Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Bead Retreat and a birthday...

Not long after my post in September, I flew out to Lake Tahoe to attend my first ever bead retreat. Actually it was my first ever gathering related to beads. It has taken me far more time than I anticipated to go through my photos and put together my thoughts on the bead retreat. Settle in for a long post and lots of photos!

I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana - it's a fly over city, not many people fly here as a destination. Our airport is small (but I love it!) so when flying out of here, it's rare to have a straight flight anywhere unless I'm going to a big city. It makes for a long day of travel. In getting to Lake Tahoe I connected through Dallas/Ft. Worth and thankfully had a really nice, uneventful flight. I landed in Reno and planned to take a shuttle for the hour drive from the airport to the retreat. I was generously rescued from that by Dot and Cynthia. It was a lot nicer to see these two faces at the airport than to have to take a shuttle. I knew Dot and Cynthia from online groups but had never met them in person. We had a nice drive to the retreat, the conversation never lagged giving me a good amount of time to get to know them.

I was so excited about the retreat and a little anxious - not knowing what to expect. We arrived at the Village of Squaw Valley, I checked in to my room (hauling my bags halfway through the village) only to find that the thermostat in the room was broken and it was HOT in the room. I dropped off my bags in Dot & Cyn's room, we picked up partners in crime and beads, Katie and Colleen and left for a drive around the lake. These are 2 ladies I have 'met' online but never in person and I found both to be a delight - a great combination of nice with a sarcastic edge. Photos from Emerald Bay follow and all are 'clickable' for a larger view. If you are not so keen on lake photos scroll down for the bead stuff

We made another stop right off the highway to take a few more shots of the lake, it was just so pretty we HAD to!

Isn't it breathtaking? Upon our return from the lake, I was (finally) able to check into my room (thermostat was fixed) and then check in for the retreat. We were handed a big tote jammed full of goodies. Many of us met up for dinner that evening, it seemed a pretty good start to a fun weekend.

Here are some shots from around the village...

a view from my balcony

one of the many sculptures found in the village

walking through the village

Thursday was a full day of 4 bonus workshops, all components for the workshops were provided for free by various sponsors. The first workshop was earrings

I enjoyed this class - I had not worked with eye pins, or made anything like this before. I had fun. I even purchased the tools used (chain nose pliers, flush-cut wire cutters and round nose pliers) just in case I want to try something like this again. I like how the earrings turned out and I'd even wear them, but they are a tad heavy for my ears.

Second workshop was another pair of earrings that I finished, but ended up taking a part - they incorporated brass dragonflies and this beautiful tangerine WireLace by Alacarte Clasps that was wonderful to work with, but the earrings were a little to 'foofie' for me.

Third workshop was a bracelet and while I liked all the components, I did not like them together in a bracelet. The glue they provided was not optimal for the project, it was very slow drying, I ended up with it all over the crystals and got extremely frustrated in this class. We were pushed to get through it quickly at the same time adding to the anxiety. For the most part, I enjoyed the process of putting the components together, but did not like the end result. I took it apart when I got home, but still have not been able to get the glue off the larger crystals.

Fourth and final workshop - Twisted Crystal Necklace. It's crocheted wire with crystals. I don't crochet, I don't knit - I know nothing about it and was sure this workshop would be least liked by me and I ended up enjoying this class the best of the four. I have actually purchased an additional spool of parawire to work this necklace again. The sheer amount of crystals in this is breathtaking.

Here is a link to a description of all the workshops including photos of the projects.

There were 3 groups for the classes which consisted of 15-20 people per group, my group had Sherry Serafini's Bead Embroidered Pendant class the first day. This was really nice for me since I am within my comfort zone in this type of class. Sherry is an outstanding teacher spending quality time with each individual to make sure they are comfortable with the project. I enjoyed it immensely even though it did not stretch my boundaries, a perfect first class for me. Below is my completed project

Second class was beautiful bracelet in a modified right angle weave with Marcia DeCoster. This one did test my patience. Marcia is another good teacher, full of positive reinforcement and seems to genuinely enjoy her time with her students. I finished it fairly quickly upon my arrival home, it is gorgeous in person. There is no way to capture the amazing sparkle of the gobs of crystals in this piece. I'm not sure how many are in it, but it is chock full! Below are photos of my finished piece

The last workshop was with Beki Haley, this was another class that really stretched me in a good way. I don't have that project finished yet, so you'll have to refer to photos on the website for an example. This was my first attempt at beading around a rivoli and I liked it - a lot! My kit from the class is purple and green and I bought an extra kit in teal and copper. Now to find the time to finish the first and start the second kit!

Some of the fun stuff... there were a couple of swaps organized by Dot and Cyn. One was for earrings and one for brooches. I made two pair of earrings and two brooches and received the same in return. It's a nice way to share bead art with others. I received a pair of earrings from Dot pictured here

And I'm sorry to say the second pair of earrings I received fell apart not long after I received them with little very little handling. I'm not sure who made them, they were light blue, very heavy and held together with light wire. The concept was nice though.

