Tag Archives: metalsmithing

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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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!!!

 

 

#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.

Class Spotlight: Bezel Setting!

Join us this weekend for a great foundation class in stone setting!

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This Saturday and Sunday, Dec 12 + 13,  11am-5:30pm Register Now!

The bezel setting is the earliest method for setting gemstones into jewelry – and hasn’t changed much over the last few thousands years. To create a bezel, you take a piece of metal and fabricate it to the size and shape of the outside of the stone. You then place the stone inside the bezel and push the metal over the top the stone.

Bezels are a simple, clean and secure approach to setting gemstones. They keep your gem safe and clean from dirt and don’t catch clothing.

 

SPRING 2015 : We Dream in Silver

 ss15narcisorodriguez_pendant ss15edun_ringhermes_pendant 

Like what you see?! We love the geometric shapes and dramatic proportions of these pieces and can’t wait to put the inspiration to good use! Spring ’15 runway jewels (images clockwise from Edun, Narciso Rodriguez, and Hermes) have us wishing for longer, warmer days AND for the start of our next Intro to Silversmithing class so we can take these ideas to the bench!

Our Spring session of Intro to Silversmithing begins March 18th with just three spots left! Register here to join us.  And as always, 5% discount for full payment at the time of registration.

In this course, you’ll make both a ring and a pendant of your own design in sterling silver and learn to saw, file, solder, size a ring, polish it, and set a stone in the process.

(images from harpersbazaar.com and edun.com)

Alternative Metalsmithing: Steel

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photo source: The Why Files

Best known for its use in things like surgical tools, building supports, electrical appliances, and hot water heaters, steel is often used to create objects where strength and safety are of utmost importance. However, despite its industrial reputation, it can also be used to create delicate and intricate jewelry.

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There are several types of steel used in jewelry-making, the two most popular being stainless steel and mild steel. Stainless steel is an alloy of steel that contains at least 10% chromium, which combines with oxygen to create a thin, invisible layer of chrome-containing oxide. This protective layer is what makes it “stainless”, however despite its title, stainless steel is not actually “stainless” but just extremely resistant to corrosion. Mild steel, or “carbon steel” is an alloy of steel that has no more than 2% carbon and no other appreciable alloying element, it differs from stainless steel because it is not resistant to corrosion and is more easily weldable.

Steel can be a great alternative to non- ferrous metals in jewelry making, as it is relatively inexpensive and lightweight. It is extremely strong and resilient and though it takes a little more strength than other base metals to bend and form, steel will retain its shape and durability much longer. Stainless steel can be an excellent alternative to metals that can cause sensitivities and allergies such as copper and brass as it is considered hypoallergenic. Carbon steel exhibits ferromagnetism (meaning its magnetic), which can make for some interesting jewelry design solutions. Because of its low price tag and lightweight and durable qualities, steel is also a great medium for larger scale pieces.

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steel, plastic, and silver jewelry by artist Brice Garrett.

According to the Worth Global Style Network, this modest metal is gaining in popularity, through industrial and urban-inspired trends and is appearing more and more in both fashion and jewelry. Looking to jump on the steel jewelry bandwagon? We have an upcoming Steel Fabrication class that explores the many possibilities that this metal has to offer. Check it out and join us for a fun, informative six week course!CIMG9703

Brooch by instructor Brice Garrett