Tag Archives: interview

Just Hot Enough: Mixed Metal Surfaces

Mixed Metal Brooch by Keith Lewis

Mixed Metal Brooch by Keith Lewis

Just Hot Enough: Mixed Metal Surfaces with Keith Lewis

November 11 – 13, Friday – Sunday, 10:00 – 5:00
Class Fee: $480 | Some materials included

Numerous beautiful and complex mixed-metal patterns and compositions can be created both by soldering and by exploiting the different melting points of common jewelry metals. In this workshop we will explore various ways of combining metals to create rich effects through experimentation with soldering, fusion and inlay, further enhanced by rolling and roll-printing and the application of a series of simple patinas that enhance the contrast between metals. Beginning Series or equivalent required. More details at www.danacadesign.com

Mixed Metal Earrings by Keith Lewis

Mixed Metal Earrings by Keith Lewis

This weekend Keith Lewis is back at Danaca Design to teach us all about creating mixed metal patterns and compositions. You know all those scraps of different metals you have laying around? Or would you like to start adding some gold to your work but you can only afford a tiny, tiny bit? This class is about how to use those small bits of metals to create new “yardage” of mixed metals that you can use in your jewelry work.

Mixed Metal Earrings by Keith Lewis

Mixed Metal Earrings by Keith Lewis

Want to know more? Well we asked Keith Lewis himself to tell us a bit more about what to expect this weekend and here is what he has to say:

How do you use mixed metal surfaces in your work or how might I?

In the past I have used these techniques to make more production-oriented work, as they generate lively, visually arresting patterns at relatively low expense. For instance, with these techniques you can get a lot of bang from a very small amount of gold.

That said, the resultant patterned sheet is often a bit difficult to solder, so one of the exciting challenges is to devise ways to incorporate it into work using cold connections. I’m hoping on Sunday, after folks have generated some “yardage” we will be able to brainstorm about some ways to do so, particularly in the form of simple, elegant pendants and earrings

What is most exciting about the process you will teach this coming weekend?

For me there are two things. First; these are techniques that grow from and help elucidate some of the intrinsic qualities of metal- particularly different melting characteristics and malleabilities. I find that I understand metal better from having experimented with these techniques.

Secondly, these techniques permit the kind of playfulness and spontaneity that is hard to come by in metalsmithing. There are a lot of pleasant surprises and intriguing puzzles that arise from this approach.

Mixed Metal Brooch by Keith Lewis

Mixed Metal Brooch by Keith Lewis

Is there a history of mixed metal surfaces in metalworking? Can you tell me a little about it?

Yes, there certainly is. The most obvious reference point is Japanese mokume-gane and some of what I’m covering might be called “faux-mokume”. There is also the long history of marriage-of-metal within Western and Asian metals traditions and periodic uses of cold-inlay techniques in everything from Japanese metalwork to Indian Mughal work (as well as Western armor-work.) Another reference- of course- is the diffusion bonding of materials in damascening, Sheffield plate, “gold-filled” jewelry and bimetal such as those made by Phil Baldwin.


Thanks Keith for answering our questions. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us this weekend!

If you would like to register for this or any other of our classes you can either call us to register by phone: 206-524-0916

or stop by our studio at 5619 University Way NE, Seattle WA

Decorative Metal Inlay: What is it?

Introduction to Decorative Metal Inlay

June 17-19, Friday – Sunday, 10:30 am-5:00 pm

Class Fee: $350 | Materials Fee: $10 payable to instructor, specialized tools available for purchase

This axe head has an elaborate example of metal inlay to create the design

This axe head has an elaborate example of metal inlay used to create the design

June 17 – 19, Friday – Sunday Bill Dawson will be teaching Introduction to Metal Inlay at Danaca Design. But what is metal inlay? I asked Bill to give us a brief history of the technique and he was very generous with his information. Here is what Bill had to say:

3600 year old metal inlay disc

“Precious metal inlay techniques are quite ancient, with early examples dating from the Bronze Age, and becoming rather popular with the introduction of iron working and gold refining around 2600-2500 ybp.  A beautiful early example is the 3600 year old bronze disc shown here.  The sun, moon, important stars, and the sunrise and set horizons are all marked in gold inlay.  Many experts believe it to have been an instrument for making corrections to the calendar from astronomical observations, but others think it may have been used for far more complex calculations.  

Vase by Kazuo Kashima

Basically, inlay work involves mechanically attaching a soft metal like gold or silver to a harder and contrasting metal like bronze or iron.  Typically this is done in one of two basic ways:  For field or line inlay, some of the base metal is cut away to make room for the inlay, and the edges of the hollow or channel is undercut so that when the inlay is driven in it forms a dovetail.  That is the channel is wider at the bottom, and the soft metal fills the space and can’t come out.  Alternately a file tooth pattern can be cut on the base metal, and when the softer inlay metal is driven down the teeth grip like Velcro  This has the advantage of allowing for the inlay of very thin foil.  Base metals are usually chosen to either contrast with the color of the inlay,or to take a differential patina.  Artists in Japan use this to great effect, as with the vase pictured here by Kazuo Kashima.  

