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Adrienne’s big kumihimo adventure, week 3

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For the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories and photos from kumihimo artist Adrienne Gaskell as she takes a month-long kumihimo-related trip down the west coast of North America, from Vancouver to San Diego. Her journey will take her to various bead stores and manufacturers, the Braids 2016 conference in Tacoma, Washington, and a 3-day workshop of her own, with lots of stops along the way. Come back every week to see what she’s been up to!

Week One: Visiting Vancouver and Western Canada

Week Two: Washington and Oregon

When you fly into Santa Rosa Airport, you are greeted by life size statues of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and Woodstock because this was the home of Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. There are more than 70 of these statues around the town decorated by local artists.

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Irish coffee at Buena Vista Cafe.

Sonoma County has been one of our favorite summer travel destinations for many years as the area has so much to offer; hiking, wine tasting, great music, and farmers’ markets with delicious local produce. I especially look forward to getting a test of the strawberries and peaches. I also enjoy picking yummy wild blackberries along the hiking paths. Of course, there is always a trip into San Francisco, which is not complete without stopping by Buena Vista Cafe for their famous Irish Coffee.

Inspecting molds is an important step in the casting process.

This year I had another treat — a private tour of one of Sonoma County’s local companies, the TierraCast factory. My introduction to jewelry making as a bench jeweler required that I learn how to cast, so although I understand the process I am definitely not proficient. But these guys are masters! Both of the founders, Steve Tierra and Alan Joseph, had their initial training in fine jewelry techniques. Believe me, this is not something you learn overnight, but then they have been doing this for over 35 years. Their passion and attention to detail is evident in their entire product line.

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TierraCast founder Alan Joseph shares his thoughts on quality standards.

As the name implies, they make cast-metal jewelry parts: charms, buttons, findings, and beads. Alan is a self proclaimed ‘fussy monkey’ and requires that everything is perfect before anything leaves the factory. I was happy to learn that all of their products are made in the United States, from the beginning stages of the design process to the final hand finishing.

I was amazed at their diverse inventory. Did you know that TierraCast makes size 8/0 metal seed beads? Well, of course I was looking for beads to incorporate into kumihimo and this was a surprise to me. I snagged some of my favorite beads, the 3mm beaded beads in several colors, and can’t wait to work them into some of my new designs. They make a lot of products that would be great to use with kumihimo; round beads, spacers, large-hole beads, and a good assortment of end caps and cones for finishing braids. And this visit got me imagining lots of ways to use their large inventory of charms.

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My favorite beads; inset shows size comparison to an 8/0 Toho Seed Bead.

At the end of the tour I felt like part of their company family. We enjoyed talking about future product development and jewelry trends.

Next stop: The Kona Kai Resort in San Diego for three days of Kumihimo Immersion.

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