Tag Archives: Classes

Busy? Yes, busy…

Hi all! I have been missing for a month (almost 2!?!) due to a very full teaching schedule and lots of work – which I am NOT complaining about! I have successfully pitched a load of new spring classes for my local evening gig, at the Innovative Bead Expo in April, and Tucson, of course. I will also be doing a live webcast on January 28, 2018 for CraftCast and also live from the JewelryTools.com classrooms at the JOGSShow in Tucson just a few days later. It’s been a busy but delightful fall full of creating demo objects, class proposals, handout design and creation and all the other fun stuff that goes with being a jewelry instructor and having a full, rich and rewarding life. If you are interested in whats on deck, my current teaching schedule is posted here.

So sorry, but this post is a quick hit, because I am on deadline for my latest At the Bench column for the MJSA Journal, and one other secret: I am writing my second book as we speak. It is scheduled for a Fall 2018 release, will be a jewelry making book, and I am really thrilled with it so far. I took a break to blog because I reached the halfway point late yesterday, and now the fun begins: creation of the jewelry objects and project pieces, WHOO HOO! Watch my Instagram feed for photo updates…

So, hang in everybody, I hope you are all keeping sane, resisting lunacy, keeping busy and having fun making work. I know I am. I’ll try harder to post more often, so see you sooner next time… I hope!

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Touching Base from Touchstone

helen-driggs-touchstone

Touchstone Center for Crafts is located in Farmington, Pa.

Recently I was invited to be a presenter at the Touchstone Center for Crafts for an awesome annual event called The Jim Campbell Hammer-In and Alchemists Picnic. Other presenters included the amazing Eric Burris, Rebecca Strzelec and Laurie Brown on the jewelry track and Caitlin Morris, Bob Rupert and Jerry Veneziano on the blacksmithing track. It was a full, rich, rewarding day and the demos were fun, informative and well-worth attending. I had never been to Touchstone, so when organizer Wayne Werner invited me to present, I jumped at the opportunity.

Touchstone Center for Crafts runs a full schedule of workshops, classes and year-round activities, the metals studio is fully equipped, and the setting could not be more serene and peaceful. Forget your cell and computer, abandon the endless beeps, chirps and never-ending electronic intrusions of daily life and just focus on making work — my idea of heaven on earth. Centrally located for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, DC, Maryland and upstate New York or Ohio residents, it’s worth the drive out the PA Turnpike to attend a class there. And do not miss the food either, because they really, really feed you well and make every effort to meet any dietary restriction or preference!

helen-driggs-blacsmith-samples

The Blacksmith shop is one of the best I have ever been to — here are some of many twisted iron samples.

Because I have been screaming busy for several months preparing some grant applications, doing digital housekeeping, creating new work and curriculum work and doing lots of freelance writing and teaching, it was great to just get away from my computer for a weekend, eat food prepared by a talented cook, see other members of the metals tribe, listen to nature and chill out. I did not realize how much I sorely needed a break until after Saturday’s lunch, when my full stomach and tired hit me like a ton of bricks…

Next year, I am planning on attending the Picnic for the fun of it. Or, maybe teaching a workshop there leading into it, or following after. Either way, I intend to be there or be square in 2018.

My favorite part of the weekend was the mokume gane demo by talented Eric Burris (he has workshop openings, I am totally going) who has invented an affordable, ingenious small-scale mokume gane kit that works with an acetylene/air torch in your average home studio. Can somebody say awesome? What a brilliant idea, and what an amazing artist.

eric-burris-genius-mokume

Eric’s amazing setup allows you to create mokume gane in the average home studio.

The metals studio is fully equipped with benches, torches and flex shafts, and situated on the hill down from the blacksmith shop. There is also a secret mosaic studio, spring houses, a kitchen and flower garden, a hot glass studio, the main hall and gallery, dorms and camping facilities, so you can go rough or not. There are bonfires and sand casting at night, plus myriad other ways for metalheads to entertain themselves.

Basically, I can’t recommend Touchstone and the Alchemist Picnic enough. If you live in the region, you owe it to yourself to attend a workshop there, visit the center, or at least join.

