Friday, December 6, 2013

Many Hats

I am a woman who wears a lot of hats. While I do have several hat boxes in my closet filled with stylish vintage chapeaux that I like to wear on occasion this post chats about the many hats I wear in my work-day world.

Most of you know me as a "Jewelry Educator." A teacher of all things jewelry-related. I love teaching others to make jewelry and many of those students have become successful jewelry designers in their own right, designing and selling their own jewelry line.

I love that. LOVE IT!

Now it's my turn.

Yep. I have a new hat. It's called "jewelry designer." I have always designed and sold jewelry during my career, but on a really small scale. Home parties, trunk shows, the occasional craft fair. I have always designed pieces with my student or a class in mind. But now things are changing. Don't worry! I am not taking off my teaching hat. I have A LOT of cool teaching gigs coming up in 2014 (more on that soon.) This is just an addition to the hat collection.

Some of you may know my longtime friend Jess Gaston of Jess Imports. She sells beautiful jewelry components at trade shows. Earlier this year we were at a show together and were checking out the finished jewelry that was offered for sale. That lead to a discussion about trend and business and the people we know in the industry and why didn't we see anything that we really liked and why can't it be made in the USA and what if someone produced a cool, affordable, trendy but not too trendy line don't you think that might sell and that naturally led to..."Hey, wait a minute! Why aren't WE doing that?"

So we are.

Meet the Gaston Collective.  Her idea is to bring together American suppliers and artists, supporting them with a living wage and work that they enjoy and feels meaningful. Things have been ramping up this past year with a few trade shows (with a favorable reception) and the addition of artists Cynthia Thornton and Bob Burkett to the mix. It's been so so so fun to create and collaborate and design. This is just the beginning. Jessica's dream is actually starting to come true. I am so excited and proud to be a part of that.

This January is the big debut of the line at three big trade shows in Atlanta, Dallas and Las Vegas. We are moving full steam ahead. And we are asking for a bit of help.  Enter crowd funding and really cool contributor perks. We have created an Indiegogo campaign (Indiegogo campagin link is here.) to help gather the funds we need to get things kicked into high gear for January.

So if you can contribute, that would be awesome! You will have our sincere thanks and get a really cool gift in return. If you can’t contribute, that doesn’t mean you can’t help. We'd really appreciate if you would help pass on the word via social media, word of mouth,  or in your holiday newsletter (okay, just kidding on that one.)

Here is the link to our Indiegogo page. 

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

We have got a winner!

Hi Gang!

Thanks so much for your kind comments. The random number generator just picked three winners and they are as follows:

Kath who said:
Love to play with fire, and I think your book would give me a boost of inspiration. Also "liked" on FB, twittered on k8ofkatehall & instagram kate_jewelry. 

Debbie who said:
I have watched your "Metalsmithing at Home" video on Craftsy many times. You are an absolute hoot! I adore your enthusiasm, your sense of humor, not to mention you are so talented. I don't have a copy of "Simple Soldering" so winning a copy would be amazing! Soldering is one of those things that constantly eludes me.
(Debbie I could not contact you through Google, would you send me your info using the contact on my blog?)

Deb who said:
Oh could I be this lucky!!! Looks like a beautiful book and DVD!

 Whooohoooo! Congrats and I'll be contacting you shortly and mailing them off.

Thanks again and I loved reading each comment.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Book-a-versary and a Giveaway

Unwrapping my first shipment.
Comments are closed! A Winner to be announced shortly.

November 27, 2012. It was official. My first book with DVD included, Simple Soldering: A Beginner's Guide to Jewelrymaking was released.

What a year it has been.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who purchased the book. I love reading your emails and Amazon reviews! (Seriously, if I am ever feeling down, I click over to my review page. Thank you for all the love.)

WOW! There it is!
People have asked me how long it took to write and my ready answer is "20 years." My whole career moved me to the publication of my book. It was a labor of love and I still get excited to think that I have my very own ISBN number. 978-1596685505 to be exact.

