Instructors

Victoria Lansford

High-Relief Eastern Repoussé and Chasing

For more than 28 years a post-conceptual artist, educator, and author, Victoria Lansford has created one-of-a-kind wearable sculpture and art objects that evoke the mystery and splendor of ancient masters yet are infused with her own provocative vision.

Through her artwork, publications, workshops, and passion for creating, Victoria has generated an international revival of metalsmithing techniques on the brink of being lost forever, including Russian filigree and Eastern repoussé, and has paved the way for metalsmiths to rediscover the variations from other cultures.
 
Her award-winning artwork ranges in scale from wearable art jewelry and hand-illuminated artist books to architectural metal installations for one of the world's largest super-yachts. Her art has been widely exhibited in places such as the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Wayne Arts Center, the Mulvane Art Museum, the von Liebig Art Center, the Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Georgia Museum. It has also been shown in numerous publications, including the Lark 500 book series, Metalsmith and Jewelry Artist magazines, Repousse and Chasing (Brynmorgan Press), On Body and Soul: Contemporary Amulets to Armor (Schiffer Publishing) and on Home and Garden Television. She created the metals program and served as head of the Metalsmithing Department at Spruill Center for the Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1997–2004, as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee, and as a Saul Bell Design Award finalist judge.
 
Victoria’s internationally acclaimed instructional DVD and book series, Metal Techniques of Bronze Age Masters, featuring the titles Russian Filigree, Rings, All Chained Up, Eastern Repoussé and Chasing, as well as her iPhone™ app, “iMakeJewelry” have sold throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. Victoria lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
 
An enthusiastic and accomplished teacher of metalsmithing skills, Victoria loves that moment when “someone shows me what they've been working on in class, and everything has come together into something extraordinary. I just look at the piece in awe and realize that I had a part in its incarnation. In that moment, all the endless preparation to teach and the challenges of 21st century travel are eclipsed by this wonderful tangible object that now exists for and by someone else.”
 

Find out more about Victoria by visiting her website. victorialansford.com

Classes

Scott Bradford

Casting

Scott Bradford is an expert in casting, rapid-prototyping and CAD design, watchmaking, gemology, as well as general bench, fabrication and repair practices. In his time working with rapid prototyping machines, he's been able to complete extensive research in successfully casting with 3D-printed resins.

Since joining Rio's Jewelry Tech Team, Scott Bradford has enjoyed being able to work with such a diverse community of jewelers. "Whether they are a beginner or a veteran of the industry, we share a common passion and it's a great opportunity to learn from one another," he says. "It's been an amazing experience to be a part of such a talented and knowledgeable team from so many different backgrounds."

Scott’s jewelry experience began with some beginner classes at Rio Grande, later attending the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology in Paris, TX, where he received training in jewelry fabrication, repair, casting, stone-setting, watchmaking, gemology, and CAD/CAM. He was the winner of the Stuller Award for Excellence and became certified with the Jewelers of America as a Certified Bench Jeweler. Scott then moved to Dallas, TX, where he worked making high-end custom jewelry, servicing and repairing mechanical watches, running a casting department, conducting stone setting and repair, fabrication, and utilizing rapid-prototyping technologies and computer-aided design software to create new and interesting designs. He has extensively researched and tested the casting of 3D-printed resins throughout the industry, and shared his knowledge with anyone that needed it. Since joining the Rio Grande Tech Team in August 2015, he has trained with a large number of industry experts in areas like engraving with Sam Alfano, enameling with Ricky Frank, mokume gane with Jim Binnion and Chris Ploof, and metal-forming with Bill Fretz, just to name a few. 

Classes

Phillip Scott

Basic Stone Setting, Intermediate Stone Setting

At the bright young age of 13, Phil Scott's father brought him to Rio Grande, where he purchased some silver wire and sheet...

Now, more than 40 years later, Phil casts, laser-welds, sets stones, enamels and specializes in custom, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. He remembers seeing a jewelry commercial as a young boy and thinking someday he'd like to make what he saw on the television. Now he can.

