Monday, July 22, 2019

Adornments Retreat 2019

I'm sorry it's been so quiet on my blog so far this summer.  Since June1st, I've only been at home three weekends and one of those was spent with serious jet lag!  We're on the run again this coming weekend too.  Wowza.  No wonder our summers just fly by!

Anyway, I digress.  This past week and weekend was filled with travel to and tons of fun and learning at the Adornments Mixed Media Jewelry Retreat.  While it's all still fresh in my mind, I wanted to share my experiences and my projects with you all!

2019 marks the third year of Adornments and I've been lucky enough to attend every year so far.  Since it falls around my birthday (it's tomorrow!), I look at this as my birthday present to me.  Each year the schedule has worked out a bit differently.  Our instructors were Jess Lincoln from Vintaj, Heather Powers of Humblebeads fame, Erin Prais-Hintz our mad scientist, and Candie Cooper who is the queen of sparkle and special sauce!  This year participants could take four different half day classes over two days (Thursday and Friday).  We also had a round robin make and take session on Saturday where we got to a little project with each of the four instructors... so great if you didn't have a class with everyone!!

Our fabulous instructors: Candie, Jess, Heather, and Erin

My friend Alexa that I met through Heather's oh so awesome Bead Cruise flew into Minneapolis and rode with me this year.  It's always better to have a buddy to keep you company on a long drive!  Plus we'll be rooming together on the 2020 Bead Cruise so this was a great opportunity to get to know each other better before we room together for 8 nights!  We had a nice dinner in downtown Galena before settling into the Chestnut Mountain Resort for the week.

Wednesday:  Day 1 of the retreat was all about registration, housekeeping for the event, digging into our goody bags from all the generous sponsors, and the ever popular pendant exchange.  Each attendee is encouraged to make a pendant for the exchange and then it's a blind choice... you get called up one table at a time and just grab the package that speaks to you!  Here's what I made for the exchange with etched copper and the cute dragonfly that I received from Tammy N.

Another fun part of the first day is creating and dividing out a bead soup to be used for the design challenge.  How that works is each participant is asked to bring a 16 inch strand of beads (or it's equivalent).  Each table has it's own bowl and the folks sitting at that table throw their respective strands in, mix it around, and then divide it out.  On the last day of the retreat we reveal and vote on our favorite designs made from the bead soups.  More on that later!  Sadly, we were so eager to get started that we forgot to take a before picture of our table's bead soup.  Oops!!  At least you can see the palette below.  After dinner, we reconvened for a night of shopping with the instructors, beading, and socializing.  I came away with some nice goodies as always!

Thursday:  Day 2 dawned and we were all excited to get started with our first classes.  For me it was Heather's Faux Tin Charming Affair.  Yes, I know I've taken this a few times before, but it's always different images and projects... plus she and her awesome husband Jesse have tweaked and perfected the process over time, so you get the most up to date and best technique to take home!  This time we were more focused on charms and earring components... right in my happy place!  I'm often a little pokey in class but I did manage to get one pair of earrings completed and some textured copper pieces cut out.  Eventually I'll get the faux tin pieces cut out and everything filed and put together!

My afternoon class was Erin's Petri Dish Pendants.  I really enjoyed each and every one of my classes, but if I had to pick a favorite, this would totally be it!  Unlike many techniques, this one feels a bit like mad science.  You really have no idea exactly how the resin and alcohol inks will react with each other... it's just a leap of faith.  The only bad part is that you have to wait 24 hours for the resin to cure before you get to see how things turned out.  This is not a technique for those of you who want a reliable and repeatable design.  If you're willing to take a chance the results can be amazing.  Not everything turned out how I expected/hoped, but I still think that they are all attractive and fun!

On the left you can see how things looked from the back... this is the pre-cured picture.  The right is how they looked right after I peeled them off the tape.  So exciting to see the results!

Here's the glamor shot of my finished components.  One of my maple leaf pendants still needs a tiny bit of clean up, but it's way better than it was!

Thursday night after dinner we had two fun presentations and a make and take hosted by Ron Rock from Swarovski and Jess from Vintaj.  Ron brought each of us a gorgeous (and hefty!) orchid pendant that we wire wrapped with a lovely Vintaj brass piece.  Heather shared an inspiring presentation all about the elements of design.  Lots of sparkly and art bead inspiration for sure!

My finished make and take pendant!  Isn't it amazing?

A couple of pages from one of the Swarovski inspiration books that they come out with twice a year when they announce new products.  These pages are hand crafted and just GORGEOUS!

