Another Year At Bead and Button

Another year at Bead and Button has come and gone . . . .  and whew what an adventure.  This year a couple of things changed and it was wonderful.

My classes did really well. One class sold out so I added seats and those sold out. I then heard there were a lot of people who didn’t get in, so in hindsight offering another session for that project would have been wise. The other full-day classes almost sold out too!

But in the largest class we all had plenty of room and everyone successfully completed the Picasso-Inspired Portraits.

The positive reception for my colorful work at ‘Meet the Teachers’ night was overwhelming! It seemed like even if they weren’t familiar with polymer clay, they loved my work. That was such a lovely feeling!

One of my class photos was used in the promotional displays as you enter the exhibitor hall. I was so pleased and a bit surprised!! I must have walked by that area a dozen times before my BFF pointed it out.

So while I bask in the afterglow of classes, I am already thinking about next year . . . . trying to think of where I can tighten up the process and make it easier for students. Then I am thinking about how I can lighten my load of supplies and tools. And of course, I am busy working on a couple of new classes for next year!!  I know it sounds like I am on a fast spinning hamster wheel,  . . .  and that is not far from the truth . . . . . .  but so far I am enjoying the ride!

PS. I am teaching at Beadfest Phillie in August!! Join me for some fun!

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Playing . . . it should be mandatory!

Often when you attend retreats, conferences, etc. there are side events that you can participate in . . . .  if you want to . . . . . its totally optional. But you should definitely consider them an opportunity!  

Over the last few years I have tried to participate. And it has only ever benefited me . . . selfish, I know! But let me explain. All of these options are opportunities to play. Try something different. Try something without pressure. 

For example, swaps of beads, buttons, bowls, ATC’s or inchies, its all good creative fun!

Or try a challenges – using an object not as intended or creating something as part of a themed event.

And then there are the classes or workshops that you might take to experience time with an artist that you admire. You might not even work in their field or specialty, but you just feel the need to experience what makes them passionate or drives their creativity. I had such an experience recently with Maureen Carlson at Fandango. What a wonderful person!! It was a walking stick class and I decided to shorten mine and create a base so that it could sit on a shelf. 

I let go. Decided to channel the sound of that song that has a line in it ‘ooga chaka ooga ooga ooga chaka’ , Hooked On a Feeling by Blue Swede. I love a good tiki and have a few in the yard and on the patio. So I went for a tiki totem.

Tiki totem that stands tall for only being about 12-inches high!!

I had a blast creating this. And I smile every time I look at my tiki totem and sometimes that’s enough. But I also had fun and learned a lot.  So I say embrace them . . . . these opportunities . . . .  and play!

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Setting Intentions

I started a yoga class this year. At the beginning of each class, our teacher always asks us to set an intention. Just silently think about what we want for ourselves during the class. It can be a simple thing, like being more conscious of our breathing . . .  or trying to relax into the poses better. . . .  or make our feet stronger, you get the idea. The thought is that one little step leads to another.

Then the morning before a recent class, the TV was on . . .  I wasn’t paying much attention, until I heard someone being interview say:

Inspiration is the spark and motivation is the change

I loved that saying. I feel like the universe was telling me something and that I needed to listen. . . . . . not sure what the message is. . . . .  or where it is all leading, but  . . . . 

Then at the recent retreat I was awash in inspiration and in awe of the work (jewelry, vessels, sculptural, etc.). But after the initial energizing, vibrating excitement you start doubting yourself and wondering . . . . .  where do I fit in? what should I be working on? You are overwhelmed and a bit intimidated by all the talent surrounding you and all the possible paths available. 

As part of the retreat, there was a presentation by Jeffrey Lloyd Dever showing his work from the beginning of his polymer journey to now. First of all, you are blown away by the craftsmanship! His absolute command of colors, composition and overall design is second to none. Okay, he might have a leg up on the rest of us because of his background as a graphic designer/illustrator.  

However, when I had some time to reflect on the ‘where do I fit in and what should I be working on’ question, it hit me like a brick!!  Jeffrey’s body of work has focused with a clear and distinctive voice on the design and craftsmanship,  . . . . no matter what he makes!! He has gone from decorative vessels to jewelry to decorative teapots and even collectable spoons! He has combined polymer with weaving of plastic coated wires and incorporated unusual found objects into his art. Yet, it is a cohesive body of work that is recognizably his art!

So as I sat in the glow of all Jeffrey’s inspiration, I realized there was a ‘take away’ for me personally.  Maybe I should focus less on what I am making and more on taking the time to do it to the best of my abilities . . . . . whatever they are, right now.  Skills will improve . . . .  my voice will develop . . . . .  and a body of work will be created. So I think I have found my intention . . . . for now! Keep taking steps, even little ones and things will come together in time . . .  for both your art and yoga! Namaste everyone!!

