This is Jean's kitchen. I stayed with her (and five other ladies) in her farmhouse.
This was the view from my bedroom window!
This is Mary. She became my "best buddy" on this trip. I seem to always find one good friend to pal around with on these art trips. She was showing me the cool, repurposed cardigan sweater that one of her artsy friends from northern Wisconsin made for her.
Jean also has a "grainery" which can be rented, and a separate "farmhouse" where three people can stay. I was smack up in the main house.
From what I hear the rest of the state may be sorta normal, but southwest Wisconsin, in the hills, is very earthy and artsy. I think that is why I feel so good there! I filled out a whole book one time called, "Style Statment" to come to the conclusion that those are my life's words... my personal style statement.... Creative Natural. More on that some other day!
I just couldn't get over that all the decorations were handmade and that the hollyhocks were about 7' tall!
This is the chicken coop. Jean would go out and collect eggs for our omelets. They also kept a few pigs and a cow. I suppose you know what those were for!
Valley Ridge is like a little slice of Heaven on earth! And I mean, you are just riding along this country highway in Muscoda (I think), and BOOM, there it is!
And this is my class. People from all walks of life. Retirees, a lady with a head injury forced into disability, a strange little bird from Missouri (just sayin'), an owner of a bead store who wanted more ideas for selling his beads/ tools, a physical therapist :), and Mary, my friend who actually works for a community non-profit group. Several high school art teachers were there getting ideas for their art classes. Dang, I wish my art teacher had done something like this!
Anywho, Richard Salley is from Santa Fe. And he is very earthy himself! He wears a cowboy hat when not inside and teaching. You gotta love that!
I had to explain to the class right off the bat that I was a newbie! I had all these cool tools that I knew I needed, (because I have bought every book I could find on metalsmithing and I know what tools are needed!!), but that I have no idea how to use any of them. That was actually my main reason for attending!
For instance, this... Here, he is using a tool called a Gizmo or spiral Gizmo or Coil Gizmo? I have it written down somewhere! It makes coils that I will use in the locket I will make which was the primary project of the week!
He taught us how to patina metals into all kinds of cool, oxidized colors and to use ferric chloride to etch any picture onto metal. SO DANG COOL!
Dude. I love learning new things!
Funky, dirty, heavenly bliss!
We also learned how to make things with "faux bone". Isn't that cool looking? It is actually a white plastic that you can cut and score and darken, and saw into just about any shape you want. Richard obviously likes more of the manly look , so these are his examples.
ANd as we are in the studio, I look out the back door and see THIS! I swear, green does my heart good!
So do power tools! A drill press... that I know how to use! YEsssss.
And a flex shaft. I MUST have one for the workshop in the BAH. It cuts, it buffs, it sands, it drills.... oh yeah! I MUST!
THese little cuties were in the bathroom above the sinks. Sorry, I dind't catch the artist's name, but so cute nonetheless.
Every little detail is interesting.
Kathy, the owner, has the best studio set up. She has this big wall of goodies that are available for purchase. I don't think I have to tell you that I did a little shopping.
Look at my little friend, Mary, working away!
Mel, with a few tools of the trade.
One of the girls at the course had on this necklace and I LOVED it. Guess what.... I can make it now! Ha!
In fact, anybody out on the west coast care to send me some of your cool beach stones? That'd be great! Thanks.
This is my first attempt at loading a jeweler's saw. Nice cleavage!
( a little off center, but hey... they're real!) So, now I am all about riveting hammers, and files, and using a vise.....
And I am Alllll about Richard Salley! He said he'd come do a retreat at the BAH in September of 2011. Anyone interested?!
His teaching style was very laid back, so you know I liked him a lot. I am all about some "laid back"!
This is the back side of my locket. It is made from a jar lid. Notice the printing that I etched myself around his head. It says, "love" all over it, and then I used my handwriting to make the four marks for his signature, "J-A-K-E". The cover to the locket is to the left and says, "Believe", in case you can't make it out.
Have I mentioned I LOVE copper wire?! Who knew?!
Ok, so.... as the rain smell came through, this is what the sky turned to!
These pictures don't even really tell the whole story! It was ab-so-lute-ly stunning!
My "natural creative" or "creative natural" or whatever self, LOVED seeing this sky over all this lush green!
Dang. I really think I could live here. Really, all you Wisconsins, you are so lucky! (in the summer anyway!) I don't know if I want to put layers of clothes on for Halloween or shovel snow to leave the house.
Jean had the coolest decor in her farmhouse.
Now I want to go make this at a Valley Ridge art retreat!
I am in total love with this clasp. Richard makes all of his own chain and clasps. I actually learned to make them too, but can't decide if it is worth damaging my nails to yank and tug on this metal vs. heading down to Hobby Lobby to buy a bag!
I, did, however, make this chain on my upcoming "Nest" necklace. More on my creations tomorrow!
ANd now I know how to etch my name in metal, so I will have a few of these handmade tags on my necklaces as well. (LOVE this clasp too!) Goooo, Richard!
Just loving to watch the master work! Melinda Marie, do you really know him? How cool. Of course, I know him too, now. And hope he will be coming to my house next year.
So, I think it is evident that I had a really, really, really great time! I was stressed to the max leaving town in such a very short time crunch and getting back just in time for the big weekend's events! I felt like I was fighting the universe's telling me not to go. I usually LISTEN to the universe!