Ring Mandrel Giveaway – ENTER NOW

Well, it is 6:00pm here in Utah right now and that means that the giveaway is now live at Amazon. There are four Square Aluminum Pepetools Ring Mandrels up for grabs. Just follow the link, log into Amazon and follow the directions to see if you are the winner. I will only be notified when the giveaway is completed. So if you win, I would love to hear from you.


Just a reminder, I will not receive any of your information. Amazon will fulfill the orders. These will go FAST.

Don’t miss any of my blog posts, just subscribe over there on the right hand side. It is easy to do and all of my blog posts will be delivered right to your email. There are a lot of great tool reviews and videos coming up. I will also be announcing my traveling teaching schedule for 2016 within the next week.

Good luck.

A Giveaway and A Good Cause

Hey Everyone, Two posts in one week. I know, it is a miracle. I am trying to get back into the flow of things now that the inside remodel is done. I still need to put my studio back together, but it is coming.

Into Freedom

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by an organization called Into Freedom about some of the videos I have done using t he Pepetools Superior Ring bending tool. She explained to me that they recuse girls and women from human trafficking situations and help to rehabilitate them, give them a trade skills and help to work through the trauma they have endured. She mentioned that they have a few jewelry tools and was wondering if adding the ring bender would be something the girls would be able to use. We discussed various projects and such. I was totally impressed that she was not asking for donations, but rather advice on how to teach the girls and women to use it. I was so touched by what they are doing, talk about true angels on Earth. I actually contacted Pepetools and they are helping me to put together a nice box of tools for the girls to use. In addition, I ordered hammers, pliers, wire cutters and a few other tools to send them. If anyone would like to help contribute to cover the expense of this, it would be wonderful and greatly appreciated. I have had a few friends that have gone through their tools and put together a box of things that they no longer use, or had duplicates of. I have also had some friends send generous monetary donations (all of which are tax-deductible.) If you would like to donate, please just let me know. You can also make a monetary donation directly to their site at: http://www.intofreedom.org/donate 

Giveaway and Exciting News

Speaking of Pepetools I am so excited to announce that I am now officially a Pepetools Distributor. So that means you can now purchase Pepetools equipment from me. I don’t have them listed on my site yet, but if you have something you have been considering, just let me know and we will work something out.


To celebrate, I am hosting a giveaway with four Aluminum Square Ring Mandrels. These are a lot of fun as it allows you to add new dimensions to your ring making. Check out the video I did a while back when they first came out. While they aren’t ideal for forging on, they are wonderful for light shaping and sizing.

Video link: https://youtu.be/vs8_QsF0lJU

So how do you win one of the four ring mandrels? Well, just come back tonight at 6:00 (MDT) to www.MelissaMuir.com/blog for the link that will be posted at that time. The giveaway is done through Amazon Giveaways. You will follow the link posted here tonight and enter through Amazon. I will not receive any of your personal information. Amazon will fulfill the orders, so I never receive your address or anything.

Don’t miss the announcement that the giveaway has gone live. Subscribe to my blog and have the announcement sent directly to your email address. Just enter your email in the subscribe box over there on the right.

Tool Time Tuesday – JoolTool Review

Today is a very exciting day. Less than an hour ago my contractor left with a final check in his hand. This means that the inside remodel is DONE! WOOT! If you recall, we were flooded way back in May. I cannot tell you how nice it is to have this all done. Tomorrow the tree guys will come and remove almost all of our trees. That is going to be sad. But it is necessary for a number of reasons. I am just trying to keep in mind how nice this is all going to look when it is finally done, and hopefully my house will be dry from here on out.

I have actually been having quite a bit of fun in the studio lately. It has still not been put back together, but that hasn’t stopped me from playing with some new tools. In the past two weeks I have put together two new videos featuring the JoolTool. The first is my review, why I finally bought one and then I show how to polish some of my tools. I have NEVER been able to get a good mirror polish on my tools. And with the JoolTool, I was able to do it in under 5 minutes. And some of my hammers were a MESS.

JoolTool Polished Hammers

JoolTool Polished Hammers

After playing with it for a couple of weeks, I am ready to endorse this tool. Yes, it has a nice price tag, but it is still less expensive than a good polishing arbor, and certainly less than a cabbing machine. It is quite versatile, portable (HUGELY important to me) and very quiet. And, I also like that you don’t have to jump in completely, meaning that you can buy a “starter” kit and then build up as you go and adding only the things you need when you need them. I started with the kit for polishing metal and then added accessories to cut and polish stones, glass and enamel.

