Back from Texas

Actually I returned home on Monday evening. But it takes so long to get back into the swing of things. I haven’t even started on the laundry yet. I got to spend a week in Beautiful Kyle, Texas at the Sage Hill Inn. The weather was wet, the skies were dark and the temperature was cool. It actually reminded me of the weather when I lived in Washington. I really liked it.

Texas night sky

I had the good fortune of working along side Connie Fox, my good friend Francesca Watson and her business partner, Gail Stouffer. Connie taught the first two days of the retreat where we covered all sorts of things such as what inspires us, what is our design style, is there a message we wish to portray with our art? etc. It was filled with great exploratory  exercises. We had 7 attendees, there were supposed to be 8, but one got sick at the last moment and wasn’t able to attend. Sometimes these retreats have difficult personalities, but this one was absolutely wonderful. Everyone was so much fun, laid back and eager to learn.

Retreat Setup

The last two days of the retreat were spent working on our designs. I introduced the ladies to some of my favorite tools…. they hydraulic presses. Of course!

Hydraulic Press Center

We had four of them to work with along with a handful of silhouette and pancake dies. We played with textures and forming and it was a huge hit.  The ladies were wonderful and worked really hard. Nobody really finished a piece, but they did all walk away with a handful of components ready to be incorporated into their work, so sadly, I don’t have any finished pieces to show.

Once the retreat was over and everything put back into its place, Francesca, our friend Kimmy and I had a studio play date with a local metalsmith, John Meyer. He showed us how to create our own hand tools. I have had people tell me how simple it was to do, but for some reason I was still intimidated by it. However, I am here to tell you, I am no longer intimidated and can’t wait to make more of my own.

Tool Making

I was able to create a handful of texture punches with my own designs and a couple with a design transfer from an old file. In addition, I created a center punch and beautiful scribe.

Custom Steel Punches

The part that has always intimidated me is the tempering. I had never seen it done before and was always worried about taking the heat up a little too high. The picture above shows some beautifully tempered tools where you see the straw yellow at the tips. You can also see the one on the far right didn’t quite go as well. I had to heat this piece again to harden it and then temper once more. But I was so proud of the others. once I get them all cleaned up I will post some photos of the tips and the textures they make.

My girls were excited to see me when I returned. They did so much better on this trip than they did when I was in Tucson. But I have still come to the decision that I am going to do very little teaching, especially out of state. So if you see a workshop offered by me, you might want to snag a spot fairly quickly, because they are going to be few and far between. At least for a few more years.

I am working really hard on this book of mine. My goal is to have it finished this month. Next month I will spend the time editing and finalizing the layout and hopefully getting it published. Because it is so image heavy, it has been difficult to find a publisher. I am looking into many options and I may have to go the route of something like Kickstarter or Indigogo. But I will keep you all posted on that. I am also going to do something that I rarely do, I am going to sell a bunch of my jewelry. I know, that is something I should be doing anyway, but that just hasn’t been my focus. I have  several trays of jewelry that have stuff I made, but is no longer my style. So I am going to get it photographed and offer it up for sale. Whatever doesn’t sell will be pulled apart and scrapped. I can then use some of the money to help with publishing costs.

I am also getting my list together of online workshops that I will begin filming next month. So if you have a project or technique you would like to learn, let me know and I will add it to my list. This is different than Tool Time Tuesday. These are workshops that will be quite a bit longer and in far greater detail. I am very excited about this avenue as it will allow me to teach and still stay home with my girls.


5 thoughts on “Back from Texas

  1. Morgan

    I’m so jealous! I want to learn to make my own tools. Looks like you had lots of fun. You didn’t have to be in a hot garage.

  2. Morgan

    Also if you’re going to be selling some pieces, please let me come shop first. Might as well save a few photos and just let me buy it first. ha ha!

    1. Melissa Muir Post author

      Kathleen, I do not have them up yet. I have an online soldering workshop that I ran a while back, but haven’t offered it again for a while. I promise to keep everyone posted here on my blog. 🙂


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