Friday, October 26, 2018

Inspired by Nature Retreat 2018

This is the third year that I've attended Heather Powers' amazing fall retreat in South Haven, Michigan... the Inspired by Nature Retreat!  As always, it was a fabulous weekend of friends, creativity, laughter, and fun at the lovely Riverbend Retreat Resort.

Me with my fabulous road trip buddy Anna!

Once again, my friend Anna Pierson and I drove to Chicagoland where the fabulous Monica Peña of Mariposa Originals Jewelry, otherwise known as the hostess with the most-est, invited some of us to stop over for a sleepover at her place the night before the retreat started (as well as on the way home for Anna and myself!)  This year, Erin Prias-Hintz joined the party and Lin Stanke was back too.  We had to get an obligatory selfie before starting our little Chicago to Michigan convoy!

Our little band of naughty monkeys before we hit the road!
Here are some pictures of our weekend home away from home and the lovely fall foliage along the river.  The first picture is the cabin that Anna I and I were bunking in... the smallest of the three buildings at the resort.

Day one was all about salt water etching.  A super fun and non toxic way to etch metals... especially copper and brass.  Heather taught us how to use an image transfer process to apply an image to the copper for etching... I also brought my collection of rubber stamps to play with and share.  I had mixed results with the image transfers... since I think we figured out why some of us had troubles I'll likely give it another shot at home sometime.  Our etched metal would eventually become part of our jewelry projects on Sunday.

Anna's etching set up before we got started; my finished etched pieces, and my "used" salt water solution in the jar that Eric oh-so-helpfully labeled for me!

A retreat tradition is going to Taste in downtown South Haven for a big group dinner.  It's always a fun time to reconnect with beady buddies and get to know new friends.  Here are few shots from around our end of the table!  Miranda and Beth win for most "vibrant" cocktails.

Day two started out with some polymer clay fun... cane making to be more precise.  The inspiration for the technique Heather taught us was fossilized coral or agate.  I feel bad that I didn't do a great job of documenting the process, but I was just too wrapped up in trying to do it right.  Heather is seriously the queen of making polymer clay canes... she makes the process look so amazingly easy, and it so is not!  I did manage to snap one photo of my in progress beads... just not my actual cane.  The bottom blobby thing is a bead that I had applied slices of my cane onto but had not yet smoothed out; the middle pieces are a couple of my beads ready to go into the oven; the top mess is a mix of cane end cast offs and a little pile of my core color for my beads.  While I'm not convinced that I'm going to run out and try this cane again super-soon, I'm extremely happy with how my beads turned out.  The translucent clay is pretty much magic in this application.

The afternoon focused on Heather's amazing faux tin process.  It's a proprietary technique that she's asked us not to share, so no process photos for this.  We used some great Audubon illustrations this year.  Swoon!  Seriously, if you ever get a chance to take this class with her, DO IT!!  You won't be sorry.

Day three was focused on making some finished jewelry and/or components to play with at a later time.  I usually crap out when it comes to cutting and filing my metal pieces... this year I did pretty darn good!  I wasn't feeling in the mood to work with steel wire (plus I didn't bring my heavy duty cutters) so I skipped making a bunch more links like the one on the far left below.  I have the supplies and the jig at home so I can always revisit that later.

The last two years, retreat participants have made charms to give to each other person there.  So, each person comes with 24 of their own charms and leaves with 24 charms... one from each person there.  The necklace on the left was made with three of my precious little charms including the most adorable tiny journal made by Sarah Raines.

My finished pieces as well as the components I have ready to become jewelry.

Here are a few more photos from the weekend... mostly grabbed from other folks because I forget to get pics!

Our very own double trouble twins Rosanne and Beverly "guarding" the goody bags; our table of bead making maniacs; best buds Erin and Heather; silly Monica doing her best vampire impression... good times!!

Another wonderful retreat in the books with this fabulous group!

After lunch and our group photo, it was time to say goodbye and start the journey home.  Monica, Anna, and I weren't in a crazy rush so we stopped by a couple of Monica's favorite antique stores before leaving South Haven... and boy, am I glad we did!  I found a fabulous addition to my basement studio space... an antique dental cabinet!!  I found a label on the bottom that dates this piece to 1913.  So cool!

Monica and Anna were fabulous enablers... as was my super supportive husband (who may just be interested because he wants to put his painted game miniatures in the glass fronted cabinets!).  With some creative re-packing and some help from the vendors "muscle" we got this guy into Monica's vehicle for the ride back to the Chicago suburbs.  Thank goodness we weren't in my car... there's no way we could have fit all three of in there!  I've now got the cabinet in place in its new home and am almost done cleaning out all the drawers.  I can't wait to rearrange my studio storage to better suit my needs! 

I know my little write up doesn't begin to do this retreat full justice.  I mostly post things like this as a reminder to myself... a sort of online diary I guess.  I hope that you've enjoyed this little peek into one of my favorite events of the year.  Much of what makes is special just can't be captured in words... it's the laughs, the one on one conversations, the feeling of the place.  May you go out there and be Inspired by Nature too!


  1. Gosh, you captured the feeling. It is about the people, the laughter, the learning, Heather and Jesse with their wonderful projects and teaching. Food, fireplace fires, wine, conversation, it's the best time ever.

  2. What a turnout and sounds like what we all need and want!! What a coincidence also, I just posted about my latest etching experiment and the transfer technique not working ... here, if you're interested:

  3. It's always fun to get a peek. Thanks for sharing.