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From September 9-12, 2010, I attended a fold forming workshop at the Peters Valley Craft Center in Layton, NJ. Peters Valley property has been poorly maintained since it opened  4o years ago because the U.S. Park Service maintains it. Some of the pictures I took include the mansion I stayed at which had 7 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, an old deteriorating barn house which was located on the bottom of thunder mountain and the blacksmith studio which was next to the mansion. Our workshops were located on thunder mountain which was a 1.5 mile drive up an unpaved road. My car was so dirty!

My roommates and I fondly called Peters Valley “spooky town” because it was pitch dark at night with no lights in sight. We also found finger prints on the side of my car window which had been covered in dirt. SPOOKY!

I attended the workshop because I had received a scholarship from Peters Valley. In exchange for the scholarship I worked in their kitchen during meal times. Honestly, I hated working in the kitchen and I am not sure if I would want to scholarship again. Next time I will take out the checkbook.  Also, I was staying at the Valley Brook Farm Mansion which was 150 years old and lots of bugs. I hate bugs.

Other than those issues, I enjoyed the time spent with my fellow workshop roommates and with silversmith, John Cogswell. One of my roommates drove 12 hours to attend John’s workshop! Unknown to me, John is well-known in his field of jewelry and metalsmith. He is also the author of Creative Stone Setting, professor at SUNY New Paltz, teaches the most workshops in his field and a 2006 inductee into the National Artist of the Year.  Whew! Oh and he is also my professor’s colleague.

John was a wonderful instructor who taught us tricks of the trade as he told humorous stories about his life. We asked him so many questions about fold forming, supplies, best equipment to buy and he happily gave us answers to all our questions! I am so looking forward to future workshops.

With fold forming you need to purchase a forging hammer. John recommended buying the hammer from Allcraft Tools in NYC, which is fully dressed and polished (basically this means these are ready to use hammers). He also  recommended to purchase the medium-weight hammer with the 1000 gram/2.2lb head because the heavier the hammer, the less hammering you need to physically do.  Oh and earplugs are a must. Forging was also done on 24 gauge copper sheets. Creating a 3D form with metal is possible without the need to solder with fold forming.

Fold forming requires annealing so that the metal can be soft enough to bend. Annealing with the torch is another skill to master but, it’s a necessary skill to have because metal hardens if repeatedly hammered, bent or even put into the roller. Once you have mastered annealing, you are ready to use the heat patina technique. On copper the heat patina creates different colors depending on how long you heat it. As you apply heat the copper will turn in the following order: gold, orange, pink, purple, dark blue, light blue and, finally, black. Usually I push the heating a little bit more past black until I get a bright reddish or orange color before quenching it in water, which creates a beautiful red color.

The following video demonstrates annealing on copper. However, the copper is not quenched in the video. If you are trying to created the color red,  it is necessary to quench as soon as it turns bright orange.

Fold forming was invented by Charles Lewton-Brain who had recieved his inital training in Germany. Oh and a colleague of John too. His highly rated book is available now. I am waiting for mine!


Earlier this year I attended the 29th Annual Black Maria Film Festival, which was named after Thomas Edison’s 1893 motion picture studio. His studio was the first motion picture studio in the world.   The festival is known as an international juried competition and award tour of works from independent film and video makers.

One short film stood out from the rest: Joaquin Baldwin’s animated film,  Sebastian’s Voodoo (2008). The film is about a voodoo doll who decides to take action against his master, who causes suffering among the dolls.

I am asked a lot about where I purchase the metal sheets and the supplies needed for school.  So far, I have shopped at Metalliferous and Dikra Gems, both located in New York City, to purchase my supplies.

Metalliferous has a HUGE supply of hammers, files, metal sheet and lots of other goodies. I could spend hours in that little place! Last week after work, I rushed through my shopping trip there before closing time. For the beginning of the semester Metalliferous extends its store hours with late nights on Tuesdays till 8pm and temporary Saturday hours. Since my fold forming workshop is coming up this week, I purchased extra metal sheets of copper. I left Metalliferous with a $150 shopping bill! If you can’t make the trip to their location, I recommend calling their mail order service. I used their mail order service last year and their staff are very helpful (especially last semester when I was a clueless Jewelry I student!).

Dikra Gems is a very little store that sells cheap to very expensive stones and gems. The place is very easy to miss, since it is located in a small office building. For jewelry class, I purchased small inexpensive stones ranging from 4mm to 8mm which cost between 10 cents to $2.00.  For only $9 I purchased more than enough stones to last me a few classes!

Both business are helpful to jewelry and metalsmithing students and both are acquainted with many of the colleges and university’s professors. Some of the professors also relied on these stores as students!

Happy shopping!

Back to the University for me this week, for Jewelry  and Art in Latin America. I am eager to learn more about the learn more about the arts and my  Latin American roots. My mother’s family is from Honduras so I was raised in an American-Latino cultured home. Even  though I have been exposed to the Latino culture, I have not been exposed to its art despite the fact there are two well-known painters in my family.

I am also going to missing a little bit of school soon because I received a scholarship to a craft school to attend a fine metals workshop for fold forming. I have never done fold forming myself but I have observed the process last semester. Form forming in a nut shell involves using a special hammer called a forging hammer. Before the process begins, the sheet metal is heated (annealed) until it becomes soft and so it is able to be folded. The metal then is hit with a hammer in any pattern you want to make and again annealed. The piece is then unfolded to create a 3 dimensional piece.

The whole point of annealing is to make the metal softer and prevent it from breaking. However, hammering the metal can make the piece become harder. So sometimes you would need to re-anneal to do additional pattern making with the hammer. See the video below from Rio Grande which is a more scale down version of what we actually do in fold forming. We usually use a lower gauge metal sheet which means the metal is harder and can not be cut with regular scissors. Also, we use heavier hammers too.

I am asked- jewelry designer or an artist? I create without care for true profit. Time and costs do not matter to me, I seek beauty in art.


My Dream House

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Overwater Bungalow Bora Bora

Overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, Tahiti

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My first job: retail

Posted: July 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

I made $5.35 and after 3 months I quit.  What! I was only in high school. My position was sales associate at a baby retail store.

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