Posts Tagged ‘Belle Brooke Designs’

‘Metals Week’ at IA Starts June 27

June 27, 2010

Jewelry designer & teacher Kristin Coffin

Jewelry designer and teacher Kristin Coffin and her boyfriend, Lewis, loaded up the last of their valuables from their studio apartment near the Jewelry District in LA. The rest of their stuff they were storing at a friend’s house. This is what they’d been waiting for: Summer Camp at Idyllwild Arts.

Kristin was going to teach jewelry making to children, and Lewis, a graphic designer, would be a counselor for nearly three months in Idyllwild.

Kristin came to Idyllwild Arts Summer Program two years ago in response to an advertisement online. Like most teachers they attract, Kristin is an accomplished professional. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Vermont with a BA in metalsmithing and jewelry design. She was the goldsmith at the couture gallery, Grannis Gallery, one of the premier art jewelry galleries on the east coast. Currently, she is the metalsmith for Belle Brooke Designs in Los Angeles.

There, she admitted to unusual sales tactics.

“We’d go to lunch and always wear the jewelry from the store,” Kristin said. “But we’d leave the tag out on purpose. Women would always tell us about the tag, and we’d start a conversation about the necklace.”

Los Angeles is great, but she likes the slower pace of Idyllwild.

Teachers like Kristen Coffin like coming to small town Idyllwild

“I love it here,” she said, as they headed toward the San Jacinto Mountains. “I’m a small town girl, and Idyllwild reminds me of home.”

This winter, however, she spent a lot of time in the hi-rise buildings of LA’s  Jewelry District.

“It’s bigger than the one in New York City,” Kristin said. “Each of the shops in these hi-rises has a specialty, such as diamonds only four carats and up.”

She said that only those in the jewelry business could shop there, however, and because shop keepers are showing precious jewels, gold and silver, everyone had to be “buzzed” inside.

There, she bought pliers and other tools for her classes, and jewels and materials for her own jewelry that she describes as “organic.”

“It’s kind of feminine use gems only as accent pieces,” Kristin explained. “I use mostly silver and gold, and sometimes blacken the silver, so it creates a nice contrast to the gold.”

For a jewelry maker and teacher, she wears no jewelry at all.

“I used to wear a lot of jewelry, but I’m working in the shop all the time, so it doesn’t make sense to wear it when I’m forging,” she said.


Many social activities are planned on campus during "Metals Week"

Speaking of forging, it happens to be the focus of one of the classes during “Metals Week” at Idyllwild Arts that starts today, Sunday, June 27, and runs until Thursday, July 1st.

According to the catalog, “Metals Week” is a week of intensive metals studies in which adult students can work with one of six outstanding jewelers and metalsmiths.

“Everyone comes here to learn a skill, such as etching, trapping, sculpting or tool making,” explained Kristin, who is helping out another teacher this week. “It doesn’t make sense for everyone in the class to do one project. You can do that anywhere.”

“Forging Collars, Pendants and Sildes,” is a class taught by Fred Zweig,who has been a metalsmith and teacher for more than 30 years. For the first part of the weeklong class, adult students will take a heavy sterling silver gauge rod and create a stylish neck collar. Then the rest of the time will be spent designing and creating slides and pendants that will hang from the collar.

Other classes that make up “Metals Week” include: “Resin Inlay,” by Karen Christians from Waltham, MA; “Etching,” by Deborah E. Love Jemmott from San Diego, CA; “Sculpted Bezels & Non-Traditional Stone Settings,” by Pauline Warg from Scarborough, ME; and “Trapping Found Objects,” by Joanna Gollberg from Ashville, NC;  and “Tool Making & Alterations,” by Val Link from Houston, TX.

Tuition for all of these classes are $655 plus a lab fee that ranges from $35 to $85, that includes using the school’s tools and equipment. All are limited to 12 adult students.

“Although ‘Metals Week’ classes begin today, we’ll still take walk-ins late,” said Emma Showalter, Assistant Director of the Summer Arts Program. “We will accommodate anyone who wants to come to the classes.”

Idyllwild Arts has a plethora of activities for students during “Metals Week,” including a faculty lecture and slide show tonight at 7 p.m. at the Krone Library; an arts exhibition, hot clay lecture and opening reception at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Parks Exhibition Center; a potluck dinner and auction on Wednesday, June 30 at Studio D and a student exhibition on Thursday, July 1, on the Krone Library’s patio.

For more information on classes and activities for “Metals Week” at Idyllwild Arts, call the registrar at (951) 659-2171, extension 2365; fax (951) 659-4552 or visit the web site at, and click on “summer session.”

Custom Search