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One on One with Karen Plum of Plum Designs Jewelry



It has been almost two weeks since I had the pleasure of meeting Karen in my studio, and I wanted to give her some time to absorb all that she learned and experienced while we spent time together before I wrote this recap about our experience. 

Karen currently lives in East Tennessee and already had lots of experience making her gorgeous jewelry; however, she thought it was time to start using a mixed gas torch set-up to increase her creative range in metalworking.

It took me about 6 months to gather up the courage to fire up my Gentec mixed-gas torch after I bought it, so I completely understood her desire to have a buddy with her as she contemplated adding this fantastic tool to her collection. 

Specifically, she wanted to learn how to fabricate pinned jewelry, along with some other common metal-smithing techniques that will become second nature with more practice and exposure to torch work. 

First of all, I could not have asked for a better jewelry designer to spend time with. She is super nice, adventurous, patient and very open to learning new stuff. She was really smart to split her day of instruction into two days with a night spent here. 

She arrived around noon on our first day, and we worked hard on the list of techniques she wanted to learn until the afternoon. Intense concentration can wear you out! 

We closed up the studio and went to a fantastic locally-owned restaurant after class where we enjoyed getting to know each other better, along with some tasty food and ambiance in West Asheville.  I got hopelessly lost a few times, (damn that Siri!) but she was able to help me out with her phone and natural sense of direction, which was nice.

Wait...wasn't I supposed to know that stuff already? lol...uh..no. The Asheville vortex of mixed-up directions hit; but we rolled with it, and had a great time! ( I even got lost taking her to her place to spend the night, which was only about a mile from the studio!)

Karen wanted to get started the next morning around 9:30, and then we hit it hard on torch work. As I referenced earlier, that was really a smart way to go in that she had a good night's sleep and was well rested for some more intense concentration. 

We had gotten to know each other better the previous day and evening, and by then, I had a pretty good idea about how to go about teaching her the torch based on how she learns best. 

And the really cool thing is that since she is left handed, I learned a more efficient way of using my own torch as I had to teach her how to use the torch as a leftie! So I got to learn some new things as well! 


I had a list of things she wanted more instruction with, and I printed that out to have with me in the studio. Everything we went over in class, I wrote it down so that I could type it up and email it to her after class. 

It has been almost two weeks since I had the pleasure of meeting Karen in my studio, and I wanted to give her some time to absorb all that she learned and experienced while we spent time together before I wrote this recap about our experience. 

Here is her online shop!

Karen currently lives in East Tennessee and already had lots of experience making her gorgeous jewelry; however, she thought it was time to start using a mixed gas torch set-up to increase her creative range in metalworking.

It took me about 6 months to gather up the courage to fire up my Gentec mixed-gas torch after I bought it, so I completely understood her desire to have a buddy with her as she contemplated adding this fantastic tool to her collection. 

Specifically, she wanted to learn how to fabricate pinned jewelry, along with some other common metal-smithing techniques that will become second nature with more practice and exposure to torch work. 

First of all, I could not have asked for a better jewelry designer to spend time with. She is super nice, adventurous, patient and very open to learning new stuff. She was really smart to split her day of instruction into two days with a night spent here. 

Karen wanted to get started the next morning around 9:30, and then we hit it hard on torch work. As I referenced earlier, that was really a smart way to go in that she had a good night's sleep and was well rested for some more intense concentration. 

We had gotten to know each other better the previous day and evening, and by then, I had a pretty good idea about how to go about teaching her the torch based on how she learns best. 

And the really cool thing is that since she is left handed, I learned a more efficient way of using my own torch as I had to teach her how to use the torch as a leftie! So I got to learn some new things as well! 

I had a list of things she wanted more instruction with, and I printed that out to have with me in the studio. Everything we went over in class, I wrote it down so that I could type it up and email it to her after class. 

This worked out great, as I am very cognizant of the expense of hourly/daily private instruction. I really believe that total immersion is necessary to learn something new, and I don't want my students writing down stuff while making or learning. I think it is important to maximize our time together with hands-on learning. 

I typed up everything, including tool names, techniques we went over,  other artists and their websites or books I thought would be helpful and compiled it all into a document. She had it in her inbox the day or day after she arrived home. 

I am happy to report that she has written back to let me know of her new tool purchases, and I eagerly await to see what she will be creating next!!

She found an incredible deal on a Little Smith Torch set-up similar to the one that I use in the studio...so here is that link!

This torch is only $179.00 from this company!

The really great thing about private instruction is that you can try the tools you think you might want to get, but need a 'hands on' feeling about whether or not it will be a good investment for you. I think that was of great benefit for Karen.

We also touched upon the importance of really knowing what you love and like, and how to translate that into making your jewelry. Karen loves color and her direction is heading more towards color by way of enameling, and combining that with using more sophisticated metal structures in her work to support her use of color. 

I think that is a great direction for her to go in, since I observed her face light up with passion when she showed me examples of color and form that I recognized in myself when I started using more texture and pins in my own work. 

That is what this is really all about...getting comfortable with the tools necessary to support your ability to create what you are emotionally attached to with confidence and skill.
So, in conclusion, it was awesome to meet her, learn with her, from her and about her. I can't believe how fortunate I am to have this big space to share with others on their own passionate journey into creativity. 

And a few words from Karen that she graciously shared with me about our time so that I could share it with you….

Lucky me! I took a private class from Stacie in her well equipped new studio in Asheville, NC.I wasn't sure if a private class was the right venue for me but am so glad I did. I learned much more from Stacie in a short amount of time than I  thought possible. Stacie is centered, professional, personable, relaxed, articulate and dedicated to teaching.  Stacie really made sure I understood every little detail of techniques before we continued onto the next project. She has a wealth of knowledge about jewelry and jewelry techniques that she shared enthusiastically with me.  If you feel you need a push, a new direction or fine tuning in your jewelry journey, consider taking a class with Stacie. Thanks Stacie! You have much Soul and Substance.....

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