If you’ve taken a lot of classes, you may have made pieces that look very much like the work of artists you admire… but you struggle with making your new skills your own. Or maybe you’ve been collecting gorgeous stones you’re dying to set but have no idea where to start with a design that will do them justice. As part of our ongoing Heart of the Maker program, we are thrilled to be offering an in-person hands-on workshop intensive with master maker Lesley Aine McKeown, a working studio artist whose distinctive style is instantly recognizable and deeply personal. Over the course of four days, she’ll help us explore and identify the things that inspire and move us. We’ll dig deep to figure out why we love the work and artists we do, and how to articulate and make those things tangible. Along the way, we’ll learn and practice the elements of productive critique, both of our own work and others, as she teaches us her approach to practical, essential fabrication techniques and skills including stone setting, designing with multiple stones, using prongs, chain making, keum boo, and more.
Lesley says: “Creating is a process, one often approached from the technical aspect. How we achieve a design from concept to completion requires forethought and a complete understanding of your design before you touch a piece of metal. In this course we delve deeply into the design process to help build habits that will transform how you work through a design, advance your technical skills and help identify a personal look for your work.”
Plan on pushing yourself outside your comfort zone as you work with Lesley to design and execute your unique “dream” piece. Your kit fee includes a complete set of materials Lesley most commonly uses in fabrication – sterling silver sheet and wire, fine silver bezel wire, tube settings and some small faceted stones, and gold foil to practice Lesley’s keum boo method – along with use of all the consumables, tools, and equipment you’ll need to be successful. We’ll also have a selection of stones available for you to purchase from some of our favorite resources. But this is the workshop where you should bring “those” stones – the ones you fell in love with but haven’t had the courage to use or the experience to combine – as well as any materials you particularly like working with so you can go wherever the muse (and Lesley!) leads you. You’ll come away with a clear vision of how you want your work to look and what you want to communicate, as well as new technical skills and a specific roadmap for how to get there.
We’ll be covering the proper use of a single-tank air/acetylene torch, including basic setup and safety, and you’ll have plenty of time to practice using it if you’ve never used one before. But this is an intermediate/advanced workshop, and you must be able to solder unattended, have basic fabrication and stone-setting skills, and be comfortable using a jeweler’s saw.
PLEASE NOTE: In an effort to ensure that all students are prepared to get the most out of this workshop, all registrations are subject to Lesley’s final approval based on an evaluation of each student’s work. If you have not taken recent workshops in our studio, please complete your registration and submit at least three photos of your work to info AT makeryarts DOT com.
Workshop Fee: $675
Materials Fee: $150
(taxable and payable at the time of the workshop)
(don’t forget to bring any amazing stones you’re dying to set!)
April 22 – 25, 2021
Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
9:30 am – 5:00 pm daily
April 29 – May 2, 2021
Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
9:30 am – 5:00 pm daily
Please be sure to read our Terms and Conditions before registering!
PLEASE NOTE: Product photos are a representative sample of Lesley’s work. You’ll be designing and creating your own piece(s) based on your own inspiration and materials, with Lesley’s expert guidance.
ABOUT LESLEY AINE MCKEOWN
When people ask how I became an artist, I often laugh and say, “it’s genetic.” I was raised in art. My parents met and married while they were students at the Art Institute in Kansas City. I was born shortly after they graduated and began their careers as professional artists. My father made jewelry in the 1960s and ’70, and worked for Hallmark while my mother painted, sculpted and illustrated medical textbooks until 1979, when we moved to Sedona, Arizona. This began a 30-year obsession with creating one of the top 100 Niche American Crafts galleries in the US. They both enjoy busy lives, creating and traveling the world to this day. But it was not until 1982 that the jewelry bug bit me. As an apprentice I learned traditional native American silversmithing techniques. In 1984 I launched my career as a jeweler, and I’ve never looked up since. It’s always been the challenges of metal smithing that I crave.
Designing pieces that challenge me technically, that speak to a certain aesthetic, is what pulls me to create. Creativity is evolution, a constant yearning for more. And of utmost importance is how it is made. Each piece is created in my studio in the tradition of the American Studio Art Jewelry movement of the 1940s through the ’60s, which demands that the work is created entirely in the artist’s studio. From drawing through fabrication, the piece never leaves my hands. My studio is my refuge, and I work solo.
I’m an avid gardener, I believe in political responsibility, I love animals, and I’m a bit obsessed about cooking.
The planet and animals are a deep concern to me. Every effort is made to use recycled and ethically mined metals and gems. I volunteer helping the local Humane Society raise funds and donate a portion of my income through the year to the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary that provides a forever home to retired captive elephants. I believe strongly in giving back and am happy to share my experience freely with other jewelers. I am dedicated to educating others in the importance of art in our lives. A society without art is a society without a soul.
My technical approach is simple and low-tech. I use traditional fabricating techniques and incorporate others, like the ancient Korean technique of Keumboo, to accent my work. I enjoy designing a piece and then working through the process of how to make it.
I collect vintage tools and enjoy using them every day. I love the idea that a hammer used by another jeweler 50 years ago is making a mark on my work today. One of my favorite things is my bench, which was my father’s, and I’ve used it for over 30 years. I consider it a talisman. I’m drawn to the unusual, and collect stones that reflect this. The vast array of beautiful material that comes from the earth remains a wonder to me. Often my designs are motivated by the stones, and complementing their beauty is all that’s needed. In business since 1984, I make each piece by hand in my Prescott, Arizona studio.