Going to Tucson!

Every year after the hustle and bustle of the Holidays dies down, patti bullard larger photoI start to pack my bags and get ready for my favorite trip to one of the biggest and best bead shows in the world. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show hosts over 50 different show venues. This year the Tucson Bead Show, hosted at the Radisson Suites, promises 400 workshops along with free admission to shop and explore among the 350 booths!

If you are considering taking a workshop during your time in Tucson and just don’t know where to begin, we want to help. Some of our dear friends and fellow jewelry enthusiasts will be offering classes which inspire, energize and broaden your creative horizons. Check out our featured instructors below!  We have included a portion of their personal statements as well as pictures of some of their classes offered in Tucson.

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Gwen Youngblood 

“As an instructor, Gwen loves the interaction and camaraderie of the classroom.  Her mission is to make metal working techniques accessible to everyone, so that students learn more than they expected, and have fun doing it. Students can expect Gwen to share her knowledge and creativity freely, with a dash of humor and lots of caring patience.”
Gwen is one of the leading cold-connections instructors in the jewelry-making industry.  She is the inventor of the Wubbers Riveting Essentials Tool set.  Learn more about her easy-to-use, cost-effective, and patent pending tool by following this link.
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CLICK HERE To Access Gwen’s Classes in Tucson!

Debora Mauser

“As well as designing and making jewelry I travel and teach a wide variety of jewelry techniques.  I love, love, love teaching!  Sharing with other enthusiastic, jewelry loving people is always a joy!”
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Eva Sherman

“Eva Sherman began beading as a way to spend time with her daughters but soon became hopelessly addicted. In 2005 she traded in her architectural career for the opportunity to spend all her time among beads, and opened Grand River Bead Studio in Cleveland, Ohio. Eva now happily spends most days in the studio creating, writing and teaching, but has been known to take her show on the road. She has discovered an affinity for working with wire and metals, and prefers to design in an organic and unstructured style. Eva has authored two books on jewelry design: “Organic Wire & Metal Jewelry” and ‘Cool Copper Cuffs'”

Melissa Muir

“While I enjoy creating unique jewelry items, my passion lies in teaching. My classes are filled with energy and an easy going atmosphere. My goal is to have my students walk out comfortable with new techniques and confident in their own jewelry making ability. Working as a professional computer trainer for 10 years I learned that there are many ways to teach, and each person learns differently. I strive to use that knowledge to benefit my students. When you take a class from me, I won’t ever “leave you in the dust”. I will do my very best to make sure you understand the concept and technique we are covering in that course.”

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CLICK HERE To Access Melissa’s Classes in Tucson!

Francesca Watson

“My infatuation with making jewelry started in 2007 and in 2013 I ran away from my grown-up career in small business management to spend time rediscovering who I am and what I want my life to be about. Today, I am co-owner of The Makery in Bulverde, Texas, where I spend most of my days experimenting with new techniques and teaching metals and jewelry-making.”

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CLICK HERE To Access Francesca’s Classes in Tucson!

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Posted in Gwen Youngblood, jewelry making, Jewelry Tips, Local Classes, Patti's Jewelry Travels, Tools, Uncategorized

Christine Keller’s international journey!

Wubbers University is proud to announce the recent international success of our very own instructor, Christine Keller.  We were attracted to Christine’s anodized aluminum wire designs years ago. Through dedication and an eye for beautiful designs, Christine found her niche and you could say “the stars aligned in her favor.”  Be our guest as Christine’s husband, Warren Keller, shares their incredible journey…

 

It was a rainy evening in October 2016.

Wubbers University instructor Christine Keller (www.chrizart.com) stood in Shanghai’s Nanjing Road shopping district, gazing up at a large digital billboard advertising the collection that she designed for TSL, China’s third-largest jewelry retailer. This was only one of many impressive displays and events arranged by TSL’s extensive marketing department in China’s high-end malls and shops. Over a period of three weeks, Christine traveled from Hong Kong to Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Guangzhou on an all expenses paid tour, promoting Contemporary Art Jewellery by Christine Keller, part of TSL’s International Design Collection. While Christine had achieved regional success as a jewelry maker in her home state of West Virginia, and marginal success nationally, being represented by a multibillion-dollar jewelry manufacturer and retailer was beyond her wildest dreams. And, the way in which the independent metalsmith from Appalachia, and the Hong Kong-based luxury brand purveyor of 24 karat gold, platinum, and diamond jewelry came together, was itself the stuff of dreams.

Christine’s husband, Warren, is a world-renowned astrophotographer and author (www.billionsandbillions.com).