So here is my review and demonstration on how to get that mirror shine on my hammers and stone setting tools.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/dq0H_ZVShfo

Once I saw what it could do for my tools, I was eager to try other things. A friend of mine had sent some fused glass cabochons and this tool was amazing on them also. I was able to reshape, smooth and polish the glass back to its previous glorious luster.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/LJ6RP84GugE 

For my blog readers, I am offering 5% off your entire purchase. You can either contact me or use the coupon code: MelissaM1 at the JoolTool Website.

Summer is over already?!?!

As you can guess by my long absence, things have been pretty busy around here. Some good, and some not so great. So much has happened that my head is still trying to figure it all out.

But before I get into that, I wanted to give a nice little plug for one of my good friends. Francesca Watson is a truly wonderful artist and talented teacher. I have had the fun opportunity to spend time with her first when we held a retreat together in Washington state. Then she came just to have some fun studio play time. I have also spent time with her in Texas where I taught for a week, and am looking forward to teaching at a retreat in Texas again next spring.

Francesca is also teaching this next weekend at Bead Fest in Philadelphia. If you are thinking of attending and are looking to improve your soldering skills, prong setting, Keum Boo skills and just plain having fun, I would highly encourage you to look into one of her workshops.

Francesca Watson workshops

You can find all of Francesca’s workshops at: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/106987/francescawatson

You can see better descriptions of these projects on the Art Jewelry Elements Blog where she is a co-author.

And if you happen to go, please give her a great big hug from me.

So what is happening here? Well, what isn’t? Back in June we were flooded, not once, but twice. Apparently the economy is doing much better and all of the contractors have been insanely crazy busy. We didn’t even start demolition until July 28th. Things are finally coming along. I had to tear out a part of my studio floor, which involved taking out all the big equipment and taking down my benches. I finally have most of the studio put back together and have been able to make a few things. We still have 2 bathrooms and a bedroom under renovation. I am hoping to be done in about 2 more weeks. I will post some before and after photos. We haven’t even begun to work on the yard. That is a project for next month.

I had an exciting opportunity which caused quite a bit of mixed feelings from people in the jewelry field. I was asked to be the Computer Science teacher for Riley’s high school. I was somewhat surprised as I have never taught on a school level, only professional. And, quite frankly, it has been a while since I taught programming. However, I was thrilled and accepted the position. Everyone thought I would be leaving the jewelry field, but I assure you that was never the intention. I was excited to be out of my lonely studio and among other living people, certain this would give me the creative boost I needed as well as some much needed human interaction. This all happened last week. Then this week happened. Yesterday Riley’s school was closed by the Board of Education. Apparently there was a LOT of mismanagement that happened and the kids got the short end of the stick. And, I no longer had a job… not that I was ever looking for one to begin with. LOL.

Monday we visited another charter school that had some promise in their STEM program offerings, however we were told that they had a HUGE waiting list and it wouldn’t be possible to get her in. So we turned and walked back out of the office and on our way to another school. Then we met Kelly, the marketing director for the school. He gave us a tour of the school and told us there may still be some possibilities of getting her into the school. We were encouraged to get her into an “At Home” program which would get her foot in the door and throw her toward the front of the waiting list.

I was also introduced to several people and have been asked to prepare some 2-week intensive courses in jewelry making and metalsmithing. I may even have some possibilities in teaching the programming courses that I was going to do at Riley’s original school.

Well, today we got a phone call that they were able to actually get Riley into the on-campus program as a full student. WOOHOO!!!!! I am so relieved and grateful. The timing of everything has been nuts as the other schools we have been looking at started yesterday and some on Monday. So we didn’t exactly have a lot of time. I am just so grateful for our blessings in all of this.

School starts next week and I am really looking forward to getting back into the studio. I have some fun new tools that I have been playing with and can’t wait to share. And I have a few new videos just waiting to be edited. So stay tuned and I will be back VERY soon.

How do you do everything you do?

