Last few classes before I leave for France!

Check them out! It’s Grape and Wine Festival time here in St Catharines and my street is planning a big party on Saturday. Crammed in around it, I’m teaching two classes downtown at Craft Arts Market – one I call Barrel of Monkey Pearls and the other is bead embroidery around a button or other treasure. Click here to sign up.

Then on Sunday I’m off to Kitchener for the Grand River Bead Society’s fall bead show where I’m debuting a leather cuff class and also teaching my bead embroidery class.

Finally, next weekend, October 2 and 3, I’m in Toronto teaching at Beadfx. Friday evening is Open Metal Studio and Saturday is the debut of my advanced enamelling techniques class and something a lot of people have been waiting for, flame enamelling. Check out my classes here.

Hope you can join me for at least one of these classes! 

Upcoming classes in August and September

If you’re interested in learning something new, I have several classes (both old and new) available to take in Toronto at Beadfx, in St. Catharines at Craft Arts Market and at the Grand River Bead Society Show and Sale.

First up, next weekend August 28 and 29 at Beadfx, I’ll be hosting an Open Metal Studio on Friday night from 5 – 8 pm. For $20 you get full use of all the tools in the studio and my support and expertise. Start a new project or work on a UFO. We always have fun.

On Saturday I’m reprising two of my most popular classes: foldforming and twisted, forged bronze bracelets. Both involve lots of fire and hammering and give you lots of satisfaction, plus a beautiful piece of jewellery (or two) to wear home. Check out class details at or call the store at 416-751-1911 or toll free at 1-877-473-2323 to reserve your spot for any class.

And speaking of Beadfx, don’t forget to come out on Saturday, September 12 for goodies, prizes, the launch of Marilyn Gardiner’s book and the opportunity to preview all of my (and other teachers’) classes set for this fall.

In September, I’m teaching four classes here in St. Catharines at Craft Arts Market on James Street. On September 19 join me from 10 – noon and create a lovely charm bracelet while learning basic and wrapped loops, design basics and finishing techniques. From 2 – 4 pm I’ll be sharing my Infinity Bracelet pattern as well as how to make small charms on the amazing Now That’s A Jig!

Also at CAM on Saturday, Sepember 26, from 10 – 12, I’ll be sharing a new class I’m calling Barrel of Monkey Pearls Necklace. Fun and elegant and you’ll learn basic wire wrapping skills. In the afternoon from 2 – 5 I’m teaching my bead embroidery class. Call the store at 905-684-1333 or register online at Classes are typically $50 and include kit costs.

The very next day, on Sunday, September 27, I’ll be at the Grand River Bead Society Show and Sale where I’ll debut a new leather cuff class that uses the Big Kick and Sizzix dies and incorporates riveting. That’s in the afternoon from 2 – 4:30. In the morning it’s your chance to learn how to frame a treasure with unique bead embroidery. Details will be on their web site at

Finally, before I leave for an exciting artist’s retreat in the South of France on October 6, I’ll be presiding over an Open Metal Studio on Friday, October 2 at Beadfx. Then on Saturday, I’m offering two NEW enamelling classes. In the morning, I’ll be exploring new and special effects you can achieve using different inclusions in your work. In the afternoon, I’ll debut the class many people have been waiting and asking for – flame enamelling.

Sign up early, as many of my classes tend to sell out quickly. Most have a cap of eight students.  I’m excited about the Fall and I hope you join me to learn a new technique and perhaps start gift making for the upcoming holiday season.  I’ll post my end of October and November teaching schedule in a few weeks.

Both sides of shows — marketing and booth placement

So I have a unique perspective on sales shows, since I’ve worked both sides of this fence. For many years I organized and executed indoor and outdoor shows for artisans through my positions with the Word On The Street (WOTS) and the Queen West Art Crawl (QWAC): big outdoor events drawing thousands of people and smaller events such as an outdoor market during the summer in Parkdale. I have to say, the concerns that I had running a show were/are congruent with the concerns of the artists/creators selling at the show. We are all small businesses trying to make every penny we can to survive and to make every penny count. 

As a vendor at a show, you have to respect the time and effort the organizers put into a show, and that they are trying to please a lot of different audiences – from vendors to attendees to funders/sponsors and other stakeholders. They are truly working hard to do the best job they can and are putting in more hours than you can ever imagine to make their event successful. You have your part to play in making an event a success so don’t think you can pay your booth fee and sit back while the audience and the dollars roll in.

