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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sawdust Studio Art Classes

Laguna Beach is known as Orange County’s art mecca, and it’s no wonder. With endless galleries, art studios, and festivals, there is so much for the art lover to see and do. This month, a new program was launched by the Sawdust Art Festival, Sawdust Studio Art Classes. These exclusive classes are offered in ceramics or in jewelry making and are taught by the artists themselves. The classes allow you to let your creativity out and gives you the opportunity to make ONE OF A KIND works of art for yourself, or as a gift to a loved one.

I had the chance to take a pendant making class with David Farris.  Honestly, I can say I had never done any type of jewelry making quite like this. We started with a square piece of copper, my ‘blank canvas.’

First we “roughed up” our piece of copper with steel wool. Next, we moved into adding texture to our copper, through stamping. This was accomplished by hammering the copper. We had the option of using thin gauge wire shaped into various forms or pre-made stamps with various shapes that could be hammered into the copper.

I opted for bending wire into a wave shape.  After covering my copper in wave patterns we torched the copper.

This made the copper a bit more pliable and accelerated the oxidation process.

You can see my cooled piece of copper above. If you look closely, you can see the oxidized areas of the copper.

After I was satisfied with my stamping and hammering, it was time to decide on what my pendant would look like. There are endless options as to what you could make. Stencils with various shapes, rulers to measure out long strips, or if one was brave enough, you could free-hand cut the copper into any shape.

Above, you can see I played it safe, and opted for various circlular sizes that would be linked together creating a cascading effect.

After cutting the copper, it is quite sharp and rough around the edges, so we needed to file it down. Then David drilled holes in each piece so that the copper circles could be attached to the findings.

The last step in the process was to darken the copper and further accelerate the oxidation process by using liver of sulfur. We dipped each copper circle in the solution and used a wire brush to clean off the surface. What emerged was a creamy dark hued copper.

Above is my pendant. I am thrilled with the piece and will treasure it forever! I can’t believe I was able to accomplish this in just 2 hours! Wow! Thank you David Ferris and the Sawdust Art Festival for a great art experience.

By Anne-Marie S.

Don’t miss out on this fabulous opportunity!
Classes are offered every Friday and Saturday at 10:00am and 2:00pm at the Sawdust Art Festival grounds, 935 Laguna Canyon Road.  

In celebration of this launch, classes are offered at $65 for the month of October. Group bookings and private classes are also available. Click HERE to book your class 24 hours a day or for more information. 

Paint Away

This past week 50 painters from all over the country descended to Laguna Beach to paint.  It was the 12th Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational. 'Plein air’ is French and is translated as ‘outdoors,’ or in other words a painting that was done in 'plain air.’ On Saturday, all of the painters participated in a ‘Quick Draw' in Heisler Park. The painters had just two hours to complete their work. Once finished, the canvases, still wet, were delivered to the Laguna Art Museum to be auctioned off.

Painters were throughout set up throughout picturesque, Heisler Park, taking in various locales to find the perfect spot to capture their inspiration.

Above Thomas Kitts 

Although this particular Saturday morning turned out to be a foggy and misty one, (which we so rarely get!) it did not prevent any of the artists from creating beautiful masterpieces.

Above, the finished canvas of John Kilduff.

Above, the finished canvas of W. Jason Situ.

Above the finished canvas of Roger Dale Brown.

Being able to see these master painters in action was inspirational and another ‘uniquely Laguna Beach’ experience.

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I ♥ Laguna Beach

With each milestone in my life, I find that more and more I need my Mom. I have come to realize that having her as friend and a confidant is what makes the Mother-Daughter relationship special. So when she told me that she was coming into town for a visit, I instantly knew that we needed to have a night out…just the two of us.

We started off at Romeo Cucina, located one block from Main Beach on Broadway. Inside the restaurant is a blend of old-world charm and modern elegance, with a know-how for keeping things casual and comfortable. In the bar area there are three large flat screens with sporting events or movies on. In the dining room, a piano player tickling the keys.  Also a chef counter and bar to sit at and watch the pizza oven at work.

Mom and I ordered the house wine, her a Chardonnay and I a Merlot. As we sipped our wine, we enjoyed fresh homemade bread and olive spread while looking over the menu. Mom decided to go with the salmon special.

Above the grilled salmon filet topped with Limoncello sauce served with fresh vegetables and Capellini Checca (angel hair pasta with fresh diced tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil).

I chose the Ravioli Ostello. Ravioli filled with a caponata of zucchini, eggplant, celery, onions and pine nuts in a fresh tomato sauce and basil.

What a delight, our dinners were nothing less than AMAZING. The pasta melted in your mouth. The salmon was grilled to perfection and the vegetables tasted as if they were picked from a sun-soaked backyard. Needless to say we both cleared our plates sopping up every last remnant with our bread.

When we told owner and Chef Ignazio Romeo that we were headed to opening night of ‘I Loved Lucy’ at The Laguna Playhouse, he invited us to come back for dessert after the show. We smiled and decided to come back for more of his fantastic food!

Celebrating their 90th anniversary, The Laguna Playhouse is pulling out all the stops for celebrating a milestone! The world premiere of ‘I Loved Lucy,’ by Lee Tannen opened to a full house. The play, based on the best-selling memoir by the same name, is about America’s comic sweetheart, Lucille Ball (played by Diane J. Findlay.)  It’s a behind the scenes real life look at Lucy in her golden years. During that time of her life, Lucy became obsessed with backgammon playing up to 5 and 6 hours a day. She also loved 5 letter word scrambles, spam, grilled cheese ‘cut in thirds,’ Kraft Mayo, and ‘slushies’ (a special concoction of diet 7-up, tequila, triple sec, and lots of ice.) In all these things Lee Tannen (played by Jeffrey Denman) became Lucy’s partner.

