I am just returning, feeling very fulfilled and prepared to take on the year, from a visit with goldsmith and mentor Michael David Sturlin. Michael hosts a few 5 day In-Depth Retreats per year at his private studio in Scottsdale Arizona. I was one of the lucky four to nab a spot at his January retreat.
Michael's retreats focus on the process of design and artistic development. He very generously shares with his students the wealth of knowledge he has accumulated through his trials, errors, and successes while earning a living as a goldsmith. This is not the kind of education you get in a university, which is exactly why I had to see him.
I went to Michael with an idea for my new line, and over the five days I worked through his design process to develop a beautiful new suite of jewelry that I am very excited to debut this spring. We were all very busy sketching, making paper and foil models, refining ideas, and fabricating prototypes, but we also found a bit of time to enjoy some of the wonderful things about Scottsdale.
Dawn (a new goldsmith friend and fellow retreat member) and I got up early on Monday morning to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens. This was so wonderful that I had to create it's own blog post (see Chihuly in the Garden). I highly recommend a visit to the gardens if you so happen to find yourself in Scottsdale.
On Tuesday, we all took a trip to the late Paolo Soleri's residence and sculpture studios called "Cosanti". This field trip was great for shape exploration and to see sand casting applied to a different craft. Paolo Soleri trained many artists to sculpt, cast and finish his famous wind bells, and many of the artist live in the bio-climatic architectural residences he built on site. The artists pour the bronze wind bells during the week we were fortunate enough to see them in action. I posted some pictures below.
I also have to mention that Michael's wife Praparat is a professionally trained chef and culinary teacher from Thailand. She prepared three course meals for us for lunch and dinner each day and supplied us with homemade snacks to keep us fueled up at the bench. I have never had such delicious food, and I am promptly planning a trip back to Scottsdale for her cooking lessons.
It was a trip full of new friends, laughs, relaxation, fantastic food, and hard work that left me feeling accomplished and happy. A very gratifying start to the new year.
For more information on Michael David Sturlin and his retreats, please visit his blog.