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 HettmanspergerĀ 

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


Back from Bead and Button!

What a wonderful week! There’s nothing better than a road trip with great friends that culminates in amazing learning opportunities, shopping fun and reunions with old friends. It’s always exhausting, exhilarating and elevating. 

I have so much to share but here’s a quick overview of some of my fave things.

I made a great spinner ring with Robyn Cornelius. She offers this sold-out class every year. 

Spinner ring I made in Robyn Cornelius’ class

I adored the freeform style espoused by Mary Hettmansperger and soared creatively in her Portholes and Hinges class. I treated a lot of metals and have ideas to finish four or five more riffs on this design. I’ll blog about that at a later date, no doubt. 

Front of portholes and hinges necklace

Inside portholes and hinges

Learned a whole lot about enamelling, returning to learn how to raku enamel with Steven James and finally tackling flame immersion enamelling with Debora Mauser. This is the pulling station for flame enamelling. See a few enamelled headpins to the left. We then moved on to the flat metal and filigree beads. 

Bead pulling station

I absolutely adored raku enamelling and can’t wait to create projects to teach how easy it is to achieve these organic beauties. 


Raku enamelling

 And here’s the gorgeous raku ceramic pieces I got from MakuStudio, one of a kind pieces by Marianne Kasparian.


More to come!  

Branching out

I have always loved to draw and paint. But I got away from it and channelled my creative urges into needlework and, for the last 10 years, jewellery-making and design.

My last job was Executive Director of the Queen West Art Crawl and being around such wonderful artists all the time reignited my desire to create with paint on canvas but also in jewellery techniques. So I decided to join the St Catharines Art Association. One other reason is to get the member discount on a booth space at Art in the Park July 18 – 19. 

I went to the meeting last night, which was held in a bright, modern room at the Kiwanis Aquatic Centre. There was networking going on, and a small show at the front of the room on the theme floral. Members brought their work to display here. There was coffee and cookies. And a speaker, Jim Kerr, who started working on a painting of grape vines – he got it roughed in, some shadow defined and some background in the short time allotted – all the while answering questions from the audience. Apparently I missed a life drawing class last month.  There is a group show starting tomorrow at Millpond. I hear it’s good but I can’t get there this month. 

It’s an older crowd. Not many young people there. Something I’ve noticed about a lot of membership organizations. I wonder if that’s because younger people don’t know about these groups or whether they don’t care to learn from long-time experts and choose to work on their own and make their own mistakes. I’d be sad to learn that’s the case since I have such great respect and love for my mentors in life, art and business. 

Watch for my news on my art adventures and for my booth at Art in the Park. 

Forging ahead

I love fire. I love hammering. I love the changes that both impart to metal and the finished projects I create.

I always say that I must have been a smithy in another life because forging feels so natural to me, and I instinctively know how to use the tools required to get the results I’m after. It’s not difficult to set up a portable forging centre at home. I have a Craftmate workbench, and my rolling mill, vice and big anvil are attached with bolts to it. 

This is somewhat portable (it gets a lot heavier with an anvil and rolling mill) and very compact. At my old house I kept it behind a rice paper room screen. Here, it’s in the basement. 

To create a fire area, recycle an old baking tray and silpat. Put your fire brick/solder block or annealing pan on it and you’re ready to solder or foldform anywhere. You can place your quenching bowl and tools around it. This set up is very portable too. I do a lot of my forging and enamelling on the back deck in nice weather.  Here I’m working at my dining room table. 

  Happy forging! 

New classes added in St Catharines and in TO

Last month I taught a class at Craft Arts Market in St Catharines and I’ve added two more in May. On Friday, May 22 I’ll be reviving my copper bracelet class, which is a great beginner class if you want to learn some basics of metalworking and riveting. Sign up here

The second class, on Friday evening May 29, is an Intro to the Now That’s a Jig! and features a bracelet and charm project. Check it out here

In Toronto, this coming Saturday, May 9, from 10 am to 1 pm, I’ve changed my class to offer instruction in how I create my one of a kind bead embroidered buttons. There are spaces in this class and the kit fee is only $5. Go to, click on the BEadFabulous photo to register. 

In June, I will be teaching my always popular wire kumihimo bracelet and knitting with wire on the spool knitter. Tons of creative fun! Hope to see you at one of my classes sometime soon.