Hello everyone. I know, it has been a very long time since I last posted. I will address that in this post. We have had a rather interesting time over the past month or so. School is finally out for the girls and we are starting to get our summer routine in order, which is anything but routine so far.  If you are friends with me on Facebook, then you will already have a sense of why I am so behind on Tool Time Tuesday videos, blog posts and new jewelry. It has been pretty crazy to say the least. As I post different projects I am working on, I often hear, “How do you do everything you do?” Well, as you have already seen, there are too many balls to juggle and some things get dropped, like my blog and videos.

So what has been happening at my house the past few weeks? Let’s take a look.

First, the girls had decided they wanted a play set out in the back yard. We found a few that we liked, but they were so expensive that we decided we would keep looking. In the meantime they found one they really liked, but again it was a bit out of our budget. So the girls decided they would help come up with the rest. They have a goal of $500 and have already made $200. They put their heads together and came up with some ways to help earn money. Kate has decided to make and sell jewelry. I have some wonderful friends that have also pitched in to make this happen by sending leather, beads, findings and such for them to use. Kate’s little business is booming and she is accepting custom order requests.

MakingJewelry6 MakingJewelry4

MakingJewelry5 MakingJewelry3

MakingJewelry MakingJewelry2

We didn’t want them to have to wait all summer without playing on their new play set, so we purchased it and have started the water treating of it. OH MY! What a chore. we still have one more box to open and inventory.


Well, just as we got started on that, we received some very much needed rain. I tried to enjoy it and love it. And I did….. until we started to get flooded.

Bedroom Closet

Riley’s bedroom flooded. As we tore into things, we found quite a bit of mold. *sigh* So we are in the process of tearing out her closet and part of the wall in her room. We will also be tearing out the bathroom on the other side of her closet as we are pretty certain there has been water issues there as well. So I started working on getting contractors to come in and give me bids.

In the meantime, I continued to get the flowerbeds ready to finally get our mulch. We have wanted to do it since we moved in two years ago and this year we could finally afford it. YAY!

Flowers_Kiarai Flowers

Flowers2 Flowers3


Then, we got hit with another heavy rainstorm. We ran from one end of the house to the other checking on things as the downspouts and drains were overwhelmed with the heavy rains. The placed that had flooded before, flooded again. And this time, it claimed a new victim….. my studio. *sob* I love that all of my tools  can be stacked on these little carts. They are easy to move.


However, there was a bit of damage and the floor had to come out. It is a laminate floor. The water flowed down the walls, under the plastic and foam where you could hear it squish as you walked. We drilled a hole to see how bad it was. Let’s just say, we actually had some fun making it squirt up through the holes. So out came the floor. Next, I will be moving all of the equipment and taking down my benches so we can tear into the walls. *cry* I now have a traveling dehumidifier. We swap it between the studio and Riley’s bedroom. It might be a while before I can get back to my videos and jewelry. BOO!


To let my head rest from some of this and just get a change of scenery we took advantage of a really nice day and took a mini hike. I picked a really mild one with instant gratification  – a waterfall at the end. I wanted to test out my foot to see if it has healed enough to do more strenuous activities…. it hasn’t. BUMMER! But we enjoyed the morning all the same.

Hike hike2

I have very exciting news. Even with all of these set back. I have finally finished the biggest phase of my book. A friend is working on the layout right now and I have a small group of people helping me with the editing. I am so excited, even if I am really behind schedule. It is getting so close now. This is what my bench top looks like at the moment. All my pieces laid out for photographing and getting ready to list some for sale so I can raise the funds needed for publishing costs and a studio remodel….. that was never in the plans.

Bench  Photos

Yesterday I received a new tool. A mini guillotine shear from Pepetools. It is so stinking cute. It has a 4″ cutting edge, so it really is small. In fact, with the exception of the handle, it comes fully assembled and weighs very little. I need to figure out how and where to mount it (as I will be taking down my benches here soon) and then I will be doing a video review on it. I can’t wait to give it a try. There are times that I would have liked having a smaller shear near my presses and I think that is where it is going to go.


So now you know how I do everything I do….. a lot of things get dropped. I think I am giving up on trying to get everything together and being on top of things. Because even when I do get in that mode, other things happen and it all goes out the window anyway. Whether is it someone coming into town that you need to get together with, parents or kids with medical appointments, floods, unexpected construction work, etc.

I am just so grateful that we are in the situation we are where we are able to handle the hurdles that have been placed before us. I have learned that just because there is a schedule, sometimes you just have to release control and go with the flow. I am also trying to get my head wrapped around the fact that I will never be able to move and will have to die in this house because we will never get our money out of this one. LOL. Oh well, it is a great house with an amazing view and great studio. How can I complain about that?