It was the most amazing process. Scary. Easy. Hard. Exhilarating. Fun. Challenging. All at the same time. I could not have done it without the help of my family, friends and students. They propped me up, gave good advice and tested and tested and tested the projects.

Acknowledgements from the book.
There were some really fun parts of the process, but the most fun was when I traveled to the offices of Interweave Press to shoot the video and photos for my book. 
Me and my wonderful editor, Erica.
My dear friend Mary went with me to keep everything in line. (Seriously, everyone should be so lucky to have a friend like Mary. She seriously kept me on task and organized.)
Kate & Mary on set.
Mary put her theater skills to use and raided the prop room
at Interweave to decorate the set.
We shot the book video and all of the photos in four whirlwind days. It was such fun. And I learned a lot. That's the talented Joe Coca behind the camera.
Smile for the camera, torch!
It takes a village. Seriously.

So how to celebrate such a momentous occasion?? With a giveaway, of course. I have THREE autographed copies of my book to give away to my readers.

All you need to do to win is to leave a comment below. I will pick three winners at random next Wednesday, December 4. If you already have a copy of my book, then you can choose between a book OR instead I'll send you a link to take my Metalsmithing at Home class on for FREE! Just let me know which one you'd like to win. This giveaway is open to everyone, not just USA readers.

Want extra entries? Repost the giveaway on your social media (Twitter, blog, FB) and come back here and let me know in the comments. Comment once for each extra social media posting so I can count each as an entry. Make sure I have a way to reach you in case you win. If you are an anonymous poster, just leave your email in the post (cryptically, like this... name (at) provider (dot) com.)


..or this!
Leave your comment below and good luck!! And of course Happy Thanksgiving to all of my USA readers. Have a happy and safe holiday!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Upcoming classes! Online and in the studio.

Exciting news! I have THREE classes scheduled at my studio in South San Francisco. (It's about time I know, and more are coming soon.) Plus one online at!

First up in the studio, on December 7, "The Art of the Bangle." Bangle bracelets are all the rage right now and they are so fun and easy to make. $95 for the day includes all materials and tool use in class. Everything is provided, all you need to do is show up. We are going to make a bunch of bangles and cuffs, and other components that use a simple round link (like hoops, rings and chain links). This is a brand new class based on a technique that my friend Bob Burkett generously shared with me.

I only have 5 spots available in class so sign up early as it's going to fill fast. The enrollment link in my Etsy Shop is here.
The Art of the Bangle
An speaking of Bob Burkett. Next in the studio is a special guest artist class with one of my favorite bead artists. "Zen and the Art of Waxworking" with Bob. He is just starting to teach his techniques and is really excited to share his knowledge with you.
Bob at work.
It's coming up on Saturday and Sunday, March 2 & 3, 2014. 10-5 both days. Cost is $225.00 and all materials are included. There are only eight spots available so sign up soon at this link. A complete description and details are listed there too. This class is sure to fill up quickly. It's a great opportunity to learn from a master. I CAN'T WAIT!!

Next up another newish class, Tube Set Pendants and Stack Rings. I am teaching it for the first time this weekend at the BABE show in Oakland, CA. It's full (as are all of my classes there, yay!) but I really wanted to teach it at my studio, so here it is! Saturday, March 15, 2014, 10-5. Cost is $150 for the day with all materials (sterling silver!!!!) and tool use in class included. Complete description and enrollment at this link on my Etsy store.

And just to give you class overload, I have a LIVE ONLINE class coming up next week on Wednesday, November 20th for Sign up here for Getting Loopy: Simple Chain Making and Beyond. It's all about chain making and the art of the metal link. How it works is you watch the live class presentation, ask questions, watch video tutorials and listen to me talk. Can't make the specified time? Want to watch the class over again? The enrollment fee includes a link to the video class so you can watch again and again, whenever you want! It's gonna be fun and super informative.

I am really excited to be a part of CraftCast and hope you can join me on Wednesday!
Getting Loopy!
Okay, gang. That's it from the class front. Check you calendars and hope to see you in class, soon!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FREE Online Tools Event Today!

