Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I'm happy today, not just because it's Christmas, but that rocks too! I've finally gotten the ok from my wonderful physical therapist Laurie, to get back to doing a little work. Happy Day!!!!  The piece above is a Christmas gift for my sister Jamie.  I also made a commission piece for a lady who's been patiently (I hope) waiting for it almost 2 months.   The same day I made a couple of pairs of earrings for my other sister Cindi.  The hardest thing was the wire wrapped loops on the earrings.  My hand was sore and tired by the end but it felt so good to get back to work.


Lily Leonard

I want to take a moment to wish all of my family, friends, students, and customers a very  happy and safe holiday season.  I hope you are having a happy and bright time! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


The cover of the 2013 Bead & Button Show Class Catalog

I got some great news today.  The Bead & Button Show chose an image of one of Gail and my projects as one of the pieces for the cover of the class catalog for 2013.  It's exciting to think of all of the many people who will see this catalog and study it and pore over it.  This is really special for me, because I was one of those people.  For many years I was an attendee at the Bead and Button Show.  I had been making jewelry years but really wanted to do it as my job.  I went to the show for just a weekend the first time and was amazed by the thousands of like-minded people at the show.  It was a game-changing weekend for me.  I learned a lot from all of the great teachers that I met there over the years and best of all, I found many of my best friends there too.  The show gave me the push I needed to do what I really wanted to do.  If you're a jewelry lover (buyer or doer) and you've never been there, you're really missing something.  Do yourself a favor and try to get there!  Maybe I'll even see you in a class :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving one and all!  I hope you are all happy and well with much to be thankful for.  I'm thankful for my wonderful family, those who are here with us and those who aren't.  I miss my parents so much this time of year (and always).  I have so many wonderful, happy holiday memories with them.  I'm thankful and lucky to have had them as parents.
I'm thankful for Paul and my sisters Cindi and Jamie, all three who I love so much.
I'm thankful for my fuzzy, sweet cat Lily who makes me laugh everyday.
I'm thankful to have had my sweet kitties, Max and Sophie, who I will always love and miss.
I'm thankful for all of my wonderful friends, scattered far and wide, many who are more like my family than friends.
I'm thankful that my hand is getting better every day and soon, hopefully, I'll be back to work. 
I'm thankful for warm, wonderful Iowa November days like today.
I'm thankful for snow, which I'm sure we'll have soon.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Early fall has come and gone.  Now it's November.  Hopefully, the cast will come off next week, if all looks well to the surgeon.  I'm more than ready for it to be gone, though I decorated it in a very awesome Hawkeye way!  Funny how the time passed.  I read a lot, sketched a lot, watched movies.  I wish I could say it was fun.  It should have been. After all, who doesn't wish for time to do nothing?  Instead it just felt like losing time.  I think a lot about time at this time of the year.  I always get reflective when the air gets cooler and the days grow shorter.  I think about all of the things that I want to do before I run out of time.  I suppose no one ever really finishes up their list.  It's not yet the New Year, but this year I'm making my resolutions early.  I want to spend my time more wisely.  I want to clear my spaces of stuff that I don't love or need.  I want to do all of this so that when I have time to sit around doing nothing, maybe my mind won't be so occupied by all of the things I should be doing.  As soon as this cast comes off........

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


A heart-shaped stone I found on the beach in California.

Summer's gone.  Amazing how fast the time goes.  It was a busy one.  I had a couple shows, some major construction on my house, a wonderful trip to California with Paul and my sister Jamie, and now new things are around the corner.  As many of you know, I have had some major issues with my right hand for a few years now.  I have an injury that's really common among we metalsmiths, (especially the women kind!) namely the basal joint of my right thumb is worn out and grinding against bone.  Yuck, more info than you wanted, right?  Well, it's gotten very bad in the last few months, to the point where I'm having trouble buckling my seat belt, and buttoning my jeans not to mention sawing sheet metal.  So, on Monday I'm having surgery to repair it.  I'm a bit freaked out by the length of time I have to spend in a cast, but I'm pretty resigned to the whole thing.  I'm not the world's most patient person and I have a really difficult time asking for help, but I guess I'm in for a period of personal growth.  I'm going to read books, sketch new work, tend my online store and anything else I can figure out to keep myself occupied.  I'll have a few months in various casts and splints before I'm back up to speed, but hopefully I'll be pain-free and ready to go soon.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Miss Sophie