For the brooches, I received one from Cyn Bicker

isn't it adorable?

And one from Katie

How lucky am I???

One evening there was a "Meet the teachers dessert social". That event, for me, was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. There was a complementary wine tasting (key word 'tasting') station set up near the door and just after that were the 3 instructors stations. Each had a small set up where we could pay for our kits for the classes. There were also displays of kits and other items for purchase in the same area, this created a bit of a bottleneck of which I was at the end. In reality it was about 5-6 people, but they were taking quite a bit of time shopping rather than purchasing their kits and moving on so the rest of us could do the same. At one point (after standing in line for more then 20 minutes) we were told to take our seats. I still had not purchased all my kits at that point and after a long day my feet were killing me, so I hobbled to my seat as instructed. On the way, I stopped at the wine station in anticipation of at least a small glass of wine. What I received was a taste - literally, 2 sips. The irritating part - the wine keeper freely pouring bountiful amounts for her acquaintances but pouring meager sips for others. A little discretion could have been used in her free pouring and possibly done out of the line of sight of the rest of us that weren't offered the same.

The beverages (water, soda, coffee, etc.) were at the other end of the room requiring one to maneuver through the crowd that had gathered around the mic while the folks in charge were making announcements and calling out raffle winners. There was little to no meeting of the teachers, they were busy with handling folks purchasing their kits.

Friday night was the Ugly Beaded Project, I stayed long enough to cast my vote then left. One of the highlights of this trip for me was that I had non-beading friends coming to the village to meet me. They showed up Friday night, it was so nice to reconnect and catch up with them.

Saturday night was the pajama party. Did I mention it was my birthday weekend??? My non-beading friends took me out for a really nice dinner on that night, we checked in to the PJ party after dinner, it was in full swing but we weren't in our pj's so we didn't stay.

My pals (Teri, Sheila) and me

Sunday was my birthday and I was greeted with a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" upon my arrival in Beki's class that morning. Not long after that Beki delivered my birthday gift from my Beads For Birthday's buddy from the All About Beads forum. What a GREAT way to start a birthday! I sat next to 'Bead Boy' (Dustin Wedekind) for that class, a world class beader, a very funny guy and a fellow Libra.

We had lunch at one of the restaurants in the village and again, the waiter, everyone at my table and the surrounding tables sang happy birthday to me. The waiter also delivered a mouth watering brownie with ice cream.

Shortly after the last class ended the closing ceremonies began with thank yous all around as well as more raffles. The room broke into singing happy birthday to me (again) a couple of times to boot. And the BEST thing... I won a raffle, not just any raffle but one of the items created by Sherry Serafini.

Isn't it pretty? How's that for a perfect end to a weekend and a birthday?

Other folks that I'm happy to say I met and/or was able to sit near and bead with... Katie, Colleen, Maia, Betcey, Arline, Cyn, Dot and of course, the amazing teachers.

So now, the real question - would I do it again? The honest answer is I'm not sure. Right when I got home, I said no way, too expensive and too far away. But now that I've had a chance to let the experience set in - I'm not so sure.

I'll sum up what I spent.
$400 - Airfare
$550 - Retreat fee, the discounted price for early sign up, this cost included lunches for the 3 days of classes
$140 - Kit fees for all three classes
$580 - Room for 4 nights
Other costs incurred for lunches for the days we did not have classes, all breakfasts, dinners and incidentals.

That is a LOT of money. Before I would do it again, I would have to re-examine what I really got out of this trip. It is nice to sit in a room of like minded people and bead together, but as an introvert, not necessary to me. I do not tend to participate in group discussion, but instead focus on those few in my immediate area. The instruction hand outs for each class were (thankfully) complete and detailed enough that I don't think I would need an instructor for anything other than confirmation I was following the directions correctly. Add to that - traveling through a few time zones, unfamiliar climate, altitude and noises (in the middle of the night I was subject to screaming people, and early morning barking dogs in the courtyard) and it gets to be a bit more challenging than I'd like. I am glad I attended, but would really have to weigh the pros and cons if presented with another opportunity for this type of vacation.


RedChili said...

Thanks for this post, Grace. It came across as a thoughtful and unbiased account of a retreat. Gale

freebird said...

What a weekend! I agree you really have to weigh the costs against the rest of it. I tend to want to drive and my sister lives in Reno area but the events usually charge a higher price if you don't use the hotel.

I love the brooch you made and the ones you received. And it sounds like it's great that you got to meet cyber friends.

Being a real introvert can make something like this overwhelming but it sounds like some of it wasn't planned well enough. If you are going to have a wine tasting event then HAVE one. Or if you are having dessert with the teachers it should be mingling WITHOUT selling at the same time.

