Tag Archives: Social media

Touching Base from 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!


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’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’m watching you…

This is a test. I have decided to experiment with Google Analytics, just to see what kind of traffic my blog generates in relation to: projects I have participated in creating, classes I am teaching, books I have written and other things…

So, if you’d like to play, and perhaps earn me a bonus at work, check out these links:

My Metalsmith Essentials Basic Fabrication DVD can be found here:

My Metalsmith Essentials Riveting and Cold Connections DVD can be found here:


My Jewelry Maker’s Field Guide Book:


Thanks for playing…

On the way to why

I’ve heard a lot about viral marketing, SEO and the financial benefits of a huge online presence — in business, anyway. I have both a day job as a provider of content — and a personal, artistic mission to create other sorts of objects and works. I’m often torn between what the business I work for needs vs. potential needs the content consumers might want, based on my own philosophical or artistic instincts. So far, I’ve discovered that online media is different from print in many ways, but when it is really good content, and not just clipped and pasted or rehashed stat crunching, it is not very different at all.

I grew up in newspapers, and have worked with brilliant editors and reporters, and extremely talented art directors and photographers. Because my career has spanned many years in print publishing, I know what it was like to experience the thrill of getting the job done “right” on breaking news without regard for manpower, cost, time constraints or resources. These days in print, I know how difficult it is to work very, very hard and get the job done “right” with none of those things. One thing hasn’t changed, though. That is the why of what we “content providers” do. Good “content providers” primarily ask why, and then, they try like the dickens to provide the answer for the readers.

Because I am a logical thinker, I’ve created a construct — so I can balance the dueling goals of my job and my calling. I happen to think the famous movie line, “If you build it, they will come” is totally right — just create good content, and you will be read, bookmarked, and tweeted. As long as they can find you. That is where life gets interesting, and the place where my head crashes against the wall over and over. Because SEO becomes a numbers game eventually — no matter how great your content is — it didn’t really seem fair until I figured this out. The classic 5 W’s of journalism are still true. You just need to frame them differently.

The business leaders want to know What people are searching for.
The researchers want to know Who those people are.
The marketers want to know Where they can get reliable data on them.
Your boss wants to know When you can create the golden goose.
You question Why people are searching for that particular thing, and how the heck you are going to create SEO content around it on deadline so everyone above you can figure out How to cash in on it.

Funny? I don’t know. But it sure seems true more times than not.

When you save images for the web, they are optimized for the monitor, but they look choppy and bad in print.

Today’s tip: You should always keep 3 versions of every photo of your work ready for use at any time: A big, print resolution, color-corrected CMYK file, a web-resolution RGB jpeg, and a smaller, email version of the RGB jpeg. Have your photographer enter the caption data in the Photoshop file for you — the PR people and editors you send your press information to will thank you for that.