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Jewelry classes in phoenix az

Jewelry classes in phoenix az

Sacred Spirit Gems

Arizona Artist Series: Mark Plehn Q&A

Mark of Sacred Spirit Gems has a stirring array of crystals and crystal healing jewelry with stone combinations that are carefully arranged to create optimal healing results for the wearer. He was kind enough to answer some questions in our Arizona Artist Series about his design process and what inspires him.

custom ruby ring

How did you get into metalsmithing?

I began the initial metalsmithing aspect of my jewelry career learning how to set gemstone cabochons with sterling silver wire.  Almost twenty years ago I was fortunate enough to have met an amazing silver wire stone setting artist.  She had a small table at a very small northern Arizona town craft fair and after some conversation and my bold request for her to teach me, we ended up at my dining room table a few days later as she passed on her knowledge!  I was and am so grateful for her open-hearted sharing of her talents for my benefit and I appreciate the gift I received that day every time I set up a new wire wrapping design.  My ongoing desire to expand my jewelry creating skills then led me to Harold Studio and Johanna.  I feel like now the sky’s the limit after finding another amazing artist willing to share their metalsmithing gifts and knowledge!

Quartz necklaces made custom for healing

What inspires you?

For me the inspiration for almost all of my work is the gemstones and their amazing ability to receive, store, amplify and transmit light, color and mineralogical vibrations.  I’m inspired by nature and natural organic forms and I’m also very inspired by antique designs: Victorian era, the jewelry of the 20s, 30s, 40s and sometimes even ancient antiquity designs from Egypt, etc. 

What is your design process?

custom labradorite necklace
As a certified Crystologist my initial design process always begins with the energy of the gemstones and the intention for the piece I’ll be creating.  Is the piece I’m working on a single stone, stand alone pendant for a chain or is it a pendant that will be attached to gemstone healing combination design?  In what form will this healing design be most effective for my client? a necklace or bracelet form?  Maybe it needs to be an anklet because the client uses their hands and a bracelet would be in their way.   Most of my designs are custom healing designs with gemstones and crystals specific to addressing physical health challenges or intentional consciousness enhancement designs.  All of my designs are centered around the crystals or gemstones and I do my best to let the stones tell me the best way to create them into intentional consciousness enhancement and wearable healing art.

What is your favorite tool?

I’d have to say my favorite tool is my flexshaft.  I love all the different things I can do with it in grinding, texturing, finishing and polishing.  Not to mention the ability to change my tips to stone carving tips for working on gemstone carvings, etc.  I feel like I’ve only begun in exploring all the things I will be able to do with this wonderful tool.

custom made rings in Arizona

What is on your bench right now?

On my bench right now are a number of in process pieces.  I always have several different pieces I’m working on and usually switch between them……if I get stuck or frustrated with one thing I’m working on, I switch to something else to keep me fluid and enjoying the process.  There is currently a custom double ammonite piece I’m setting in an unusual way as well as a number of quartz crystals pendants, a ruby ring and a ring repair project as well.
what is on my jeweler's bench


Free Cabochon Base Patterns

30 base patterns for cabochon rings, necklaces and earrings. 

If you're like me, drawing perfectly symmetrical lines for your designs can be challenging. It's already hard enough to saw out exactly what you want when making a ring or necklace. I thought it would be fun to make up some base patterns that I use for my cabochon rings and necklaces for you to use. There are 30 of them along with a basic tutorial of how I went about using one with a bezel cup and cabochon. You can download it for free here. Let me know if you like it or would like to see different designs! It was fun to make and I hope it can help you make something special today.

This is the silver and turquoise teardrop cabochon necklace I made with one of the base patterns for the tutorial.
turquoise and silver necklace

Dear Jewelry

Arizona Artist Series: Katherine Londen Q&A

Katherine makes jewelry that mixes edgy lines with organic shapes and she always uses beautiful stones as a focal point. She just launched her etsy store, and we can't wait to see what she comes up with next. 

silver long earrings with topaz
Stick Earrings

How did you get into making jewelry?

I first became interested in metalsmithing in college, when I worked for a year as a sales assistant at a boutique jewelry store in Tucson called Viir Jewelers. I learned a little about gemstones and how they form in the earth, what gives them their colors, where they come from, etc. and I was fascinated by it. Jewelry making is really the intersection of art and science. I think that is the coolest thing! Years later, I read an article about Harold Studio and when I ended up taking a job downtown, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a class and learn. I've since taken several different classes.

What inspires you?

Science and nature - the things we see all around us, like our environment and its creatures, but also the things that are hidden to our eyes, like diatoms, which you can only see with a microscope. I'm also inspired by gemstones themselves - a particular color or shape or type of gemstone will get my creative thoughts racing!

What is your design process?

Bubble ring with tube set diamond in 14k gold
Silver Diamond Ring
For me, it's mostly about the stone itself, because I want the stone to look its best. Its color, shape, etc. all give me ideas. Sometimes those ideas work, and other times I have to rework the ideas!