I've been away for a while.  A few weeks ago Paul and I lost our sweet kitty Sophie.  She was 15, which I know isn't young, but she was really healthy, so the sudden nature of it was a shock.  Losing her has been really hard for us (even our other kitty, Lily), she was a sweet, pure soul, who we'll never forget.
My family has faced a lot of loss the past few years.  It got me thinking about the nature of loss and how we deal with it.  Our lives are shockingly short, though of course it doesn't feel that way when you're young.  We all face loss in our lives, that is if we have anyone or anything worth losing.  Still, we go on accumulating people, pets, things, that surely, we will lose one day.  Seems like lunacy to me.  I had a thought soon after she died that maybe I could put a wall up around myself and never care about anyone again.  I thought maybe I could protect my heart that way.  Of course, that's the real crazy thought, isn't it?  Think of all that I'd really lose if I did that.
So, to honor Sophie and all those that I've loved and lost, I'm trying hard to continue to live with an open heart, even though it gets battered from time to time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


July 2012 is almost history.  I'm shocked how fast it went.  It's been a weird summer so far.  Drought, heat, with no end in sight.  The Iowa River which runs through the town where I live is running at less than 10 percent of it's normal flow.  We've had 2/10ths of an inch of rain since the beginning of June.  It makes a person edgy, when the weather misbehaves like this.  Maybe that's a Midwestern thing.
Well, I've been here working hard.  Gail and I have been working (separately, due to geography) on our class samples of our submissions for the 2013 Bead & Button Show.  All of the making is done and my samples have been sent off to Gail to photograph and then we'll get them submitted.  I love what we came up with and I hope the committee that chooses the classes will too.  This year we're offering a mix of traditionally fabricated jewelry and silver clay projects, and one that combines the two.  I'm very excited about them and later on we'll post some pictures of our submissions.
At the same time, I've been making a lot of new jewelry that I'll have for the first time at the show at Brucemore on August 25th.  I'll post pictures of some of that as soon as I have time to take them. I hope I see some of you there.  It's an excellent show at a lovely place.  More on Brucemore later.
I've also been working on refreshing the findings section of my Etsy store.  Tons of new buttons, toggles (some new larger ones since people have been asking), charms, and rings.  Some are listed and some are waiting to be listed.  Also, I have a few new tools to add to the tool store.  Yikes!  I need an assistant.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


 Forged and acid etched earrings

 Mixed-metal Earrings 

 My favorite new thing, forged, twisty, bronze bracelets

 New leather, gemstone and bronze bracelets


Wow, time flies!  I've been going non-stop since the Bead and Button Show.  I've been to the last PMC conference in Kentucky, I've been working with Gail (remotely, of course, as she's in Ohio) on our next year's Bead and Button submissions.  Seems early I know, but submissions are due in August.  I'm working on jewelry for a show (more on that later) that I have in August. Lots of other stuff too!  I want to put some of my photos up of all of my travels and new jewelry to share and I'll do that soon.  The last couple of days I've taken hundreds of picture of jewelry and components to list on Etsy.  I'll be putting a few items up a day as I edit the photos and write the descriptions.  I wish people knew how much work there is in photographing and listing all of this stuff.  I think some people think people who make things for a living just get to sit and create all day!  I wish that were true.  Not that I'm complaining, I just wish this part took less time!  Anyway, please check out the store if you're in the market for any jewelry or components.  You can check it out here.  Also, if you need any jewelry making tools, please have a look in the tool store here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


 Tim McCreight, demonstrating how to personalize a forging hammer.

Tim forging a rod of copper.

My hammer in a vise, in the process of being cut down to size.

Learning to forge ingots.

Me, and one of my forged bits.

It might not look like much, but this small pile of metal represents a lot of work.

Tim, at the Master Class dinner at the Milwaukee Public Market.

 Gail and I, at the Milwaukee Public Market.

