Thursday, July 26, 2018

Adornments Retreat 2018

2018 marks the second year for the fabulous Adornments Mixed Media Jewelry Retreat in Galena, Illinois.  I was lucky enough to attend last year as a birthday gift to myself and I just had to go back for year two!  Because all of us bemoaned the fact that we could only take two classes, and thus only get to work with two of the four wonderful instructors, they expanded the retreat by a day and shook up the format a bit.  Even with getting to select four different classes, it was still a really hard choice!!
Our fabulous instructors... Erin Prais-Hintz, Brenda Schweder, Jess Lincoln, and Heather Powers

With the expansion to three half day classes and one full day class, the retreat was one day longer this year.  The drive is a little long for me to drive down to start by 2 pm, so my road trip friend Jenny and I headed out on Tuesday after lunch.  This gave us a great chance to have a nice dinner with a fellow retreat goer that I'd never met in person before and check out a little more of downtown Galena in a leisurely fashion before the real fun started Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday was really all about getting everyone registered, digging through our goody bags, doing a fun pendant exchange, and creating our bead soup for the retreat's design challenge (more on that later.)  I received a fun beaded creation that reminds me of a sea creature from Cynthia Winter. 

Now, what you've been waiting for... a bit about the classes!!!  My first class was Heather Powers' Fairy Garden Headpins.  Now, in the past I've had a little bit of trouble getting the wires to feel secure in polymer clay headpins.  Because of that I was a bit nervous about this class... I really shouldn't have been!  I had a great time finding flowers, leaves, buds, and more on the grounds for a whole new set of molds.  (I brought the ones that I made a couple of year's ago at the Inspired By Nature Retreat too so that I'd have extra choices.)  I ended up with a nice little collection of headpins (and one pendant!) at the end of the day.  Unfortunately, we ran out of class time for painting our new goodies, but Heather was able to show us each of the techniques.  She had all the painting supplies out during our open beading at night, but I was too busy chatting and working on my design challenge piece.  I've got most of the paints I'll need at home, so I'll get around to it later.  (You've heard that from me before!!)

Next up, I finally got to take a class with the fabulous Miss Brenda Schweder!  After purchasing her awesome Now That's a Jig last fall, taking her Blanks for Makers class was just what I needed to get me comfortable with this tool and kick off what I hope will be many future jiggy adventures!  I know that what I completed in class doesn't seem like much, but these will get embellished and worked into finished designs.  This class was all about learning the basics, getting some tips, and gaining some hands on experience so that I wouldn't be intimidated.  I'm super excited about the possibilities and can't wait to play more.  I'm especially liking the smaller earring shapes on the right and have some ideas brewing for those!  I loved getting jiggy with it!

Last but not least, I took Heather's Tropical Faux Tin class as my third half day class.  While I had taken this class the first time Heather offered it, I loved the images from botanist Marianne North she chose this time and decided a refresher course wouldn't hurt.  Now I feel better prepared to try some things using some of Eric's photos.  I did manage to finish one fun pair of earrings in class and came pretty close to having a necklace done.  I should get on that!  

A new addition to the line up this year was an afternoon filled with fun make and takes!  Each instructor came up with a quick project that incorporated a flower theme.  They broke the attendees into small groups and had us rotate through the four different stations for 15 minutes at each.  Here's what I made (clockwise from top) with Brenda, Heather, Jess, and Erin.  The little ribbon rose with Heather was the furtherest from my wheelhouse, but I think all four mini-projects turned out super cute.  I'm thinking I may add some colorful seed beads or something to Brenda's flower shape to make a little sun catcher type thing...  the others will likely become part of necklaces down the road.  I really enjoyed doing all these fast and fun projects and I hope they'll do something along these lines again next year! 

