Metal Retreat Recap

I’m not even sure where to begin…. perhaps with this?

The cross-country drive to Trout Lake, Washington was long and exhausting, but covered some of the most beautiful territory I’ve ever seen. Nick and I made several cross-country drives in the early days of our lives together, but that was more than 20 years ago (where does the time go?) and I realized on this trip how much I love our country and have missed exploring her beauty.

Apart from a few drizzles, the weather was stunning – bright blue skies, fluffy clouds, and crisp, clean air. It was wonderful.






It was also a real pleasure to make the trip with my dear, funny, and very loving friend Kimmy.

Metal Retreat 2013

It’s been a tough year for both of us, in many respects, and although we were really (REALLY) ready for the trip to be over by the end of it (13 hours in the car on the last day – yikes!), we were in real need of some concentrated time together to catch up and pray and invest in one another.

Metal Retreat 2013

Our route took us through Albuquerque, both coming and going, and we stayed  at the Nativo Lodge both nights. Very reasonably priced, with a restaurant and bar on site, an indoor pool and hot tub, and comfortable rooms. The staff was top-notch, too – a real pleasure in a time when customer service seems to be an outdated notion. I’m happy to recommend Nativo to you if you ever find yourself in Albuquerque.

I’ve already written about my sweet friend Melissa and her family – we stayed with them both coming and going, too. Her husband, Garth, was very gracious and patient with the disruption in their lives! (Thanks, Garth!)

But, of course, the best part of the trip was being there.

Metal Retreat 2013

This was the view from my bedroom, and I fell asleep every night to the sound of the water – heaven! The house seemed perfectly – almost surreally – designed to fit our needs, with the exception of the sleeper sofa in the den. Our friend Robin Delargy had a tough time of it until we found her an inflatable mattress to put on top of it!

We set up our workspace in the garage – some common tools along the back and on one table near the front, the rest of the tables for individual workstations that we could set up as they best suited us.

Metal Retreat 2013
Metal Retreat 2013

There were things I brought along that never made it out of the box and some things I didn’t bring that I really missed, but in general I felt well set up. And people were very generous about sharing what they had.

Metal Retreat 2013

Look at all of Morgan’s stamps! WOW!

We had planned a lot of demos – to be honest, we’d planned too many, and some we didn’t even get to. It was a good lesson learned for next year. But the amount of sharing that happened organically was just amazing – we’d be starting a project and just holler out, “I’m doing some sawing – anyone want a demo on using a jeweler’s saw?” or “I’m setting a stone with corners – anyone want to see how that’s done?” Several times, people approached me with a challenge they were having and we just talked through it – there was an ebb and flow to the creativity and a cooperative sharing of information and tips and experience that was truly humbling. No one held back – we just put it out there, whatever we had, for the sharing.

Metal Retreat 2013

Metal Retreat 2013

Metal Retreat 2013

Metal Retreat 2013

Metal Retreat 2013

Metal Retreat 2013

Metal Retreat 2013

Metal Retreat 2013

Metal Retreat 2013

Metal Retreat 2013
And oh my lord, I laughed a lot. These women were all so incredibly funny! The first night, we had a moment where the whole room – all of us – were done in by laughing so hard, tears streaming down our faces, holding our sides, gasping. And there were a number of us with real health issues – for myself, I’ll just say that fibromyalgia sucks and I missed more of the week because of it than I was happy with. I was deeply moved by the way everyone just rallied around whoever was in need at a particular moment – there was a generosity of spirit that was extraordinary in a group of women coming together for the first time.

In fact, even more than the creativity, I was struck by how immediately we bonded. This isn’t the post for a dissection of a particular truth, but let’s face it, women can be just awful to one another and for some reason that can be especially true in the creative community. There was absolutely none of that – not even a whiff – at this Retreat. In fact, several people mentioned during the week that they’d been apprehensive about that potential dynamic, and how relieved they were by the reality. Everyone just set their egos aside and poured into one another for six days – it makes me tear up a little just thinking about it.

One of the ladies brought a case full of trays with the most beautiful cabochons. We spent an entire morning looking through them!

Metal Retreat 2013
Over the next month or so, I’ll post more here about the trip – there’s a lot of stuff to unpack in my head, and it’s honestly too much for one post. For starters, I’ll have a post up at Art Jewelry Elements tomorrow about learning Keum Boo, a new technique to me that I am completely smitten with! And at some point soon, I’ll update my sidebar with links to the sites of other Metal Retreat participants so you can check them out too. In the meantime, go here to read one participant’s very moving recap of her week with us.

Metal Retreat 2013
Peek-a- boo! Playing with the hydraulic press. Photo by Linda Landig.

Metal Retreat 2013
The creativity was astounding. Photo by Linda Landig.

Metal Retreat 2013
Some of Judy’s Keum Boo. Photo by Morgan Corder Bass.

Metal Retreat 2013
Cabochons ready to be cut from glass “loaves” fresh out of the kiln.

Metal Retreat 2013
Judy’s stunning silver fold-formed bangle. (Practically all of us made one in copper!)

Metal Retreat 2013
My labradorite shield pendant – the square bail is a new thing for me.

Registration for Metal Retreat 2014 will open in January!

6 replies
  1. diane
    diane says:

    When the right set of artists comes together with the right spirit, it can be magic. It’s much the same with the quilt retreats I’ve been on (though we never get to use propane torches!).

    The end results are stunning. I’d want to design my wardrobe around the pieces, not the other way around.

    Reply
  2. Marie
    Marie says:

    I know it is wrong to be jealous, but I am. This looks like so much fun and so enlightening. I know the term awesome is used too frequently, but it must have been awesome!!!

    Reply
  3. Robin Delargy
    Robin Delargy says:

    It really was every bit as magical as you make it sound, Francesca! In fact, I had such a good time that I’m a little bit jealous of myself. 🙂

    I am already looking forward to next year.

    Reply

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