In September 2015, he received a request for one-on-one image processing instruction from a client of his video tutorials. As he was busy completing a book for Springer Nature, Warren was hesitant to interrupt his writing schedule, but agreed to meet with the customer at the Keller home in Buckhannon, West Virginia. With Tommy Tat Fung Tse settled in for his lesson, they began. Early on, while waiting for a software process to complete, Warren made polite conversation by asking Tommy Tse what he did for a living. Certain that Tommy would respond with engineer or programmer, Tommy replied “Oh, we are in jewelry.” With one eyebrow raised, Warren said “My wife is a jewelry maker.” Genuinely excited, Tommy said that he’d worked as a goldsmith for a time and that he’d love to see Christine’s studio at lunchtime. A metalsmith by training, working mainly in copper, sterling silver, and semi-precious stones, Christine is also an accomplished enamelist. But, it was the medium that she began with, wire sculpting of colorful, anodized aluminum wire that intrigued Tommy the most.

During lunch, Tommy told the Kellers about the company of which he is CEO.

TSL was founded in 1971 by, and named for his father Tse Sui Luen, who at a youthful 80 years of age is still active in the business. The son of a rag and bone man, the elder Mr. Tse had the opportunity to train as a goldsmith’s apprentice as a young man, and is legendary throughout Asia for building a jewelry empire from these humble beginnings. In 1997, Mr. Tse became the first Chinese invited to be a League of Honor member of the internationally-renowned Gemological Institute of America (GIA). In 2000, his son Tommy left a career in the United States as a financial analyst with Johnson and Johnson to take the TSL helm, and was followed soon after by his wife and fellow CEO, Annie Yau Tse, together growing TSL to include over three hundred corporate and franchisee-owned retail stores throughout Hong Kong, China, Macau, and Malaysia. Located in Panyu, China, TSL’s factory is responsible for designing and producing the lion’s share of their magnificent products.

After his session with Warren, Tommy told Annie about Christine’s work.

The following day, she and Tommy returned with their daughter to look over Christine’s creations. All impressed, Annie and Tommy bought approximately $200 (wholesale) worth of Christine’s designs. Stating that he’d be traveling over the next three weeks, Tommy promised to be back in touch when he returned home to Hong Kong. Understandably skeptical, the Kellers gave it little further thought. Almost exactly to the day however, Tommy was true to his word. He sent an email saying that he’d like to discuss a preliminary agreement with Christine to have her design a line of art jewelry for TSL. To that end, he asked if he could return with key members of his staff in early October. He also asked the Kellers to arrange visits to the studios of local artists of various media, to expose his staff to the type of creativity that Appalachian artisans are known for.

Tommy and Annie returned to West Virginia.

With them were marketing head Anthony Jim, lead jewelry designer Tommy Yuen, and videographer Benny Wong. Over the course of an intense week, Christine shared her wire working techniques with them. Together, they enjoyed many laughs while learning to create their own designs. The group also visited the workshops of the Keller’s potter, glassblower, and leatherworker friends, as well as West Virginia’s Tamarack retail gallery, with all activities, including interviews with Christine and the TSL officers being documented by Benny’s cameras. One only need view the beautiful promotional video that resulted, to get a sense of how strong the bond between Christine and TSL’s people was already becoming.

As TSL’s head goldsmiths Mr. Kin-Shing Chu (Ah Shing) and Mr. Kai-Wai Li (Ah Wai) had been unable to get their visas in time for the trip, Tommy returned to Buckhannon a couple of weeks later with the two, along with TSL’s head of merchandising, Ms. Irene Chung. This second trip was essentially a repeat of the first, although Ah Shing demonstrated a real affinity for Christine’s techniques, and an ability to improvise his own interesting spin on them. Returning to the Panyu factory, Ah Shing began creating prototypes of rings, earrings, and pendants, which incorporated 24 karat gold wire into Christine’s designs. Ah Shing shared photographs and consulted with Christine via email for suggestions and approval. In November, plans were made for Christine to visit Hong Kong in January 2016 to advance the collaboration.

Disembarking from the Cathay Pacific jetliner on her first trip to Asia, Christine found Hong Kong to be a beautiful and commercially vibrant city.

TSL spared no expense in arranging for car transportation to a fine hotel overlooking Kowloon Bay and Hong Kong Island’s modern skyline. This was to set a precedent for how she would be treated going forward by the very generous TSL organization. With little time to settle in, Tommy, Christine, and her husband traveled across the China border, first to the Panyu factory where the line would be produced, and then to TSL’s China headquarters in Guangzhou, before returning to Hong Kong where she got to meet the founder of the empire, the elder Mr. Tse and his wife. During an intensive ten days, many tasks critical to success were accomplished.