Phillip is a graduate gemologist and a member of Rio Grande's Technical Support team. Known as the 'Laser Dude,' Phil has spent many years perfecting traditional bench skills to design custom work, while looking forward at innovative ways, such as laser welding technology, to create and repair jewelry. His broad spectrum of knowledge and experience makes him a patient and wonderful instructor.

What does Phil love about teaching? "I started out at the age of 13. There were many wonderful craftsmen who each took me under their wing and helped me along the way. It would be a shame for me to not share in turn the love and passion for jewelry-making that has been shared so generously with me over the years."

Classes

Kate Wolf

A Wax-Carving Intensive with Kate Wolf

The first time Kate sat down at a jeweler's bench she said to herself, "I could explore this field for the rest of my life and not run out of techniques to learn."

Decades later, she knows she was absolutely right.

Educator, jeweler and tool maven Kate Wolf has three loves: carving wax, designing tools and teaching. One is meditative and intuitive, the second exhilarating. And teaching? Absolutely "divine." That "student/teacher interaction and enthusiasm is inspiring," she says, especially when she has a classroom full of different skill levels and reasons for embarking on wax-carving and jewelry-making. "It's my job to meet each student at their level with the utmost respect and help them build their skills and inspire their creativity. I have no expectations of where they are," she says. "I just want to help get them where they want to be . . . and beyond!"

Kate has been carving wax and making jewelry for 37 years and teaching for more than 25 years. She teaches in workshops all over the U.S. and Canada and at her school in Portland, Maine. She won MJSA's Innovation Award for her Wolf Tools® and Wolf Wax™ by Ferris® and continues to develop tools for jewelers to love. Kate is a former Director of Production and master model-maker for the Franklin Mint, and she holds a BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry from Tyler School of Art.

As for Kate's favorite teaching moment? "That 'Aha!' moment. It's the biggest blessing in the world to be a part of the learning process and to help students see things in a new way and master skills that they thought were beyond their reach."

Classes

Blaine Lewis

Prong and Bead Setting with Blaine Lewis

Widely recognized as the premier diamond-setting instructor in the U.S. today, and founder and director of New Approach School for Jewelers, Blaine Lewis has taught more than 5,000 stone-setting and metalsmithing students.

Blaine began his career in metals as a professionally trained industrial welder, and his passion for creating metal objects soon transitioned into making jewelry. Books were his first teachers and, as his skills outgrew his books, he struggled with the lack of quality instruction available locally. With help from many top jewelers over the next many years, Blaine learned, innovated and redesigned stone-setting techniques for diamonds and fragile colored stones. He felt it was important that he share his knowledge and began holding workshops around the country.

He pioneered the use of high-definition, high-magnification projection of the fine, precision work being performed as it was being demonstrated, so that students could see, big and beautiful, every step of the processes they were learning. In 1996, Blaine established New Approach School for Jewelers and designed classrooms and teaching methods to provide superior communication between student and instructor. Live demonstrations are projected on large video screens using high-magnification, high-definition cameras to communicate even the most intricate details. His technique of high-magnification instruction, students say, is nothing short of transformational.

In 2000, Blaine applied the high-magnification video technology and stunning 3-D animated graphics that he pioneered to the ground-breaking video series, Classroom In A Box: Bezel and Flush Setting. Today he teaches a variety of classes at New Approach School (located in Nashville/Franklin, Tennessee) that range from one-week workshops to twelve-week graduate bench jeweler programs.
He continues to produce instructional videos and is an active consultant to the jewelry industry.

Visit Blaine's website.

Classes

Peter Gilroy

Hydraulic Forming, Intermediate Hydraulic Forming

Peter Gilroy grew up knowing he wanted to work with his hands. From a job during high school, making jewelry with his uncle, Phil Poirier, to studying fine furniture-making after college.

Peter had a passion for making things that knew no bounds. An artist, designer and rock climber, he holds a degree in art from the University of New Mexico and has also studied architecture. All of these far-ranging interests came together when he went to work as a machinist at Bonny Doon Tooling (owned by his uncle, renowned innovator and jeweler G. Phil Poirier) and began making jewelry once again. "Working with and making all those awesome tools," he says, "gave me a new design vocabulary to work with, got my creative mind going again, and gave me the power to make my designs come to life."