I have hesitated to spend money on events like these as I don't really have it unless it's a super event and it sounds like it's good I didn't go (I'm an introvert too).

*~tabby~* crooked heart art said...

hi grace
well atleast you got to meet cyber friends-which must of been awfully nice :)
and to of been able to experience the retreat first hand-and my oh my is the scenery ever so beautiful
your bead work is stunning as always
thanks for sharing your 'pro's & con's and art :)
enjoy your day
p.s. love the cat pin!

*~tabby~* crooked heart art said...

me again :)
i am drooling over your rivoli bracelet VBG!!
stunning :)
happy day grace

Carol said...

What an interesting post!! I often wondered how it would be to attend a retreat and the cost involved. Sorry to say, if I had gone to this one, it would have been hard to be at class and not out enjoying the wonderful outdoors! I must admit that I would have loved to be in the company you found yourself in. Nice projects, but somehow, I think YOU could have taught a class in cabs yourself!

I really enjoyed this post.

Dot said...

I enjoyed every word of this post Grace. Good to read a honest post about your retreat and your experiences there.

Loved the photo's of Lake Tahoe(breathtaking) and the jewelry you made (including that incredible beaded necklace).

I went to a retreat in March of this year and had some similar experiences to you. And found I did enjoy the experience for the main part.

However, like you , I don't enjoy big gatherings and found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of people at the retreat. So relate to a lot of what you said.

The retreat I went to was very expensive too and I am not going to it next year.

I happily imagine what it would be like if I ever got to spend time with you and Lisa one day. Beading away together!

Speaking of Lisa ; she encouraged me to take part in the BJP next year so I am taking the plunge - looking forward to stretching myself.

The photo's of two of your kitties in your last post made me smile.

Much love to you and your family at Christmas.

Dot xx

Dot said...

P.S Forgot to comment on the bracelet that had me gasping at the screen. Mouth watering Grace. Wish I could see it in person.
And belated happy birthday too!
Dot x

The Lone Beader said...

Beautiful photos! Glad you had a good time. And, it is a lot of money, isn't it? I think I would rather use that money to travel overseas for a serious bead-shopping adventure! ;)

flyingbeader said...

HI was so fun to finally get to met you too...sorry if Cyn & I talked nonstop all the time...bad habit when we finally get to see each other only once a year. But to be with you & Kate, Colleen, Betcey, Arline, Beki, Dustin, Maia & all the other's I've forgotten to mention was just wonderful.

I do go to retreats alot & it was about average cost. It was a little disorganized, but I put that to the fact that it was their very first one. I'm not sure if I'd do it again as Reno WAS pretty far for us two here in the mid West.

You know I have totally forgotten to take pictures of the swap pieces I got! I've been wearing them often & get so many comments about the brown & white earrings you made.


KV said...

Lovely post, Grace! I so enjoyed your photos as it has been a long time since I was in that area myself.

Taking a class with Serafini and DeCoster surely must have been the highlights of this trip. I, too, enjoy beading alone and have turned down all efforts by our local bead society and other beading friends to join them. Never could figure out how one could chatter and bead at the same time -- for me, it is a purely meditative process and I so enjoy it that way.

A belated happy birthday to you!!!

Kathy V in NM

Veleta (Sammy) said...

sounds just amazing!!! To expecially be in the same room as Sherri... totally mind blogging!!!!

Pursuing Art... said...

I was hoping you'd post about your trip! Thank you for taking the time to share it with us, Grace.

LOVE the stunning photos of Lake Tahoe...each and every one are just gorgeous!

What fun to meet beading friends and Sherry, Marcia and Beki too. And, Dustin...he is one talented guy! Catching up with your dear friends must have been great. How nice of them to take you out for a special dinner too! The picture of you three is a great one!!

I enjoyed your thoughts on going. Felt that I would feel the same way way, needing to weigh the pros and cons. But I think it is great that you experienced it.

The necklace pendant is gorgeous! Can understand it not being a challenge for you...meeting Sherry must have been fun though! The bracelet is just the colors and I bet it sparkles and shines! Beki's spiral pattern around the Rivoli looks very cool...I bet that was a fun class!

The earrings from Dot, and brooches from Cyn and Katie are lovely!

Happy Belated Birthday, Grace! What a perfect ending to your trip...birthday serenades and winning a raffle piece made by's beautiful! XO ~Lisa

P.S. Smiled over Dot's comment. See, I did find a replacement for myself! ~wink~

Lynn said...

Happy Belated Birthday - what a great way to spend your day! Thanks for taking us along to the retreat. I have always dreamed of being able to participate in one, and now I guess those sour grapes are a little sweeter :)

Your lake pics are stunning. And of course your beading is even more so.....hugs!

Kathi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pam T said...

wow. what an incredible get-away.... even if you only do/did it just this once, it was worth every penny and every moment, I would think.
thanks for sharing, Grace!

Leaves of Grass

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body - Walt Whitman