Hi Gang-
A quick update from the front lines! (Oh, and Happy October BTW. Have you picked out your Halloween costume yet? I am thinking of going as a Jewelry Educator...already have the costume. But I digress...)

I wanted to let you know that later today (5 PM PST 8 PM EST) is a great online FREE event that you don't want to miss.

That's right. A FREE and fun webinar hosted by Alison Lee, founder of Craftcast. I'll be there along with a few other illustrious industry bigwigs to discuss the latest and greatest tool finds. We had a rehearsal last week and let me tell you, it's a fun-fast-paced-frolic-fest. Click over now to register. It's gonna be fun!

A few other notes:
My Etsy Store is back up and running after a short vacation. Click here to peruse. AND I have some great classes coming up at the Bay Area Bead Extravaganza in November and they are almost completely sold out, so if you want to join me in Oakland in November, you'd better sign up TODAY.

That's it for now. Have a lovely day, my crafty friends!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Fine Art of Knotted Beads

I bought myself a little treat last week for my birthday. Two lovely strands of Blue Apatite Beads. All. For. Me! I thought the best way to string those beauties would be to knot them. I love to knot. It adds so much flair to a simple strand of beads.

I thought I would share what I did with you. Here is the story:

I used two 16" strands of apatite beads, size 2 nylon thread with needle attached, a clasp, a black skull bead,  4 small spacer beads and a rhinestone bead all from my local bead store, Baubles and Beads in Berkeley, CA.

Start by tying a knot at the end of the thread and slide on an endtip (photo 1). Pass the tail through the loop of the knot several times to make a bulky knot that will not slip off the strand. Then string your beads, one by one, and tie an overhand knot after each. Use a fine-tip tweezers if needed to slide the knot into place.

Finish by sliding on an endtip, cutting the needle away from the thread, unravel the threads so there are two ends and tie a square knot into the cup of the endtip (photo 2). Make a bulky knot so that it does not pull through. Seal the knots with clear nail polish and let dry so they won't unravel when the tails are cut away.

And that's it! You can find my tutorial on making an endless knotted strand at this link. And all about how to choose the right necklace lengths here.

You can see that the rhinestone and skull beads are near the clasp. I can wear those in front or scoot them around to the back. The necklace is long enough to wear as a double strand around the neck or wrapped five times around the wrist. It's also a great piece to wear long and layered with other pieces in my jewelry box. I love it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

JTV Adventure

Hi Everyone! It's Kate's cousin, Zoe. I am the acting Social Media Manager for Kate during this fun trip to Knoxville!
Well, it was a long trip from the Bay Area to Knoxville (plane maintenance issues, re-routes and delayed luggage arrival), but we made it!

We arrived at the JTV studios bright-eyed and excited this morning and Kate just finished setting up her samples. She's ready for her close-up. :)

I am a huge online shopping and Jewel School fan, so you can imagine my excitement this morning. In fact, I just had the pleasure of meeting Kim Prentiss, my favorite JTV host!

One of Kate's favorite people, Katie Hacker just arrived. She is scheduled to appear on Jewel School this morning too!

Make sure to follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter.
Follow the hashtag #JTVfun on Twitter to experience the adventure. Trust me, you won't want to miss it!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Class at BABE 2013

Hello September!

September means a lot of things to me. Summer in San Francisco, my birthday, slowing things down a bit... AND preparing for a great bead show that happens in the Bay Area in November!

That's right gang... BABE 2013 is just around the corner. One of the biggest bead shows on the west coast is November 16-17 and I am teaching three classes there.

I just received notification yesterday that my classes are filling up fast, so I just wanted to let you all know in case you are planning to attend, you had better jump on it quick.

It's a great show. A lot of wonderful bead vendors and really great classes. What could be better? (Well nothing, in my humble opinion. Okay, a FEW things maybe. Like a vacation. Or desert. But I digress.)

