Allegory Gallery – Bead in the New Year 2020 – #3


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I’m having a great time again this year with Allegory Gallery‘s prompts to Bead in the New Year. Here are my makes for week three.

Day #13 – Let’s see something you made with ceramic beads

I’m a huge Gaea fan and have a lot of her work to choose from. I happened to use something I got more recently. 

This is her heart pendant and several ceramic beads. I strung these on waxed linen with matte amazonite rounds and faceted garnets. I finished it off with a copper clasp, also by Gaea.

Day #14 – Break out the polymer clay and make something

I’m going to have to catch up with this one later. I always have to work myself up to breaking out the clay. But I’ve got ideas percolating.

Day #15 – Organize at least one part of your craft area

I didn’t have a lot of time to work on things this past week, so I decided to clean a critical yet quick part of the studio. Here is a before picture.

I get out boxes of beads and supplies and as I work, they pile up around my chair. It’s a tripping hazard and just bad all the way around. Even though I tend to want to clean up my work surface first (and it needs it!) this was really the best use of my limited time.

Now I won’t trip and get injured. I’ll live to make another day. I am going to devote some time to my work surface this weekend. But it’s so difficult to focus on that when there are so many ideas to bring to life!

Day #16 – Use the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year: Classic Blue

I’m surprised how excited I’ve been about this color since I’ve long considered blue my least favorite color. Also, when considering ideas for this project, it was nice to see how many things near the color of Classic Blue I have. I had two other ideas, but ended up with this sweet, fun necklace. The peachy ceramic bead is by Gaea, but I got the bird pendant in a destash and don’t know the artist. The larger blue beads are vintage lucite, so it’s all nice and light.

Day #17 – Focus on metal as the main element in a new creation

I used a chain from Miss Fickle Media I have had for over five years. It is hammered brass with verdigris patina. So beautiful. I considered pairing it with leather in the back, but I decided to go a different way with this batik ribbon I got on a package from Starry Road Studio a while ago. Simple, and let’s the chain be the star. 

Day #18 – Utilize natural materials to make something

I had decided when I saw this prompt to make something with cowrie shells. Divya of Jewels of Sayuri often uses cowrie shells in her jewelry to beautiful effect. She wrote a post about cowrie jewelry that talked about some of the positive symbolism and myths regarding cowrie shells such as feminine power and warding off the evil eye. I also saw something about shells being in fashion in the coming season, and I had the opportunity to get a nice bag of cowrie shells last year. This was the perfect opportunity to use a few of them!

Mary Redman gifted me with her beautiful polymer clay shell pendant. I nestled it between some shell heishi beads, fun gold shell sequins and the cowrie shells. I just love how it turned out. It makes me want to walk on the beach (unlikely with all the snow we’ve gotten this week!)

Day #19 – Construct a non-jewelry piece using beads

My cat, MooKitty, isn’t much for toys. But I did notice that when I happen to lean over her and my necklace or bracelet dangles, she bats at it. So I thought I should make her a toy that I could pretend was a necklace. I used cotton cord and crocheted beads. 

At first I put it around my neck and leaned over her, and she wasn’t interested. But it was a really fake way of hovering over her which she probably didn’t like. So later I just held it up. Her hunting instincts ignited and she had fun batting at it for a little while. After she “caught” it, she didn’t want me to take it back. That’s a success! And a good use for some of these crocheted beads I have never found a good project for.

To see what others are making or join in, visit the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges Facebook page.

Allegory Gallery – Bead in the New Year 2020 #2


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I’m having great fun again this year following the daily creative prompts offered by Allegory Gallery for Bead in the New Year. Without further ado, let’s look at the makes for this week. (I forgot to post this last week, but here it is now.)

Day #6 – Fashion a design using all glass

This is almost all glass, would not exist without this challenge, and I’m in love with the fun, colorful appearance. 

This necklace features a large hollow lampwork focal by Tanya McGuire, vintage red glass, lampwork rondelles by Julie Schmidt Bowen, vintage blue dimpled Miriam Haskell glass, and glass beaded chain. I love how I was able to pull all the colors out of Tanya’s bead with all the other glass. The bright colors make me smile.

