Singing the Praise of Art Teachers

Recently, I was corresponding with a fellow metalsmith and heard the tale of how a high school jewelry arts teacher changed that individual’s life. This is a phenomenal coincidence to me as I owe an unending debt of gratitude to my high school art teach, Ms Helen Howell.

As an undiagnosed dyslexic, I suffered throughout my grade school and high school years. My grades and assessment scores in high school left little doubt that I was not college material. Yet, my first ever official art teacher saw something in my aptitude for color theory, my patience with challenging processes, my willingness to try again and again and again, that made her put that torch in my hand and I was hooked. But more than that she connected with me after I graduated and when she saw I was floundering she helped me get accepted to a state university, metals program.

Once accepted to university, based on the strength of my early portfolio, there came the challenges of paying for it and navigating the academic world, but she got me to the doorstep of my future and happily gave me a shove. And I bless her for that. Decades of jewelry making (and two masters degrees) later, I had my own classes of high school students to consider as I introduced them to metals and jewelry making.

Things had seriously changed since I had attended high school. Classrooms designed for 20 students had become overstuffed with up to 37 students. Budget cuts and misguided administrations gutted supplies, tools, and curriculum. But even with all of that not so positive change there were still young people excited by what they could do with a torch, some tools and some hard work. I can only hope for those of us in the field now, who were started on this path by a great high school jewelry arts teacher, that we have passed on the passion we found to help close this never-ending circle.

Smart Fabrication From Start to Finish

Big News!!!

I have been very busy working with the company Craftsy. I have video taped a series of lessons for them. I covered non-traditional stone setting, rivets, and ideation in the lessons.

here is a link to get a sneak peak and 50% off of the class!

The great crew at Craftsy have done a fabulous job and it is really wonderful with multiple views of all the techniques.

Sign up, post pictures, ask questions!

Workshop With Heart!

Print and Press workshop premiered at Danaca Design Studio this last weekend with great positive students and wonderful results. 

We used brass texture plates that were etched back in the December 28th, Etching Without Acid workshop. New students couldn’t stop asking “how do you etch without acid?” to which I had to answer “that’s for another class.” I felt the nearly uncontrollable urge to divulge all – but it would have taken away from what we were there to do! So, we jumped right in learning how to roll-print without stretching the texture plate or damaging the rolling mill. Because as anyone who owns one of these expensive pieces of equipment knows, the last thing you want to do is over tighten the rollers when roll-printing! Everyone was able to print multiple unique textures on the 4 (each) 20-gauge copper panels that were provided with the class. I even let Jen use my spiral etched steel texture plate for some of the silver she brought to class.



Each student not only made a bunch of material to take home and work with, they also each made a Swivel Locket in their own shape and patterned metal! Beautiful lockets ladies!

Using the new shapes I am introducing for my silhouette dies, the students were introduced to Hydraulic pressing of patterned metal. Tear drops, puffy hearts, daisy and star pillows were pressed with shape enhancing patterns on the metal. My clear acrylic silhouette dies allowed the ladies to select the most interesting part of each roll-printed pattern and not risk the dreaded and metal wasting blow-out.


We also used the Bonnie Doon retaining box with the overwhelming result being that the pressing was much crisper with less pressure when using the box as apposed to not using the box. Good to know! So, while the whole city of Seattle was packed into the sports arena or sports bars to watch football, we participated in a workshop with heart! Mimi got this amazingly lovely “China red” heat patina totally by accident. Next up on the calendar is the 3-D filigree workshop on Feb. 22 & 23. Which I am sure will be just as much fun!

Thanks everyone!

Jose’ Lins & The Saul Bell Award & Other Happy News!

The story behind Jose’ Lins winning the Saul Bell Emerging Artist Award has a lot to do with Seattle Metals Guild’s, Passing the Torch, a statewide, high school jewelry exhibit program. In the spring of 2012 I was working with a couple of students in the Jewelry Manufacturing Arts class, at Hazen High School, to enter Passing the Torch. Junior class student, Jose’ Lins, had made a roll-printed and hinged tea defuser in response to the box project in class.

TeaNut tea defuser
I encouraged him to enter it in PTT where he took 3rd place in the hollowware division receiving at tool box with pliers and a $50. gift certificate from Rio Grande.
With this first tasted of recognition for his good craftsmanship and pleasing aesthetic choices, Jose’ was hooked. He used the prize money to buy silver wire and began to make silver versions of an advanced introduction to filigree project I had taught him. Over the summer with the tools he had won Jose’ continued to practice his metalsmithing.

