Monthly Archives: April 2015

Tool Time Tuesday – Workshop Review And Giveaway – Wire Weaving with Sarah Thompson

It isn’t often that I get to learn new techniques in a class setting. I don’t have the time or money to travel to workshops, there aren’t many taught here in Utah, and I have been so busy working on my book and videos that I rarely have time. Can I just say how much I love the day and age we live in? I can now sit in bed before I go to sleep and watch amazing people with amazing talent teach me all sorts of new things. And I do it on this ultra thin, ultra light “television” that I hold in my hands with tiny speakers with amazing sound quality plugged into my ears,  and the blankets pulled over my head so I don’t keep my husband awake. Did you ever imagine we would have this ability when you were a kid? If you were born after 1990, DON’T ANSWER!

It reminds me of when I got my first iPod Touch. We were thrilled that we could connect wirelessly to the internet and watch videos on YouTube, or even better, download a full length movie to entertain the kids. I am still waiting for the holographic set ups we used to see in “Vision of the Future” types of set ups at Disney land. We have 3D televisions, who knows, perhaps that is next and nobody will ever have to miss out of an amazing workshop again and we will be able to have our favorite artist or teacher right there at our shoulder in the workshop. Ahhhh, the dreams of the future.

Okay, back to what we are really here for. I have just spent the last couple of weeks reviewing Sarah Thompson’s Craftsy workshop.



When I started making jewelry, it wasn’t by stringing beads. I started with wire. I have always loved wire. To this day, you will find quite a bit of wire work in my metalwork. I love the movement that it adds. I have done a few wire weaving things, but it never really clicked for me before I get into doing more metal work. But I have always adored the style of Sarah. (See more of her amazing work on her website:, Her Etsy Store: or her Facebook page: You may want to have some tissues ready to wipe the drool, her work is that amazing.

I have always wanted to do this style of work, but was intimidated by the amount of work involved, the meticulous nature of the tight weave and, well, I just never thought I could actually do it. So I was thrilled when I was approached and given the opportunity to evaluate her workshop.

In addition to well thought out projects, she uses large props while she teaches the weave fundamentals. And she does it in such a way that you remember it. That doesn’t mean to say that I never ran into a problem…. but that isn’t Sarah’s fault.

The Craftsy format is great too. You can view the video in Full Screen mode, watch at several different speeds, rewind when necessary, add notes and even ask the teacher questions as specific locations within the video. You can easily skip around the 7-part lesson for easy navigation and review.



This is quite a detailed technique and the video is great to watch with TONS of close ups so you don’t get lost and can see exactly what Sarah is doing.

WireWeavingBracelets4 WireWeavingBracelets2


Most of you know that I truly have ADD, I have since I was a child. I have a hard time sitting still while doing online workshops. One of the things I love about the Craftsy workshops is that I can change the speed. So most of the time, the first time I watch a workshop, I will put it on double speed. Then I can move to a slower speed if I need to see something more clearly or get a better understanding. Even though I did this with a good portion of this workshop, I found that even when I was watching at normal speed, Sarah was very engaging and easy to follow. She was very clear, well spoken and made certain every little detail was covered.

Want to see what I came up with? This is what I started with. I know, it is a bad cell phone photo…. I started with 18 gauge sterling silver for the base and wrapped with 28 gauge fine silver. I added a few 2 mm crystals for a bit of sparkle. The focal bead was made by my good Ohio friend Laura Critchfield.



After finally getting everything attached and the clasp connected, I added a bit of LOS (Liver of Sulfur) patina, removing from the highlights with a bit of #0000 steel wool.






I would highly recommend this workshop if you have ever wanted to try this technique. I just look at Sarah’s work and i get so inspired. I can’t wait to try more.


Now for the exciting part. I have one free workshop to giveaway to one of my fabulous blog readers. I will make it really simple. Take a look at Sarah’s work and just leave a comment on the blog telling me your favorite piece, a link back to the page would be great too.

I will draw and announce the winner next Tuesday, May 5th.

If you don’t want to take your chance on not winning and would like to get started learning with Sarah, she has given my readers 50% off for the next two weeks (until midnight, Tuesday, May 12th.) Just use THIS LINK for 50% off her workshop.

Sarah, Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop. I learned quite a bit and I cannot wait to add more of this style into my work. And I am quite proud to say, I never broke a wire. 🙂 You are an excellent teacher and very talented artist.

Tool Time Tuesday – Hydraulic Press Essential Setup

Hi Everyone. I know the title reads Tool Time Tuesday, and that is because that is what this was supposed to be. However, I updated my Final Cut Pro – the video editing software I use for my videos – and it wouldn’t let me import my videos. I worked on it for three days. Finally had to load it on to my old computer with an older version of the program. UGH. Otherwise this would have been done on Monday. I did get the video up last night though, and even that was a miracle considering I am not feeling well right now. My productivity has gone right out the window. Even once I get done here, I am going to go back to bed.

