Posts Tagged ‘Metals Week’

Faculty Art Show at Idyllwild Arts

June 30, 2011

Jewelry case showcasing the work of Metals Week artists

By Marcia E. Gawecki

More than 25 artists from the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program showcased a variety of works at the Opening Reception at the Parks Exhibition Center on Monday night, June 27.

The featured artwork came from instructors who are teaching workshops during Metals Week, Hot Clay, and Native American Arts Week, as well as select faculty artists and staff members. The items included jewelry, pottery, paintings, sculptures, and Indian artifacts and toys. The show ends this week.

“Everyone helped out to make this show a success,” said Christy Scott, who works at the gallery this summer. “David Wells (guest curator) came and helped us out, and so did his assistant, Ian Erickson-Kery. Kristin Coffin helped us arrange all of the jewelry. It was a group effort.”

Christy said that about 120 people showed up on Opening Night and several items were sold. Among them two female figurative sculptures by Debra Fritts, a studio artists from Georgia. Her husband, Frank Chelton, a painter/poet/teacher, was there taking pictures of her artwork, while she was teaching her figure class.

Debra Fritts' husband, Frank Chelton, showcases her work

“By the Wings of the Raven,” a multiple fired stoneware of a nude woman inside a vessel. Debra’s price tag was $3,600 dollars, and it sold. “White Wing,” a larger nude female torso, sold for $3,200 dollars.

Although the facial images on Debra’s pieces looked similar, Frank said that it’s not anyone in particular.

“She’s just perfected the image over the years,” he said.

“Her work is incredible,” added Jessica Schiffman, an Idyllwild illustrator and painter, who teachers a summer class. She attended Opening Night and said that Debra’s work stood out.

Other items that sold were jewelry from Metals Week instructors, including Kristin Coffin, from Los Angeles. Last year, we featured a story on her jewelry making (see Idyllwild Me post entitled, “Metals Week at IA” on June 27, 2010). She had started to sell her jewelry on Etsy, a specialty web site for handcrafted gifts.

Since then, Kristin’s jewelry has become more specialized, making mostly wedding bands, said Jackie Ryan, her roommate in LA who is also a painting assistant in the Summer Program.

(from L) Christy Scott helps Alison Yates with a ring

Alison Yates, from Idyllwild Arts Academy, was there looking at Kristin’s rings a couple of days after the show.

“I just love her work, and her prices are reasonable,” Alison said.

She purchased a gold band of Kristin’s for $65 dollars.

Another popular jeweler is Emma McMenamin, from the Summer Program. Her stone and glass beaded jewelry already has a signature style. One of her necklace-and-earrings ensembles was called, “Rain Forest.” Its green and gold beads and jewels was a fitting tribute to that marvel of nature in South America.

Ian read from Emma’s tag:

Ian showcases Emma's "Rain Forest" necklace with non-identical earrings

“It has jasper, Czech glass beads, Czech and Japanese seed beads, and gold-filled earrings,” he said. “It costs $525 dollars.”

At closer inspection, we noticed that the “Rain Forest” earrings were not identical. In fact, the styles were very different.

“That’s edgy,” exclaimed Ian.

Did Emma do that on purpose, or did she simply run out of beads?

“I thought since the necklace was asymmetrical, then the earrings needed to follow suit,” Emma said.

Although there are hundreds of beads in the necklace, Emma said that it only took her about 20 hours to make.

“I started it while watching ‘The Sound of Music,’ and it just took shape quickly,” Emma said. “It was actually one of my first tries at freeform bead weaving – a form that does not have a set pattern, but rather it takes on a life of its own.”

When a woman tried it on, it was surprisingly lightweight, even with the multitude of beads woven into it.

Neil looks at some of the wooden Native American toys in the show

Emma said that she thinks her jewelry will remain in the case until the end of the summer.

Christy and Ian said that the Monday, July 4th show will focus on “Hot Clay” images.

The summer exhibition season at the Parks Exhibition Center runs from June 27 to August 20. Opening Receptions will be held on Mondays July 4, July 11, and July 18; and on Tuesdays July 26 and August 9.

For more information, call the gallery at the Parks Exhibition Center at (951) 659-2171, extension 2251, or visit and click on “Summer.”

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Metals Week Instructor Networks to Succeed

June 26, 2011

Fred Zweig from Tucson has been teaching jewelry making for 30 years

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“Metals Week” at Idyllwild Arts Summer Program begins today, June 26, and lasts until Thursday, June 30th. Jewelry makers and metal smiths come from all over the country to teach their craft in Idyllwild. They bring with them a wealth of information about how to make jewelry.

Many who attend “Metals Week” are professionals and hobbyists alike. More importantly, they are loyal followers who come back to the same class and instructor year after year.

Fred Zweig, a self-taught metal smith and jeweler from Tucson, was proud that his class, “Hinges & Articulations,” filled up fast. (Idyllwild Arts limits its classes to 12 students so they can receive better one-on-one instruction.)

The first year, Fred said only six students signed up. The second year, he reached the limit, and this year, his class filled up the first day.

This is a sigh of relief for summer teachers during this economical downturn. When classes don’t fill up, sometimes they go away. That’s why Fred takes an active role all year in generating students for his workshops.

“I post my workshop notices on Facebook and other jewelry groups,” admits Fred. “Jewelers are a pretty close-knit community.”