The last day of the retreat brought our full day classes... I chose Jess's Vintaj Free-Form & Hand Forging.  I haven't taken a class with the fabulous Miss Jess since I did the Vintaj Two Day Workshop back in 2012.  I had just gotten my tax id and the first thing I did with it was to register to shop wholesale with Vintaj and sign up for the workshop in Galena.  It was one of the best things I ever did for my creative self and really jump started my love affair with Vintaj!  I'm telling you this because I bought my first pair of bail making pliers right after that trip and finally learned how to make use of them six years later.  I had a ton of fun learning to shape various Vintaj metal pieces (many of them already in my hoard) to use them in new and creative ways.  It was also great for my slow self to actually walk out of the class with several completed pieces of jewelry!  Check out what I accomplished during class as well as some action shots from the day below. 

One of the fun aspects of last year's retreat that they carried over to year two was the Bead Soup Design Contest.  Basically, they gave us a photo and color palette to inspire and guide us.  We were  instructed to bring the equivalent of 16 inches of beads to add to our table's bead soup mix on the first day.  We then mixed it all up and divvied it up between our table mates.  They gave us until the end o the last day to make a creation made up of at least 60% bead soup items and we had a little design contest.  Here's a look at the inspiration and my table's mix:

I didn't win a prize in the design contest, but I'm oh so in love with the necklace that I made using my friend Erin's gorgeous pendant!  (You can find her and her goodies at Tesori Trovati.)  Lucky me... I have another similar pendant still in my stash to play with at a later date.  Now I just have to decide if I'm keeping this one for myself!

After the wrap-party where we got to see what everyone had been working on for the last few days, many of us headed into downtown Galena for dinner and a fun-and-treasure-filled trip to Trish Italia's (Jess's mom, if you didn't know) lovely bead store, Rustic River Finds!  Of course, since I need another bead like I need another hole in my head, I had to buy a ton of fun new beads... mostly Czech glass and peanut seed beads in colors I haven't seen before.  Trish also had a cute make and take bracelet for us all to do.  It's so special that she kept the store open late just for our group... we all appreciate her time and talent.  This was a fabulous way to officially end the retreat.  Trish has more than just beads... she's got some cute home decor too.  It's totally worth stopping in if you ever find yourself in Galena!

Not wanting the fun times to end, a few of us met up for breakfast in downtown Galena and then hit up a few antiques stores before hitting the road.  I found a couple of fun things including a cigar mold that I plan to use for some jewelry display and some old Mattel molds from their Thing Maker that my sisters had back in the day.  (If you want a giggle, check out a commercial for the Thing Maker creepy crawlers from the 60's HERE.)

A huge thanks to all the wonderful instructors who bring their passion, enthusiasm, and creativity to make the Adornments Retreat such a special and inspiring event!  This retreat is more than just a educational experience... it's a fellowship of creatives gathering to learn, laugh, and share.  Some of my favorite moments were actually outside of the retreat proper.  Each night after the official events were over, many of us gathered in our room (I shared again with my friend Monica) for drinks, snacks, and gabbing.  Most nights we laughed until we cried... seriously, I don't remember the last time I belly laughed like that!  I love that such a diverse group of women can come together for events like this... I made many new friends and got to reconnect with old ones.

I'll wrap this up and leave you with a shot of one of the gorgeous sunsets that we enjoyed from the Chestnut Mountain Resort.  As is so often the case, my photo doesn't do justice to the beauty my eyes took in... but it gives you an idea of the view nonetheless.  Until next year, Adornments! 


  1. What a great recap! It feels like I was right there with you! ;-)
    Of course, I was there, but it is nice to have the perspective of those that were learning and making rather than the prepping and teaching! I love what you made and I feel the excitement of all those that are posting. Makes me excited to start coming up with ideas for next year (already working on it!). I adore your necklace. That pendant was one of my favorites and so hard to let go, but I knew you would really do something special with it. Enjoy the day! Erin

  2. Wow, you nailed it, Sarajo! All of the above and an additional yup, that's it exactly!

  3. Sounds like an inspiring few days of fun. Almost like a pyjama party, heh? Gorgeous shot of the sunset too!