Friday:  My morning class was Adding Images to EVERYTHING with Candie and it was super fun!  We did a quick project with an image under a glass dome and then got down to business with some fun translucent image transfer material.  Unfortunately it's not on the market anymore but I did buy a few sheets for future play!  I have some fun new pendants to create with plus more images to use when I get a chance to experiment some more.

For the afternoon I was back in Erin's classroom for her Quick Cure Clay Components class and more mad science!  Quick Cure Clay is a super new product on the scene from Ranger and the class was all about exploration and experimentation.  It's a really interesting material that cures quickly with just a heat gun as the catalyst.  It's strong and the cured product feels more like a ceramic than anything else that I can compare it to.  Even though Erin had a ton of different options for adding color to our creations, I chose to focus on making pieces since I had access to lots of textures and molds that I don't have at home.  I still have more clay in my package so after I do some more with this first batch color-wise I can expand on my experiments!

On the left, I'm set up and ready to start.  The right are my cured pieces.  The four flowers along the bottom have jump rings embedded in the back side so that I can use them as button clasps.

The last official night of the retreat is a crowd favorite... the Pajama Beading Party!  We get to be silly and wear fun pj's while we continue to work on projects and chat.  Pretty much eat, drink, bead, and be merry!  Another fun tradition is the Facebook Live beading challenge where Erin and Heather give each other a bead soup mix based on that year's palette and one of the other instructors provides a mystery component that must be included in both designs.  It's fast paced and good, silly fun that always results in some lovely new jewelry designs.  You can watch the replay, hosted by Candie Cooper HERE.

Heather and Erin working under the pressure for the Facebook Live Beading Challenge!

Saturday:  The last day of Adornments is always bittersweet.  I feel sad to be finishing things up and saying good bye to beady friends, yet by that time I'm also ready to be back home with my Sweetie and the kitties.  Similar to last year, the instructors planned a fun progressive make and take where we all got to do one charm project with each of the four instructors.  They divided us into groups and we rotated through all four stations.

Make & take charms:  Clockwise from top left the projects were by Candie Cooper, Heather Powers, Jess Lincoln, and Erin Prais-Hintz.  The pewter piece is from Vintaj and can be shaped in fun ways if you wish.  I haven't decided what I want to do yet so it's in its natural state!

After we did our round robin of charms it was time to vote on your favorite creation for the Bead Soup Design Challenge.  You could have knocked me over with a feather... I won second place and with it a $50 gift certificate to Rustic River Finds.  Jess's sweet mom Trish Italia owns this fabulous bead store right in downtown Galena.  I always find some really unique things that just have to come home with me there.  Trish also stocks a great selection of gifts and home decor items.  So fun to shop there every year!  Here's my winning entry:

entry was actually two necklaces that can be worn together or separately.  Both focals are polymer clay... the heart is by Erin (and I bought it the first night of the retreat) and the rounded square is by Heather and was in my goody bag.   

After lots of hugs and good byes to the folks hitting the road on Saturday afternoon most of us headed into downtown for lunch and shopping.  Monica, Alexa, and I enjoyed yummy white sangria and frozen fruit with our pizza lunch.

With our bellies now happy, we wandered down to Rustic River Finds to spend my gift certificate and more!!  Trish always provides a little make and take project for all the Adorners.  This year it was a sweet necklace.

Every night Monica and I opened our room for late night shenanigans and socializing.  Just hanging out and catching up with old friends and meeting new ones is one of the best parts of any retreats.  We always have some fun and silly times after hours in the "party room" but what happens in Galena stays in Galena!  ;)  Saturday night was our last hurrah and we probably stayed up a little past our bedtimes, but it was all worth it!  

I've come home with my creative batteries recharged and my heart full of gratitude and love for my beady tribe.  I don't get to see most of these awesome folks nearly often enough but I enjoy every moment when I do get to spend time in their company.  Until next year, Adornments!!


  1. I love your posts about these retreats, I can almost feel the atmosphere!

  2. Thanks for sharing this great recap! I know that I was there too but I don't get to do all the things with everyone as I am trying to stay on top of being one step ahead of my class attendees! I am SO glad that you enjoyed the mad scientist aspect of both of my classes. I can't wait to see how you choose to color those QCC pieces, and I adore all the Petri Dish components. OOH! AAH! It is just the best time, with the best people and I feel more blessed than ever this year! Enjoy the day beady friend!

  3. Awesome post! It was such a great retreat!

  4. Great post! It was so fun having you there—thanks for always being a bright spot!

  5. I loved reading your post and seeing all the great photos! Thank you for sharing - this was a great recap. Your pieces from the classes look great and I'm looking forward to seeing how you use them. Your necklace(s) for the challenge were awesome!!! Glad you had a great tiem.