In this market, and in this world dominated by social media, it’s essential that you work with the organizer of every show you take part in to promote it to your audience and friends. It’s the only way to build an audience for the show as a whole. Your customers become other people’s customers and vice versa. You can’t rely on the organizers to draw the audience. But a good organizer will prepackage ads, PDFs, Tweets and messages for you to copy, paste and share to your social media peeps. If everyone involved does this work, leveraging our collective audiences, the event can only grow in size and in reputation. 

Placement in a show is important. High traffic areas often come with a higher price for a reason. But if your display doesn’t invite people to come in and browse easily, then you negate any special placement. There is nothing a show organizer can help you with there. The show organizer is in charge of booking a venue that is convenient to get to, easy to access and in a high traffic area where customers who buy products such as yours are known to frequent. If the event seems to be moving around a lot over a period of years it might not be a very successful one to take part in, or it is a show in search of an audience. Do your homework and ask other vendors about a show on FB sites like Toronto Craft Alert. 

I could go on and on about show management by organizers and vendors. And perhaps I will next week….

My first outdoor show (from the vendor side)

Well, Art in the Park came and went last weekend. Gail Speers and I had a lot of fun conceiving, stocking, and selling at, our booth. I had no idea what kind of audience the show would draw, nor the size. As far as sales go, we didn’t do as well as we dreamed (who does?) but we didn’t do that badly. Gail says rule of thumb is that you make 10X the booth cost. Between us, we did about 6X the booth cost. 


People were friendly, browsed, exclaimed about out talent and work, wished us luck, then wandered away. I felt our work fit the overall aesthetic of the show since what we produce is wearable art. We had some expensive pieces but we also had unique pieces priced at $10 and $15 that we had hoped would be nice impulse buys for people. There were fewer impulse buys than we hoped.

It seems to me that people should support local artists instead of spending their money at Big Box stores. The paintings I saw were beautiful and well- priced. I bought a great lino print. The same goes for food too.  Why buy your berries, fruit and veg, or even meat, at the big store when there are so many farmers markets to frequent? I try to buy my produce, free-range eggs and meat at the market, supplementing with non-perishable goods at the big store. I feel the quality is better and I feel good about supporting my “neighbours”. 

I’m grateful for everyone who purchased something from me on the weekend. I hope they love, and wear often, the unique pieces of art they bought and that they feel good for having supported a local artist.

Production line

It’s not really my style — making the same thing over and over again. I just can’t. Maybe it’s because there’s no challenge. Maybe it’s because it feels stale. But I’ve found myself having to do just that to keep my stock current in Craft Arts Market and to create stock for Art in the Park this weekend. 

For the last couple days I’ve been dragging out the creation of 26 twisted forged bronze bangles. On Monday I spent the afternoon on the back deck using the MAP gas torch and pliers to twist the wire, after I’d spent an hour in the morning cutting the 8 and 10 gauge wire into bracelet and torque sized lengths. I decided to create three neck wires to showcase some cool pendants I have. 
Yesterday I spent four hours paddling the ends of each piece of twisted wire, shaping it into a bracelet around the mandrel and work hardening the finished product. Then I went downtown to teach a class, to make a few dollars in the evening. And to have fun. I love sharing my knowledge with other jewellery makers. 

This morning, the bangles will require filing before they go into my homemade pickle to get shiny again. Then they need to be buffed and coated in liver of sulphur patina. Finally I will apply Renaissance wax to preserve the patina. 

All told, I will have spent about 10 hours on these bracelets.  Cost of goods (COGs) to create each one is estimated at $3.00. I’m selling them three for $25 or $10 each and the neck wires for $15 each. So if I sell them all, I make around $250. COGs is a total of $95. That makes my hourly wage around $15. That’s if they all sell. 

No wonder artists have to work a full time job to do their art as a secondary job. No one can live at this wage level. And that’s maximizing my profit by production line techniques. Just imagine how much money I don’t make on my one of a kind designs. Thank goodness I love what I do! And supplement my income with teaching wages. None of this fully pays the bills, though. 

So I urge you all to support local and small batch artisans/ artists. The work they do is worth every cent you pay. Don’t haggle or complain about their prices either. In most instances, they are probably already undercutting themselves. And each piece is imbued with the artist’s love of their work and creative spirit.

See you at Art in the Park here in St Catharines this weekend! Montebello Park both Saturday and Sunday after 10am. 