Day #7 – Utilize your favorite gemstone in a new piece

Rubies are my favorite gemstone. I don’t have a ton of them, but I try to get a few whenever I can. I had two large, rough rubies I got some years ago that have been waiting for me to use them. I wanted them front and center without too much distraction. I considered leather, but I couldn’t find the right design. Then I spied this lightweight (aluminum?) fringy chain I got from B’Sue Boutiques. I added a large spacer from my little Bali silver stash between the two rubies. Both the rubies and the spacer are from Andrew Thornton: Project Destash.

I like how each ruby is a different shade. They have large facets on the sides and are just gorgeous.

Day #8 – Use a stringing material you don’t normally use

I don’t use a lot of ribbon, though I love the look of fibers. Here I’ve used a strand of multicolor ribbon wrapped with metallic thread. When it hangs, you can see the connection point between colors where the ribbon is more rough looking. I really like the funkiness of it. I had been planning to do some rosary style chain with this pendant but hadn’t gotten it done yet. I like that this is something different than what I usually do. Cat pendant is 1928 Jewelry Company from B’Sue Boutiques.

Day #9 – Produce a piece using gemstone chip beads

Here is what I wrote on a post about this necklace:

I chose blue beads to go with this red “Resist” pendant by Andrew Thornton. I usually avoid colors associated with a specific thing (holidays, sports teams, etc.). Red, white and blue are often associated with patriotism in the US. I thought those colors were appropriate for this pendant. Unfortunately, I think many people misinterpret what patriotism is. It’s not a call to isolate ourselves and harm others. It is a call to celebrate and lift up the best of ourselves. Other than indigenous people and people who were forced to come here, the US is made up of people who came here from somewhere else for a better life. THAT’S what the US is about. Supporting, celebrating and building on that is patriotic. Learning from the bad things our country has done and not repeating or continuing them is patriotism.

Day #10 – Challenge yourself by using sari silk ribbon

Another chance to use ribbon! I used this vintage component with champagne colored ribbon. I was going to make it more structured, but I decided I got more the shabby chic look I was going for if I left the ribbon loose and tied the bracelet on. It fits great and the tails from the tied area look very boho.

Day #11 – Create a piece using one of our Luxury Bead Blends

I was looking through my Allegory Gallery Luxury Bead Blends, including those from kits. Ninety-five percent of this necklace is from the A Tisket, A Tasket kit, including many beads from the Luxury Bead Blend. I have happy associations with pastels, spring and bunnies, so I really enjoyed using these beads.

Day #12 – Make a project from a craft book

I had many candidates for this prompt already. Then a few days ago, I got my end of year book sale mystery box from Allegory Gallery. Oh. My. Goodness. I got so many wonderful books! I am now absolutely buzzing with inspiration from craft books. When I saw this project below, it really caught my eye. Not only is it a great bracelet, but I happened to have those very statement links! For all I know they were available everywhere at one time, but I bought them more than 15 years ago in what was primarily a garden shop, so I was really surprised to see them in this book. When I looked for them, I could only find four; maybe that’s all I bought.

Crystal McDougald project from Beading by Nature – this piece inspired my project!

To replace the fifth connector, I added a tin connector I made. I tried a few different things for the dangles and decided on these vintage set glass charms. I chose “joy” as my word of intention for 2020, so I added that charm by the clasp. So fun to finally use these. This book is full of great projects.

I haven’t been doing the prompts daily (or in order) this week, but I will catch up this weekend. Look for another post with more work from these prompts. It’s so much fun! To see what others are making, check out the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges page.

Art Bead Scene Studio 2020 – Art Journey One


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The Art Bead Scene Studio blog has rolled out a teaser for their next nine art journeys, and this is going to be a great, inspiring year! Art Journey One features pen and ink illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley from the book Le Morte d’Arthur from the late 1800s. They are detailed, elegant and inspire with a limited palette of white and black and cream and black. That doesn’t mean the inspiration is limited, though. The ambiance, detailed motifs (many flowers, leaves and vines) and strong lines and backgrounds provide ample material for creativity.

Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley from Le Morte d’Arthur, 1893

What struck me most were the bold, thick frames of each illustration. They reminded me of a Vintaj frame I have, and I loved the idea of framing a beautiful art bead. While auditioning beads, I found a wonderful floral piece by Inviciti that worked perfectly and kept with the floral theme as well.

I used Vintaj patina in Marble (my favorite) on the frame and then brushed it with the relief block to bring up the floral design. I combined vintage white Czech rounds with clear Swarovski crystals and knotted them on black waxed linen. I wanted a little more accent, and I continued the floral theme with lily beads and gave them black Swarovski crystal middles. I often like a pop of color in a piece. In a monochromatic piece, these slightly yellow flowers count as a pop! I also dabbed the patina on all the findings so they would blend in and appear a little weathered. I wanted the piece to hark back to a previous time, as the illustrations do.

If you enjoy a good challenge or need a boost to your creativity, visit the Art Bead Scene Studio for wonderful posts and to join in the art journeys. There is a new, easier way to post your entry or see what others made – on the Art Bead Scene Lounge Facebook page.

Allegory Gallery – Bead in the New Year 2020 #1


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Last January, Allegory Gallery shared a full month of design prompts. I followed along day by day, and it was one of the most satisfyingly creative months I’ve ever experienced. They continued to share creative prompts throughout the year – weekly prompts, nibbler kits, and more. I am happy to say they have issued a month of daily prompts again this year! Here we go with my makes for the first few prompts.

Day #1 – Make a pair of earrings

I have been lucky enough to get some fabulous Swarovski crystals in the past year or so. I envisioned some of these dripping down together in a longer earring than I usually make. I’ve been experimenting working with sterling wire to make findings, so I decided to wrap these in sterling. The 20 gauge size I have was a bit difficult. I think 22 might be better. I ended up not making my own ear wires because I was afraid they’d add too much length. 

Each crystal has an amazing color and flash difficult to fully capture in a photo.

Day #2 – Create a new bracelet

I’ve become a chain enthusiast and have gotten some really wonderful chain. I am particularly intrigued by chunky chain. I got some vintage metalized plastic chain that really reminds me of Chanel. I had been looking at it thinking it would make a fantastic bracelet, so I cut some and looked at my clasps. I had so many that would work well! In the end, I chose a lovely elephant that seemed well suited for this fun bracelet. 

Day #3 – Put together a necklace

I am trying to be more intentional in my jewelry making. I often don’t lay things out; I just put them together from a design in my head, so I just gloss over things that don’t work since I don’t like to re-do things. That can mean I’m not always totally satisfied with a piece. This necklace is the second try at using some petrified walrus ivory in a week’s time. I also restrung the focal area multiple times until it was very pleasing. Then, I left it for several hours. That is especially unusual, but I know it made a better necklace. Giving it a rest allowed me to stop focusing on the finish line and take time to make multiple tweaks that improved it. I love the final design. 

I got almost all of the components for this necklace from Andrew Thornton: Project Destash. The focal includes petrified walrus ivory (legal because the fact that it is petrified means it pre-dates 1972, when buying and selling it became illegal), and Bali silver beads and spacers from a small stash I got from Andrew that I am still giddy about. I swear this strand of seeds, nuts or whatever they are came from the destash, but I didn’t label them, and I couldn’t find them in my files. I put a large silver seed bead between each one to introduce more silver into the necklace. Those are from Sondra’s Estate Beads Destash Depot. This lovely textured fine pewter leaf clasp by Fire Goddess is one of a few by that maker I got from the destash, and I can’t find that they are still selling, so I feel lucky to have these. This necklace was inspired by one Andrew Thornton made with some of the ivory he kept. Read his blog post about it and see a picture of his beautiful necklace. It is so fun to have some history about components in my designs.

Day #4 – Make a matching set of jewelry

I’m not much for matching sets in the traditional sense, so I thought about what else this could mean. I am intrigued by the idea of a line of jewelry. How would I make a cohesive line if I were to be that sort of designer? For day two, I made a bracelet from chunky chain. I made a second one of these that would be appropriate if I were making a full line of chunky, Chanel-inspired bracelets. I believe this chain is metalized plastic like the first one, and this time I chose a faux pearl box clasp. 