Here is a rundown of my classes:
Things get started before the show on Friday, November 15 with my Simple Soldering Boot Camp. This is my most popular class, perfect for those of you who want to get started with soldering but need a nudge in the right direction. Based on my popular book Simple Soldering, it's the perfect way to remove your fear of the torch and jump right into making soldered jewelry.

Next up on Saturday, November 16, I am teaching a NEW class on tube setting, Tube Set Flower Pendant and Stack Rings. For the student that has some (not a lot) of experience with soldering and is looking for a new challenge. Plus, they will make great holiday gifts! (Who mentioned holidays?? I gotta make a Christmas list!)

And on Sunday, November 17, we wrap things up with Patinas and Cold Connections. A great class to learn all about riveting and coloring on metal. And since the class is local... I am going to add a special bonus... how to use a rolling mill to pattern metal and wire!

You can read all about how to enroll, here on the website. So start planning now and I can wait to see you in class in November!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Reflections From 39,000 Feet

Hello August. Hello friends. Hello person in the airline seat in front of me who is constantly adjusting and squirming around. Would a early morning Bloody Mary calm you down? 'Cause if the answer is "yes," let me whip out my credit card so you can have one on me. REALLY. Okay. I feel better now.
Drink your veggies!

Now onto my post.

Most of you know that I travel a LOT. A WHOLE lot. So a typical travel day for me is just another day of work.

Let me tell you. I have got this travel thing in the bag. Seriously. I rarely have travel-induced anxiety as I have all of my must-haves and travel helpers all set. So I thought I'd share some of my wisdom, plus it gives me something to do on this LONG flight! Here goes.

Kate's Top Travel Tips and Tricks(in no particular order):

1. My TripIt app for iPhone and computer. It keeps all of my travel plans in one place. I set it up so all of my conformations load right from my email into the planner and onto my Google calendar. Also tells me how many miles I have traveled this year. So far this year 11 cities and 40,000 miles. I couldn't be on time without it.

2. My Clear card. I hate standing in airport security lines. Gahhhh! So when Clear came to SFO I jumped on it. Clear speeds you right though a special security lane with a pre-screened, fancy biometric card. It's only in a handful of airports right now, but I am so glad it's at my home airport, SFO. About 5 minutes in a security line is AWESOME! I love you, Clear.

3. My Zuca luggage. Light, compact and super efficient. Carry-on friendly and I can pack for a week in there in the included packing cubes. Plus it doubles as a desk or chair. I get stopped in the airport all the time by people who want to know what kind of luggage I have.

My Zuca in action.
 4. Merit Taxi Service. I usually travel for extended periods of time so airport transportation is really important as I don't want to leave my car in long term parking during my trip. Randomly calling a taxi can be a crap shoot (with a crazy driver) and the Super Shuttle takes hours and a million stops to get me to the airport. Enter Merit Taxi. Super friendly, nice Lincoln Town Cars, and the drivers are courteous and always on time. I call them every time I need a drop off or pick up at SFO. Merit, you guys rock!
See SF in the distance??
5. iTunes. I like to listen to music on a flight and of course iTunes for my iPhone comes in super handy. I am on a real Joe Jackson kick at the moment. I guess 'cause his songs are kinda like stories. His album Night and Day II is in heavy rotation.

6. And last, but not least... patience and a smile. Both things get you far in life. Especially with a squirming seatmate, or the airline ticket counter agent. Ask me how I know! Safe travels, all!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dress Rehearsal

Though I have been known to tread the boards in my younger years,

Me. In the fine SJSU production of Goethe's "Stella." It was a REAL laughfest.

I have not been on stage for a while. Onstage=dress rehearsal and yesterday I had mine.

For this...
On Friday, July 26 at 11 AM PST I will be conducting a webinar hosted by Interweave Press. If you have the time (and inclination... don't you want to rivet and solder? I KNOW you do!) please join in. It's gonna be an hour (or so) of fun-filled instruction on simple riveting and soldering techniques.

The projects are based on the sampler sections from my popular book, Simple Soldering AND if you have not purchased my book yet, you'll get a coupon code for 30% off of the book when you enroll. Plus you'll get a couple of snazzy handouts, lifetime access to the recorded webinar and a chance to ask questions LIVE during the broadcast.

