Category Archives: Metalsmithing Classroom

Teyna and Julia Make Wedding Rings

I was thrilled to be asked to help instruct Teyna and Julia in the making of their own wedding bands for their commitment ceremony. They chose to make hammered square rings of heavy sterling silver, the edges decorated with a pave finish.

Teyna and Julia Begin the Ring-Making Process

The couple also chose to design their own engagement rings with me, and I made those separately (they aren’t shown until the end) . The theme for the engagement rings was orange for Teyna and purple for Julia, and to incorporate a dragonfly and some heirloom family silver. We ended up with the same ring style for both, yet set with two different gemstones to reflect their tastes in color. The rings were embellished with one pair of textured dragonfly wings each, and, in Julia’s words, “together, we fly.”
These two are among the sweetest and kindest people I’ve ever worked with. They treat one another in scuh a warm, gentle and fun-loving way. Indeed, the couple learned how to make their own rings. But I learned a whole lot more! Please enjoy this photographic journey with me…

This last photo was taken after the commitment ceremony to which I was invited. A big honor!!!

Post ceremony, Teyna and Julia, fingers intertwined

I Can Teach You How to Make Metal Jewelry

Are you inspired to learn something new in 2014? Or hone a nearly-forgotten skill? If you’re interested in metal and jewelry, maybe I can help. I’ve been creating jewelry for over 20 years, and have been creating metal jewelry (sterling silver, copper, brass, gold) for 15 years. I offer private and semi-private metalsmithing and jewelry making lessons in my own metals studio and will travel to your studio location teach groups of six or more students. Just today, I created a page on to spread the word a bit. I generally teach privately and semi-privately (1-4 student max in my studio space, depending on the nature of the class), and have taught at the Indianapolis Art Center and have acted as Instructor’s Assistant in a teapot fabrication workshop at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Here’s the link to my page:
Nancy Lee Metalsmith and Jewelry Instruction“>Nancy Lee Metalsmith and Jewelry Instruction
You can request my services directly through me by clicking here, or through the Thumbtack website.
Here are a few photos of classes and workshops I’ve taught over the years.

Crusty Leaf Pendant Half-Day Workshop
Hammered Copper Bracelet Two-Hour Class
Textured Copper Earring Two-Hour Class
Soldering Better Bezels One Day Workshop Class – Nancy Lee
Two-Day Metal Jewelry Design and Fabrication Workshop

Besides the classes listed above, I offer a solid basic metalsmithing class that is 3 hours long and teaches a lot of basic metal working skills, such as using a bench pin, piercing metal, cutting it with a jeweler’s saw, using metal shears, filing, sanding and hammering metal into shape, and heating with a torch (annealing) to soften it. If the torch work is too much, I demonstrate the technique and allow students to do the metal work after the torch work (annealing) is done. Students typically begin with copper and sterling silver.

Other course offerings are available, typically from 2 hours for a short class and up to 2 full days for a weekend workshop and lots of possibilities in between. Private, one-on-one lessons are available with a three-hour minimum beginning lesson.
Popular classes include tube setting faceted gemstones, gypsy stone setting, cabochon stone setting, fold forming basics, soldering basics, making clasps, quick earring workshops, etc. Students tell me that they learn a lot and appreciate the one-on-one attention, attention to detail, and patience they receive when taking a class from me. I love teaching and am passionate about what I do!
Contact me to get information on private lessons or on creating a workshop for you and your small group! Classes are created on an as-needed basis. I look forward to hearing from you!
Student Work
Student Work
Student Work

Progression of Learning – Heavy Bezels

Recently I had the pleasure of deleting myself from my studio and adding myself to Myra Perrin‘s home studio for two days. She was hosting goldsmith Michael David Sturlin for several days of workshops. My interest was piqued by a “Heavy Bezel” workshop. Without further consideration into what that meant, I enrolled myself. It turns out we were doing exactly what the workshop title promised – we made heavy bezels for gemstones. The examples here show the use of 16 gauge (1.25 mm) sterling silver sheet to make the bezel and 18 gauge (1.09 mm) as a back plate.

In the workshop, all of us students revisited measuring with precision and testing out underused Pi muscles. We filed piles of silver dust – hours of carving away metal to reveal the prongs you’ll see in the photos. No soldering here – these prongs were created simply through the careful sawing and the use of needle files and escapement files.

Side View of Bezel
Reverse View of Bezel
Bezel with Temporarily Set Black Onyx

Most of the time I was intent on doing a lot of talking with Michael, Myra, and my wonderful fellow students. I was like an animal led to water, thirsty for not only knowledge, but the sharing of experiences with like-minded metal lovers.  This all led to me not quite finishing the piece I was working on. But, when it’s finally ready, I promise to post a photo of the completed work.
Be sure to check out the photo, below, of the jeweler’s saw frame. Look carefully, and you’ll see a file loaded in the blade location. It represents a tip that Michael passed along. This particular file is called a chenier file, or a joint needle file (and likely known by some more names) and is often used when making a “U” shaped slot into which the knuckles of a hinge are soldered. The edges of this file are slightly rounded and contain the cutting surfaces. The broader, flat sides of the file are normally where you’d see these cutting surfaces. But on this file, they’re smooth, or “safe.” This makes for a very handy tool adaptation to assist in filing level and straight across two bezel surfaces.

Jewelers Saw Loaded with Chenier File
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