In the fall with the resumption of classes he presented me with a handful of elegant filigree beads with the thought of taking 1st place in PTT. At that time I encouraged him to think on a national scale and showed him the Saul Bell Emerging Artist competition brochure. From that moment on Jose’ continued to work diligently exploring variations on the techniques he had learned. He completed a graduated filigree bead necklace and created a computer illustration of the final piece with a filigree pendant, which he entered in the Saul Bell Emerging Artist Competition.

Saul Bell Emerging Artist Award winner

In January of 2013 we were informed that Jose’ necklace was a finalist in the Saul Bell competition. So, in addition to regular class work, he completed the filigree pendant with a bezel set, teardrop, cabochon, chalcedony for the Saul Bell competition and he made a roll-printed, sterling, pendant with a spinning design for the 2013 PTT movement theme category.

2013 PTT Entry

The 2013 PTT competition was the strongest I have seen in many years with over 16 high schools across the state making entries. The exhibit was held at the Washington State Convention Center receiving over 1000 visitors daily. While Jose’ spinning pendant did not receive a prize at the 2013 PTT, we were consoled with the knowledge of his taking 1st place in the national Saul Bell competition.

On June 1st, 2013 Jose’, his father, and I attended – with show passes provided by Rio Grande – the Jewelers Circular Keystone (JCK) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada for the awards banquette. The JCK show is the largest jewelry trade show in the world and totally wow-ed Jose’ and his father. As we walked the show floor many jewelry professionals who I knew from my days as the fine jewelry designer for Nordstrom came forward to say hello. I have never had such great pride and joy introducing my award winning student to so many people who could help foster his future career.

Jose’ Lins (holding the award trophy) and his Father Jose’ senior
The Awards banquette was a semi-formal, dinner, event at Mandalay Bay Convention Center with many top designers from the jewelry industry present to celebrate the winners. The jewelry pieces were displayed in wonderfully lit display cases while a video showcasing the winners answering key questions was displayed on large flat screens around the packed dinning room. Of all the design awards I have won myself for my own jewelry I must say I never felt so excited or so proud during an awards ceremony as I did during this one.

This last weekend I picked up the PTT entries as the show has come down. I have returned the jewelry items to their makers as some of them are graduating. That is the great challenge with PTT, just as the students get accomplished enough to begin making really good work – they are gone. Jose’ Lins has chosen to pursue a career in the jewelry field and I am working to find him scholarships. I am so glad that this story has such a happy ending!

Other happy news: I will be teaching at Danaca Designs Studio this summer!!! This class will cover the basic techniques that Jose’ used to create his PTT award winning TeaNut tea defuser.
So, if you want to learn the techniques it takes to be an award winning jewelry maker from an award winning jewelry maker…sign-up for my class at Danaca!

New Year With New Workshops At Danaca

Print and Press January 18 and 19, Saturday and Sunday, 10:30- 5:00

Basic materials included

In this beginning level workshop students will use etched plates and other materials to emboss sheets of metal and then use a hydraulic press to cut and dome the sheets into puffed forms to be used for jewelry components and more. Shaping and forming the printed metal to avoid marring the printed surface will be taught. Proper pressure roll-printing using the rolling mill and doming metal in varied shapes using the hydraulic press with all safety precautions and training is included. Proper use of tools is stressed for future independent work.

  1. Special soldering techniques to keep the solder out of the pattern and enhance designs will be covered.
  2. Basic metal working skills are helpful but not totally necessary.
  3. Multiple design options for using printed metal will be explored and discussed. 

Materials Included: Copper sheet for making samples

Students May Bring: Previously etched plates

3-D Filigree February 22 and 23, Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 – 5:00

Materials Included: Copper and brass wire, Solder
Students May Bring:
Silver wire (available in studio store)

If you’ve ever wanted to try filigree but were intimidated by the thought of all those tiny wires, you’ve spent so much time preparing, melting into little balls, this is the workshop for you. This entry level, non-traditional, filigree workshop will cover a form of scroll work using bolder gauge round, square and flat wire to make unusual filigree objects.

This workshop will cover:

Using framing mandrels to build wire frames

Making the internal filigree design separately

Doming the filigree designs to add 3-dimensional shape

Advancing soldering skills while learning to solder with Acetylene and Propane

Student will learn how to use framing mandrels and the hydraulic press, and how to modify silhouette dies. Annealing, tapering, and twisting square wire, score and fold technique, using forming plier & parallel plier, and using binding wire to stabilize the filigree during soldering will all be taught in this workshop. Beginning to intermediate soldering skills will be advanced by learning finer torch temperature control with multiple temperature soldering within each project. Participants will learn to fabricate their filigree and frames with copper and brass, but may use their own silver. Basic soldering skills required.

