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  • Writer's pictureLesley Aine McKeown

Winding Down and Looking Back to the Future

Artists Journey, Student work and a Peek at Next Year

I'm not sure where this year went! It been a bit of a blur, probably because I was rarely still. Traveling again was not fun, but teaching in person has been a joy! The highlight of the year was the retreat at Wildacres, hosted by Florida Society of Goldsmiths. I had ten students for an intensive design and advanced metalsmithing course that culminated in some stunning work! This course has evolved into a highly successful class that helps jewelers find their artistic voice to create unique work. I truly love seeing the results! Also teaching at the retreat with me were Joanna Gollberg and Michael Marx. We had a blast hanging out and we laughed a lot. It was so great to meet these two very talented jewelers, whose work I have long admired! FSG puts on a first-class event, and I highly recommend that you consider attending.

Stunning view on the mountain at Wildacres Retreat and teachers and students of the 2022 Metal on the Mountain Retreat at Wildacres and my studio at the retreat.

From NC I headed to Ithaca, NY for a long overdue visit with my friend Micky Roof. Micky hosted a show for me at her jewelry store The Jewelbox, so I did get some work done, but mostly we enjoyed hanging out and catching the peak of the fall color on some fabulous hikes.

Photos: Plantations, Cornell Botanic Gardens, Stewart Falls bridge, Cascadilla Creek, and Cayuga Lake.

Mural on The Jewelbox building: "Where the Wild Things Are" got a facelift while I was there. Max is holding a diamond ring now!

November found me once again behind the teacher's desk atUrban Metal Studio(this is a fabulous studio, if you have not checked out, do so!) teaching TheArt of Metal Manipulation. Eleven students spent four days moving metal and learning new ways to use some common techniques. I enjoyed reconnecting with some students I'd not seen in 18 years, that was a mind-blower! Everyone did great work and a fun time was had by all!

Lynn Arnhold Ballinger, Tamara Benton, Suzanne Brown and Jan Larsen

I'm headed to Dallas next week for my final class of the year, The Expressive Jeweler, hosted by theDallas Craft Guild. Stay tuned for photos of the students' work.

That is a wrap for this year, whew! I already have classes booked for next year. Visit my website for that schedule. If you're interested in a specific class please let me know. Thank you to all the studios that hosted me this year and to the students who have trusted me with their creative journey. I am deeply grateful and humbled.

Happy holidays to all, and see you down the road!

Yours in creativity,




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Bleu Cheese and Bacon Mac'n Cheese

This recipe is not for the dieter! Seriously rich, this is comfort food on another level!

  • 1 box Cavatappi pasta, or elbow, curly pasta will work. I like DeLallo Organic Cavatappi Pasta

  • 2 cups heavy cream; if you want to be really bad, use half cream and half buttermilk.

  • 1 stick butter or more

  • 1 6oz package white cheddar cheese, shredded (I use Dubliner)

  • 6 oz of Bleu cheese

  • 6 oz Fontina cheese

  • 1⁄2 pound unsulfered bacon

  • Mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • paprika

  • nutmeg, pinch

  • Dried parsley, 2 tablespoons

  • Flour and milk for making roux

  • Pepper

  • Panko bread crumbs

Put water on to boil for pasta, add 2 tsp salt to water. Cook pasta al dente, rinse and set aside.

Cut bacon into 1/2” chunks and fry till crispy but not burned. Drain on paper towel and set aside.

Melt 3 tbsp butter in a skillet and sauté mushrooms and shallot slices until shallots are translucent. Note: sprinkle mushrooms with a bit of salt to absorb the water. Set aside.

In a saucepan gently heat cream at low-medium heat. DO NOT let this cream base boil at any point!

Make a roux: 2 tbsp flour and cream or milk to make a thick paste. Add this one tbsp at a time to the heating cream and whisk till smooth.

Add the remaining stick of butter, 6-7 tbsp one pat at a time, and whisk till smooth and melted. Add pinch of nutmeg and 1⁄2 tsp garlic powder and pepper to taste (I use 2 -3 tsp).

Add shredded cheese a little a time and whisk till smooth. Cube Fontina (small cubes 1/4"), add to cream and whisk till smooth. Hold back 1⁄4 cup bleu cheese. Add the rest of the bleu cheese to heating cream and whisk till smooth. Add more cream if sauce is too thick; if not thick enough, add a tsp of roux paste and stir, to desired consistency.

Add shallot, mushrooms, bacon and parsley, stir gently. Mix the cheese sauce with the pasta in a large bowl. Combine gently.

Grease a baking dish with butter; layer this on thick. Spoon in pasta and sauce mixture.

Sprinkle generously with Panko and the remaining the bleu cheese. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or till golden brown, do not allow to burn.

Salt and pepper to taste



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