Learn Metalsmithing, Enameling, Resin Jewelry Making and More with Susan Lenart Kazmer
You probably think of resin jewelry making when you see Susan Lenart Kazmer’s name. It’s for good reason–her name has been part of her ICE Resin brand for years. But when I see Susan at Bead Fest shows and in Tucson every year, I’m reminded that she is also a trained jewelry artist whose talents span metalwork, wire jewelry making, enameling, mixed-media jewelry, and more.
When Susan and I visit at jewelry shows, we have loads of fun, of course. But I also go away full of artistic invigoration with ideas zipping through my mind. I’ve learned so much from Susan through the years–in videos, in classes, and in person–and after we talk, I want to hurry to my studio and make as much jewelry as I can! She’s encouraging, inspiring, and her passion for her art comes through in conversation so much, it’s contagious.
I’m happy to share that you can experience that same encouragement, instruction, inspiration, and passion for jewelry making in Susan’s videos–and her books are a handy companion to have nearby as you work. As you can imagine, I’ve watched all of her videos, more than once! And I find myself referring to Susan’s books for inspiration and quick information often. Plus, I’ve been fortunate to take resin jewelry making and other classes with Susan as well. I feel like I’m getting a better, broader education when I watch an artist’s videos and refer to their books as well–they just pair well together for mastering jewelry techniques. Here are five invaluable lessons and creative techniques I’ve learned from Susan’s books, videos, and wonderful classes.
Resin as Counter Enamel
I experienced jewelry-making serendipity in an enameling class with Susan at Bead Fest a few years ago. The stars aligned and my layers of black and clear enamel reacted in such a way that a stunning spiderweb-ish pattern emerged. I have no idea how it happened and haven’t been able to recreate it. Fearing for its longevity, Susan shared a tip to help me preserve it: a coat of resin.
If you’ve worked with resin before, you know it’s hard and strong as can be when properly cured. That makes it a perfect alternative to counter enamel, especially in cases where applying more heat isn’t an option. The resin can also create a strong, protective layer over enamel–which is glass, after all–if you’d like a little extra insurance against enamel cracking or breaking off.
If enamel breaking off is a concern for you, there are other ways to get similar effects–about 15 other ways! Learn more than a dozen ways to add color to metal with Susan’s video, 15+ Ways to Alter Metal Surfaces: Cold Enameling, Resin, Powders, Pastels & More.
Resin as Support for Fragile Objects
When I find a robin’s egg shell, you’d think I found a diamond. They’re just such beautiful little treasures! I adore the color, and their tiny size makes them even more adorable. I’ve always wanted to make something with them but knew they were too fragile . . . until I learned from Susan that a thin layer of resin can create a nearly unbreakable and invisible layer of strength for fragile items like egg shells. The eggshell in Susan’s design, above, is fortified with resin and embellished with her ICED Enamels. You can learn basics for resin jewelry making and advanced techniques from Susan in her video, Exploring Resin Jewelry Making.
Bold Wire Jewelry Making: Prongs, Bezels, Wire Cages and More
My extensive rock, shell, and found-object collection was given fresh purpose when I discovered Susan’s big-prong rings. Her design allows the stones (or whatever you set in the prongs) to really be seen, all around and even from the back. That makes for more interesting pieces that celebrate the natural beauty of the stones. Plus, making the prongs with those whimsical balled ends is easy and fun.
Susan’s other cage designs also provide alternative ways to show off your treasures, and she is full of innovative ideas. Watching Susan’s video, Forge Wire Cages and Other 3D Forms for Jewelry Making: Capture Stone, Glass and Found Objects, I learned to flip bezels upside down (see below) and let something interesting hang down from them, like cages or tassels or whatever suites you, instead of just using them to hold things in.
Speaking of holding things in . . . A lot of Susan’s work involves talismans, prayer boxes and scrolls. Her passion for life and her work I mentioned above manifests itself in prayers, goals, and other words and phrases in her designs. In her prayer scroll project, below, Susan encourages students to write meaningful messages to hold within the scroll, making a secret design element of the message.
Unique Wire Jewelry Connections
I admit it: Even after perfectly good instruction, my rivets are wonky. I hammer crooked, or I don’t hold my tongue right, or something. Thanks to Susan, I’ve found an alternative I prefer, because it involves balling wire ends, which I LOVE to do! I could ball wire ends all day long, but honestly, how many ball-end wires can a jewelry maker use?
Way more than you might realize, as I learned in Susan’s video, Metalwork: Making Cold Connections with Rivets. Susan uses ball-end wires as rivets, and she uses double-ball-end wires as “ties” to connect various components (above). What I love even more, though, is how Susan uses the double-ball-end wires as decorative coils on her long, extravagant necklaces. She usually flattens the wire between the ball ends, which creates more contrast and helps the coils really stand out.
Resin Jewelry Making: Handcrafted Backless Bezels
This one isn’t a video, but I can’t wrap this up without mentioning Susan’s book, Resin Alchemy. It was there that I first learned about resin paper and using resin in backless bezels. But, possibly more importantly, it’s where I got the idea that I could use unique bezel wire using my own backless bezels for resin jewelry making.
It’s simple, I know, and you might be thinking, “well big whoop!” But it was a big whoop to me! I love fancy bezel wire, but I don’t always love using it in metalwork. It can be too fragile or too patterned for some of my metal designs. When I saw Susan’s example, above (which I adore for all kinds of reasons), it provided a new way to use my pretty bezel wire.
I hope you have as much fun learning from Susan as I always have–and still do!
Check out the library of inspiring and instructional videos and books by Susan Lenart Kazmer!