I love having a couple of really chunky bracelets that are lightweight. Sometimes I dream up fashion scenarios for my jewelry. This makes me think of someone who found a great vintage Chanel bracelet in a junk shop as a fun surprise, and now wears it everyday with their jeans.

Day #5 – Use at least three artist made materials

This is a fun design I’ve had in mind since I’ve collected the pieces because, coffee! The electroformed coffee beans are by Never Winter Designs. The three cups are by, from left, Inviciti (pewter), Joan Miller Porcelain and c-koop (enamel). The c-koop cup, which reminds me of a camp mug, is the first one I got just because it was so cute.

If you’d like to join in (for one project or a month’s worth) or see what others are making, visit the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges Facebook page or look for that hastag or #beadinthenewyear on your favorite social media site.

Happy 2020!


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I’ve been off work using some holiday and vacation time. It’s always wonderful to be able to spend time with family, relax, and rejuvenate. I haven’t gone on a making spree during this time, but I have made a few things and also spent some time organizing in the studio. There is still more to go, but at least it’s a start. I did make one necklace last week and one last night that I will show.

I’ve been wanting to work more leather into my jewelry. My mother influenced that when she took an interest in leather and wanted to make wrap bracelets. (I wrote about my attempts in my previous post.) I have also been looking quite a bit at the Sundance Catalog and really like their jewelry, so that is an influence too. The necklace I am going to show, though, is nothing like anything in Sundance. Theirs are very much leather mixed with gemstones and precious metals. Here, I’ve mixed mine with vintage plastic chain, African glass and berber amber. My sister’s girlfriend told me once that it is interesting for people to see the initial sketch for a piece. This one is very true to the sketch.

I got this section of plastic chain in a mixed vintage box. I just love little bits like this and being able to work them into a jewelry piece. The links are black except one tortoise link. I like how the color of the beads on each side pops.

Probably a couple of years ago, I bought some fossilized walrus ivory from Andrew Thornton. I love a necklace he made with some, and got mine out thinking I could pair it with some blue kyanite needles I have. The ones I found weren’t as bright blue as I remembered, and they mostly were center drilled. I couldn’t make a pleasing design, so I was putting them back in my blue gemstones drawer. Lo and behold, I found some other kyanite beads. I think I was conflating the two sets in my head. Well, these were not suited for the original necklace, but I also had some large link silver chain out. I’ve been enthralled with this chain since I got it. It is rhodium plated with large oval links that are more pointy on the end. It really echoes the shape of the kyanite beads. Here is a close up of the beads, front and back. 

They are lovely in person – smooth, translucent and full of color. I wanted this piece to be really clean and elegant. Quite a bit of wire showed between the beads when I strung them, so I added tiny silver seed beads with larger ones just on the end to make the crimping easier. I added a sterling clasp by Miss Fickle Media

There’s often questionable light here, so you’ll have to trust me on how pretty it looks. I like that this is something a bit different than what I often make. I’m interested in branching out more this year.

I hope your 2020 is wonderful.

Don’t Make It Harder Than It Has To Be



My mom, dad and I decided to make leather wrap bracelets as our holiday project. (Well, my dad decided he wanted a leather wrap bracelet, but he would need someone else to make it.) I chose rustic brown leather and organic shaped pearls for my materials. It wasn’t taking a long time to make, but I kept getting the thread tangled. Then I wasn’t paying attention and made it too long, so I tried to put the thread back through the extra beads without losing too much to finish the bracelet, but it got knotted. The thread wasn’t tight enough to suit me. There was no end to the irritations. After starting over 3 or 4 times, I gave up for the time being and went to do something else. My mom kept at it, and finished her beautiful bracelet.

Later that night, we were drooling over jewelry on the Sundance site. I realized what I wanted was not the wrap bracelet style (I was only planning on a single wrap) but the look of leather and pearls. So, I pulled out my large hole pearls, a thinner brown leather in the same distressed style and voilà!

I designed this bracelet while falling asleep last night and made it this morning. I got the exact look I was going for without the spending hours being frustrated while making it. This bracelet took me about ten minutes to make. I used a beautiful Czech glass button as my closure. Another benefit is that it was much easier to size this bracelet than the wrap kind, and it fits perfectly. I’m so pleased.

