I got it to light and it worked just fine.  I had the students that every teacher dreams of.  There is a lot of beginning lecture about “the how and why” soldering works, and new vocabulary words we must go over when teaching people who are just learning to solder.  They were so patient as I droned on and on, and they took notes and asked really intelligent questions.  Finally they got to work with the torch, and they soldered a ring closed, and learned some tips and tricks along the way.   Its a beautiful thing when a class works like mine did.  I think everyone left with a lot more knowledge and a quest for more advanced info.  It was a successful class.  No one burned down the Convention Center!

My traveling companions and I celebrated that night with BBQ and margaritas at the Cowgirl BBQ, the restaurant who catered the meals at the Convention Center.  We highly recommend it next time you are in Santa Fe.  Then back to the hotel.  Three hot mamas in Santa Fe, and we were in bed by 11:00, again.  I guess we’re not real party people.  The next day we repeated the same drill, with breakfast at Tecolate and visiting a cowgirl antique store on Guadalupe St.   EXCEPT, as Heathyrre an I were setting up and putting out everyones handouts, I suddenly remembered their packets of silver and supplies were back in the hotel room, and Deb had the truck.  Well, I caught her just as she was getting ready to go to a movie and wait for us, and she had to rush back to our hotel and get the packets and get them to us at the Convention Center.  WHEW!  But she got them there in record speed and no one was the wiser.   I was a bit frazzled at forgetting them,  for everything had gone so smoothly, but it all worked out.  Again, it was a great class, full of the most wonderful students.  I know what I’m teaching is difficult for most people to truly comprehend, especially the first time, but we didn’t have the resources to have 15 soldering stations set up at once, and everyone was very patient. They all lit the torches like pros, and got their rings to solder   I am so proud of all my students.  Again, a successful class.

I learned that it is so rewarding to teach at Beadfest.  Not everyone has the opportunity to study at a college or jewelry school. The teachers are all knowledgeable in their field, and are all pros.  It was great to be with such people.   The students were so excited and so sweet to me.  I am truly touched by their willingness to try something new, and a bit scary.  Helen Driggs, the editor of Lapidary Journal and I will be team teaching at Beadfest in Dallas, Oct 1-3.  We will be teaching Intro to Metalsmithing, Intro to Tools, and Intro to Soldering, again, if our classes are all approved by the fire marshall!  Thank you for all of you who were in my classes and are reading this.  I learned so much from you all.  Please keep in touch and remember, if you have any questions, once you are my student, you are always my student.  And Beadfest is great.  If the teachers are having fun, I’ve been told that means the students are enjoying themselves.  I know I had a blast.  Hope to see you again in Dallas.  October is a beautiful time to visit Texas.

Life is beautiful, and even better when your solder flows!


Getting Ready for BeadFest Santa Fe

Here it is Sunday afternoon, and it’s rainy/snowy and messy outside.  I’m glad to be inside, and putting the final touches on my class packets for Beadfest in Santa Fe.  This is my first time to teach at Beadfest, and I’m really excited about it.  I can’t think it will be very different from teaching my adult beginning jewelry classes at the college, but one never knows.  The class is called “Soldering With Success”, and I don’t know what level of students I will be getting.   Some  will be beginning, I know, but some may be fairly accomplished, just with specific soldering problems.  I have promised them I can solve their soldering problems, whatever they may be.  I sure hope I haven’t let my mouth overload my rear end!

Being a teacher is a tremendous responsibility.  I want to make sure I am giving my students reliable information, so I continue to research every new technique that is out there.  Tevel Herbstman at Allcraft Tools recently made a new wire solder for me. It comes in a rod, like a piece of 16 gauge wire, so I will debut that.  It’s great for “soldering from the stick” or “stick soldering”.  Also I’ll be teaching pick soldering, sweat soldering and my own  way of soldering rings and jumprings.  What constantly amazes me is that something I think is “old hat”, is brand new to so many people, and that’s the fun of teaching.  I teach all the tricks and bench tips, and hold nothing back.  Why have students re-invent the wheel?  They can take where I leave off and maybe invent a better wheel.

But being a teacher is, like I said, an awesome responsibility.  I have a 30 page hand-out for them.  So there is writing the handout (mine is a compilation of my writings for the last 3 years plus some new stuff), colating, exroxing, and putting them in their orange folders (the color of a solder flame).  Yes, I even think about the color of their folders.  Then I have to order their supplies, like solder, silver, flux, solder picks, everything that will be in their supply bags, and don’t forget to order the zip lock bags, too.  Then putting everything together,  cutting the solder, silver, making sure you leave nothing out of someone’s bag. Its harder than you think, and takes a lot of organization.   Then after that’s done, I have to put together my classroom sets of pliers, files,  etc., clean and pack my pickle pot, check the torches,  and at the last minute, find out that I cannot take my acetylene tanks!!!  So we will be soldering with something that runs cooler than I’m used to.   But that’s OK, I am used to the torch we will be using, since that’s what I used in Chile for 3 years.  In fact, it’s the torch most of the world uses.  But I will miss my trusty Smith torch!

But I do this because I love teaching. Doing all these things are what I love.  I mean, its not like taking the dishes out of the dishwasher or folding clothes. (Gag)   I love writing and making packets and organizing.  I know that at the end of my last class I will have the satisfaction, that really good feeling, from sharing with my students the techniques and information that will help them become a better jeweler.  Teaching is a tremendous high for me. I make so many new friends from students, and to me, that’s what life is about.

I look forward to all of you who are coming to Beadfest in Santa Fe.  I hope to be teaching at the newly announced Beadfest Dallas, Oct 1-3.  Even if you are not taking my class in Santa Fe, if you are there, please make yourself known.  I know one of my favorite cutters, Gary B. Wilson, will be there with his glorious beads and cabs.  I’m eager to see who else is there with new and fun things.  And besides, it’s such fun to be in Santa Fe, with it’s budding Creamsicle-colored hollyhocks and adobe walls dappled with soft shadows of the bare tree branches.  I love Santa Fe in the winter.  The snow on the adobe walls makes all of Santa Fe  look like a giant carrot cake!   The pinon smoke fragrance of logs burning in fireplaces add so much to the ambience of the town.  It is wonderful, plus seeing the galleries, shops and restaurants.  I went to college in Albuquerque, so my love for all of New Mexico goes back a long way.  My soul lives in Santa  Fe and Taos.  This will be such a huge treat for me.  I’m excited.

So, See you in Santa Fe.  For those of you not going, I’ll post a full report after we return next week-end.