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May was one of our busiest workshop months here at The Whimsical Bead studio. Along with our local tutors, we also hosted extremely talented metalsmith and mixed media artist, Wendy Hearn.

I’ve known Wendy for around 12 years or so – might even be a bit longer. I always knew she was a talented artist and over the years she’s become a friend too.
Wendy is accomplished in many mediums so picking only a few for her to teach in was difficult however there were two stand outs for me. I’ve always (since before I even got into polymer clay) wanted to create in metal and particular be able to set stones. Now, I’ve dabbled in this over the past few years however I’ve always wanted to learn the ‘traditional’ way of doing this.

Brooke, Dani & Wendy

The other technique that fascinates me was the art of electroforming.
This was the first technique that we offered in a full weekend of workshops with Wendy and not surprisingly it only took a day or so for the workshop to be fully booked!
(We are looking at repeating this in the new year).
Students had a fabulous time electroforming so many items in copper – from natural objects to polymer clay, even a little plastic dinosaur wasn’t safe!!
Everyone left with a kit and a huge smile on their faces.

After an amazing first day we moved onto metalsmithing – primarily creating rings. Firstly in brass and copper and then moving on to sterling silver. I got to use my brand new Orca torch which was recommended to me by Wendy.
Let me tell you this torch is amazing and it is exactly what I was looking for. If you’re after a torch for metalwork including soldering and annealing, that is relatively inexpensive and easy to use, this is a great option.
The Orca is lightweight (a real bonus for me because of my fibromyalgia), and is easy to use. The body (and moving parts) are made from brass and it has an adjustable valve to easily adjust the flame. It doesn’t require regulators or compressed air oxygen and you can hook it up to a swap and go tank. It really is the perfect torch for my needs.
I got mine from Koodak in Melbourne.

The third and final day was a small class for intermediate/advanced students focusing on bezelling. No practice pieces in this class – we jumped straight into the sterling silver and gemstones. This is something I’ve always wanted to do so needless to say I was more than a liitle excited and the class certainly was everything I had expected and much more too.
I can’t tell you how much of a wealth of information Wendy is – if you ever get the chance to do a workshop with her by all means go and do it.
We’re hoping to have her back here at the studio in 2017 depending on her schedule.

The next workshop this month was one I taught myself – Stamped Effects Polymer Clay Workshop. This was originally inspired (and encouraged) by Debbie Crothers and I’ve taken it to the next level and put my own spin on it now. It’s one of my favourite workshops to teach as it encourages students to play. And play they did…..a great day was had by all.

The last two workshops for the year were our regular Simply Seed Beads workshop – with a focus this class on Cellini Spiral and Design, Construct and Play with Kay (a metal/mixed media workshop). I’m ashamed to say I didn’t get many photos of either but I can tell you that some amazing work was produced on these days and students again left with smiles on their faces – something we aim for every time here at The Whimsical Bead!

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