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Where Did the Week Go?!?!?! Or Clayathon 2019

This is the biggest retreat I have attended.  About 125 polymer-passionate folks work in one room. Each one gets a 6-foot table for all their ‘stuff’.  This is the first retreat I have attended where everyone works on their own thing, at their own pace with a lot of visiting, chatting and sharing going on. Formal demos are scheduled. Optional workshops at the beginning and end of the week-long event are available. 

As you walk into the room to set up your table, the energy is buzzing! 

I started my week with a workshop on slab building vessels with Helen Wyland- Malchow.  What an experience! She is, first of all, a great teacher. She made us think, elevated our art vocabulary and helped us through problem solving and design issues.  She encouraged us to walk-about the room to see the work of others (not just focus on our work). The absolute best part of the class was a critical review session of each vessel by the whole class. Everyone saw things from different points of view and shared their suggestions in a kind, constructive way. The ideas were amazing and it was wonderful to get out of your own head for a while!

One part of the event was a ‘Junque’ table. People donated things for the table that they no longer wanted or needed. It was all piled onto 5 or 6 long tables and covered with cloths. Everyone lined up at least three people deep along the tables when it was time to unveil the stash. The frenzy was fun to watch. Everyone seemed to balance their aggressiveness and kindness nicely!!  I managed to steer clear since I had no extra space in my luggage.

Then there was the raffle/auction. Over 250 items were donated that ranged from individual silk screens to sample boxes of clay to gorgeous finished jewelry to tools, like a full-sized Lucy slicer!! You purchased tickets at $1.00 each and placed them in a cup next to the item you wanted. Tickets were then drawn from each cup for a winner. What a rowdy and competitive group!!  


I won 4 things, woo-hoo! My winnings included a set of bangles from Corliss Rose of 2 Roses Studio Jewelry, a pair of Louise Fischer Cozzi earrings, an inro tutorial from Deb Hart, and two fun bracelets that both the donor and artist was unknown (or at least not labeled).

I did venture out from the retreat to Atlantic City to have dinner, walk on the boardwalk and see the shore. I think it has seen better days.  But that beach! I can see that as the main attraction in the warmer months. 

All in all, it was a great trip. The week went by in a blink. I got to see friends, recognized lots of faces from other events and met some new people along the way . . . .  all wonderful. The polymer community really is a nice group of folks!! Special thanks to the volunteers that make this event happen!!!

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The Travel Bug is Back

I get restless, I’ll admit it. I mean I love my home . . .  and family . . . . but then I start watching travel shows . . . .  getting travel brochures . . . .  or hearing about friends traveling abroad and where they have been.  Sigh . . . and yes, I start to get restless.

For the next five months I am traveling pretty consistently. But that is for teaching (or taking) workshops . . .  more business, less play.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I am darn lucky to be able to do it!! But there is a part of me yearning for a little adventure . . .  seeing things I haven’t seen yet . . . .  experiencing new places . . . . people . . . . .  food . . . . .  oh, the food!  Yup, I am ready!!

So my next BIG adventure is a land tour of Greece in the fall. It is with a tour group, Gate1.  I used them for our Southeast Asia tour and they did not disappoint. I considered doing a cruise ship to Greece, but you spend so little time in each place . . . . you are limited to the coast or islands . . . and you miss a lot. So the land tour is booked! The overall itinerary looks like this.

11-day itinerary of Greece

We are still getting a cruise in by taking a transatlantic back to the States from Rome! Yes, you are free to comment about me getting the cake and eating it too! My hubby and I LOVE at sea days. It is the most relaxing thing to do on vacation (in my humble opinion). So we have booked the new Celebrity Cruise ship EDGE for our way back home. 

I recently had the amazing opportunity to tour the ship while it was at port in Fort Lauderdale (between cruises). It was beautiful. It wasn’t just because it had that ‘new car smell’, but they are trying some new things . . . . going after a younger crowd.  It also felt more ‘homey’.  A lot more art and green areas.  Smaller, more intimate eating areas. So it won’t feel like you are traveling with 2,900 others . . . really!  

I have also been reading reviews of the ship on-line. They are hysterical!! People either love the new changes or hate them! Across the board the ship get high marks for service, staff and food.  But the negatives range from too many stairs, to the seating being too low to get out of, not relating to the music, not having enough organized activities.  I guess it all depends upon what you want from your travel experience.  