Example of foil inlay by Bill Dawson

In the workshop at Danaca we will consider and compare Eastern and Western approaches to these techniques, and make many practice samples.  These will include dot inlay, line inlay, and inlayed foils.  One of the great advantages to foil inlay, called “Damisquino de Oro” in Spain, and “Nunome Zogan”,in Japan, is that you can cut the tooth in patterns that show through the foil, and add to the design.  In fact Nunome Zogan means cloth textured inlay.  I have used this visible texture in the leaves in the disc brooch here.”


Thanks Bill! We appreciate the information and look forward to your workshop.
If you would like to find out more information about the Intro to Metal Inlay class click here or to register call us at 206-524-0916

Danica Design is a jewelry and small-scale metal working facility located in the University District of Seattle. Learn more about us and view our full schedule at www.danacadesign.com 

Jewelry Art Stimulus Scholarship

Brooch by Scholarship Recipient Michael Joers

Brooch by Scholarship Recipient Michael Joers

Did you know that Danaca Design Studio has a scholarship?

We are pleased to continue funding the Jewelry Art Stimulus Scholarship. We award several scholarships to high school and college students each year valued between $95 and $500 to be used towards a class or intensive series at Danaca Design Studio.

Embossed Silver Ring by Scholarship Recipient Michael Joers

Embossed Silver Ring by Scholarship Recipient Michael Joers

This scholarship was created to provide young students access to experience the magic of metal arts, frequently unavailable otherwise. We award this scholarship four times a year and the next deadline is coming up September 1st

Our most recent scholarship recipient, Michael Joers, just finished his class in our studio and here is what he had to say about his experience:

Pendant by Scholarship Recipient Michael Joers

Pendant by Scholarship Recipient Michael Joers

Receiving a scholarship from Danaca Design Studio has led to one of the best learning experiences I have ever had.  The application process was very straightforward.  Nancy was very quick with her responses and helped me get into the right class for my ambitions. I was lucky enough to be awarded the Total Immersion Class.  I have been making wood and wire jewelry on my own for about two years, but have not had the education or resources to work with metal in this capacity.  I learned so much more than I could have expected from this week-long intensive class.  My nine other classmates and I learned soldering, sawing, cutting, texturing, dapping, chain making, bezel setting stones, how to make band and shank rings, antiquing silver, how to make clasps for necklaces and bracelets, annealing, drilling, polishing, and how to make shepherds hook earrings.  I really enjoyed that the class was taught in a less formal way, it made for a more relaxed and inviting environment.  Dana was great to work with as she always made time to answer questions and problem solve with me when I got stuck on something.  The amount I learned has greatly raised the bar on what I am able to create and has allowed me to get that much closer to my goals as a jewelry maker. This experience has been truly invaluable to me, and I look forward to taking another class at Danaca Design Studio!”

Bezel Ring by Scholarship Recipient Michael Joers

Bezel Ring by Scholarship Recipient Michael Joers

Thanks Michael! You made some great jewelry and we look forward to seeing your how your work continues to grow in the future.

Do you know a young person who would benefit from this opportunity? Are you a student ages 16-24 actively enrolled in a high school or post-secondary institution in Washington State? We are taking applications now!

Our next deadline is September 1st. You can find an application here by clicking this link. Print and fill out hard copy and mail to:

Attention: Scholarship Committee
Danaca Design
5619 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
For complete information about scholorship and eligibility go to our website www.danacadesign.com

Meet Nancy Hom!

Denim Fray Pin by Nancy Hom

Denim Fray Pin by Nancy Hom

Our featured artist this month is Nancy Hom. Nancy is the monitor during our Thursday night practice hours and she is also in charge of the Danaca Design Jewelry Art Stimulus Fund. The Stimulus Fund is valuable component of our studio. It is created by artists at Danaca Design to provide young students access to experience the magic of metal arts, frequently unavailable otherwise.

How long have you been making jewelry?

I took my first jewelry class in April 2006, the day after I got laid off my full time job. I thought  “Perfect! A new hobby to keep me busy till the next gig”. It has turned into more than a hobby. Now I have a new creative passion and a small jewelry collection to show off.

What’s your background? Is it in art or something else?

I am trained as a fashion designer and have lived in cities like NYC and San Francisco, beside Seattle. I have worked or free-lanced for brands such as K2, ExOfficio, Pacific Trail, Garanimals and Royal Robbins. I attended Fashion Institute of Technology as a Fine Arts Major but was intrigued by the NYC fashion world and switched my major to Children’s wear design.

Enamel and silver drop pendant necklaces by Nancy Hom

Enamel and silver drop pendant necklaces by Nancy Hom

Is there anything in particular that you like about jewelry as a medium?

Jewelry is a wearable piece of art. It is like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae and the featured accent you put on, to express your personality. For me, it is the last item I put on before I leave the house to show my true expression for the day. A jewelry piece can show off my personality with form/ shape, color and in a wide range of materials. I would feel naked if I walked out the door without a piece of my work on or a friend’s work on.

