Monday, August 7, 2017

Adornments Retreat

Once again, I'm a little late to the party as far as sharing my recent creative adventures... but I'll stick with the better late than never theme!  For the Adornments Retreat, the creative forces behind Vintaj, the Art Bead Scene, and Now That's a Jig came together for an event not to be missed!  Three days of mixed media jewelry fun with Heather Powers, Jess Italia Lincoln, Erin Prias-Hintz, and Brenda Schweder at the Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena, Illinois made for the perfect birthday weekend for me.  The only bad thing about the retreat is that I had to choose just two of the eight classes and I wish that I could have done them all!!  

Galena is about a five and a half to six hour drive for me (depending on the traffic and construction), so I decided to head out a day early so as not to be stressed out about my arrival time on Thursday.  Luckily, my wonderful roommate Monica decided to join me earlier than she had originally planned.  We had dinner that first night with one of Monica's coworkers, got to watch an amazing rain storm roll through from the floor to ceiling windows at the restaurant, and had our GPS route us down a series of increasingly creepily named dirt roads to get home (Devil's Ladder, Irish Hollow, Cemetery)... Adventure!!  The nighttime rain cleared out and gave us a super muggy morning to explore the shops and restaurants of Main Street Galena before the retreat got going that afternoon.  (Galena is a seriously cute town if you ever get a chance to visit!)

Thursday afternoon kicked off the fun of the retreat proper.  We all gathered in our main meeting space to get our registration materials, name tags, and goodie bags.  This is always an exciting time at any retreat when you get to see old friends and meet new people... everyone is buzzing with anticipation of the fun to come!  After some introductory remarks from Heather and the other instructors, the group had the fun task of making and dividing out some bead soup!  

Before the retreat, we were given the following inspiration and asked to bring 16 inches of beads to go with the color palette.  We were also supposed to bring some sort of focal/pendant and any other beads and findings we might want to add to our personal bead soup portions.  The idea behind all of this is that each person was encouraged to make something made up of at least 60% of the bead soup and enter into a fun design contest to be held at the end of the retreat.  Each table made their own soup and it was fascinating to see the different mixes of beads we had around the room.  

My portion of our table's "soup" with the pendant I chose to use.

We broke for dinner on our own at the resort and then regrouped for a fun evening session afterwards.  Heather and Erin did a presentation about the Art Bead Scene blog and their monthly challenges as well as using art beads in your jewelry designs.  Fun and inspiring stuff!  One of the highlights of the evening was Heather and Erin doing a Chopped style competition where they gave each other a bead soup mix and a focal based on the July ABS challenge and then they had 20 minutes on the clock to make a design.  Nail biting jewelry making excitement!  To add to the challenge, Brenda gave them each a mystery component that they had to work into their designs.... and it was a plastic monkey with a sparkly crystal collar!!  Here are our lovely contestants and their designs at the end of the competition.  

While all those hi-jinx were going on, the rest of us looked on, mingled, and worked on our own beading projects.  I managed to get my Bead Soup competition piece completed that first night (probably a sign of the impending apocalypse!!).  Here's what I made:
This sweet pendant from Erin's Simple Truths Sampler Club was the perfect fit with my mix of pastel beads.  It is beautiful and had a lovely message on the back side that the wearer will keep close to her heart.

For day one, I chose Erin's INKsplorations class where we got to play with different alcohol inks and surfaces to put them on.  I probably didn't experiment enough but I think my brain just isn't great when it comes to really being freeform and just messing around.  I also stuck mostly to the Ranger alcohol inks since those are the ones readily available to me locally.  Before lunch we had time to experiment with the inks and substrates and Erin worked through lunch (naughty monkey!) to get all of our little masterpieces sealed for us so we could move onto the next step when we got back.  We spent the rest of the day cutting down small portions of our inked artworks and gluing them into bezels and adding in UV resin.  Now, resin is a tricky thing (at least for me!) and this class was no different.  I had some bubbling and what I think is the resin pulling away from the material underneath but I believe with some creative problem solving that I may be able to salvage these two.  While I had fun playing with the inks (and got some fun results along the way) I think this may be a little too freeform for me to want to pursue it too much... although I'm thinking about trying two part resin with it instead of the UV and see if it's any less frustrating for me.  Time will tell!

Day two for me was a polymer clay and metal play day with Heather in her Wings & Dreams class.  I really can't overstate how much fun I had in this class!  I never would have dreamed that I would enjoy polymer clay until I took my first class in that medium with Heather last fall.  I'm never going to be the genius artist that she is, but I really enjoy playing with it and learning new polymer techniques.  I was so busy making cute butterflies and flowers that I really didn't do a great job of documenting the day, but here are some pictures I took during and afterwards of my completed projects as well as some that are still works in progress.  I didn't realize this when I signed up for the class, but alcohol inks were a part of the coloring process for these cuties so I had all the supplies I needed to continue painting and playing when I got home!

Right after our day two classes, the entire group came back together for our Wrap Party where we got to see and vote on everyone's Bead Soup creations and officially say goodbye to the wonderful Adornments Retreat and our fabulous instructors.  The fun didn't really end there as many of us were staying over Saturday night.  After dinner Jess's mom, Trish Italia, opened up her lovely bead store Rustic River Finds in downtown Galena for us to do some more shopping.  (I forgot to mention that Friday night we had a private shopping event with our instructors and Trish at the retreat!)  Not that I needed anything, I found some treasures to treat myself with as a little birthday gift.    

Top: Our lovely instructors Brenda, Jess, Heather, & Erin; Bottom: Me with my two teachers and fellow participant Lin.

My birthday goodies!

If you're looking for a fun and inspirational jewelry making retreat, I highly recommend checking out the Adornments Retreat.  They're already starting to plan next year's event.  A huge THANK YOU to Heather, Jess, Erin, and Brenda for a wonderful weekend of jewelry adventures with a great group of folks.  Any time I can come together to share, learn, and laugh with my beady tribe is a blessing and a treasure I'll cherish.  


  1. Awwww! That is a great recap to the festivities! I am so glad you came and I am honored that you chose to be in my class, even though I pushed your boundaries a bit! I hope you will find that sense of exploration and play can lead to fantastic results if you just go with the flow! I love the polymer pieces you made in Heather's class. My biggest regret is that I, too, wanted to take all the classes! I am looking forward to the fall when we road trip to Michigan...and next year for the 2nd Adornments! Enjoy the day! Erin

  2. Oh, looks like an amazing time! I would love to go next year! I love all you guys!! xo

  3. You nailed it Sarajo! It was time well spent. So much learning, so much talent and I was happy to soak up every bit of it! And of course, new beady friends were made. I look forward to the next Adornments Retreat.

  4. It was a great retreat, though I was a bit out of my element! Enjoyed meeting you and other like-minded creators. Great blog.