Well, Bead and Button 2012 has come and gone.  I looked forward to it for so long and POOF! It was here and over.  It was such a wonderful time.  I want to write about all of it, but I think I'll start at the beginning with the Master Class.  Gail and I were lucky enough to get into the Drawing With A Hammer workshop with Tim McCreight.  Many of you know Tim's reputation as a master metalsmith and teacher.  He was wonderful.  I know the basics of forging, or I thought I did.  I'm mostly self-taught and I think that's great, but that means that there are some gaps in my understanding of certain techniques.  We did so much in class that it's hard to know where to start.  Tim gave us each a 12 ounce riveting hammer.  It seemed enormous at first!  We learned to adapt it to suit our individual needs.  We cut the handles down, we shaped the handles to fit our hands perfectly, and we filed and polished the face of the hammer to make it perfectly domed so as not to mar the surface of what we forged.  It is unbelievable how eye-opening this was.  We believe that the tools we buy have been so well thought out and engineered that they are perfect the way they are (well, Fretz hammers are!).  Any imperfections left by them in the metal must certainly be our fault.  Not necessarily so.  I will be adapting many of my own tools from here on.
We learned to make the hammer do what we want in a more controlled fashion, which is great.  We learned the correct way to create a plane change on a wire.  We learned the correct way to planish a dome to remove the hammer marks.  We cast an ingot and learned to use chisels to cut pieces of it for forging.  How amazing to be able to make a piece from start to finish without having to rely on a manufacturer for the sheet or wire that we might need.  I probably wont abandon suppliers in favor of making my own materials, but it's great to know that I can and it's wonderful to have that connection with our materials.  It's kind of like being a city kid and not really understanding where milk comes from.  The penultimate part of the three day workshop, for me anyway, was when Tim explained that we were going to forge a spoon from a small ingot of brass.  I must admit that I was less than thrilled about this.  I'm usually game for just about anything in a class, but I was a bit reluctant to do this exercise.  I just didn't see the point.  I mean, what's flatware have to do with jewelry?  I didn't express my reluctance, I mean he's Tim McCreight!  So, I went ahead, followed Tim's instructions and 6 hours later I was the very proud creator and owner of an itty, bitty brass spoon!  How wrong I was to be reluctant.  What I didn't see before was that every action, every stroke of the hammer needed in the making of the spoon was a lesson in forging 101.  All of the forging techniques we used in making the spoon translate into jewelry forging.  Having us focus for so many hours on the spoon was, at least for me a way to ingrain all of these techniques into one project which I will not forget for a long time.  Amazing.  The class was jam packed filled with great information. Tim even took the time to answer some questions I had regarding forging, hardening, and tempering steel for making my own jewelry tools.  He is a very generous teacher. The class was so fun.  Many new friends were made and the facilities and folks at the Milwaukee Area Technical College were first rate.  I will be absorbing the experience for a very long time.  If you are ever lucky enough to take a class with Tim, do yourself a favor and jump on the chance.

Friday, June 1, 2012


My pile of class supplies and one of my helpers.

Well, it's here.  Back when our classes got accepted I thought it would never get here.  Now that it's here, I don't know where the time went.  I'm very excited.  I'm excited to meet new students, to teach with my friend Gail, to see and spend time with her and all of my other excellent friends (Gigi, Karen, Anne, just to name a few!) I am taking the metals master class with Tim McCreight.  Most of the tools are provided for us, so I don't need to bring much.  Those of you who know me well know that I'm fighting the urge to bring every hammer that I own.  MUST RESIST THE URGE!  Ok, I feel better just getting that out.  So, saw frame, vise grips, gloves, silver scrap, and a note book.  That's it.  
I'm looking forward to the class.  It's going to open a lot of creative doors, I just can feel it.
Our first class is Wednesday, the first of our 2 acid etching classes.  Lots of messy fun.  It finishes just an hour before the Meet The Teachers event, so that will be exciting. 
I hope that you'll stop by my table at the Meet The Teachers, I would love to see you.  I'll have lots of new earrings, bracelets, pendants, charms, buttons, etc.  Plus, I will have tools as well.  Hammers, shears, saw frames, oh my!  And other stuff too. Please come by and say hi!  See you all there!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Mixed-Metal Layered Acid Etched Pendant 

 Riveting: A Keepsake Pendant

Metal Etching 101
#B121469 and #B122554

Ok, it's really a little bit more than 2 weeks, but not much.  Gail and I have all of our supplies and tools ready to go and we couldn't be more excited to teach our 4 classes.  I'm looking forward to meeting lots of old and new friends.  Both Gail and I are taking the Master Class with Tim McCreight.  I'm particularly excited about this.  The focus is on forging, something that I do a lot of, but definitely want to learn more about.  We'll be casting an ingot and forging that as well.  So exciting!  