Plique a Jour Epoxy March 3, 10, 17, 24, four Monday evenings, 6:30-9:30

Material fee: $25 payable to instructor

Material Kits Include:Copper and brass for class samples, Epoxy resin
Students May Bring: Something to embed in resin bezel, Silver sheet (available in studio store)

Learn the secrets of creating open bezels for resin in multiple geometric, organic, and freeform shapes in this intermediate level workshop. Participants will discover different ways to secure open bezels for epoxy resin casting and what different kinds of epoxy resins are best suited for casting. Learn to create different textures, effects, colors, and how to prepare fragile objects to be embedded in resin.

This workshop will demonstrate and explore:

Framing mandrels to repeat a bezel shape in graduated sizes

Score and fold technique

Wrap ʻnʼ tap pliers, forming pliers

Tube cutters and bezel mandrels

Plus, students will explore how to incorporate findings and attachments into the Plique a Jour Epoxy to create rings, brooches, pendants, links and clasps with this versatile technique. Independent soldering skills will allow students to get the most from this class. Note: students enrolled in multiple week classes are welcome and encouraged to attend practice hours.

All of these workshops will take place at Danaca Studio in Seattle. Please contact Danaca to register! See you there!

New Workshops Just Added!

As I am working to prepare for my upcoming gallery show at CORE Gallery (117 Prefontaine Place S., Seattle WA), which will be for the month of November, requests keep coming in for me to teach more workshops. Here is the workshop line-up for this fall and winter so far.

Saturday & Sunday, November 16th and 17th: Cold Connections for Stone Setting at Danaca Design Studio in Seattle.

In this skill building workshop, participants will master the 4 basic rivet styles and 2 styles of tabs for making prong settings. Participants will then apply those cold connections to make pendants or earrings. Circle cutter, hydraulic press, dividers, brass slide gauge, and two styles of hammers will be demonstrated. Flex shaft and bur use will be stressed for easy stone setting.

Beginning jewelry level skills are a prerequisite. 
(Class Kit provides CZs, cabochons, setting burs and metal).

Here Niobium hemispheres are set “sandwich” style with tube rivets

Saturday, December 28th: Etching Without Acid at Danaca Design Studio in Seattle.

In this ONE-DAY workshop you’ll learn this family and pet safe way to etch copper, brass, and nickel in your home or studio. Discover the best application tricks for PnP (Press and Peal) Blue paper resist. Students need to bring their own old cell-phone charger to recycle for use in this class.
(Class Kit provides copper, etching container, alligator clips and wire)

Sunday January 12th thru the 18th, 2014: I will be a guest instructor at the Florida Society of Goldsmiths: 2014 Winter Workshop in New Smyrna Beach! I will be teaching a blended workshop of Epoxy Resin Embedding & Etching without Acid.

Epoxy Resin Embedding will cover using epoxy to create open-bezels for a stained-glass effect, preparing & embedding objects, and the safe handling & coloring of epoxy resin. Students need to be able to solder independently to make their own bezel cups and frames for holding the epoxy. Students may also bring their own objects for embedding.

During this workshop I will be debuting my Framing Mandrels to assist participants in creating open bezels in many different shapes. Like these soft squares used for my 7 Jewel Movement bracelet.
While we are waiting for the epoxy to set-up, class participants will learn acid-free etching.

Etching without Acid will cover a galvanic etching process that uses a cell phone charger and salt-water to produce an etched on copper, brass, or nickel. This process does not etch Sterling, but an etched brass or nickel plate can be used for roll-printing onto copper or silver sheet stock, or as a texture plate for metal clay. Deeply etched 18-gauge copper sheet can be used as decorative metal stock in many projects. Students will be provided with copyright free designs to use as etching resist or they may bring their own designs. Students should bring their own old cell phone charger to use for this class. The deeply etched 18-gauge copper sheet can then be used with colored epoxy resin for additional effects.

Lab Fee $ 25.00

Additionally, I am working on developing Heart, Teardrop, Daisy, and Kidney shapes for my Silhouette (Matrix) Dies and would like feedback on these shapes. Pre-orders for these shapes will soon be available at my Etsy store. Please let me know what you think via my email, on Face Book, or thru Etsy.

