Chasing Down the Muse: Jewelry class is a life lesson for Marine wives

Whoo-Whoo… Whoo-Whoo….

Early Sunday morning, I wakened to this sound coming from the tall, dark trees in the canyon. Alert in an instant, I was also mesmerized by the sound. Like the similar tone of the mourning dove, the owl's call conjures repetitive, questioning voices. In the dawning of this morning, before light could even peek over the ridge, the question was clear: Who? Who? Who would they be?

On this December day, 10 spouses of deployed military from Camp Pendleton were to come to the Sawdust Art Festival's Winter Fantasy. Jeweler and Board Member Marla Burns would be leading a teaching team of Sawdust jewelers. They were offering a class to teach the spouses some useful skills in jewelry making that could open new possibilities for the spouses. I found myself wondering just who would come on that cold wintry day to take this skill-building class. Who? Who? The sound echoed again through my mind.

Jeweler Georgette Cerutti and I watched and waited on the bridge to the entrance to the Sawdust Festival's new jewelry classroom. "Where were they?" was added to the resonating "who?"

Later, watching the joy on the face of Mary, who was the wife of a soon-to-return Navy man, the questions posed by the owl and I seemed moot. It certainly did not matter who or where or why, just that these women were getting this break from the usual. The gifting was well received and continued to grow and glow through the hours of the class, both on the faces of these women as they simply enjoyed learning and on the faces of those who stopped by to watch or interject helpful suggestions.

As Mary's sister Lupe pounded away on the copper pieces, I saw this experience as offering other emotional outlets as well as the opportunities to perhaps build a small business. Lupe's Marine husband is soon to deploy, and the stress cannot be inconsequential.

But there I go again, projecting possible scenarios on the occasion. What really mattered was what was happening right there in that room. There was camaraderie and an eager sort of joy as these women learned planishing, stamping, dapping, and other jewelry-making skills. They learned proper use of the tools at hand and were given the opportunity to use them in making pendants and earrings. Smiles were broad and the joy of learning was apparent.

Further possibilities were presented as Marla told of the bead store in Oceanside — Ocean Sky Beads — that had agreed to offer discounts to these Camp Pendleton women for supplies. They are also being given the opportunity to take further classes at the Sawdust Studio Art Classes and at Sawdust's Spring Into Art program.

As the giving continues, the Sawdust Art Festival is happy to announce a gift-certificate option for its new year-round Sawdust Studio Art Classes. With the purchase of a $95 class, 10% of the proceeds will go to Camp Pendleton's art education program. Go to to purchase. Your loved one can learn in one of these two-hour classes while Camp Pendleton spouses and children benefit as well.

As the class wound down to an end, and I looked around at the materials these women had been given and the pieces they had created, I heard the sweet sound of the music of Sasha Evans and Doug Miller on the entertainment deck outside. I thought to myself that I now knew who these women were. These were some wonderful women who were making sacrifices that most of us never even have to consider.

I am proud of these women, of Marla and the other jewelers who stepped up, and of the Sawdust Art Festival for this small gift of time and tools and education. In this season of giving I am reminded of the saying about giving a man a fish or teaching him how to fish. These women learned how to fish and it will feed their spirits for a long time to come.

Cherril Doty is an artist, writer, counselor…always fascinated, inspired, and titillated by the myriad mysteries of life. She can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.

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