These days, Peter works almost exclusively with titanium and niobium. A challenging and exciting material, titanium requires the use of heavy machinery and extreme forces—perfect for Bonny Doon hydraulic presses and industrial mills and lathes—and he loves the clean look and precision machining brings to his work. Peter continues to make his own custom tools and dies and thrives on the exploration of new techniques in metalwork. And, of course, his Bonny Doon presses are important elements in that exploration; as he says "there is no end to what you can do with a hydraulic press."

When not working in his studio, Peter spends his time outside, rock climbing on the cliffs of northern New Mexico. His passion for climbing and the mountains has greatly informed and inspired his jewelry work and given him an eye for detail evident in his work. His work is shown in galleries across the U.S. and at select craft fairs such as ACC Baltimore.

See Peter's work at www.peterwgilroy.com

Classes

David Swallow

CAD with 3Design

A 3DESIGN software certified trainer and application engineer for Vision Numeric, David has eight years of CAD jewelry-making experience.

For seven of those years he has been a software training instructor, giving him the ideal mix of doing and sharing the fun of CAD design. David has taught numerous 3DESIGN CAD classes for both beginner and advanced students.
David holds a bachelor's degree in computer science and specializes in 3D modeling and design.

Classes

Scott Patrick

Basic Stone Setting, Intermediate Stone setting

Custom jeweler, jewelry engineer and Rio Grande new-product designer Scott Patrick has more than four decades of jewelry-making experience—tackling everything from stone-setting, findings design, manufacturing R&D, model making and more.

And he's always on the lookout for a new technique to explore. "If a person lived ten lifetimes," he says, "there still wouldn't be enough time to become proficient in all the jewelry-making techniques out there." But he certainly is trying!

The Southwest jewelry explosion hit right after Scott studied fine art in college, so he considers himself very lucky to have found a career in working with jewelry; and he's never looked back. 

The first piece he made that he was proud of was
his first "serious" gold piece—a ring fabricated entirely from gold sheet. He designed it to hold a pair of star rubies that his parents gave him on his twenty-first birthday. At Rio, one of Scott's numerous specialties is stone-setting, and when teaching new stone-setters in the classroom, he promotes a fun, interactive atmosphere where he gets to watch almost immediate skill improvements. 

Scott works extensively with CAD/CAM technology to design and model his work. A true bench jeweler at heart, he also loves using the traditional bench techniques he's acquired over the years. "I still love getting my hands dirty at the bench," he says, "using the skills that make the piece come alive."

Classes

Jayne Redman

Form and Function-Engineering for Multiples

Meet Jayne Redman: Inventor, educator, rule maker, rule breaker.

Jayne began teaching jewelry-making even as she pursued her own education. She loves giving students the confidence to be inventive, to learn the principles of a technique, then to use that technique in an adventurous way, making their own rules.

Jayne specializes in techniques that allow her to work with sheet metal, starting with a flat shape and turning it into a three dimensional object. She says, "I love to think of non-conventional ways to join those objects together. The engineering part is the most fun for me."

A Maine native, Jayne earned her B.F.A. in Jewelry and Silversmithing from Maine College of Art in 1977. She began her jewelry career in the fashion jewelry industry in New York as a design and production assistant. She started her own company, Jayne Redman Jewelry, in 1982. In 1995, Jayne began developing her Floraforms™ Collection. Her work is much recognized and has received numerous awards, among them NICHE and Saul Bell Design awards. She has been featured in articles for several trade magazines, including AJM, Lapidary Journal, Professional Jeweler, NICHE, and Ornament, and examples of her work can be seen in books such as Art Jewelry Today by Donna Z. Meilach, Making Metal Beads by Pauline Warg, 500 Earrings and 21st Century Jewelry—The Best of the 500 Series, both published by Lark Books, and
Jewelry Metals edited by James Binnion.

A contributor to the book Profiting by Design by Marlene Richey, Jayne, like Marlene, is a former faculty member of the Maine College of Art, Department of Jewelry and Metals and teaches workshops nationally. She maintains a studio in southern Maine and is represented by fine jewelry and craft stores across the country.