My mom and I put in an order on Leather Cord USA for all the project ideas we’ve been dreaming up with leather! We never run out of projects.

Holiday Necklaces


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I don’t usually do holiday themed jewelry. I get so few occasions to wear it. I have one Halloween necklace that I can never remember to wear in October, and if I do remember, I can’t find it in time. But I still made two (well actually three – I wrote about one before that could be a holiday piece) this year. I couldn’t resist.

Well, this first one is not strictly holiday, but it is winter. It does make me think of holiday time. I got some vintage acrylic icicle beads in a mixed box of vintage goodness from Famous Vintage Bead Hoard Liquidation Destash. I am telling you, these fun boxes just keep on giving. The icicles are not something I would think to buy, but I am in love with this necklace.

It’s hard (for me) to take a picture of clear beads as well as unstructured (chain) necklaces, but this is pretty good. I put it on the dark background of a catalog page from Gudrun Sjoden, a favorite clothing designer, to help it show up. I put the icicle on dark wire and then simple black chain. I also got some exquisite vintage clear glass gumdrop beads from the same place, and added a few of those. I thought about glittery crystals or clear glass drops to look like dripping ice, but I loved the gumdrop idea. I guess that’s another reason this reads more holiday to me. This deceptively simple looking necklace was the dickens to put together. I was planning to stagger the gumdrops (they are a little) but the fine chain make counting links and keeping it still difficult (even pinned to a macrame board). I also couldn’t understand why the same jump ring I used to attach the back wouldn’t fit to attach the gumdrops. I realized it was because there wasn’t room in a link both for the attached link and the ring; at the back I was attaching two separate pieces. So I cut apart the necklace in each place where I put a gumdrop and then attached it back with the ring. All good lessons learned and well worth it since I love this very much.

The next necklace started with a fabulous vintage Venetian glass drop. This is another bead that doesn’t absolutely have to be Christmas, but can read very holiday depending on what you do with it. I got a lot of several, and I wanted to use one in a Christmas necklace.

I design things in my head while falling asleep, and I had designed another simple necklace with this bead and an old, crusty green glass bead that I also got from Andrew Thornton: Project Destash. I thought I would just put that pendant on chain. However, when I looked for the green bead, I couldn’t find it. Errr! I hate that. But one must move on. As I looked, I took out other things I came across that I thought would work. I found a bag of Venetian and other glass beads that always reminded me of the old glass Christmas ornaments my family has, especially the mercury glass.

I bought them early on in my beading days but had taken apart the necklace I used them in. I decided that in the absence of the green bead, I would go all out fancy Christmas garland style! I put a vintage Swarovski crystal atop the drop since the drop had a too large a hole for the knotted linen. I added in a strand of glass tubes with a mercury glass finish and ta-da! A bit more blingy than I usually do, but very fun for the season. 

I’ll have fun wearing this during the holidays. Since MooKitty has come to live with me, I haven’t put up a tree. (Although this CraftyHope tutorial has given me the idea to put up a tree with non-breakable ornaments next year.) This necklace can be my decoration!

Have a wonderful holiday if you celebrate one, and I hope we can all look forward to wonderful things in 2020!

Beauty Among the Ruins


I’ve been working on organizing my studio (the “ruins” part of this post.) Included with that is adding more storage. I seem to be bringing in more beads and supplies than I use. Even when I use them, they don’t leave but stay in the form of completed jewelry. Although the earrings that did not sell at the last Artists for Animals Auction were taken to work. I gave them to a co-worker to keep, gift or distribute. I heard her giving some to another employee, who was very excited. It was nice to find some things a good home. 

After assembling and adding two of these to my room and starting to stock the drawers, I took a break to make something. I didn’t have a specific idea in mind (that I knew where all the materials were!) so I was just looking in a box that had mixed artists beads. Artists graduate to their own box (or sometimes more than one) when I get a good stash, but some folks I just have one or a few items. I found a sterling silver wax stamp initial charm that I bought from Sweet Rock Candy Beads several years ago that I now could envision a design for. 