What are your favorite materials to work with and why?

I like working in wire. Maybe because it was the first medium I learned to manipulate. Or maybe it closely resembles a strand of fiber for me. I absolutely love the color of silver but I am learning to enjoy working in brass, bronze and copper. I just recently learned to enamel, so now I am introducing interesting color combinations back into my work.

Silk and bead bracelets by Nancy Hom

Silk and bead bracelets by Nancy Hom

Can you tell us about any memorable teachers from your past that has influenced what you’re doing today as an artist?

Dana Cassara at Danaca Design has been a great inspiration and mentor. Learning from the best inspires me to do my best. She continuously pushes me to improve my skills. My other teachers are my colleagues at the studio. Watching them work and seeing their finished pieces at the studio is inspirational. Personally, I am inspired by the work of Ron Ho.

I find that jewelers tend to have one part of the process they love best, for some it’s sawing, for others it’s soldering. Do you have a favorite part of the jewelry process?

My most favorite part is that last stretch towards finishing the piece. Whether it is making the pin back on a brooch or the chain for a pendent or the final polish on a ring. I am into instant gratification so knowing I am close to showing that piece off, gives me a thrill!

Enamel and silver drop pendant necklaces by Nancy Hom

Enamel and silver drop pendant necklaces by Nancy Hom

Do you have a personal website related to your work that we can share?

I decided to take the summer off from doing shows and I am currently working on overhauling my website. So unfortunately it is under construction, but check in later this fall at www.sunlandesigns.com . Meanwhile my work can be seen in the gallery at Danaca Design.

Thanks Nancy! We can’t wait to see the renovated website and what you are up to next. Nancy’s work can be seen in our gallery Mon-Fri 11am – 6pm and Sat 10am – 6pm. We are located at 5619 University Way NE, Seattle WA.

Meet Sarah Rachel Brown


We have recently started carrying some of Sarah Rachel Brown’s jewelry in our gallery at Danaca Design and it has been a big hit. We wanted to talk with Sarah and learn a little more about her and her work.


Circle earrings by Sarah Rachel Brown

How long have you been making Jewelry?

I’ve been working with metal since 2009.


Oval Earrings by Sarah Rachel Brown

What is your background? Is it in art, or something else?

I’ve always been artistic but I wasn’t drawn to visual art until I started working with metal. I studied classical vocal technique all throughout high school and into college but I lost interest at the collegiate level. I had the opportunity to work at my college’s alternative radio station where I created a position for myself as the Live/Local Music Director; I broadcasted bands playing live in studio and promoted live music locally. I eventually moved on to the being the station’s head music director until I stepped away from school to move to Seattle, WA in 2007. I’ve played in a couple of bands, most notably the Country Lips in Seattle, WA. The boys are still playing shows and I join them for a few songs whenever I’m back in the city.


Inclinations #2

What kind of imagery or inspiration do you use? Can you tell us about any recurring themes in your work?

I’m inspired by the materials I have on hand and available to me. When I first started in Seattle I was repurposing found objects into earrings. This stemmed from my lack of resources but in turn helped define my aesthetic at that time. I was fixated on old costume jewelry and eventually I realized it wasn’t the jewelry itself but the rhinestones that I was drawn to. The past few years my work has centered on the gemstone whether it’s the facade, or actual precious gemstones or rhinestones. I’ve experimented with burning the stones, exploding them, casting them in place, replicating them in other materials, which has all led me back to simply setting them.

I think about themes often and I just began a yearlong residency where one of my intentions is to dig deeper into the meaning or motivation as to why I’m making my current work. I keep going back to the financial struggles that plagued my mother when I was a child or my own struggles as a twenty-something woman trying to navigate a world where so much value is put on appearances and possessions. I get a lot of satisfaction out of buying used clothing and with a bit of sewing and accessorizing, making them look like a million bucks. The payoff is when someone asks me where I bought my dress and the shocked expression that comes over their face when I tell them a thrift store. Now I find and collect old rhinestones, and through skillful design and execution, take these cheap, glass stones and transform them into contemporary art jewelry. I enjoy instilling value into seemingly valueless objects.


Inclinations #2

What are your favorite materials to work with?

Currently, rhinestones have my heart. They affordable so I’m not afraid to experiment with them, they’re shape and cuts are timeless, and for me, they’re an example that beauty doesn’t have to be expensive. I use Sterling Silver for the majority of my adornment because it oxidizes to black so beautifully and plays nicely with most people’s skin.


Inclinations #1

Can you tell us about any memorable teachers from your past who have influenced what you are doing today?

I’ve been very fortunate to have some amazing women as mentors in my career thus far.