I am thoroughly looking forward to my time on the ship and will post my own review!  But until then I will be doing a lot of daydreaming about our trip. And I keep telling myself that younger at heart counts, so we will fit right in!! 

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Problem Solving in the Design Process

Last fall I took an on-line class called Composition and Construction taught by Christine Dumont and Donna Greenburg at their on-line school Voila. It is the third in a series of Creative Design Courses addressing design elements and how to apply them. It was FULL of great information (a major understatement).

The first part of the course taught you about the tools and the language used in composition.  I found it really interesting that I struggled so much when pressed to put into words why a piece of art pulls you in, engages you and evokes a response.  But forcing yourself to verbalize what you observe and feel about a piece of art is very enlightening  . . . . . and it takes practice. Weighty stuff . . . . . right?

The other part of the class focused on moving from inspiration to completed project all while executing your chosen compositional design intention.  It felt like walking a tight-rope while keeping the plates balanced and spinning . . . . . . okay maybe not that bad . . . . . but it was challenging. 

First we worked through exercises focusing on where to find inspiration, how to embrace it and pull what you need from it. Tools were discussed for aiding in this process. But the most important thing required was time. It is rare that an idea jumps out at you. It needs to be coaxed and reworked. Time must be allowed for brainstorming and playing with the ‘what ifs’.

After wondering through my yard and pulling out my various collections, I ended up choosing inspiration from a bougainvillea flower, a porcupine quill and a fossilized clam shell.  My compositional intent was sensuality as expressed through the shapes, shading and lines of each element.  

So you now have an idea and want to execute it . . . . how do you get from one point to the other . . . . where do you even start?  A large part of the process is all about problem solving.  You start by identifying your options and hurdles and then tackle them one by one. From this point, I began to develop a variety of components that represented each element of inspiration. I needed to think about how to limit the options, how far to abstract each piece, what surface treatments to use, and how can I take each piece one step further. Each problem solved, question answered or iteration brought me closer to the final story and the pieces I was going to use.  

But it’s not just about making something pretty. Strength, connections, wear-ability, surface treatments, sequence of assembly, etc. may all come up as issues and in multiple ways.  The assembly was layered and utilized cold connections.  Copper wire, with a dark patina, waxed linen, and balled copper head pins. I attempted to use the cold connections as part of the narrative but hide the messy parts where possible.

I ended up with a series of brooches. These talismans represent the beauty, strength and perseverance of the feminine.  

–  The soft form but strong color from the flower represents the beauty in all of us.

–  The porcupine quill represents strength and evolved with the addition of symbols through carving.

–  The fossilized shell represents perseverance and provides the strong base that holds the pieces together.

I loved taking this on-line class.  I feel like I learned a ton of information and had an amazing opportunity to spread my wings, try something new . . . .  all with a safety net, of sorts.  Seeing students working through the same or similar problems was encouraging and let you know you were not alone.  The feedback from the instructors (constructive criticism and course corrections as you progressed) as well as comments from other students was so beneficial.  But now it’s my turn to see where I can take this.

If you have the chance to take one of their classes, I highly recommend it!!

Posted in Contemporary art jewelry, inspiration, learning, polymer clay jewelry, workshops | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Fandango 2019

I have attended the Fandango Clay Retreat in central Florida for a couple of years now and will be teaching there in 2019! This polymer clay retreat is one of those beautiful little retreats that is always a great learning opportunity.  It is a super relaxed environment, lots of time to learn and experiment.

There are a few things that make this event stand out . . . . . . . . besides the fun, laughter, wonderful organizers, new friends, goodie bag, live auction . . . . . . you get the idea. 

One of the things I like is that you set up your workstation once and the instructors move from class to class.  Other retreats use this format too and it allows you to settle in and nest in your workspace.

There is a central baking area that is organized and operated by someone NOT attending the retreat. In fact, at Fandango the very wonderful lady that volunteers for this duty doesn’t even play with clay. She has done this event for many years because her mom attended and continues in honor of her mom since she passed on. Truly an angel for all the clayers!

This is a great deal – three full day classes, all your food and 4 nights of a room (shared) for one great price. Now it is not a 5 star facility, but it covers the basics, no one leaves any meal hungry, and the grounds are actually very charming . . . .  right on a lake and wildlife surrounding you (bald eagle nests, sandhill cranes, alligators, etc).

This year the three instructors include Maureen Carlson, Toni Ransfield and yours truly, Lynn Yuhr! In addition, there is an awesome optional class on Thursday with Deb Hart, her heart owl. For more information go to

There is still plenty of time if you are thinking about joining us! 

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