Find Your “Ah-Ha!” Metalsmithing Moment at Bead Fest Philadelphia
“I love seeing students have that ‘Ah-ha!’ moment when they get it,” says jewelry artist and teacher Jeff Fulkerson. “I also love to help people get over their fears and insecurities, because art, in whatever form, should be done for your own pleasure.” He practices what he preaches, too. He’ll tell you that he makes whatever he’s into at the time and teaches classes at Bead Fest and elsewhere in whatever he’s making. But you don’t need to hear him say it. Take a look at a few of his jewelry pieces and you can see how much he loves what he’s doing.
ABOVE: Jeff Fulkerson’s Spirit Cuff is a great example of the kind of detailed, exuberant inlay work that he is famous for; photo: courtesy Jeff Fulkerson
Jeff started making jewelry when he was barely a teenager, inspired by things that any kid or adult can appreciate. “I wanted a big Navajo cuff like my cousin had,” he remembers, “but they cost around $250. I was making $1.45 an hour working in a hobby shop, so buying one was out of the question.” So, he looked for instruction and ran with it.
“I found a book—Jewelry Maker’s Handbook by Iva L. Geisinger—that showed how to solder silver, and had a silver and cabochon ring project. I read the book, bought the needed supplies, and four hours later, I had a ring. And it looked like a ring! I was thrilled.” That thrill has never left him and continues to motivate and gratify him today.
Can’t Stay Away from Bead Fest
Jeff’s still making silver and cabochon rings, only now he also shows others how to make them and other jewelry. Returning again as an instructor to Bead Fest Philadelphia this August, Jeff will be teaching four classes. As always, there is a lot of focus on how to use jewelry-making tools and mastering jewelry techniques. But each class is also designed so that nearly every student can expect to finish her or his piece in class.
New for Bead Fest 2018
Brand new this year is his Strapped Ring, which includes a bezel-set cabochon with a distinctive pair of wire straps going across the stone. As you make this ring, you’ll also be learning about how to choose the right kind of cab for your needs, tips and tricks for bezel making and bezel setting cabochon gemstones, how to sweat solder, and how to add the strap elements to a ring.
Sweat soldering, that is soldering one layer of metal onto another, is commonly used for overlays but also for attaching findings and as one step in building more complex joins. In the Strapped Ring, Jeff sweat solders the silver shank.
Don’t Miss These Bead Fest Workshops This Year
Back are three popular classes from before, each of which also gives you pointers on selecting cabochons. In addition to the setting for each cab in the Classic Three-Stone Cuff, you’ll learn how to form a cuff. Besides making the Shadow Box Ring setting, you’ll also learn how to set pointed cabochons and get a perfect fit the whole way around. You’ll also discover the castellated bezel, so called because the vertical elements are reminiscent of the turrets around a castle tower.
You know how much fun spinner rings are? Spinner Bling is a class in making a spinner bangle. You’ll learn how to measure your wrist for a perfect bracelet fit, measure the freely spinning inner bangles so they really will spin freely, texture metal, and set small cabochon gems. And you’ll learn to make the bracelet using a new tool that Jeff designed himself, his patent-pending Fast Flare Disks—along with basic jewelry-making tools, of course.
Bead Fest Class Registration Is Open Now
Can’t wait to pick up your pliers, mandrels, files, and burnishers? Ready to saw at your bench pin and hammer at your bench block? Can’t wait to light a torch and indulge in a little soldering? You can be doing all of that and more this August 15-19 at Bead Fest Philadelphia in Oaks, PA.
Jeff taught himself a lot of jewelry making out of necessity. You don’t have to do it the hard way. Instead, you can learn from someone who loves jewelry making and jewelry teaching and has been doing both very successfully for decades. Plus, he’s a really funny guy. You’ll have a blast!
– Merle White
Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist