But then… Karen H. ( a FB friend and fellow metal head) posted that Bill Fretz was at the Orange County Fairgrounds, at the Bead show , selling his tools plus there was a show discount of 30 PERCENT!!!
I dropped everything, got my self dressed and was out the door and into my car in less than 30 minutes. But before I left I grabbed two items that I wanted to talk to him about (more on what these were below so keep reading) .
Well, first off, lets all admit we really, really, REALLY like Bill's tools. Secondly, I had been in contact with Bill recently about getting several of his chasing hammers that my students would use in the workshops I would be giving (starting) next year. I had thought that I would get then next year while at Tuscon so finding out that he would be in So. Cal. this weekend was a shocker and yet an opportunity to go get them and talk to him. So, out the door I flew and no, I did not get a speeding ticket on the way to OC Fairgrounds though it was a 50 minute drive for me.
After I arrived and parked my car, I saw that the bead show as in 3 connected building and there was NO vender list - now to find him. I decided to go in the building on the left and walk my way through the rows of vendors until I found him. Once I entered the building, I went down the row that was furthest to the left - one must be systematic in the search! I had passed only about a half dozen vendors, scanning left and right when THERE WAS THE FRETZ BOOTH. Yes, all caps, because that was how excited I was.
Bill was there, as was his son who runs the manufacturing facility in Vietnam; I walked up, introduced myself (initially no recognition) and how I had emailed him about the hammers (yes, there was a glimmer of remembrance, whew!) . So we discussed hammers and I selected the one I wanted and we set 4 aside.
Then I wanted to talk to him about his larger stakes, not the small/miniature stakes he has for jewelry, I wanted to talk about the newer, larger forming stakes (you can look at them here: Otto Frei) that are for cuff bracelets and what I do - smaller hollow forms. I then took my two raised vessels out of the bag I was holding.
We then spent some time, matching the complex and simple curves to the two vessels and found those that would work. I also had to get the stake holder and extension arm…. AND just for good measure, a few more based upon vessels I had in my head.
After all of this, and over an hour had gone by, we talked more about other silversmiths, other stakes he is planning on having made plus much, much more as he told me a few pieces of information that would help me solve a few minor situations that I had come across.
My head was in the clouds.
My heart was actually racing I was so excited.
At that point I had to pay the piper and so, I pulled out my credit card and settled my bill, took my new tools and headed home.
All I have to say is that IF one day you get a chance to talk to Bill Fretz, DO IT. He is a wealth of knowledge, information and is very helpful and willing to share what he knows.
Here is what I bought - enjoy and don't drool too much. (images stolen from the Rio website)