Jewelry Classes – Check out our Fall+Winter Course Catalogue!

The leaves are turning, the air is crisp, it’s time to get back in the studio and take a class with us!

Make your own Holiday gifts this year in one of our 6-week classes like Intro to Silversmithing , or Intro to Wax Carving

FALL+WINTER 2016 COURSE CATALOG

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Inspiration Artist ~ Nicole Ringgold

After discovering her work on Facebook in the online group Aspiring Metalsmiths, we were so inspired we had to reach out to her about her Botanical Series.  Here’s some great advice from an incredibly talented metalsmith and artist.  Every piece is hand forged, shaped, soldered and finished- pieces by piece, every intricate detail.
Botanical Series
Name:  Nicole Ringgold. Some people ask if I changed my name to fit my profession. Nope, it’s just a happy coincidence.
LJS: Where are you from originally:
NR: I was born in Massachusetts, but grew up in Switzerland and France. I have since lived in various US states, as well as in Niger, W. Africa. My home for the last decade has been in the Methow Valley, a community situated in the North Cascade Mountains in Washington State.

LJS:  Favorite show/movie/song of late?

NR:  My favorite musician is Macklemore…I’m more of an audiobook addict since I spend so much time in my studio. My favorite book of late is The Nightingale.

LJS:  What was the first piece of jewelry you ever made using either metalsmithing or carving techniques?

NR:  I took a couple of silversmithing courses in college over 20 years ago. I made a really fun ring with lost cast wax that I was proud of at the time.

LJS:  What’s a bench tip you’ve learned or figured out recently that’s changed your life?

NR:  My recent collection of botanical jewelry has taught me a tremendous amount about complex soldering, how to use heat syncs, how to heat just enough of the surrounding silver for the filler metal to melt perfectly into targeted seams, and how to make the most use of my pick while soldering.

LJS:  In your botanical series you create so many wonderful pieces, do you have a favorite among them?

NR:  Yes…this one. It’s a larch cone. Soldering on each of the tiny layers presented a challenge.

LJS:  Which piece challenged you the most as a metalsmith?

NR:  These poppy seed pods, primarily because it’s easy to explode a sphere while soldering on the additional components.

LJS:  Who’s your favorite artist, and how do they inspire you?

NR:  I can’t say that I have just one favorite artist, but I’ve recently discovered the work of John Grade: http://johngrade.com. I would love to take him out for a glass or two of wine and listen to his story. As an artists, how did he reach where he is today?

LJS:  We can tell that you find inspiration in nature, do you have any favorite places you go or things you do when you’re needing a little artisitic push?
NR:  I live in the mountains and work inside a greenhouse, both of which give me endless artistic inspiration. I am an avid hiker. I love hiking to high alpine lakes where I can jump in. I take pictures and collect samples of native plants to bring back to my studio. There, I literally dissect the plants to understand how they’re constructed, and attempt to reconstruct them in silver.

LJS:  What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a student just starting out?
NR:  Dive in. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Most errors turn out to be happy accidents.

You can find more of her work at www.nicoleringgold.com

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Photography for Jewelers – Learning the Basics

Lights, camera, action … right?!

If only it were that easy. Photographing jewelry takes an appreciation for light, color, and focus and can be difficult to master let alone learn on one’s own.

Choosing the right background to make your piece pop, natural vs. studio light, props and garnishes – all of these things matter when trying to make your piece stand out.

We’re running a great four hour intensive on Sunday, September 11th with Photographer Nick Papadakis, a NYC based artist with extensive product photography experience.

Using your own jewelry and your own phone, you’ll learn how to utilize common objects and light sources to showcase your pieces in the best possible way without the use of a fancy (and expensive) professional camera.

Here are some beautiful shots from last year’s session… and yes these were taken by a smartphone! We only have 2 spots left – can’t wait for you to join us!

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Class Spotlight: Perfect Pendants!

Stand out from the crowd with a truly unique custom pendant of your very own design!

Saturday + Sunday | July  16 + 17 | 11am-5:00pm | $240 | Register Now!

In this weekend workshop we’ll be exploring different styles and techniques to create your Perfect Pendant.  Learn to construct bezel settings for cabochon, faceted gemstones, and fancy shaped stones.  Working with sterling silver, we use hammer and stamps, as well as high polish, and oxidized finishes to accentuate textures and highlight designs. Students may bring their own stones or purchase from the tutor’s collection. Materials are provided.

Check out some of our students amazing work!!!

 

 

From the Studio – Etching!

Next weekend we’re hosting a super fun Weekend Workshop on Etching!

Saturday + Sunday | Jun 25+26 |11am-5pm | $240 | Register Now!

In this two day weekend workshop students will discover how to create raised patterns in metal without using any special equipment!  You’ll learn how to transfer images onto metal to etch a variety designs using a low toxic and safe method.  Etching is the process of using chemicals to cut a design or pattern into a metal surface. Etching your own designs into metal is a fun and rewarding way to customize your jewelry!

Class covers a variety of resist processes including ink transfer techniques and free hand solutions. We will also be covering basic metalsmithing techniques like drilling, filing, refining, and a variety of polishing and sealing methods, so this class is open to beginners as well as intermediate and advanced students.

Extra materials will be provided.

We spent a little time in the studio perfecting the technique this week, here’s some fun action shots:

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Here’s the pieces after they’ve come out:

And here’s a couple styles of the final products!

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From the Studio – Salt Casting!

This weekend we’re hosting a super fun one day workshop on Salt Casting!

Saturday | Jun 11 |11am-5pm | $179 | Register Now!

Salt Casting is the art of melting metal to its molten form and then pouring it over salt. This creates spontaneous forms and unusual shapes. In this workshop we learn how to recycle metal, create many different alloys, pour metal into different forms, and fabricate jewelry out of the salt cast pieces.  Your old jewelry and scraps (gold, silver, copper) can be cast into new and wondrous forms. The salt cast pieces can be made into earrings, pendants, and pins during the workshop. Extra materials will be provided.

We spent a little time in the studio perfecting the technique this week, here’s some fun action shots:

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Here’s the pieces after they’ve come out:

Studio trials pieces 1b

And here’s the final products!

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#Benchtip Tuesday! Resizing Rings with our New Ring Stretcher

When you’re in the business of producing handmade jewelry, time is just as valuable as money. Because of this we get really really excited about new tools that will reduce the amount of time it takes to do something. Like REALLY excited.
We recently picked up a ring stretcher/reducer and it has definitely lived up to the hype. It’s not the most inexpensive tool, however if you factor in the time you save, it’ll start paying for itself pretty quickly.
 ring resizer
Working with the Ring Resizer is pretty intuitive, however here are some tips to help you get up to speed.
-This tool only works with plain bands, such as wedding bands with no gemstones
-Always anneal your piece before stretching/reducing! You’ll want to fire coat your piece to protect the finish: brush on flux and heat the piece with a low soft flame until it starts to anneal or glow slightly red. Quench and pickle to remove the boric acid coating
-Don’t stretch or reduce too quickly – you may crack the metal
-always anneal between sessions
For reducing:
-place the ring in the circle that’s just slightly too small – the ring should sit slightly above. Push on the arm to squish it down, turn over the ring and repeat the process
ring resizer2
For enlarging
-Layering a piece of paper on the inside of the band prior to putting it on the enlarging mandrel helps to reduce the stretching marks on the inside of the ring. Saves you time during clean up.