Her most memorable teaching moment? "In a blanking die workshop, I taught the class how to resume sawing after breaking a saw blade (one of many tips I offer). Later that day, a student, struggling to saw the corners on a series of radiating rectangles without rounding them figured out she could use the broken-saw-blade rescue technique to make a series of straight cuts, eliminating the need to turn corners. She turned the rescue technique into a technique for creating a more precise pattern. I now teach that technique with the first practice dies I have students make in every blanking die workshop. It’s the Regan Devers technique!"

Classes

Chris Ploof

Mokume Gane with the Masters

Award-winning master jeweler Chris Ploof grew up in a small town in Massachusetts lurking around the local living history museum and watching, awestruck, as the craftspeople manipulated materials like glass, tin and iron. Materials that he had previously thought of as unyielding.

After traveling the world trying a variety of hands-on careers, Chris found himself back on his boyhood path, attempting to improvise a forge using a 55-gallon drum, some firebricks and a hair dryer. Eventually, his knowledge-seeking lead him to jewelry-making classes. And at last, he found his home.
Chris has studied with many well-known artists and apprenticed under a master goldsmith. He has an insatiable curiosity and drive that leads him down long roads of exploration, even after challenges of the current task-at-hand have been met. Twice, he's been awarded the Industry Leader Award from The Santa Fe Symposium® and his work has been featured on the cover of Showcase 500 Rings: New Directions in Art Jewelry (Lark, 2012) as well as in countless other publications.  Chris serves as a traveling consultant to the jewelry industry and loves sharing the knowledge he's accumulated over the years. As a teacher, his most memorable moments are when his students look at him with that wide-eyed "I get it!" look in students' eyes. 
Chris's studio is located in Massachusetts, where he works with a carefully chosen team of fun-to-work-with, like-minded talent.

Visit the Chris Ploof Designs website.

Classes

Ronda Coryell

Argentium® Intensive with Ronda Coryell

When you step into the classroom with Ronda Coryell, know that you are in the presence of one of the top experts in the world on Argentium® Silver, as well as one of the most generous and enthusiastic jewelry-making instructors you'll ever have the pleasure to work with.

An accomplished designer and master goldsmith, Ronda's work has won recognition in competitions and exhibitions, including the Saul Bell Design Award. She is a Jewelers of America® Certified Master Bench Jeweler and has taught in eleven different countries—everywhere she goes, she furthers her reputation as an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher.

You can find out more about Ronda and her work on her website; visit https://www.rondacoryelldesigns.com/.

Classes

Bill Fretz

Bangles and Baubles: Large Concave and Convex Cuffs with Fluting.

Meet Bill Fretz: jeweler, craftsman, teacher and designer of remarkable tools.

Bill's interest in making jewelry began with his interest in jewelry-making tools (no surprise) and grew after talking to renowned metalsmiths such as Paul Evans. Developing his own line of tools was Bill's answer to the design challenges he would encounter, challenges that traditional tools couldn't fix. For each challenge, Bill designed the tool he wanted, then his son Jordan brought it to life. 

It's his love of tools and working with metal, seeing what overlapping hammer blows can do, that inspires Bill to design award-winning jewelry and custom tools. Fretz forming stakes represent perfected precision and unrivaled quality. And a Fretz hammer? Once you pick one up, you may never put it down. His innovative tools are not only the prized possessions of scores of jewelry-makers, they are also so beautifully designed and made that they have been exhibited at trade shows and in galleries. 

Today, Bill continues to design custom tools and teach students how to use them, all while running his business with his wife Marian in Bucksport, Maine. From his first job, as a teaching assistant to jeweler John Paul Miller at Cleveland Institute of Art, and in every class he teaches, Bill's love of metal-forming is constantly renewed as his students "constantly remind me that designing with metal is an exploration."

Classes

Ricky Frank

Cloisonné Enameling with Ricky Frank

For more than 35 years, master enamelist Ricky Frank has put his heart and soul into enameling. That's just what you do when you are captivated by an art form.

His reason for becoming a jeweler? To have a way to sell his enamels. And every technique he studies (CAD/CAM, granulation, chasing, engraving) "becomes a way to further enhance his enamel creations."

