Teri Vance: Making jewelry at Carson City art gallery

Jo Ann Grace, right, teaches Sheri Dunn how to wrap wire during a jewelry-making class at the Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery.

Jo Ann Grace, right, teaches Sheri Dunn how to wrap wire during a jewelry-making class at the Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery.

If you know me — and I think you do — you know I love beautiful jewelry. And I’m lucky to live here where we have some of the best jewelry stores I’ve ever seen. I think I have at least one piece from each one of them.

But I entered a whole new realm this week. I made my own.

At the urging of Sheri Dunn, I signed up for the beginner sea glass wire wrapping class taught by Jo Ann Grace through the Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery.

Sheri had bought the supplies and a book to explain the craft, but was having trouble connecting it in real life. So, we went to the class Tuesday night.

Until then, I’d had little exposure to wire-wrapped jewelry. Of course, I had seen it before but hadn’t given much thought to the actual technique.

First thing I learned: It’s a medium that allows for a lot of variation and creativity that can make stunning pieces of art. I also learned: It’s kind of hard to do.

My hands don’t naturally do what my mind wants them to do. And, sometimes, my mind doesn’t even know what it wants to do. So you can imagine my struggle.

However, Jo Ann, who sells her own jewelry at Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery, is a pro. She’s patient and encouraging as well as so adept at the craft she can help you along.

When you show up to class, which is limited to six participants to keep it manageable, your place is already set with all the tools you will need. Jo Ann explains what each one of them is for.

All other supplies are also provided — along with sangria. Students can choose from her wide selection of sea and tumbled glass from different parts of the world, including Mexico and Bermuda.

Jo Ann started collecting beach glass with her sister and they started making the jewelry together as “Two Glassy Beaches.” Jo Ann is now branching off more on her own as an artist and instructor.

By the time you leave you will have at least one pendant to show for your efforts.

Taking my newly developed skills, and not wanting to forget them, I signed up for the intermediate class two days later. In that class, we took the basic knowledge and added more intricate techniques. For me, it all started coming together in that class. (When I showed my husband my new pendant, he said, “Hey, that one actually looks pretty good.” That was a marked improvement from his reaction to my first attempts).

As I started figuring out better how to work with the wire, I also started to see how it related to the glass itself.

Jo Ann often tells the class to let the glass tell you what it needs.

“You have to give over to the personality of the glass,” she said. “Just do what it’s telling you to do.”

Go to the Creative Center tab on artsyfartsy.com to see more of these and other classes.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.


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