July 2, 2015

Instructor Spotlight - Joe Silvera

Joe Silvera is our resident metalsmithing expert. Joe is the author of Soldering Made Simple: Easy Techniques for Kitchen Table Jewelers, and Soldering Beyond the Basics. He has over 25 years of jewelry and teaching experience -- earning a BFA with honors in jewelry, working as a goldsmith, model making in the casting industry, and selling his own jewelry at shows and galleries. Joe brings a patient and humorous approach to his teaching style that make understanding jewelry processes and techniques fun. Joe and his wife Anat (a dear friend of ours) own and operate Silvera Jewelry School in Berkeley, California. We highly recommend heading over there for a class!

What inspires you?
I get inspired by nature, books on nature, and nature shows. I like to carve wax models, and I especially like figurative motifs like animals, flowers, etc. I love looking at Japanese sculpture and ink drawings for inspiration for poses and scenes. These artists would study their subject -- like waves cresting and crashing -- and then render them in ink, wood blocks, sculpture. They would learn the nature of the subject. What, for example, is the essence of a wave? And then translate that not realistically, but in color, line, and form, in a way that is more like poetry than photo-realism. That’s what I strive for in my jewelry.

What is your favorite technique and medium these days?
Lost wax casting. I love love love carving wax models. Theres a freedom of form and expression that isnt limited by soldering, joining, or fabrication.

Casting by Joe
What is your favorite color?
Blue. No yellow! Ahhhhhhhhh! Sorry, you have to be a Monty Python fan to get that one. But seriously, my favorite color is silver, no gold - argghhhh!

What are you up to lately (either jewelry or personal hobbies)?
Teaching takes up a lot of my time and creativity; designing classes and lesson plans to convey traditional jewelry techniques. But in my free time, when I have it, I like to saddle up the dogs and go for a walk. There are lots of little hidden pockets of nature in the East Bay, and its nice to explore those with my four-footed friends.

How have you seen our industry change in the last 5 years?
Being a teacher, I work a lot with students, and most students are women. That was true when I was getting my jewelry degree, oh, 25 years ago! The jewelry industry seems to finally be making tools for women -- hey, theyve finally noticed that most of the students out there are ladies! So, we have the gorgeous Green Lion Saw Frame and Potter Saw Frame, and pink handles for the flex shaft, and more. Wubbers pliers, made for women and designed by a woman (Patti Bullard).

Any recent trends that speak to you?
In the area of sales, we’re at an interesting place in jewelry history, once again. What an up and down roller coaster for making it as a maker it has been: economic down turns, economic “recoveries," sky rocketing metal prices, the birth and betrayal of Etsy. (Let me adjust my cane and stroke my gray beard... ha!) Back in my day, you sold your jewelry at shows and festivals, and by introducing your line to galleries and stores, and on your website. In the early days of the wild, wild internet, selling jewelry online was strange and odd: “How do I know I like it? I can’t touch it on the web." One thing Etsy helped with was making a central place for makers to sell and helping to make the idea of buying handmade goods online just as secure and confident as brick and mortar transactions. I live around San Francisco, so speaking from that point of view, I can see good signs: houses selling again, people fixing up houses, students traveling on vacations. People are feeling a little better -- theyre not going nuts, but theyre feeling better about spending some money on good things. Since Etsy traded its handmade credo for shareholders and cheap imports, I think the time is right for a new venue for makers, somewhere other than Etsy. Where is that? I dont know. Do you know? Is it here yet? Maybe so. In the meantime, jewelers are back to the fundamentals: sell at shows, stores, and your website. Its going to be interesting to see how this pans out.

Have you incorporated your free Beaducation Online Classes into your website?
Yes! We have embedded our information videos -- butane torch safety, home setup for soldering, and polishing with power tools. They’re great resources for our students - and lots of fun! Our students really appreciate them.

Where are you teaching? Any gigs you would like us to plug?
Joe's studio class, "Basket Style Prong Setting"
Were teaching at our school, of course. Come see us! SilveraJewelrySchool.com/classes

Where can your students follow you? 
They can sign up for our email list at SilveraJewelrySchool.com/lists, follow us on Facebook, and I have a blog with some articles you might find interesting.

What else should our readers know about you?
Im awesome at Trivial Pursuit and unbeatable at dominoes, and a terrible, terrible dancer. But seriously, Anat and I are here at Silvera Jewelry School to help students learn jewelry. Weve got a calendar full of great classes, and our classes include all materials and use of tools. Weve got books, DVDs, and articles out there for aspiring jewelers: Soldering Made Simple, Soldering Beyond the Basics, and Enameling Made Easy; and Ive written articles for ArtJewelry Magazine. If you cant make it to a class at our school in Berkeley, books and DVDs are a great resource.

At Silvera Jewelry School, each student learns from their own fully stocked bench.

June 25, 2015

FREE GUIDE: All About Metals

If you have been making jewelry for any length of time, you probably know a lot about metal. And there is a lot to learn, right? Some are good for soldering, others are not. Some will easily tarnish, others will stay shiny. Some are soft and malleable, others are hard and brittle. 
We have enlisted the help of our friend 
Joe Silvera to create a handy guide that will help you understand the differences and similarities in the different metals used to make jewelry. Check out ALL ABOUT METALS on our Written Guides page!

If you haven't worked with the various types, you should pick up our Circle Sample Pack! We have curated a collection of nine stamping blanks so you can see and feel the difference between the different metals.

June 15, 2015


If you like working with base metals, you are going to LOVE this sale. We have all of our base metal blanks at 25% off June 15-19. Shop now for best selection!

That's right! Save 25% on all aluminum, brass, nickel silver, pewter, and copper blanks! If you haven't tried working with base metals, now is a great time to give them a try. 

Here's what we love about these metals:
  • All base metals are less expensive alternatives, which makes them great for practicing!
  • Aluminum is lightweight, easy to stamp, and will not tarnish. It is also a good choice for people who are sensitive/allergic to other metals.
  • Pewter is very soft and easy to stamp. Our pewter blanks are made in the USA and are lead- and cadmium-free. We have one-of-a-kind designs that you won't find anywhere else!

May 28, 2015

« New chevron blanks! 4 sizes, 7 metals »

Chevrons are the "it" shape and we now offer blanks in four sizes and seven metals. Make a simple pendant using just one chevron, or combine them with jump rings to make a pattern.
This trend is not going anywhere!

Here's why you'll love them:
  • Four sizes that nest with one another
  • Seven metals to choose from: copper, brass, nickel, silver filled, sterling silver, gold filled, rose gold filled 
  • The holes are not pre-punched, so you can customize your placement
  • Prices range from $0.60 to just $4.80 for the large gold filled
  • The chevron trend is so popular!

Want to see the components we used to make the stacked pendant you see above on the right? 
It is our newest project on the Design Ideas page!

May 21, 2015

Horizontal Bar Necklace - Still a HOT HOT Trend!

The horizontal rectangle necklace (aka, the bar necklace) still sits at the top of the trend charts. We see it long, short, stamped, or sometimes just left plain. Whatever fits your style, we have got the rectangle for you! Rectangles have almost surpassed circles as our most popular stamping blank shape!

Our Beaducation designers have been taking the bar necklace one step further. Below are some ways to add more space, dimension, and color to your next bar necklace creation.

In the Triple Horizontal Necklace necklace we linked three different metals together. Having three bars gives you the space to stamp more names or words and offers the opportunity to use mixed metals. Using Rose Gold FilledGold Filled, and Sterling Silver makes this a high quality keepsake piece.
Triple Horizontal Neckace
This Secret Message necklace is hiding something. Shhhh! It's a secret! We have stacked a narrow rectangle over a wide one and stamped words to embellish it. Flip the top blank up to reveal your very own secret message.
Secret Message

Finally, here is a chance to add color to your piece! This Ladder Necklace uses our pewter rectangle pendant in a fun way. First we cut off the top loop and filed it smooth, then we turned it on its side so it will hang horizontally. This pendant comes with the perfect spot to glue in a Swarovski flat back crystal for an added bit of bling!
Ladder Necklace

Remember that with any of these designs, choosing the correct jump ring is key. If the ring is too small, the bars will overlap. If the ring is too large, there will be a lot of space between each bar. There is not a magic recipe for me to give you; it will all depend on where you punch your holes. I usually use a ring around 4mm ID (18g is my go-to jump ring thickness) but you might want to play with different sizes to get your piece to hang exactly the way you like it.

Have you started designing with rectangles yet? What look is your favorite?

May 14, 2015

Stamping Sale Starts ... NOW!

It's that time again, our big stamping sale! And this year, we have made it even bigger. We have added the most important stamping tools along with all of our design stamps and letter sets.

Now is the time to check your stash of design stamps and pick up the ones you've been meaning to add to your collection. And how about investing in a Beaducation Original Letter Set? They're the best! In fact, let Lisa demonstrate what makes these sets so special:

This sale is valid from May 14-20. One week only to save 25% on letter sets and design stamps and 10% on tools! Our most popular designs/sets may sell out, so shop early for best selection. Sorry, the offer is valid on in-stock items only.

May 7, 2015

Instructor Spotlight - Aisha Formanski

Aisha is no stranger to the Beaducation headquarters. She teaches many of our most popular classes! Even though she recently moved to Minneapolis, she remains an employee here at Beaducation, telecommuting and flying out to film classes every other month. Let's catch up with Aisha!

What have you been up to lately?
Aisha turning wood
I am busy! I am teaching at Quench Jewelry Arts, shooting classes for Beaducation.com, writing tutorials for magazines, and working on my 2015 line for Everthine Jewelry. I have also been taking a lot of classes myself: lapidary, chasing and repousse, and woodturning.  I LOVE taking classes; it keeps my creative gears oiled.

How have you seen our industry change in the past 5-10 years?
This is a big question! The big bead boom is over. The brick and mortar bead stores are few and far-between these days. This makes me sad because I grew up visiting bead stores. They were a huge source of creativity for me; I also worked in them for 16 years. With that said, the convenience of online resources is amazing. You can now take classes and purchase anything you can imagine without leaving your home or studio.

Are any recent trends speaking to you?
Lapidary is getting more popular, and I am jumping on that bandwagon! I have been buying slabs and cutting and setting my own cabochons. It's so addicting!
Aisha's studio
What inspires you?
Materials and traveling is where I find most of my inspiration. There is something about the color and feel of sterling silver that inspires me. Or, while walking a bead/gem show, I can’t help but be inspired by a found treasure. I attended the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show this year and I couldn’t stop making Southwest style designs when I returned home.

What is your favorite color?
Turquoise, in general and in stones!

What is your favorite technique these days?
I have been working on improving my soldering skills lately. I am most comfortable with cold connections, but there are limitations. Soldering is a technique that takes a lot of patience and time to master, and I have a long way to go!
Punched Metal Jewelry

Are there any links you want to share with our readers so they can keep up with you and continue learning from you?
The best place to see my recent work and schedule is on my website: EverthineJewelry.com. Of course, Beaducation is where you'll find my online classes. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. Here is a link to my classes at Quench Jewelry Arts. Oh -- and don't forget about my book, New Directions in Punched Metal Jewelry.