Art in the Park St. Catharines July 18 – 19

I’ve been busy over the last few weeks making stock for sale at Art in the Park. It will be my first time ever taking part in an outdoor art show (except for the several I actually organized…lol).

The event takes place in Montebello Park, a few blocks from my home, and it’s organized by the St Catharines Art Association. The park is lovely, and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of NYC’s Central Park.  

I encourage you to come out and see (and buy) work from my booth, which I’m sharing with Gail Speers. I know Cynthia Blanton will be there too. Since it’s my first time in the show, I have no idea what to expect but I know there will be art for sale by local artists as well. 

Make a day of it Saturday! The farmer’s market is a few blocks away, and the local produce and fruit is fabulous right now. Get something to picnic on in the park then do a bit of shopping. 

Pass the word along!

Beaded bags

i love tiny evening purses. I have a collection of vintage bags that are beaded, embroidered and/or lavishly embellished. I also collect and make cigar box bags. 

At the Bead and Button Show in June I kept seeking great beaded bags everywhere. In the display cases of beaded projects entered in the Bead Dreams contest, it seemed that a lot of people have beaded bags on their mind. 

My photography on my phone isn’t the best, but here are the bags I saw there. Maybe you’ll be inspired to create a beautiful beaded bag too. Enjoy!

This last clutch is by Olga Haserodt. I couldn’t get the name tag in the photo. 

Tropical Punch blog hop

Here’s a link to the Tropical Punch blog hop as posted to the Dazzle-it blog today. Enjoy!


Dazzle-It! Tropical Punch Blog Hop

I am pleased to be part of my first blog hop and welcome you to my space. My blogs often show a step-by-step review of my creative process and this one is no different. 

When creating, I usually start with a pile of components that have some cohesiveness in colour but have a variety of textures, sizes and material. Inspiration can come at the strangest times, however, and this time was no exception. I’d been meditating on the hot, Brazilian Carnival colour of the beads I received and thought of the costumes that are worn in Carnival parades that reveal much but strategically cover important bits. One morning last week I woke up after seeing a net of these jewels in my mind and I knew that I would use the French knitter to showcase the beads. I also wanted to create a necklace that would be evocative of the sinuous vines that wind around trees in the jungle. 


French knitting in progress


Using Tropical Punch components in the French knitter


As you can see, above, the beads came through on the inside of the knitting but I popped them to the outside afterwards (see detail below). This is 26 gauge copper wire. 


Close up of knitting and beads popped to stand up on outside of wire

I put 16 gauge copper wire down the centre of the tubing, so I would be able to shape it and have it hold that shape. The wire ends were paddled on my bench block so I could punch a hole in them and affix the yellow lucite flower to one end and the green flower to the other. The green flower’s petals are wired through a central component. 


This photo is a bit dark but you can see the paddled wire ends

I pulled the French knitted wire piece over the wired tubing and belled out the ends into a trumpet shape. I then shaped the tube-covered 16 gauge wire  to sit around the neck and affixed the flowers to each end. 

This Tropical Punch creation will add fashion fun to any sexy summer neckline. 


Net of Jewels


Wear it any way you want!


Hinges and portholes with Mary Hettmansperger 

The most memorable class I took at Bead and Button has to be Hinges and Portholes with Mary Hettmansperger. Mary is a wonderful, patient and generous teacher and her creativity is inspiring. In her day-long class, we were encouraged to play, experiment and innovate. She demoed her basic techniques then we were let loose to create. I worked away at my desk at the back, moving from torching station to the tool station then to a side table where we could plunder additions to our work from her boxes and boxes of beads, metal pieces, small gemstones and rivets. What fun.  

I tend to teach the same way, so I found her class very comfortable. I put some amazing patina, using a variety of methods she shared, on the copper provided and I brought lots home to continue playing. In class I finished one piece, which is a meditation on the concept of circle contained in a square. The metal has a dimpled hammered finish, circles and blobs of heat-created patina, portholes that reveal a mother and child, and randomly-placed holes and rivets. I was so thrilled when Mary sat down beside me to say how much she liked the design of my piece. Here it is. 


circled portholes and hinges


inside my portholes and hinges project

So I took pictures of Mary’s samples for inspiration. You can also find inspiration in her books Heat Color Set and Fire and Mixed Metal Jewelry Workshop, which are my favourites. 
Do you think I should work out a project to teach? Let me know what you think. 


work by Mary Hettmansperger


wow you can own a Mary Hett work for under $75!


portholes and hinges class samples


more class samples from portholes and hinges