What is your favorite tool?

I don't know that it's my favorite, but the tool I use the most and that I find comes in handy all the time for all sorts of things is my bastard mill file. Also, I couldn't live without my optivisor.

What is on your bench right now?

I rent studio space from Harold Studio (thank you!!!) so right now, nothing. But there's usually my optivisor, saw, a bunch of stones, silver sheet and wire, files, bristle or silicon discs, and some works in progress. I think you can testify to the fact that a lot of the contents of my toolbox, in fact, find their way to the bench, creeping across two spaces rather than one. The organization aspect of my jewelry making is a work in progress itself, haha!

A metalsmith and her wall hangings

Arizona Artist Series: Melanie Channon Q&A

Melanie Channon is a scientist who makes beautiful wall hangings that will leave you breathless. 
One of her pieces, Octopus is currently being featured at Arizona's Herbergur Theatre's Face Off Exhibit with some other amazing artists until January. 

Metal and stone wall hanging of an octopus
You can see more of her work on her instagram

How did you get into metalsmithing?

  I took a class at Harold Studio in February 2013 and immediately fell in love with manipulating metal.

What inspires you?

  Metalwork made for religious purposes and/or royalty in the middle ages.  Pieces like reliquaries and crowns that were obviously time consuming and painstaking to make.  I really admire the dedication it took to make them.  I strive to reflect that kind of dedication in my pieces, even though they are not for religion or royalty.  

What is your design process?

  I try to think of things that I personally like (skulls, animals, characters) that would accommodate a lot of metal techniques (gems, rivets, etc.) and interesting details (textures and patterns).  But really some of what I consider to be my most creative design ideas have come from the logistics of trying to put the piece together.  For example, some of the designs that I do with rivets were partly out of necessity to attach the different components together.  

  However, I also purposefully try to use different techniques for each piece, both to challenge myself, and to distinguish the style of the pieces from each other. So, sometimes the image or character that I come up with is from what I think would be a cool image that is suited to whatever new or different technique I want to use.

Metal and stone owl wall hanging

What is your favorite tool?

I think this changes around a little depending on what I'm working on.  But, because I do so many rivets I really love my flush cutters.  I paid a little more for a decent pair, and I'm really happy I did. I also love all of my stamping/chasing/repousse tools.  Some of which I've made myself and some that I've purchased.  I probably like the ones I've purchased a little more, just because I'm not that good at making them yet, lol.  I also could not live without my miter cutting jig; I can't even cut a bezel straight without it.

What is on your bench right now?

Coincidentally, both my flush cutters and my miter cutting jig, along with various sizes of drills, a center punch, a small ball peen hammer, a large half round file, safety goggles, metal scraps, and my medusa piece (but I'm actually not working on Medusa at the moment; I'm working on signature tags for my skull and owl pieces).  Plus, all the other stuff that normally lives on my bench: all my other hammers, other files, stamping/chasing/repousse tools, pliers, saw, flex shaft accessories, bench block, wood block for drilling, etc.

messy bench with metal and tools scattered around

5 Tips on creating with intention

how to be creative and productive

How to create with intention.

It's so easy to focus on the negative, or the overwhelming list of things to do. The reason I am drawn to create is because it forces me to focus in the moment. But sometimes I can get so caught up in the process of making jewelry, I lose track of time and, more importantly, the goals I have for myself.

Jeweler's Saw: Picking the right saw frame

Picking the right jeweler's saw frame:

There are a few things to consider when choosing a jeweler's saw:

• What you will be cutting
• The intricacy of your design
• The size of the piece of jewelry

This is your standard jeweler's saw. It is a great starter saw frame and we use them in all of our Jewelry classes at the studio. I like it because it provides a lot of stability(which is important) when sawing and it can cut out most projects.

shallow frame saw for making jewelry

Jewelry Flexshaft: The all around good tool

A good flex shaft is a staple at every jeweler's bench.

 It is hard to go very long without one because flex shafts have many uses including:

• Polishing
• Stone Setting
• Drilling

Flex shafts generally come in three parts:

• Motor
You want to elevate the flex shaft motor so it doesn't allow any kinks to get in the line that connects the motor and handpiece. The motor is generally controlled by the foot pedal. Foot pedals are not all created equal. Nicer ones can control the speed at which your handpiece spins. This can really come in handy when setting stones.

• Handpiece
Pink flexshaft handpiece and chuck key
This is where all the action happens. A standard handpiece uses a chuck key to tighten the jaws around any polishing tool or setting bur you may be using. There are some quick change handpieces that do not require a chuck key. If you have a little extra to spend, I was recently given a quick change handpiece and it seriously changed my world. I am so in love with it!

• Footpedal
Foredom footpedal for jeweler's felxshaft
So, what is a good quality flexshaft to buy?
Foredom is a big name that comes up over and over again and is known for their quality.
This is a great set with everything a new jeweler would need to start using a flex shaft except for the hanger.
This one has a c-clamp so you wouldn't have to drill any holes into your workbench.