Boxes, Lockets, Hinges & Clasps

Weekend Workshop: August 24 and 25 Saturday and Sunday 10:30 – 5:00

Materials Included:
All materials to complete the projects in copper and brass will be provided
Students May Bring: Students are welcome to bring sterling silver to work with (available in studio store)

In this Intermediate-level workshop, students will design and construct a keepsake locket or container employing a flat hinge and a crisply closing clasp (that’s hard to say!). This exploratory workshop will introduced students to using a hydraulic press and Matrix Dies for creating locket cases and box lids, which can preserve elaborate rolling mill textures or pierced patterns. Basic hinge systems, clasps and design considerations will be investigated during the construction of these mechanical hollow forms. Prerequisite: The Beginning Series workshops or equivalent experience is required.

Cool Stuff Happening Feb. 2013

Well, I don’t seem to have time to browse any social media anymore as I am actually too busy doing some really cool stuff. One of the cool things going on is my student Jose` Lins being accepted as a finalist in the Saul Bell Emerging Artist Awards.


His necklace (poorly photographed here) is one of only 5 national finalists for this 18 and under jewelry design award. And this is what is so cool is that the local newspaper, the Renton Reporter (pages 8 &9) heard about it through the school district and sent a reporter out to take pictures and write-up the story.

Jose’ who had just turned 19 a day before the reporter interviewed him was concerned that he would no longer qualify to compete in the Saul Bell design competition since he was now 19 and not 18 anymore. But, I assured him that since he made and entered the necklace while he was 18, that the judges would not hold it against him having a birthday before they could judge the piece. The story with photos ran in the January 25, 2013 edition. Parents of students in my Art classes sent copies of the newspaper into school so I could have a few extra copies for my archive.

We will find out sometime at the beginning of March who the winners of the Emerging Artist Awards are, but, I am keeping my fingers crossed for Jose` to take 1st place. He did such a great job on this necklace too, making a complex key hole style clasp and graduating the filigree beads in the necklace. I was so happy to have Jose` come to me with ideas for solving problems with the piece and then trouble-shooting them together. There is nothing else like it as when a talented student has an “aha” moment. It is very cool!

Another cool thing is that I heard from LARK Books and my Crystal Cross necklace (below) will be featured in the forthcoming “Showcase 500 Necklaces” book due to drop this spring! My Crystal Cross pendant was on the cover of the December 2011 Lapidary Journal/Jewelry Artist magazine, and now this too! I am so excited, this will make the 5th Lark “500” book to include my jewelry work. Receiving this recognition within the art jewelry field is very much appreciated, and receiving a free copy of the beautiful book is totally cool too!

Finally, I an getting to attend a Resin Workshop presented by Jillian Moore and hosted by the Seattle Metals Guild this weekend Feb. 23 & 24th at Danaca Design Studio . How cool is that!

I will try to take photos and post pictures, but it may be a while as there is always a lot to do! 
Have fun, Be cool!

Show @ CORE Gallery

November 2012 seems like it was years ago already. With all the busy holiday happenings, posting these pics from my gallery opening just fell by the wayside. Today, I am home from work (sick) and thought it would be a good idea to get these images cropped and formatted to fit on the web. I was so lucky to have my dear Beaux, Scott Fisher, doing all the photography at the opening.This shot below is of the very first of the First Thursday Gallery Walk patrons to visit my show.

CORE Gallery at 117 Prefontaine, Seattle, WA is a lovely space and the display cases, which were lent to me by the Seattle Metals Guild, really looked fabulous! The display props where a last minute improv purchase from Micheal’s craft store, but wow! they turned out to look just stunning with my jewelry in place.

This was the “resin” case. My newest neck piece titled “Always Crashing in the Same Car” (center) is neatly bracketed between my bracelet “7 Jewel Movement” on the cone and my National Jewelry Arts Award winning “Nautilus” earrings in the front. The necklace “Always Crashing in the Same Car” is made with smashed auto glass cast with clear resin in sterling silver frames. Each frame is held to the next with a loop of fine curb-link chain also in sterling silver. The curb-link chain gives the necklace wonderful flexability and easy wearability, but it was intentionally used to give a very delicate impression – as if it was being held together by a thread. “Always Crashing in the Same Car” is my tribute to the multiple (7) car crashes I survived as a child. The mashed auto glass is my symbol of life’s fragility and the stength of survival. Remarkably and unintentionally the casting resin I used for the piece actually “healed” the broken glass, filling in and softening the cracks and sharp edges.