A while back I did a blog post about the tools I consider essential when getting a hydraulic press set up. Well, this is a companion video to that post.

As you all know, I totally love the Hydraulic press. It has completely changed my body of work. The book I am currently writing is how to use the hydraulic press to make jewelry and is nearly finished. So of course, you will see a LOT of pieces by me made with the press.


There are a number of presses available out there, and they will all pretty much do the same thing. I happen to have purchased a press by Potter USA and that is what will be featured in my book and videos. However, the information and suggestions will work for any number of the presses.

Video Link:

Tool Time Tuesday – Tool Review: Gwen Youngblood’s Riveting Essentials

Well, they still aren’t done with the roof. Darn spring weather. However, today it was very windy and snowing at this very moment. So I finally had a day to work in the studio and film really quickly. I was going to try to knock out three videos, however, I only got one completed. But hey, it is Tuesday and I have an Actual Tool Time Tuesday to post.

I had the opportunity to meet Gwen Youngblood while down in Tucson for the gem show in February. She is an absolute doll. I spoke to her at that time about doing a review of the riveting tool she had developed. I then got to spend a week with her in Texas a month later at the retreat I taught at in March. Gwen teaches at a lot of the large bead shows, so I am sure that many of you may be familiar with her already. She also has a fantastic studio located in San Antonio, Texas. You can find her and class listings on her website at

Gwen Youngblood Riveting Essentials

Gwen Youngblood Riveting Essentials

If you have seen my work, you will know how much I love riveting. I would like to think that I have rivets down to a science. So when I heard about this tool, I have to admit, I kind of thought,  “Well, I am sure it will be helpful for some, but perhaps just another tool for tool junkies and not necessary.” Well let me tell you, I have changed my tune. I have used it for the past three weeks in my studio, mostly on projects for my book, and I am pretty sure it will be rare for me to not use them to make my rivets from here on out. I love this tool that much! Well, just check it out for yourself.

Tool Time Tuesday – Top Ten Metalsmithing Tools

Well, I know it is Wednesday, but the roofers are still at it. Luckily, they are almost done. The weather has set them back a little bit. I have not been able to get in to film yet. And then to add to everything, I am the featured artist this month at a local studio and have had to concentrate on actually making something to put into the gallery of the studio. I have determined that I need three more of me.

So for this edition of Tool Time Tuesday, I am re-sharing a post that I did for a while back.


As a jewelry artist, and more especially as a teacher, I am often asked which tools I feel are necessary to be successful in metalsmithing or jewelry making. The answer to this really depends on the techniques you are using. I also thought it would be interesting to see what other metalsmiths felt were their top 10 tools. Obviously there is a lot of overlap and their answers reflected their expertise level as well.

When I was coming up with “My Top Ten” I created the list based on someone who is just beginning and does not have any tools yet but would like to get started. I will give you my Top Ten and then I will also share with you the “big hitters” from my colleagues.

  1. Pliers: Round Nose, Chain Nose, Flat nose. Okay, I know that is three, but I cannot make my jewelry without them.
  2. A really good pair of cutters. I actually have multiple pair that I use depending on the thickness of the wire I am cutting.
  3. A good pair of hand shears or my guillotine shear. You want to have a good way to cut bigger pieces of metal and sheet.
  4. Good files: Some files can get really pricey, but I believe they are worth every penny. Of course, I also have quite a few inexpensive files that i cannot live without.
  5. Flexshaft or drill press: These tools are indispensable in my studio. They will do everything from drilling a hole to buffing and polishing. If I had to pick just one, go with the flexshaft.
  6. Jewelers saw and LOTS of saw blades.
  7. Torch and basic soldering set up. Okay, again, this one is more than one tool and warrants its own list. But I cannot make the type of jewelry I do without it.
  8. Hammers: At a minimum I need my raw hide mallet, planishing hammer and riveting hammer. The rest are just icing on the cake.
  9. Bench pin/Anvil combo: Some people will have just a bench block they can hammer on. This tool combines a bench block with a bench pin. The bench pin is necessary for sawing and piercing for me.
  10. Sharpies: I gave this last one a lot of thought. I use sharpies for everything from marking cutting lines and designs, measurement lines, and even as a resist when etching.

I believe that with the items in my list I would be able to be very successful with jewelry making. So what other tools made the “Top Ten” for other metalsmiths?

  • Rolling Mill
  • Hydraulic Press
  • Polishing Machine
  • Mandrels (ring and bracelet)
  • Optivisor
  • Good set of lights
  • Calipers

And then, of course, there are those tools that go without saying:

  • My 10 fingers – Can’t do a thing with out them
  • My eyes
  • My creative brain
  • A good dose of caffeine
  • Good music

Do you use any of these tools? What are Your favorites?