So... What are you waiting for? Sign up now and I'll see you on Friday!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ready to Rock...

Popping in to say hello from Knoxville, TN. I am bustling around this morning, getting ready to go to the JTV for a 10AM (7AM PST) appearance on Jewel School.

Looky! That's me!
It's my favorite thing, really. I really like doing live TV and the gang at JTV is so professional and makes everything so easy and fun.

The best part is that I get to share my very favorite tools with you live on air. It's always a guessing game whenever I solder anything on camera... and soldering LIVE while the camera is rolling... well, let's just say that I always have a "What the heck do I think I am doing?" moment. But everything usually works smoothly. (I just knocked on my wooden desk!)

If you have just clicked over here after the show, let me say a big "THANKS" for watching and a "hello and nice to meet you." If you are looking for more information on soldering, check out the links on the left hand sidebar. That's the list of all of the great FREE classes that I teach online for and

Okay, gotta run. I need to stumble onto some coffee before I am completely camera-ready. See you on-air!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Behind the Scenes at Beads, Baubles and Jewels

Many of you are familiar with the great PBS show Beads, Baubles and Jewels hosted by the talented Katie Hacker. It's the show to watch if you love making jewelry. I have heard from a few of you that you don't get it in your area. Not to worry. You can find all of the episodes right here online. They feature artists and projects from the bead and jewelry world and the episodes are informative and interesting.

So this past week I got to back my bags and travel to Cleveland, OH for a return trip to film segments for the upcoming new season. It was a quick overnight trip. (Two flights in two days... OUCH!) It was such fun. I always think it is interesting to see how things happen behind the scenes so I thought I'd share the highlights of my quick trip.

First, let me say that this is the most professional team ever. Working with them is such fun. I was sponsored by the fine folks at to demonstrate some of the tools that they carry online. (As their tag line says "EVERY tool you need, and then some.")

Here is what happend...

After a long (through Atlanta!) flight I landed and got my rental car. I was surprised to find not just any car, mind you. It was a house on wheels. Check out how fancy I was!

 I was driving in style.

Seriously. That stereo system was better than the one I have at home. (iTunes, kids!!) Sunroof open, I hit the road to the hotel, dinner and gabfest with friends (Barb Switzer and Jennifer Chatshow-Van Benschoten) who had completed their segments earlier that day.

After a quick sleep, it was off to the studio. Also filming that day were the lovely and talented Jean Campbell, Erin Siegel and Jill Wiseman. What great company.

Erin and Jill getting ready for their segments. Jean was already on set.

Erin's pretty projects all ready to go on air.
So I dropped my stuff at my prep table and perused the tools that JewelryTools sent for my segment. Now I always like to do something interesting for TV and this time was no exception. But really, who's idea was it to demo the rolling mill on live TV? (Okay, live to tape, but still... OH right! My idea.) For those of you who have never unpacked a fresh rolling mill, it's uh... messy.

There is no time like the time RIGHT BEFORE YOU GO ON TV to get your hands dirty. Thankfully they had gloves. My hands look barely passable at best most of the time, so an added layer of machine grease was not doing me any favors.

Rolling mill sorted and situated. Tools laid out and readied. Then off to the makeup chair.

My favorite part! Karen is a makeup whiz!
All prettied up and ready to go. Now it was time to iron my dresses. (Where were you Mary Cravens when I needed you? Oh right, making more dresses for my next teaching gig.)

All suited up and time for my closeup. All of my tools get carted out to the set.

My view.
Katie and I start off the segment with some hijinks...

and then get down to business.

Take two when the wire twister gives me a little sass. Note to self, all the practicing in the world and still tools have a mind of their own!

But we got back on track and filming went smoothly. Those camera guys really know their stuff.

Brett works his magic.
Look at that closeup.

Then it was a wrap. Some final fond farewells and I was off back home. Thanks so much BB&J. It was a great 24 hours. You can see the segments when the new season airs around December.