Upon first seeing Christine’s colorful wire work in West Virginia, Tommy had a vision of creating a DIY (do it yourself) experience for TSL customers. He imagined girlfriends, mothers and daughters, and bridal parties being taught by TSL ambassadors how to form their own rings during store-hosted workshops. He felt strongly, that this DIY experience would help customers intimately connect with the products that were so different from the traditional, cast jewelry familiar to the Chinese market. To that end, Christine held workshops for scores of TSL employees, including high-level buyers and management. During a business meeting in Hong Kong to discuss a marketing plan for the line, some pushback by higher-ups was felt. The concern was whether a luxury brand known for its 24 karat gold and exceptional diamonds could offer colorful, art jewelry with a nonprecious (aluminum) element. At the conclusion of the meeting of over twenty executives, Tommy confided in Christine his frustration saying “Sometimes I think they think too much!” With the trip ending on a less optimistic note than it had begun, and Tommy continuing to travel back and forth between Hong Kong and China, there was a fear that the project would languish.

Those fears were laid to rest however, as Tommy’s resolve to see the line come to fruition continued to drive things forward.

Prototyping continued. If proposed designs lost too much of what Tommy called “Christine’s DNA,” they were reworked to recapture the spirit of one-of-a-kind, handmade art jewelry. Eventually, over the course of eight months, everything came together beautifully. A product line of over forty SKUs was finalized. A photo shoot was arranged in Copenhagen by TSL’s branding expert, using a young, blond Danish model as the ‘face’ of the collection. Those images were emblazoned on banners, posters, catalogs, and an attractive, in-store display case. And, yes, it was also displayed on a large LED billboard in Shanghai! Prior to Christine’s return to Asia, the Contemporary Art Jewellery Collection by Christine Keller for TSL was soft launched in a limited number of thirteen corporate-owned shops. Even before the media blitz that was to follow, the pieces began to sell.

And so it was that this past October, Christine returned to China to promote the line in its major cities. The promotional tour included numerous workshops for fashion bloggers, media representatives, and TSL’s VIP customers. During the session at one of TSL’s Shanghai stores (see video below), a lovely, young blogger received over one million real time likes for the jewelry! Prior to each workshop, with the help of her interpreter, TSL director Oscar Liu, Christine met her trainer ‘Ambassadors’ in the many stores she visited, certifying them in a champagne ceremony by inspecting their work and gifting them with a framed certificate. Driven by the appearances and the power of social media, sales had increased significantly, and more stores and inventory were added. On her fall tour, Christine returned to the Panyu factory, visiting the girls who produce her designs by hand under the supervision of Ah Shing. She had the opportunity to thank them all for helping bring her dreams to life. Back in Hong Kong, a small business meeting was held. This time, their confidence bolstered by the positivity of the initial sales of the line, Christine was given free rein to produce the second and third wave of the collection. A line to complement the embroidery of traditional Chinese wedding gowns is planned, as well as a line of gold and silver ‘statement pendants’ featuring gorgeous, semiprecious stones as the focal.

Along the adventure, the Kellers had the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Beijing’s Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall at Badaling, the Macau Peninsula, and to meet dozens of wonderful Chinese people. They were wined and dined, and had their every need met by a loving TSL staff. Early on, Christine was cautioned by well-meaning friends about the unscrupulous business practices of some Chinese companies. While that can certainly be the case, in line with the serendipitous initial meeting of the Kellers and the Tses, they and the people of TSL have proven themselves to be nothing less than honest, supportive, and wonderful at every turn.

As TSL foots the bill for all the materials, manufacturing, merchandising, and marketing of the products, Christine receives a modest design fee for each piece sold.

As Tommy’s goal is to sell the line in volume, at affordable prices, Christine is hopeful that as the collection succeeds, her share will become appreciable. And, as the line expands, she is hopeful that her association with TSL Jewellery will be a long, lucrative, and happy one. Whatever the eventual outcome, the entire process has been nothing short of magical, and Christine is enormously grateful for the way it has enriched her life, as well as her career. Being a veteran of several national wholesale and retail shows, trying to make one’s work stand out among a sea of other high-level jewelry makers, Christine feels especially blessed for this incredible opportunity. Of course, when such serendipity occurs, having the skill set and the personality to make the most of it, helps a lot. Christine is a dynamic and attractive woman, as well as a talented jewelry designer, and we wish her all the best on her international journey!

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by Christine Keller 

Posted in Free Classes, From Making to Marketing, jewelry making, Selling Jewelry, Uncategorized

NEW! Triangle, Oval and Square Texture Hammers!

I am so happy to introduce a new addition to our family of Wubbers tools —

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The Artisan’s Mark Shaped Texture Hammers!
  • Square
  • Oval
  • Triangle
Best of all, Wubbers offers them with…
A lifetime guarantee. With this kind of guarantee, the Wubbers Artisan’s Mark Texture Hammers create a lasting impression; the ultimate hammers for creating unique textures and patterns.

It’s all in the details.

Smaller in size and uniquely shaped, the Artisan’s Mark Shaped Texture Hammers are perfect for detailed work.  They have been carefully designed with ergonomic handles made of high quality white oak, shaped to encourage the correct grip from the moment you pick up your new hammer.  Created with attention to the smallest detail, the hammer heads are pinned on tight, making them secure and safe to use.