Lee Tannen was a distant relative through Lucy’s marriage to Gary Morton. The character Lee explained his relation to the star like this, ’Gary’s sister Helen’s husband’s first cousin’s second son.” Although they were separated by 40 years, their friendship was based on the mutual affection and acceptance of one another. Like so many Hollywood stars we only ever saw the public persona of Lucy. But this play showed that beneath, was a lady that was human in every sense of what it means…she was funny but also vulnerable, fiercely loyal, giving, and at times lonely.  Lee became the companion she craved and seemed to fill that lonely void in her.  They had their differences and the play highlights a falling out they had. Yet in the end he became her “N-A-L-E-G.” (The 5 letter scramble Lucy, the character, used to describe Lee…ANGEL) This heart-warming portrayal of Lucille Ball is playing at The Laguna Playhouse now through October 31, 2010.

After the show we topped off our night by returning to Romeo Cucina for dessert and limoncello (An Italian after dinner drink made from lemon zest and liquor. Romeo Cucina has their own top secret recipe for this delicious treat.)

Above crème brulee.

Above tiramisu.

Mom and I were glad to have had the opportunity to spend a night together catching up on life, eating good food, and seeing a great play.

I  Romeo Cucina
I  Laguna Playhouse
I  Laguna Beach

And, I  you Mom.

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dancing on the Streets

This week Laguna Beach is hosting the Laguna Dance Festival. Founded by Jodie Gates six years ago, this festival brings some of the most acclaimed dancers and choreographers to Laguna Beach. On Saturday we were treated to some of their talent on Main Beach.

Etude of UCI is a 17-member ensemble. Etude performed a colorful piece choreographed by the legendary Donald McKayle.

Classical Ballet from a new and up and coming company, Luminario Ballet of Los Angeles. This company combines classical ballet, modern ballet and aerial art.

CorbinDances of New York City also performed original pieces choreographed by Patrick Corbin.

Layla and the Lotus Dancers wowed the audience with their belly dancing. At the end of the day they offered free lessons in the art of Belly Dancing.

Entity, is a new company based right here in Orange County. They fuse hip-hop, ballet, and modern dance into a style that elicits deep emotion when you watch them perform.

Feel like you missed out? You still have a chance to experience the Laguna Dance Festival this week during First Thursday Art Walk. Click HERE for a list of FREE performances at art galleries throughout Laguna.

Mark your calendars on April 7-17, 2011. You can see performances at ‘First Thursday Art Walk’ and The Laguna Playhouse. Check the Laguna Dance Festival website for tickets.

By Anne-Marie S.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Worm

These days we are bombarded by big box stores, and ‘everything-looks-the-same-chains’ for our retail needs. I don’t know about you, but I start to feel like an insignificant statistic surrounded by floor to ceiling products. I get lost in the overwhelming feeling that I could be in any city, in any state, or for that matter, any country because the inside of these stores all look the same. The employees all talk to me the same way without any trace of genuine interest. I understand that large corporations have to protect their brand and present a unifying image to the public, but I want more. That’s why I support local business owners when I can. And that’s the wonderful thing about our town, Laguna Beach. We have hundreds of home-grown businesses that give you the opportunity to support the community.

Laguna Beach Books  is an independent bookstore in an era dominated by online ordering. Call me old school, but I still enjoy holding a new book in my hands, flipping its pages and reading a few lines before I buy it. Inevitably I look a little further down the shelf and find another book of interest. Laguna Beach Books is the perfect spot to lazily browse the shelves and walk out with your arms full! Founded 4 years ago and located at the Shoppes at the Old Pottery Place, this book store is a perfect fit for the HIP District of Laguna. They have all the standard book sections such as cooking, travel, art, fiction, children, young adult and non-fiction. Although, what really caught my eye were the sections that were a bit more original like ‘Powerful Non-fiction,’‘Local,’ ‘Surf,’ ‘Pets,’ and a large ‘Metaphysical’ selection.  With such an array of books to choose from, Laguna Beach Books really captures the feel of the town…eclectic!
Replica Historic Lifeguard Tower on Main Beach

They also tap into building a community meeting place by having special events and book signings. This week they had author Jean Haner speak about her new book, “The Wisdom of Your Child’s Face”, along with giving free Chinese Face Readings.

A few weeks back, Nigel Barker, famed photographer and ‘Next Top Model’ judge came to speak about his book “Beauty Equation” and even demonstrated some of his techniques by snapping pictures with guests. 

And coming soon on October 16th, local born celebrity Lauren Conrad will be signing copies of her new book, “Sugar and Spice”.

In addition to hosting authors Laguna Beach Books has partnered with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church for “Laguna Reads” a great way for the community of Laguna Beach to come together through literature. The first selection is “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky,” by Heidi Durrow. The store has also featured children’s story time, music for kids and even writer workshops. The staff is helpful and if the store does not have a book in stock, they can order it for you to arrive in no time.

Laguna Beach Books is really one of those stores that feels in-touch with you, the customer, and their community. As an awesome alternative to your run-of-the-mill bookstore, visit Laguna Beach Books at 1200 S. Coast Hwy., the next time you’re in town and get a taste for the independence that makes Laguna Beach so unique.

By Anne-Marie S.