Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I have just gotten back from a wonderful week in Salt Lake City with the amazing Melissa Muir.


In addition to some badly needed play time, I took photos of several projects for her new book. We had a blast and I got to have a road trip, which is one of my favorite things.






I’m safely home again and spent all day yesterday teaching a class with two of my favorite students – so much fun. I put together a tutorial about one of our projects over on the Art Jewelry Elements blog today – check it out.


And today is the birthday of my sweet husband, Nick. I can hardly talk about him these days without becoming emotional with gratitude for him. Funny, generous, wise, loving, selfless – there really aren’t words to capture the man that he is. His retirement is coming up fast, and honestly? We can’t wait. On this birthday, the greatest gift I can think of to give him (besides the studio we’re building him after the first of the year!) are my passionate prayers for years and years and years of rest, creativity, and renewed purpose. He’s been painting up a storm, and I am so excited to see what this next season brings him. Happy birthday, babe – I love you and I thank God for you every single day.


October AJE Component of the Month!

It’s time again for the always-fun Art Jewelry Elements Component of the Month challenge! This month’s hostess is Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio, and I am completely smitten with the Spiral Fossil Discs she gave us to work with.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 7.23.32 PM

They are so rustic and fun! As usual, I asked to be surprised and when I opened the package, I knew right away what I wanted to do with mine.




I’m really happy with how the weaving turned out, but not so happy with how it hangs on the chain. I like the concept but the execution is lacking something – I need to play with it some more and maybe make up a custom chain or try it on some leather cording. When I get back from Salt Lake, I’ll lay out some options and see if I can come up with something I like better.

Want to see what everyone else did with their discs? Here are the links – enjoy!

Monthly Winners

AJE Blog Team
Francesca Watson <— YOU ARE HERE

Spring cleaning…

It’s been too long since I updated everyone on what I’m doing, but the truth is that we’ve been working our tails off on some expansions to the Roadhouse Arts workshop space – it’s nearly finished and it’s going to be amazing. (Photos will be going up on the Roadhouse site when we’re done!)

As part of all of that, I embarked on a two-day cleaning and reorganizing of my own studio space. We made some changes to the layout of our personal working areas, and it included moving my entire bead collection to another wall. Ugh. But, after much sweat, sore muscles, and some assistance from friends and family, the spring cleaning of the space is done. And I do mean cleaning – everything was wiped down, swept, sorted, organized, and put away. In some cases, I actually threw things out!





It’s silly, but one of the things I’m most pleased about is the installation of that bench apron, which holds the hammers, pliers and files I use most often. When I first tried to install it, I sheared off the wood screws I was using. Three times. Seriously. The lab tables that make up my work area have skirting made of old oak – and that stuff is like iron. Even with pilot holes drilled, the screws reached a point where they just said, “Hell no.” I finally got the right drill bit, drilled a deep enough pilot hole for each screw, and used special screws for hard woods.

Installed. Finally. Boo-yah.


I’ve decided I need more sparkle lights – I am completely enamored of them and they make me happy, so I’ll be installing several new strands soon. I’m also looking for small European-style globe strands for my patio at home. I’m addicted.

There are several large projects laid out on my bench, and tomorrow I get to spend the whole day working on them. I’ll also have most of Friday and Saturday for studio time before I leave Sunday for a week in Salt Lake with my dear friend Melissa Muir – accounting for drive time (I love road trips!), it’ll be a four-day play date and I cannot wait!

So that’s my update – there are still too many unopened boxes in my garage and there are three boxes of china and kitchen ephemera in my dining room that need my attention, but I’m in a place where I can really dig in and work. And I’m excited – I have some ideas rattling around in my head and I can’t wait to take them for a test drive. What about you? What are you up to?

AJE Component of the Month – September edition!

I made the (hard, painful) decision not to participate in this month’s component challenge over at Art Jewelry Elements – even before I got sick, I knew September was going to be exceedingly busy because of the move. So I didn’t get to play with one of these beauties:


These were offered by the amazing Kristi Bowman – I just love her components, so it wasn’t easy to pass up the opportunity to work with one of these great pieces!

Other members of the AJE team participated, though, along with three guest designers. Head over to the AJE blog for the links – you won’t be sorry!


I stumbled across this video last night, and it stunned me.

I believe – deeply and passionately – that like these wolves, human beings have a purpose here on earth. Beyond that, I believe with equal passion that each individual human being was created by a loving Father God with a plan and an intention for every single one.

Every. One.

Including me.

When we turn aside from or deny the things that God created us to be and do, it has an impact – not only on us as individuals, but on the people and places and circumstances and culture God created us to engage. Often our choices and decisions are well-intentioned – like the removal of the wolves from Yellowstone in the first place – and it’s only when we recalibrate our perspectives that we understand the damage we’ve done. When the solution is as simple as reversing course – reintroducing the thing we removed or setting aside an indulgence – we breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes, though – often – it takes more work and focus and discipline. And sometimes the damage cannot be undone.

I spent the entirety of my Sunday yesterday contemplating some challenging truths about myself, my choices, and what lies ahead for me. There are things I have – with good intentions – allowed into my life that have no business there. Important things have suffered from inattention and a lack of discipline. As difficult as it is to admit, the imbalance all of that creates is devastating to the internal landscape of my spirit. Everything around me suffers – relationships, creativity, environment. Me. And honestly? I walk through periods of intense self-loathing every time I stumble over one of those icky, unpleasant parts of myself I wish desperately would just go away.

And then… hope. Perspective. Grace. A God who forgives and empowers and and directs and casts vision. It is not an accident I found this video last night, or that my day was full of small moments of beauty. If you missed my story about the widow’s rosebushes, read my post from last week and then look at the beautiful rose I found yesterday afternoon when I stepped into the yard.

Helen's Rose

God loves me. I am – largely in spite of myself – where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to do. I have some recalibrating to do, but none of it is fatal, no essential part of me or my life is extinct or damaged beyond repair. Because… God. And grace. And Jesus. And I am so, so grateful for the reminder.

Happy Monday.

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