Friday, May 4, 2012


Poppy Jasper

   Kambaba Jasper

The back of the Kambaba Jasper piece.

I decided recently that it was time to start setting some of the amazing stones that I have acquired over the years from the amazing Gary Wilson.  It's a little scary how many of his cabs I own.  I know I'm not alone (you know who you are, Gail and Anne).  As I have gushed before, Gary is a very fine lapidary artist from Tucson, Arizona and there is something really special about his work.  The shear amount of it is enough to take your breath away.  Anyway, I have found it difficult to actually use many of his pieces, setting them aside on the bench until some later, unspecified time when my skills might be worthy of such fine work.  Plus, if I make something with them, I probably should try to sell it, but letting go is hard. I made a ring last year from a spectacular piece of Lapis that I sold at the first show I took it to.  The lovely lady who bought it was very happy, but I still sort of wish I had kept it.  But life is short, and so I have decided to go for it.  Why not, right?  So, Art Jewelry Magazine recently put out a call for photos of the backs of people's work  (which I think is a very cool idea) and I sent in a photo of the Kambaba pendant.  I really liked the back of the Poppy Jasper pendant, but it has a small soldering flaw, so I guess I'll have to keep it : )

Friday, April 27, 2012


Chasing Hammer

I finally got my new tools shop up and running yesterday.  I've been procrastinating for about a month now, but at least it's up now.  I will adding lots of new tools in the coming weeks so please check back now and then if there is anything you need.  I plan on offering many of the tools that I use on a daily basis in my own work and in my classes.  I will have metal fabricating tools, supplies, and metal clay tools as well. Dad would yell at us,"why don't you little hammerheads be quiet!? I thought Dad would like the name. Please check out my store here.
Speaking of procrastination, I've been so bad about updating this blog this spring.  I've been on three trips this year already(shows and teaching).  It really takes it out of me.  I honestly don't know how some of my friends who do much more traveling do it.  I'm home now and not headed anywhere until the Bead & Button Show, so I have no excuse.  I realized as I was writing this that I haven't blogged about all the wonderful things I saw in Tucson this year, Santa Fe or my wonderful trip to California and to Cleveland.  Let alone all of the new things I've been working on. I'll try to get some of those pictures up soon.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


I hope that every one of you are spending this beautiful spring day with friends and family.  Happy Easter and happy spring to you all!

Monday, March 12, 2012


Long time away from the blog.  Sorry about that.  I've been super busy getting ready for the Bead Fest Santa Fe show in Santa Fe (where else?).  I have tons of new forged bronze and copper, twisty bracelets, new riveted earrings and tons of clasps, buttons and charms.  I just wanted to take a minute to offer this free pass to anyone out there who may be headed out west to the show.  It's courtesy of the show and it's a great deal as it saves you 12 dollars.  If you do come to the show, please stop by and say hi.  I will be in space #15 which is next to the entryway just outside of the main show floor.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Happy Valentine's Day!

Came home from Tucson to a little snow.  It made me happy to experience two ends of the spectrum in one day.  We had a really fun, frenetic and productive time.  I got lots of wonderful new goodies and tools that I can't wait to use (I'll post about all that soon).  I met lots of new people who will be in my memory for a long time.  Paul and I met 2 men from California who are jade divers at Big Sur.  I spent a long time talking to Dana Suess a computer engineer who creates apps for smart phones that make keyboards easier to use.  Dana is the son of Miland Suess, who makes some of the best jewelry tools around.  I met a man from Morocco who imports giant slabs of fossils to be used as counter tops for kitchens.  I talked with a man from Haiti who sells beautiful metal wall art made from discarded oil drums.  I watched geodes being cracked open to the delight of the young and old at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society Show.  I had a long talk with a guy who sells meteorites from all over the world (and bought a couple from Siberia).  Who knew there was so much to know about meteorites?  I met an American, living in Bali who in search of a simpler life, now makes jewelry from things he collects on the beaches there. I went to the GJX show just to buy stones from Gary Wilson, who cuts cabochons in the most interesting, distinctive way that I've seen.  Ask Gary about a specific stone, and he always has a wealth of information about it.  I've learned so much from him. I went to another show to see Ebrima Sillah, who I know from the Bead and Button show.  My friend Gail introduced me to Ebrima and his wife Ruth a few years ago.  Ruth has a wonderful bead store in Oberlin, Ohio called Bead Paradise. Ebrima sells beautiful, old African beads and is eager to share what he knows.  On my last day in Tucson, a few miles south of all of the sparkly things at all of the shows, I saw people living a much slower and simpler life on the Tohono O'odham Nation.  Afterwards, we stood alone in the desert, listening to the silent, ancient saguaro cacti and looking up at the clear, blue sky.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