Meeting Sarah Loertscher in my first beginning metals class changed the trajectory of my life. I apprenticed under her for 3 years, she pushed me to attend Penland and apply for the Core Fellowship, and she’s still steering me towards opportunities to this day. I learned plenty from working beside her and it wasn’t just at the bench. She exposed me to the business aspects of being a production jeweler, she was upfront and honest about her struggles to make it as an artist, and she treated me (and still does) like family. She’s one of the hardest working people I know.

Through Sarah I met Tia Kramer with whom I worked with in Seattle for about a year and whose work ethic continues to impress me. She’s constantly evolving her studio practice and interdisciplinary work and it’s truly inspiring to watch someone’s success only push them harder. I have this theory that she must not sleep because I can’t explain how she has enough time to do what she does otherwise.

Tia and Sarah both helped me land a job with the blacksmith Erica Gordon of Steel Toe Studios. She allowed me to learn on the job and was patient with me as I learned, she helped me a tremendous amount with my application for the Core Program at Penland, and she’ll probably remain the only pregnant woman I have seen use a power hammer.

I recently returned to Seattle work alongside Aran Galligan. Aran was my last instructor at Penland as a Core Fellow. She’s business savvy so I jumped on the opportunity to learn from her for a few months and I helped solely with the business aspect of things. She was incredibly generous and offered me a place to live, a studio to use, and on top of it all, she took me on a boat ride.

There’s more I could name but I’ll stop here. Let’s just say I take John Cage’s ‘RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way’ quite seriously.

Do you have a website we can share?

Of course!


I also document my process and experiences through my Instagram account:



Thanks Sarah! We look forward to seeing how your work develops and what you think up next.

Meet Jean Shaffer!

Shaffer-2015-In My Studio1

Jean Shaffer

Jean Shaffer is a new artist in our gallery at Danaca Design and we are happy to have her work! She has some beautiful one of a kind enamel items in our gallery right now and recently I got to ask her about her work and herself as an artist.


How long have you been making jewelry and what got you started?

I started making beaded jewelry in the early 1990s, replicating the trade bead necklaces that my Chinook Indian ancestors wore. I was gifted with a trade bead necklace that had belonged to my cousin’s grandmother, the daughter of Chief Taholah, dating from the 1850s. Later I began rockhounding along Washington and Oregon beaches finding fabulous agates, petrified wood, jade, and more. I wanted to make these treasures into jewelry, so I signed up for a Continuing Education class at North Seattle College in 2002 to learn how to set stones. Dana Cassara was my first instructor. After one class I was hopelessly hooked. I kept taking night classes and workshops for years until I retired from my first career in 2011 and entered the credit program at North Seattle College. I earned my Certificate in Jewelry Design last December.


Shaffer-Danaca-2013-Two Turtles rattle

Two Turtles rattle

What is your background? Is it in art or something else?

As a youth I was drawn to art, especially painting. I used to paint the wild landscapes that I imagined when reading my favorite science fiction novels. But in high school and college I made (what I thought were) more pragmatic choices. I earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Geography from the University of Washington, and had a lengthy career with local governments as a planner, program evaluator, and program and project manager.   I worked for the cities of Kirkland, Seattle, and Bellevue and Snohomish County.

Even though I enjoyed career success, I felt a growing urge to return to making art. That set me on the path I described above.

Moonlit Sage brooch

Moonlit Sage brooch

Is there anything in particular that you like about jewelry as a medium?

So many things to love about jewelry…. It is portable art that is in intimate contact with the owner. It gains added meaning from how it is acquire and from whom, where and when it is worn. It can become a part of family heritage passed down generations. And jewelry is communication from the maker and the wearer to the outside world wherever it is worn.

Feathered Fringe brooch

Feathered Fringe brooch

What kind of imagery or inspiration do you use? Or, can you tell us about any recurring themes in your work?

I usually seek highly abstract patterns to render in my jewelry. From the natural world it could be plants like cactus, pods, roots, sea creatures, sand dunes, desert playa, waveforms, glacial crevasses, constellations, novae or infinitely more. In the developed world it might be maps, cityscapes, street layouts, or window patterns. Sometimes it just starts with a geometric form that I become obsessed with for a while. My Chinook Indian heritage also influences some of my work such as My Spirit Box and Two Turtles Rattle that are currently on display at the Seattle Metals Guild’s Biennial Exhibition.

I have some favorite jewelry techniques that I come back to regularly. Firstly, I am always on the lookout for unique cabochons such as picture jasper and plume agate that can inspire my designs. Larry Osler and West Coast Mining are my favorite sources of great stones with interesting shapes. Secondly, I love drawing abstract images and transferring them to metal by acid-etching. The etching process creates remarkably precise renderings that can be enhanced in the jewelry fabrication process. Thirdly, I love vitreous enameling, especially on hydraulically pressed metal that gives the pieces form and depth.


Hexagons pendant

Hexagons pendant

Your work mostly features beautiful enamel work. What is it you like about working with enamel?

Enameling is a traditional method of adding a wide range of colors to metal. Enameling techniques date back to antiquity, but are also fresh with contemporary innovation and vision. I like blending colors, adding glass beads and glass frit. The possibilities are limitless. I combine two of my favorite techniques by applying champlevé enameling to acid-etched metal. Some of my pieces at Danaca Studio were made that way.



abstract brooch

What is your favorite type of jewelry to make and why?