I added vintage clear glass beads, little faceted labradorite beads with decent flash and bright silver seed beads with a sterling lobster claw. I have sterling silver and gold filled lobster claw clasps from jewelry I made in my early days that I have now taken apart. It was easy to afford those metals back then! 

I think this necklace is very sweet as befits this charm. I hope you are having a lovely day. I’m excited to have some vacation time coming up soon and hope I’ll get some good making time in.

Quick and Easy – Holiday Edition


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Nothing that I will show in this post took much effort on my part, but it doesn’t mean I’m not pleased with it or that I don’t love it. I do like some things that take more effort so that I can express my creativity, but some easy things are fun. And when I am using really beautiful materials, sometimes it doesn’t take much else.

First, I’ve been having so much fun going through some mixed boxes of vintage things I’ve gotten from Suzanne Branca of A Grain of Sand. As she sells off her vintage stock, she has included some monthly subscription boxes she had back in the day. It is so wonderful to go through them and see all the treasures. She is posting things on her Famous Vintage Bead Hoard Liquidation Destash page as she finds them, and I’m hoping that she will come up with a few more boxes since they have been such fun. One of the things I’ve gotten is color-coated metal (aluminum?) corrugated beads. They are so cheerful. 

These don’t have to be holiday depending on how one uses them, but they certainly read that way to me this month. I was in the studio cleaning and organizing, and I decided to go ahead and just quick make a necklace and an ornament. 

I have an ornament tree in my studio all year long to display lovely things that make me smile. You can see the simple red ornament I made with one of the beads between a Diane Hawkey creature and a Wendy Wallin Malinow sundae deer. You can also see a couple of ornaments by Andrew Thornton, Mary Redman, Gina Chalfant, and part of one by Cathy Collison.

Then I made a very simple necklace. I wanted just one of the big beads hanging from chain to wear around when I am feeling festive. I had the perfect chain, available from Yvonne Irvin-Faus‘ shop My Elements

Fun, right? Then as I was unpacking more of the vintage Suzanne Branca goodies, I came upon some beautiful chain. I have recently bought a couple of gorgeous pendants by Kelly Luttrell of Soul Relica. Here is one.

I decided they do not need anything except a way to hang around my neck. I was planning to go through my chain stash when this chain presented itself to me, so I cut it to size and slid one of the pendants on it. 

It’s really beautiful chain, so perfect for this piece. I’m thrilled to have found it.

With not much work on my part, I was able to feel creative and have two new necklaces and an ornament! It was part of a really good day.


Floppy Goodness?


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The question mark in the title of this post is for two reasons. One because I don’t know that anyone reading this blog could determine the goodness of the parts or whole of the necklace because it is difficult to photograph. It is floppy, long and the bottom metal piece of the pendant is dark compared to the other parts and the polymer bead is very shiny. Two, I feel as though I should like it more than I currently do. I’ll have to wear it and live with it for a while before I decide if “goodness” describes it. I do love all the parts. 

The pendant consists of a a metal drop by Helen Backhouse, turquoise, rustic metal and a polymer clay bead by Cynthia Thornton. I have several of these polymer beads Cynthia made. They are gorgeous. I had gotten them out to consider them for another project that didn’t come together. But seeing the turquoise and ruby swirls in the bead made me pull out my turquoise and ruby beads. I intended to use more of the turquoise beads, but the thing was so heavy after those top two turquoise beads, I decided to add chain. I put some wire-wrapped small turquoise chips to fancy up the chain.

I really love all the elements. I’ll get a chance to wear it this week and also get some family opinions on it in person to see if it needs anything. I have been trying to analyze jewelry that I like to see what I like in it that I sometimes feel is missing from my pieces. After thing about that, I added the wire wrapped seed beads between the metal and turquoise in the pendant because the connection looked skimpy and added the turquoise dangles.

I feel like I am ready and can go to the next step in my jewelry making by being a little more intentional with my designs rather than going for the immediate gratification of getting something done quickly. I also have started to make some of my own components – just beginner ones like ear wires and clasps. After the last online class I took from Heather Powers, I signed up for another one. (I still have one necklace to finish from the first class that involves my nemesis, wire wrapping.)   I want to do like I did last time and take a few days off to focus on the class. That allows me to enjoy it more.