Behind the Scenes: Making Helen's Metalwork Essentials DVD Set

Helen Driggs is senior editor of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

I am a private person with a public job. I cringe at having my photo taken, so when I found out Interweave wanted me to do a DVD on metal techniques, I was green and very quiet for the rest of the day as I fervently hoped they would forget the whole idea.

Having something nice to look at helped me keep my mind off the camera. Yes, that's Hugh Jackman smiling at me.

My thinking was that there were so many others with way more experience and who are way more extroverted than me to do a video. But, I knew in my heart my leaders were right. With help from my boss, I pushed down the discomfort caused by the thought of hours in front of a camera and planned my segments like a field marshal.

Shooting day came, and I was scared stiff. Eventually, I realized it was just like teaching—without a room full of students asking questions. By day two, I loosened up and it was actually kind of OK. And just three weeks ago, I wrapped the footage for my second DVD set like an old pro. My much-used metals mantra works, even for video production: Practice makes perfect.

The studio took some getting used to. I kept looking at the wrong place.

It was buckets of work to plan ahead, write scripts, prepare all of the metal and tools for each segment, pack and ship it all across the country from Pennsylvania to Colorado, fly out, and then be "on" for two days of shooting. My best friend was in the studio to help stage each segment, provide a steady stream of diet Pepsi, and to keep me focused and upbeat. For an introvert like me, social exhaustion sets in fast, so her help and the caffeine proved invaluable.

The Interweave video crew totally rocks, too. That support, plus the funny things that inevitably happened along the shoot made the whole experience fun.

Yes, there are bloopers. And there were fits of giggles, too. . . .

What a difference humidity makes! At home on the moist East Coast, I never have issues with loose hammer heads. But in the dry, dry high desert of Colorado. . .
Each segment is designed to focus on one tool or technique and build sequentially. There are lots of tips along the way that I've picked up from the master metalsmiths I've studied with, too.

The entire reason for creating the DVD set was to give readers a chance to see the basic tools and techniques needed to create some of the projects in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist—in action. I kept that need for the basics in mind as I wrote and planned each segment, and I am very pleased with the result. I love teaching, and I presented the material in the same logical order I teach in, so you can build a base of knowledge to create your own work with confidence. If you read my Cool Tools & Hip Tips column, you'll recognize some of the material I have covered in print—except it is "alive" and moving.

When we finished shooting, I rewarded myself with a double order of salted French fries with ketchup and a cold adult beverage, followed by another—something I virtually never do. I slept like a rock, and I flew home, entered back into the daily routine of publishing the magazine . . . and a few weeks later, the rough edit was ready. For a few days, I couldn't bear the thought of looking at it. When I put it in the player, I was surprised at how calm I looked on screen compared to the memory of my churning insides during the shoot. There were just a few tweaks to make, and it was a wrap.

Back at the home office, the cover image and menu shots were taken and chosen, with approvals and design taking place in Colorado. The logistics of two locations make for some interesting production schedules.

I am really quite happy with the final version of Metalsmith Essentials: Basic Fabrication, so I wasn't surprised when a second DVD, Metalsmith Essentials: Riveting and Cold Connections, was inserted into the production calendar. This time, I was ready. I packed like a pro, got my scripts and cue cards written out, and created dozens of little metal sample steps. I won't give away any corporate secrets, but the second DVD covers cold connections in exhaustive detail . . . and stay tuned for more bloopers!


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