I love making brooches more than any other form. To me, they are stand-alone works of art and clothing becomes the matt and frame. Recognizing that brooches don’t work for everybody, I also make a lot of pendants and necklaces. Usually when I make a brooch, I add a hidden loop or bale so it can be worn as a pendant if desired.


Do you have a website or where else can we see your work?

I have a maker profile on the Society of North American Goldsmith’s website that can be found at: http://www.snagmetalsmith.org/members/JeanShaffer


Thanks Jean! We love having your work in our gallery and look forward to watching your jewelry making continue to grow. Want to see more of Jean Shaffer’s work? We have a selection of Jean’s jewelry in our gallery at Danaca Design. We are open Monday – Friday from 11am-6pm and Saturday 10am-6pm

An Insight Into Cynthia Toops and Her Amazing Work

Cynthia has been working with polymer clay since the 1980s. While she is known for her figurative micromosaic pieces, in the last few years she has been concentrating on thin sheet work, creating the cone and claw necklaces and the rolodex series. Most of her work is inspired by ethnic jewelry and ancient beads which she and her husband collect. Cynthia has a BFA in printmaking from the University of Washington and a BA in Biology from Drake University. She spends long hours researching and planning work with Dan Adams, her husband and collaborator. Besides her jewelry work and teaching, she enjoys sushi.


What’s your background? Is it in art, or something else?  I have a BA in Biology from Drake University and a BFA in Art (Printmaking) from the University of Washington.

You often use unusual materials in your work, when did you start making experimental jewelry? What do you like about it?  I work primarily with polymer clay.  I started making beads in 1986 and then made small brooches and necklaces.  My first necklace included glass and stone beads and found objects combined with my polymer beads.  This was inspired by African jewelry where they use disparate material.  Glass is another medium I have worked with – micromosaics and enameled glass pieces.  I also enjoy dry felting but developed frozen shoulder and trigger finger which necessitated a temporary haitus.


What attracted you to polymer clay?  I cam across polymer clay during a visit to Hong Kong.  It is a very accessible material and requires very little equipment or outlay that was a big attraction to a beginning artist.


Your works exhibit huge attention to detail, have you always worked this way?  I like to work small, especially on micromosaics because I hate conditioning clay!

What kind of imagery or inspiration do you use? Or, can you tell us about any recurring themes in your work?  Lot’s of times the image is dictated by the theme of the gallery show.  When left to my own devices, I often use folk stories or animal imagery.  Sometimes I incorporate simple everyday life (e.g. knitting, hiking, enjoying a cup of coffee, etc…) into my pieces.  In my necklaces they are often about color, textures or playing with different shapes and materials.


You regularly collaborate with your husband, Dan Adams.  How is working as a team different from working on your individual work?  The first thing we have to decide on is a piece that is exciting to both of us.  It could be a color theme or story line.  Then we work separately on the beads and then discuss whether they work together or if its back to the drawing board.  It is more difficult that working on your own, but sometimes the piece is richer because of the additional challenge.


Have you had any one teacher who have shaped you most as an artist?  I think Glen Alps, my advisor at the University of Washington Printmaking program, is my biggest inspiration in regards to work ethic.  Even into his 80’s he still spent time in the studio every day.  I believe in hard work and commitment which often means long hours.


 Cynthia Toops thin work 1Cynthia Toops Flora II, closeup


If you like what you see and would like to learn more from such a great artist sign up for her class at Danaca Design Today. Cynthia’s Class “Polymer Micro Mosaics” will be on January 10th and 11th 2015, come visit or give us a call before all the spots fill up! Check out our website for more details, http://www.danacadesign.com/index.php?p=index

Gallery Artist Tory Herford

Tory Herford, necklace

Tory Herford, necklace

Tory Herford is a regular part of the community here at Danaca Design. As a studio member she’s here working at the bench every week, and sells some of her jewelry in our gallery. 

We want to know more (and share with you!) about the artists behind the work in our gallery. So to continue this blog series we asked Tory if she’d answer some questions for us. 

twin stone rings  (Tory Herford)

Tory Herford, twin stone rings

How long have you been making Jewelry?

I’ve been tinkering around with it since about age 13. While my family were great lovers of art, none were visual artists or especially crafty. When I was about 20, I was asking around about family history and discovered that one Great Grandfather was a blacksmith/architectural iron craftsman. We still have some things that he made in the family!  My Great, Great Grandfather was a goldsmith and watchmaker. So, that explained my odd (to my family) obsession with metal and tools. I guess genes do pass down! I can really feel the ancestors speaking up on occasion. Its kind of spooky actually- sometimes I just know what some random tool will be good for when I’ve never seen or used it before (not to be confused with using the tool correctly or as intended, but it works!). The Ancestors didn’t know everything of course, so still plenty to learn!

cloud pendant  (Tory Herford)

Tory Herford, cloud pendant

orbit ring  (Tory Herford)

Tory Herford, orbit ring

What’s your background? Is it in art, or something else?