Of course my two-finger rings were present with a selection of “Les Bijoux de Tarot.” Here I am explaning them to another gallery walk patron. As you can see here, I shared the large gallery space with a painter. CORE Gallery hosts a facinating collection of artists from multiple mediums. Multi-media, wood, paint-on-canvas, metal sculpture, print-making, furniture, photography and jewelry are each paired up to provide complimentary showings each month. I am very honored to be asked to show with them and to be invited back for another show in 2013 is especially gratifying.

This last photo is of the entry/title wall of my show. This couple were very sweet asking lots of questions and being very tolerent of our photographing them. I had title the show “contained” since I realized as I put the show together that much of my work deals with the idea of either conceptual containers, container rings, lockets, or encased items within resin. Also, I felt what I have really worked on as of late is focused so much more on the untangable product of teaching that it is my jewelry alone that can be contained in the cases, whereas “my work” cannot be contained in a display case or in a gallery. “My work” is now in the minds of my students and will be expressed by them over the years with their own voices.
Anyway, it was a great show and I now have to make a bunch more stuff – since they asked me back for another! Wish me luck.

It’s Always Exciting at PVCC!

What a marvelous time we had at Peter’s Valley Craft Center with my Cold Connections for Stone Setting workshop. The participants of this recent workshop were simply one of the most talented bunch of students I have had the privilege to share skills and information with since last year at PVCC. What was most remarkable was that they all were students in one college metals program or another! It was thrilling to not have to teach basic sawing or riveting skills. We jumped right into the material (physical, technical, and conceptual). The speed at which the class moved through the processes and techniques was a marvel to see. I was able to use my educational techniques of “meta-cognition” to gauge how well each “lesson plan” was “scaffolding” new information and skill building practices onto existing knowledge. (Go M.Ed!) Here are May’s practice turtle & Volcano settlings.

Using the dividers and brass slide gauge we started with the layout of turtle settings for cabochons and quickly grasped bent finger and raising internal prongs from a plate variations. I was delighted to have assembled for this class an extensive collection of technique samples. Many of my samples illustrated the creative divergence of application available with these skills.

What is always fun in this community of metal-smiths is to see so many options for executing basic techniques. Like a rivet for example: Should it be cut first and flared only once it is in the hole? -or- is it easier to flare one end of a wire and use that “nail head” to hold the rivet in place while threading through multiple panels? What are the best tool options? There were plenty of ball-peen chasing hammers available, yet everyone wanted to use my sweet, little, Fretz riveting hammer (even naming it “baby,” more than once the call went up- “where is baby”). What can I say (and I am not getting a penny for it), but when you find a tool that is not only beautiful to look at and is also wonderful to hold and work with – it’s a sexy thing!

ricks to flare tube rivets helped keep many alternative materials safe from harm.
Thank you, Mara for this lovely brooch with anodized niobium domes/cabs.

I have already gotten half a dozen compliments on it!

I have to say it warmed the cockles of my heart to see so many notes being taken (every-time I opened my mouth) and sketches of ideas before diving in. Teaching at the high school level this last year I nearly despaired of ever seeing these creative tools being employed by students so devotedly. Bravo! Ladies, Bravo! Your photo documentation of demos also gave me the brilliant idea of allowing photos from smart phones as an option for my high school student to document my demonstrations. If the photos are good I could then post them to my teacher page on the schools website for other students to see. 

The excitement started with a major thunderstorm hitting PVCC at lunchtime on Monday. It was so bad it downed 4 trees, blocking the road to Thunder Mountain Metals Studio. The rain soaked us all to our skin as we dashed to our lodgings. As the storm continued to pound the campus, electricity was lost at several buildings. The faculty house was still with power, so, I invited all my workshop attendees to come stay with me for a kid-style, camp sleep-over. We all got settled in when the power went out in the faculty house too! Undaunted we sat out on the huge covered porch and talked of metalsmithing, our kids, and our boyfriends/husbands. Power was restored within an hour and we continued to laugh and talk well into the night. 

With the morning the sun was shinning and the road to the metals studio cleared we did our best to finish up, clean up and say our goodbyes.

Here is the lovely Gina wearing her sandwich setting.

And a blurry shot of Mandy’s sandwich setting samples. Because of all the excitement I did not get to take as many pictures of everyones sample projects as I wanted. So, Ladies, please if you have photos post them to your FaceBook page and tag me on them! Come on Kris, Brienne, Heather and Laura I know you did some beautiful stuff – Please share it with me!

Thanks to everyone at Peter’s Valley for a wonderful workshop!