After I return from Tucson, I'll be opening a new Etsy store (in addition to my jewelry and findings shop).  It will be a tool shop.  You all know how much I love tools!  I will have many of the tools that I use everyday.  Many of the tools that I commonly use in my classes will be available in my new shop, including riveting hammers, chasing hammers, saws, bench pins, French shears, bench blocks and much more.   I'll post here again when it's up and running.

Friday, February 3, 2012



Jewelry Haiku Generator

Fretz Goldsmith Hammer
lovely, strong, powerful....mine
Oh, how I love thee
by: silverschmidt


Jewelry Haiku Generator

Why do people say
"Dumb as a bag of hammers"?
Hammers are my friends
by: joolie

Rio Grande has a fun random haiku generator on their blog right now.  I tried it twice and these were the first poems that I got.  Kinda says it all, doesn't it?  It's fun, go try it here.


 Slide Tubes on a rubber cord bracelet.

 PMC Toggle

 Zig Zag Scallop Necklace taught by Julie Campbell (designed by Sheryl Yanagi).

 Sidewinder bracelet taught by Jeanne Craine.

Wire-Wrapped beads taught by Jeanne Craine.  

Cindi from Bead Haven will be hosting February classes at the Fairfax Center on Saturday, February 25.  I'll be teaching 2 PMC classes that day.  In the morning we'll be making fine silver tube beads which are perfect on a bracelet or on a chain and in the afternoon we'll learn how to make our own toggles.  Julie Campbell and Jeanne Craine will also be teaching classes that day (see the photos above).  Jeanne is teaching a third class that day, but I couldn't get the picture to load!  See that picture on the Bead Haven website.  Cindi Slater will also be teaching 2 free sessions of how to crimp and make wire wrapped loops for earrings.  These are 2 of the basics of jewelry making, so if you've always wanted to learn, now's your chance (and for free!).  It should be a fun day filled with a lot of laughs and learning.  See all of the details on the Bead Haven website.


Valentine is located in downtown Iowa City, next to Herteen and Stocker.

 Some of the Valentine inspired earrings that I took to Valentine today.

Bronze Heart Pendants

Iowa City has a new pop up store called Valentine.  I took some work there today.  It's a very cute store filled with lots of fun handmade gifts.  I love the pop up concept.  If you don't know, pop up stores are retail spaces set up for a limited amount of time after which they close.  Often, they're in store fronts that would otherwise be vacant.  There have been Halloween pop ups around for a long time in our area, but the gift pop up is a fairly recent thing here.  It's a fresh, fun way to shop and a really nice way for artists to get work out into their own community, which isn't always easy.  Go check it out if you have a chance or visit their Facebook page here.

Monday, January 9, 2012


B121356 Mixed-Metal Layered Acid Etched Pendant (Saturday, June 9th)

B121468 and B122554 Riveting: A Keepsake Pendant (Friday, June 8th and another session on Sunday, June 10th)

B121469 Metal Etching 101 (Wednesday, June 6th)

Tomorrow (January 10th, noon central time) is the day that sign ups for the Bead and Button Show classes begin.  I'm so excited and I'm looking forward to meeting lots of new students in Milwaukee.  My friend Gail Lannum and I are teaching 4 metal fabrication classes at the show this year.  I met Gail at the show some years ago and we've been great friends ever since.  We have so much fun together and such a passion for jewelry and design that I know our students will have a great time.  Since I discovered The Bead and Button Show it's been a huge part of my life.  I've learned so much there as a participant, I've been awed by the vast variety of what's available on the show floor, and most importantly I've made life long friends at the show.  It's an adventurous week, for sure. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of the show.  Which is why I'm so honored to be taking part this year as an instructor with Gail.  I hope that if you are able, no matter if your passion is metal, beads or glass, that you'll head to Milwaukee this June for your own adventure.