I’ve always been an “arty” person. I studied Fine Arts at Cornish and consider myself a “Reformed Printmaker”. While it was a good experience, I was just out of high school and I think I was really too young to be there. Fine Arts was probably not the best fit for me, and I drifted to Pratt on and off for various classes of interest- all of which involved metal. Being free from academic “programs” and allowed to study what I was directly curious about was really huge. I’m a big evangelist for non-traditional educational models like Danaca and Pratt.

I also sculpt and do Black & White photography. I’ll do one thing for a few years, and then discover another and do that for a while. Nothing is ever fully abandoned. I’ve been at it long enough now that I notice how one discipline informs or influences the other. The tonal contrasts from photography often influence texture and patina in my jewelry. Sculpting completely came out of nowhere, emerging quite suddenly about 10 years back. Working 3-D was something of an explosion and confetti pretty much came out of my head! Being responsible for that much surface area and how the light slid over it was quite a revelation. In spite of my related experience, this was metalsmithing “boot camp”. Both my design and metalworking skills leapt forward. And then back to my jewelry, which is sometimes sculptural and sometimes about line. Its all a big circle.

I’ve had various ongoing day jobs, which contributed to my house mortgage but not my artistic growth. We all know how that goes….

live oak infrared  (Tory Herford) adobe infrared (Tory Herford)

Is there anything in particular that you like about jewelry as a medium?

Modern society and weather require us to wear clothes, but jewelry is optional.  There is something both primal and intimate in the choosing of an ornament, -we wear it as much for ourselves as we do for others.  As a maker, I express my creativity in designing work, but I also get to participate in someone else expressing their individuality when they wear one of my pieces. There is a lovely continuity and connection in that. We can all enjoy a beautiful painting on the wall, but it’s not the same experience or exchange.

What are your favorite materials to work with, and why? 

I’ve mostly worked in silver and bronze- they are like butter and a joy to create with. I’ve tried some gold here and there but it literally didn’t want to work with me at all! I need more advice on how to come to harmony with it. I’ve recently dipped a toe in lapidary work, and it’s all I can do to not fully veer off in that direction! Commercial stones are getting much less inspiring to work with. And again- sculpting and line want to assert themselves.

rabbit  (Tory Herford)

Tory Herford, rabbit

Tory Herford, dove

Tory Herford, dove

I find that jewelers tend to have one part of the process they love best, for some it’s sawing, for others it’s soldering. Do you have a favorite part of the jewelry process?

I like finish work/polishing the best. This is where the piece wakes up and fully comes to life.

earrings with garnets  (Tory Herford)

Tory Herford, earrings with garnet

Tory Herford, infinity hoop earrings

Tory Herford, infinity hoop earrings

What kind of imagery or inspiration do you use? Or, can you tell us about any recurring themes in your work?

I’m a huge fan of antique Japanese decorative items. There is almost nothing more beautiful to me than their aesthetic. And the craftsmanship-OMG. Much of my work features references to nature and is meant to give the viewer a moment of tranquility or meditation. I also love Modernist/Scandinavian jewelry from the 1940’s-1960’s. These items often have great vitality, and a fantastic quality of line that is almost calligraphic. Its very playful and dynamic.

Tory Herford, cuff bracelet

Tory Herford, cuff bracelet





We have a variety of Tory’s jewelry here in the gallery. And if you like those twin stone rings up there near the top of this post, we usually have a selection of those to choose from. Stop in to see what Tory’s been making lately. We’re here Tues-Fri 10-6, Sat 11-6.



A Window Into Artist Kirk Lang

kirk lang ring

lunar_x_penumbra penumbra_series

Kirk Lang is a Seattle based Designer, Jeweler, Metalsmith, Machinist, Sculptor and Amateur Astronomer.  Recurring themes in his work include time and space in the form of mechanical interactive objects.  His work can be seen in such publications as MJSA Journal, 500 Metal Vessels, 500 Necklaces, 1000 Rings and Metalsmith Magazine.  He is a master craftsman no matter the subject or material.  We have also discovered he’s a fabulous instructor.  Kirk will be teaching two workshops this fall.  On the first Monday evening of each month he’ll open the studio for a Stone Setting Clinic designed to help improve and expand your stone setting skills and in mid-November he will offer an exciting Cold Connections workshop with a focus on kinetics. I had the rare and unique experience to ask Kirk all the questions that I wish I could ask every artist after I see how incredible their work is and, lucky for all of you, I have his answers right here.


What got you into teaching jewelry making/ metals?
Basically I have an insatiable curiosity to learn and acquire as much knowledge as I can when it comes to metalworking theories and techniques. At some point over the last 15+ years, I realized I had compiled a significant amount of experience and information…information that could potentially save others a lot of experimentation and frustration learning specific techniques. I am also someone who believes in empowering others, so if I can offer a skill that an individual doesn’t already know, I am happy to help. 