So, check out my photos and links, and if you are in the Mid-Atlantic region, make it a point to go to the 2018 Alchemist Picnic next year — I’ll be seeing you there!

 


I’ve been a busy Metalsmith…

Since the layoff from the magazine in August, I have been having way too much fun in my studio creating new curriculum pieces for 2017’s upcoming classes in Tucson, for an 8-week introduction to jewelry course at a local adult school, and hopefully, for the August BeadFest in Philadelphia. I am truly lucky because so many people have called and emailed me with an eye on getting a hold of the new, free me to teach, lecture, create video content or write for their respective publications and sites that I am as busy now as I was whilst employed full time. Not. Too. Shabby. If you are interested, you can find my current workshop descriptions here, and my class rosters and signup information here. If you plan to go to Tucson, look me up and I hope to see you there!
PS: Check my Instagram feed for works in progress shots and to see what I am up to these days. I usually post there a few days per week.

On a side note, I have also been busily creating print content in the form of some short technical features, tool reviews and tips, and how-to articles for a large jewelry industry magazine. It’s fun writing that kind of content, and what I enjoyed most/did best in the old job, so I feel extraordinarily lucky these days for the continuity. Thanks universe, you never let me down.

Now that my plate is a little less full of all that time-consuming transitional employment and other real life stuff, I plan to be here more. Keep an eye open for news about upcoming classes, online workshops, heads-ups about magazine articles and projects I have on deck. I will be adding a few pages to this blog for up-to-date ways we can stay in touch, so check here often, because I promise this year will be a fun one. Surely we will need fun in 2017.

And to all of you who have contacted me, thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. You really have no idea how much it means to me!


Metalsmith Chronicles: Part One

I truly can’t believe how fast time goes by! I have been screaming busy since my last blog. Sorry guys/gals! To make up for the fact that I appear to have abandoned you, I think I will blog today and tomorrow — to catch up and get into your good graces again! I will start with the teacher/workshop/classes front and then switch over to what’s been cooking on the day job front. BeadFest Spring was totally great, and thanks to all my students (and my sister) for coming, learning, helping and having fun. Some of you have even stayed in touch, sending me pictures of what you’ve been up to.

Check this out, an email from a great student who signed up for my class Rotary Tools: Advanced Techniques  at Bead Fest Spring, in April.

Image

Nancy Oliver’s “De and Rekonstructd” Pendant

 

Hi Helen!  Thanks for a great
Flex
 Shaft class. I call this
Helen’s pendant De
 and Re-konsructd.
Ha ha.
 Cheers!  

– Nancy Oliver

I love it when students follow-up and send me photos of where they are headed after spending time with me. That’s the best part of teaching, and I always smile when it happens.
Teaching in a hotel or convention center is never easy, and I always suffer lots of anxiety hoping I remembered to bring all the tools and materials everybody needs to have a good time, learn what I hope they learn, and best of all have fun doing it. This year (so far) has been just a dream on the teaching front. It’s been so much fun there is probably a law against it somewhere! I am looking forward to BeadFest in August, and because I had such a grand time this Spring I went ahead and proposed 6 new classes for 2015, including a Two-Day Metals Intensive. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on those, so keep an eye on my “Teaching Dates” link (above) for updates…

The "Helen Driggs Portable Workbench" aka hunk of lumber and a C-Clamp...

The “Helen Driggs Portable Workbench” aka hunk of lumber and a C-Clamp…

Todays tip: Recently, I have developed a great workaround for anyone who intends to take classes in a convention center. Typically, those tables are not the easiest to work on because they are either too thick, have too thick a ledge, or are downright wobbly as a work surface.
All you need to combat this is a hunk of  4″ wide x 3/4″ pine board and a 6″ or 8″ C-Clamp. First, securely clamp the pine board to the table, so it extends like a diving board. Then, clamp your bench pin and flex shaft to the pine board, instead of the table. Works every time.
Here is a photo shot by Kitty (my most-excellent  Sister/Teacher’s Assistant) of me using this method of working in class. Not a bad solution for about 8 bucks!

So, that’s a quick one for the teaching updates, I promise I post a bit on other super-fun travel news shortly. Sorry for abandoning you all…