Other times, when he’s completed one of his own pieces, he’ll post a photo of it on Facebook.

“Most artists hate to do it, but you have to continually market yourself,” Fred said.

Fred Zweig always wears his jewelry (see silver pin at lower right)

On his buttoned down shirt, Fred was wearing a medium-sized silver pin of own creation. He said that he doesn’t cast (melt down metal into molds) to make his creations, but forges them (melts the metal with soldering tools).

“My wife also wears my jewelry,” Fred admitted, although he doesn’t give her a commission if she sells one. “It’s all in the power of suggestion.”

In the description of his class, “Hinges & Articulations,” the summer brochure states that: “Hinges are essential to making other objects that conform to the body, or make a flexible connection between two or more parts.”

The “flexible connection” description is also the way Fred approaches his networking online.

He posts on Facebook, and on various jewelry groups, such as Jewelry and Metalware, The Arts & Crafts Society and The Arts & Crafts Movement, among others.

He also helps out friends in need. And, along the way, he said he learns a thing or two. That knowledge helps him to become a better teacher. He’s been actively working in metal and teaching others for more than 30 years.


A friend of his recently asked him to help a woman who wanted to sell a certain piece of jewelry. She wasn’t sure of its worth, and wanted his expertise.

She sent Fred some pictures, and he asked for one more, to see the artist’s signature or stamp. He called around to his colleagues in the industry, and found out that it was worth about $1,000. He even found her a buyer.

“A colleague of mine just bought a similar piece,” Fred said. “She answered my question about the materials. Her necklace had silver and copper balls, which the studio of the artist incorporated after his death.”

His colleague confirmed it, and even offered to buy the piece.

Fred didn’t charge anything for that legwork, but he could have. He said that he enjoys learning new things, and connecting people with each other. That luck has landed on his doorstep many times.

Metals Week Workshops at Idyllwild Arts, June 26-30


He once found a lovely bronze sculpture of an Asian girl at a flea market.

“It was in mint condition, except there was something missing from her hand,” Fred explained. “It must’ve been a bird or a ball.”

He paid $35 for it, knowing that he could sell it for more.

“I estimated that I could get about $1,000 dollars for it,” Fred said.

As it turns out “Antiques Road Show” was in Tucson, and he brought the Asian girl sculpture with him. Immediately, they pulled him aside, and asked how he obtained the piece and how much he paid for it.

“Do you have any idea of what it’s worth?” the appraiser asked him.

Since he knows the value of metals, Fred had a good idea it could be worth $1,000. Well, they asked him to be on the show, and put him in the “Green Room.”

“They didn’t tell me what they thought it was worth,” Fred said. “They really like the element of surprise.”

As it turned out, the appraiser estimated the Asian girl sculpture would garner $3,000 to $4,000 dollars at auction. Fred and his wife couldn’t be happier.

The week after the show, Fred called the appraiser and asked to put the item into auction.

“It took awhile because they had to find the right auction,” Fred said. “You know, ones that specialize in Asian art.”

As it turned out, the Asian girl sculpture sold for $1,400 dollars. The auction house got their cut, and Fred got $1,000 dollars.

“So when my wife sees “Antiques Road Show,” and they say that something is worth a lot, she laughs and says that’s not always the case,” Fred said.


But the entire experience was a good one, and makes for a good story to tell his students. He also buys and resells things on Craig’s List and eBay.

Recently, a friend of his called and told him to buy enamel and copper bookends on eBay. They were identical peacocks.

“But they were also $350 for the pair, which is a steep price for us,” Fred said.

However, he figured that he could resell them easily.

“My wife thought I wanted to buy bookshelves, so she said, ‘Go ahead,'” Fred said.

When the package arrived, however, Fred had a bad case of “buyer’s remorse.”

“We really didn’t have the money for extra things like that,” Fred said. “I’ve been out of work from my engineering job for more than six months.”

Summer Program Brochure is available online

He didn’t even open the package for an entire day.

Yet, when he finally opened it, the bookends were far better than he expected. (See the photo at

“The detail was incredible,” Fred said. “I knew that I had something special.”

The bookends came from the Arts & Crafts Movement, a period ranging from about 1870 to 1925.

However, he had his work cut out for him. The original black patina had been rubbed away, so Fred planned on restoring that. Yet, at close inspection, he saw that there was a faint signature on one of the bookends.

“During that time, there were maybe three artists signing their work,” Fred explained. “And Gertrude Twichell of Boston was one of them.”

Gertrude Twichell, from the Boston Society of Arts & Crafts, had signed both pieces, which added to its value. He figured they were worth about $1,000 for the pair.

So did Fred get to work to restore and resell these bookends?

“Oh, I probably won’t resell them for about 10 years,” he said. “I just want to enjoy them now.”

On his web site, Fred posted: “Gertrude Twichell was an extraordinary craftsman. I am ecstatic to own one of her works. The enamels are foil backed and not embossed. What looked like cell walls was gold enamel applied with a brush. The plaques are in perfect condition.”

Others posted, “These are stunning, Fred. Well done!”

Fred’s been collecting certain types of collectables for years now. You can find his web sites at For more information on Metals Week, June 26-30, and the other instructors, Harold O’Connor, Sandra Noble Goss, Charity Hall, Joanna Goldberg, and Pauline Warg, at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, visit, and click on “Summer,” or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jun 26, 2011 @ 14:08

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‘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.”

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