What are your favorite materials to work with and why?
All metals. No…truly, I’m not joking! It intrigues me that every metal has its own set of properties and the ability to be used in certain distinct ways. I find it incredibly exciting working with materials in ways that haven’t yet been thoroughly explored. If you want me to be more specific, I like these materials for the following processes…
For stone setting and traditional jewelry making, high karat yellow gold all the way. For machining, there is no better material than C360 (free cutting) brass…it is the baseline standard in which all other metals are compared. I seldom raise vessels anymore but if I do, copper is ideal. Forging, I like steel. Soldering, sterling silver…that feeling of seeing a long seam flow all at once, instantaneously, is something every metalsmith should experience at least once in their life. For welding, titanium is king…as long as you have argon. For stretching a ring up in size, fully annealed niobium is unmatched. To be honest, I could go on and on!



Can you tell us about any memorable teachers from your past who have influenced what you’re doing today, as an instructor or as an artist?
Well…I feel obligated to first mention my mother since she created me and also happens to be an art teacher (who I did in fact have for two years in elementary school). It goes without saying, that experience was little awkward. She has been supportive since day one.
In college at the Cleveland Institute of Art, I had the most ideal experience anyone could ask for. I had three instructors who helped shape me as an artist. I call them the big three…Matthew Hollern, Kathy Buszkiewicz and Richard Fiorelli. Matthew exposed me to technology very early on (he studied under Stanley Lechtzin at Tyler) which has become an integral part of my creative process. Kathy Buszkiewicz is the most thorough instructor I have ever met and possesses an incredible amount of refinement in her craftsmanship…which has been inspirational. Richard Fiorelli taught me the beauty and functionality of design, and how it connects to others. He is one of the most intense and passionate instructors I’ve ever had.

Aside from the skills outlined in your classes, what do you hope to bring to your students?
Understanding, confidence and the ability to problem solve. I make an effort to present information in a way where it is fundamentally clear and relatable through drawings and discussions so that students have a foundation to build off of. The ultimate goal for me is to provide students with enough understanding that they are eventually able to be autonomous, and use the knowledge they’ve gained in their own unique way.

What inspired your Metal Museum exhibit?
So many things, but if I had to be specific…primarily a combination of topics including time, astronomy (I own two telescopes) and personal mythology. I am someone who thinks about ideas for a long time and if an idea sticks with me one year or more, I make it. If I don’t, I can’t stop thinking about it and my desire to visualize what I’m thinking intensifies, to the point where I sometimes wonder if it is even healthy for me!
Formally, the idea for this particular body of work crystallized after researching and stumbling upon Nicolas Louis de Lacaille’s catalogue, Coelum Australe Stelliferum (the interweb is a fantastic place). A catalogue in which he identifies a series of constellations found in the southern hemisphere. The constellations are uncharacteristically named after inanimate objects, many of which are analogous to tools and instruments found in the metalsmith’s studio. These tools and instruments then became the subject matter for each of the kinetic sculptures I created. There is a whole lot more but for simplicities sake, I will leave it at that.
I am really excited to be in the studio these days. It is the first time I readily see aspects from all of my previous experimentations in a fresh body of work. My vision is clear and it feels as if I’m not making decisions anymore. I’m just listening to my gut, creating and then processing what I’ve produced later. Then, applying that information to the next piece I create.

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What does “Art Jewelry” mean to you?
A conceptually realized wearable that is first and foremost Art, and jewelry second.

Do you consider yourself primarily a sculptor or a jeweler?
I would lean towards sculptor, simply because by definition it implies the negotiating of material within three-dimensional space. Since that description can also be applied to jewelry, it too can be considered sculpture in some sense.



In what kind of environment do you work best?
The perfect environment for me is a clean and well organized space. There is something serene and calming about that for me. In terms of atmosphere throughout the day, I prefer things to be quiet in the morning. I usually don’t listen to any music and just let my thoughts meander. I have a tendency to think more clearly and concisely in the morning so I usually do more writing, idea generating or complex tasks (a difficult stone setting for example). After lunch, I usually listen to talk radio, podcasts or music…I still like to keep things pretty mellow. In the evening, if I am still working (which is often the case), I will likely crank up the music and power through whatever I’m doing. Right now, that would be a steady flow of post punk, indie and experimental electronic music.



More information and photos can be found on Kirk’s website: http://www.kirklang.com/

Kirk is a huge asset to our community at Danaca Design and we love sharing him with you! Don’t forget Kirk has two classes coming up this fall quarter the Stone Setting Clinic and a Cold Connections class. Visit our website www.danacadesign.com for more information. You can sign up for classes by calling in at 206-524-0916. We’re here Tues-Fri 11-6, and 10-6 on Saturdays. 


Learning More About Andy Cooperman


Andy Cooperman, Chicken Choker

We’ve got a couple classes coming up with Andy Cooperman, Creative Surface Development and It Ain’t Just a Drill: Getting the Most From Your Flexible Shaft. 