Within the enameling world, Ricky always returns to his true love: cloisonné. "It offers an easy way to balance my need for being in control and letting go," he says. And as a teacher,
as he watches his students struggle between freedom and perfection, Ricky gets to reconnect with the feeling he had 35 years ago when he started working with enamels.

Ricky's students can't help but absorb his enthusiasm for the craft, from the moment they watch colors change before their eyes to the remarkable finished piece. "I relive the trial and error of my own education," he says. "I feel like I am sharing a part of me with each student."

A self-taught artist, Ricky's work is known for incredible depth, clarity and blending of colors. His award-winning jewelry has been exhibited at some of the top national craft shows, including the Smithsonian Craft Show and the Philadelphia Museum Craft Show. His teaching credentials include Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Arizona Craftsman, and the Enamelist Society Conference. 

And the piece that Ricky's most proud of? A cloisonné enamel pendant depicting two personal profiles: one flowing (his artistic and free side), the other angular (his rational side). "It was the first time I combined material, technique and my soul."

You can learn more about Ricky by visiting his website at Rickyfrank.com

 

Classes

Phil Poirier

Hydraulic Forming, Intermediate Hydraulic Forming, Bonny Doon Master Class- Die Making and Deep Draw

G. Phil Poirier's first press consisted of a 5-ton ram and a frame that he made himself simply because he "needed a bigger hammer."

In 1990, Phil, a master gem cutter, bought his first Bonny Doon press. Since then, he's been creating phenomenal pieces of jewelry—small, intricate, seamless works of art created with inventiveness, energy and the strong arm of hydraulic machinery. 

Since then, Phil has become the owner and operator of Bonny Doon Engineering in Taos, New Mexico, a company that develops and manufactures hydraulic presses and tooling systems for the jewelry industry. A "smith" at heart since his first silversmithing class in high school, this designer, craftsman and engineer has been maneuvering and manipulating metal in ways unimaginable to most.

During his 40 years of experience, he's amassed dozens of "new favorite" techniques that including engraving, enameling, laser-welding, milling, fabricating, stamping, die-making, designing, forging, granulation and stone-cutting! The first piece he created was a naja formed from a piece of 0-ga. round stock in 1972. He was amazed at what thousands of hammer beats could accomplish. Today, his favorite technique is guilloché engraving. 

As for teaching, Phil feeds on the enthusiasm of his students as he watches them light up with new ideas as they discover new possibilities. His most memorable teaching moment to date occurred in front of 650 SNAG members while deep-drawing a 6" disc of sterling into a vessel the size of a tuna can. Then, to the disbelief of the crowd, turning it inside-out.

Check out Phil’s website 

Classes

Thomas Flores

Beginning PMC

Thomas Flores has 12 years of experience in the jewelry industry, encompassing metal clay, plating, e-coating, metal forming and stone setting.

Thomas Flores first came to Rio as a Customer Call Center Representative, where he gained extensive knowledge about the products and services offered here. He is an expert in metal clay, plating, e-coating, metal forming and stone setting. Thomas' love for jewelry dates back to an assignment in a high school metals class: He made a hand-forged copper bracelet to show artistic ability and creativity. Since then, he's learned stone setting at the New Approach School for Jewelers in Franklin, Tennessee, and become a certified PMC instructor.

 

Classes

Jason Stinchfield

Coin Ring Making Using Seamless Ring Construction

Jason has pioneered methods for creating rings from minted coins using tools and techniques that he designed himself—both from scratch and from re-purposing existing equipment.

Raised on a small cattle ranch, Jason Stinchfield, owner and founder of Jason's Works, learned early how to work with his hands and developed a passion for creating and problem-solving that took deep root and continues to grow. Says Jason, "My goal is to help others learn a skill or craft so they can have a new hobby or even start their own business." When he became fascinated by the intricacies and potential of working with silver, he discovered an array of the enticing qualities silver offers for making things. Most recently, Jason has pioneered methods for creating incredible rings from minted coins using tools and techniques that he designed himself—both from scratch and from creatively re-purposing existing equipment.

Classes