Unlike any other two faced hammers on the market —  
The square and oval shaped hammers have coordinating border textures built in. One face has the main texture while the other face is designed to easily create a uniform border that is complementary to the main texture; easily adding finesse´ to your designs!
Two Triangle Hammers?  What’s the difference? 
One triangle hammer has the point of the triangle turned upward, while the other hammer has the point turned downward, allowing each to make its own unique markings.For each hammer, one triangle face has a texture pattern, while the opposite face is smooth and polished. The well-defined edges of the smooth faces can make a variety of marks, ranging from deep lines to very fine, delicate lines. The points of the triangles also make unique marks, depending on the angle and pressure used while hammering.

Four hammers, eight faces! 

Layer the textures and enjoy experimenting to see how many different looks you can create!

Here’s wishing you many happy hours of jewelry-making,
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NEW Wubbers Artisan’s Mark Texture Hammers  
A New Addition to the Line of Hammers by Wubbers 

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Be sure to check out our helpful WubbersU.com tutorial on how to use Liver of Sulfur to add depth to the texture you make on metal.

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Posted in Free Classes, jewelry making, Tools

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Posted in Creative words of wisdom, Free Classes, jewelry making, Jewelry Making Q&A, Uncategorized

The Art of Giving Back Giveaway!

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Laura Scott

Our very own Laura Scott, Wubbers University Communications Specialist, recently spent a week on a humanitarian trip in Nicaragua. Her story can be read below.

In honor of giving back to others…

Wubbers will conduct a random drawing to give away a free pair of Wubbers Apprentice Pliers to one lucky winner. With this pair of pliers, consider making a piece of jewelry for someone who has blessed your soul, or who might need some encouragement, or who inspires you to be a better person. We want to challenge you to explore the art of giving back.

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To enter, go to our “The Art of Giving Back GIVEAWAY!” post on Facebook and simply tell us in the comments below who you want to give back to and why. One lucky winner who leaves a comment will be randomly selected on July 18th, 2016 and will be announced on July 19th, 2016.

Laura’s Story…

A little over a week ago, I stepped out of the airport back onto American soil. I had just spent the most exhausting yet refreshing week of my life in a country whose people and culture forever impacted my soul…

Nicaragua

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I went into this humanitarian trip with a group of 30 other people not quite knowing what to expect other than to be there to serve and give whatever I had to offer to the people of Nicaragua. Little did I know how much this trip would give back to me through the experiences and friendships made.

The sights around us were astounding

The colors,

nature,
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the food,
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and the creations of local artists/artisans.
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Soap stone sculpture by Oscar Casco
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Local leather artisans
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Bracelet I came home with from a local jeweler

The people of Nicaragua are hard workers

They are innovative and problem solvers. Thankfully, we were fortunate to learn from them and work right alongside them. Most days we worked hard to clear land with machetes in order to make gardens for hungry school children, we moved piles of dirt and rocks, and stacked countless cinder blocks to make homes. We played games with school children and shared Coca Cola, candy and stickers.

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But, my favorite day was spent at Casa Materna

Casa Materna is a dormitory full of women who were in their last month of pregnancy. They leave their families and their homes to be attended to day and night by nurses, as this is Nicaragua’s standard practice for maternity care. One woman had walked three days to get there. It was a true gift to me to just sit and visit with them, serve a warm lunch, and then pamper them with pedicures.

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My heart will be forever changed thanks to the people of this country. They gave me a greater capacity to love, to remember what it means to think beyond myself, and to challenge myself to create with a meaningful passion. We can all give back in some way whether big or small. I want to challenge you all to find that passion that drives your soul; that has the ability to share with others in a way that brings meaning and has a lasting impact.

 

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Posted in Interviews, Patti's Jewelry Travels, Wubbers Cares

Gwen Youngblood at Bead & Button!

Gwen Youngblood will be at Bead&Button Show once again this year with her Metal Art Lab booth (location 1006/1008) filled with a ton of Wubbers tools including the Apprentice line as well as her unique Riveting Essentials Kit.

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Also, be sure to stop by Gwen’s Metal Art Lab booth on June 10th at 2:00 P.M. for a book signing by chainmaille artist Kat Wisniewski.

Kat’s recently published book, New Connections in Chain Mail Jewelry with Rubber and Glass Rings, features 25 sparkling glass and flexible rubber ring chain mail projects for jewelry makers of all levels. Kat will be teaching at Bead & Button this year.  Be sure to click the link below for her class schedule.

Kat Wisniewski

Designs by Kat Wisniewski

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Click Here for Kat Wisniewski’s Bead&Button Show Class Schedule!

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Posted in Gwen Youngblood, Local Classes, Tools, Uncategorized
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