After listening in on a little of his teaching while I was working, I was very interested in hearing his answers to our Featured Instructor questions.

I asked for photos of his favorite pieces, pieces that have a special significance to him, or pieces that reveal something he’d like to share with others, and he responded with the photos I’ve included here in this post. 


Andy Cooperman, Hystrix Solo


Andy Cooperman, Cauliflower Ears


Andy Cooperman, State of Affairs

Artist Bio

Andy Cooperman is a metalsmith, writer, and teacher who lives in Seattle, WA. His work is featured in galleries nationwide, including Patina Gallery in Santa Fe, deNovo in Palo Alto and Velvet daVinci Gallery in San Fransisico. He is a past recipient of a WESTAF/NEA Fellowship, and teaches seminars and workshops around the country, most recently as a visiting lecturer at the University of Washington. In addition to one of a kind jewelry pieces, Andy also works with clients as a custom jeweler and commission metalsmith. His work can be found in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Central College, Pella Iowa and appeared most recently in the exhibitions The Art Of GoldMetalismsChess and The Ring Show.

Publications include the books Art Jewelry Today1000 Rings500 BroochesThe Craft Of SilversmithingThe Penland Book of Jewelry and Fundamentals of Metalsmithing.

Read on to learn more about Andy.

A Cooperman 10-07_4149(1) copy

Andy Cooperman

What got you into teaching jewelry/metals?

My mother and grandmother were teachers and I think that is in my blood as well. There’s something about the communication involved in explaining something that I just love. Seeing the light bulb go off for someone is exciting and fulfilling. Teaching metals also keeps me excited about the field. It’s contagious.

What are your favorite materials to work with and why?

Not sure that I really have any. A whole lot of materials appeal to me. In metal, I like bronze, silver, gold and steel. Not brass. I’ve worked a lot with shibuichi  (68%cu and 32% fine silver) which I alloy in my studio.  It torch textures into a surface that evokes lizard skin. I remember that when I took my first class I was really charged when I was shown that metal could be made to look non-metalic and even vital and alive.

Pingpong balls are like that. They are an enigmatic material in that, once shaped or formed, their original nature is lost. I love that. I like materials that I can carve too.

In metal, nothing makes me as happy as forging.


Andy Cooperman, Sting


Can you tell us about any memorable teachers from your past who have influenced what you’re doing today, as an instructor or as an artist?

Hmmmm…. My original jewelry and metals instructor in college was certainly my hero.

Don Johnson was his name. Lives in Montana. I loved what he made but also his attitude to making. ”Just do it. Just try it. See what happens.” I carry that with me today.

But I also respect so many teachers that I have encountered. I taught alongside Maria Phillips at the UW and learned a lot about teaching from that experience.

Any important insights about life you’ve learned from your students, or from teaching?

Oh yeah. Looking at things from multiple angles and perspectives. Patience. It’s so good to see how eager students are to learn and, as I’ve said, their excitement gets me going as well.


Aside from the skills outlined in your class, what do you hope to bring to your students?

This is the best question. I don’t really care if a student makes anything in class. I also don’t really care if they master the material offered in class. What my real hope is, what I most want a student to walk out the door with is a change in perspective. A little tilt in how they look at the studio, the tools and materials. A change in how they approach their work and studio practice. This includes making a real commitment to craft; to making things well. It can come through many doors and no matter what I teach, I hope for that. Because that’s the best thing that an instructor can offer. Teaching someone to fish rather than giving them a fish.

So many people seem to be terrified of doing something that is not approved of, that is somehow in conflict with what another instructor or colleague has told them or what they’ve read in a book. People can be timid because of this. Some of it is fear of the flame or of screwing up. Some are overly cautious because of the cost of the materials we use, which is certainly a fair concern.

But I think that many people have this vague fear that if they do something out of order or skip a step, if they try a shortcut somewhere the SJP (Secret Jewelry Police) will rappel down from the hovering black ops jewelry helicopter and take them away…

I tell students in most classes that I try to keep a balance between two poles:

“What’s the worst that could happen” and “Do No harm”.

I look at every situation with that dichotomy in mind. If I’m setting a big stone for a client then I will be cautious and cleave to the “Do No Harm” side of the equation.

But if I am thinking of trying something new, I am definitely going to take a lot of chances. Because risk and play in the studio is maybe the most important thing in growing as a maker or artist. After all: What’s the worst that could happen?


Do you have a personal website related to your work or your teaching?

Of course: andycooperman.com

There’s a lot of stuff there. Including writing.


Andy Cooperman, State of Affairs


Andy Cooperman, Sleepercell


Andy Cooperman, Cinch

A Cooperman 10-07_4172(1) copy

Andy Cooperman, Rings

Thank you for sharing with us, Andy! 

For more information on Andy’s classes please see the schedule (under the Classes section) on our website: http://www.danacadesign.com/

To register for either of Andy’s classes give us a call at 20-524-0916, we’re here Tuesday-Friday 11-6 and Saturday 10-6.