New Ring Mandrels from Pepetools

As you have seen, I have had the fun pleasure of working with Pepetools over the past year. This is very fun for me as I am often the first one to get to play with some of their new tools that they develop. Sometimes I even get to be a part of testing it out and helping to make a tool better. A while back I asked if they were going to make square ring mandrels. I don’t know if I had anything to do with it or not, but they finally came out with a  square ring mandrel. I am so excited.

In addition, they also came out with some improvements to their existing ring mandrels and added a couple in aluminum. I ventured onto a few of my jewelry boards and asked why people would need an aluminum mandrel, because it is certainly something that isn’t very useful in my studio. I have seen a lot of people purchase them and try to use them in the same way as a steel mandrel. I can understand using them with wire wrapped rings as you won’t need to forge on them and such. The consensus was along the lines of what I was thinking. The aluminum is meant for very light work and mainly for sizing a ring in settings such as a jewelers shop at the front counter. However, there were a few jewelers that said that they would take an aluminum mandrel when they traveled to do some light resizing. They preferred the lighter weight when traveling.

People ask me all the time why I don’t sell ring mandrels. I am a vendor for a couple of suppliers and they all carry ring mandrels. But I will say, this is one area where I am kind of a snob. I will only use Pepetools ring mandrels. And this is because all of the mandrels I have found that aren’t Pepetools, have deep grooves for the sizing marks. That is just dumb. The rings get caught into them, and when you hammer, it is really easy to hit in just the wrong spot and then you have a mark on the inside of your ring that now has to be filed, sanded and repolished. I do not have the buying power required by Pepetools to carry their products, so I am not able to sell their tools. In fact, I am not paid by Pepetools, other than I do get to keep the tools I test out and review. So my opinions are true and honest and not based on a monetary reward. However, if they were to pay me, I wouldn’t mind that either. LOL.

I made a short video introducing the new ring mandrels. I will also be doing some new projects with the square ring mandrel. The sizing and making of square ring shanks is a bit different than round shanks. I will be experimenting and will try to create a ring shank sizing chart, similar to those for round shanks, but it will take a while and a lot of experimenting. Anyone want to come over and play in the studio with me?

Tool Time Tuesday – Steady Stamp by Jeff Fulkerson

I had the great pleasure of meeting and dining with Jeff Fulkerson and his beautiful wife in Tucson this past February. It was so much fun to see his beautiful pieces. Jeff has written many articles, has multiple DVD’s and online workshops as well as a crazy loyal following at the various national shows where he teaches. Not only does Jeff work with silver and metals for his jewelry making, but he also cuts some of the most beautiful stones. I was able to see some of the pieces he made his wife, and those that he wears regularly and all I can say is WOW. Let me tell you, I was quite humbled in my own work once I had the opportunity to see his mastery of various techniques.

After seeing my review of Gwen Youngblood’s Riveting Essentials, he asked if I would be willing to do a review for a tool he has come up with. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as my sweet Kate has gotten into doing some stamping and this tool works really well for her. What tool is it, you ask? Well it is the the Steady Stamp. The Steady Stamp is a small block of Poplar with a groove cut into it so that you can hold your stamp steady while striking to make an impression in the metal. The image below shows the original Steady Stamp. The tool I was sent has beautifully beveled and finished edges for comfort and is sanded smooth with a soft finish.

Steady Stamp

The tool was developed while writing an article for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, where he was using the large flower stamps from Impress Art. He had a difficult time getting a good impression as he was not able to hold the stamp perfectly perpendicular with just his hands. This tool allows you to do just that. The other thing that is nice is that it keeps your hand clear of the striking range and decreases the chance of getting hit during a wayward blow of the hammer.

Is this a tool that is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY? Nope, probably not. Can you do the job without it? You sure can. Does it really make a difference when using it vs. not using it? YOU BET! At least it did for me. There was a clear difference in the depth and clarity of my stamped impressions when comparing using vs. not using it. Can you make your own? Yup, you sure can, but are you going to actually do it? Now that is the question. :) In the end, I find this tool to be small, and quite helpful. A while back I even showed a video of using my swage block to do this same thing. However, my swage block, while it will work, is much larger and this tool is much easier to hold. My daughter is only 8 years old and she has no problem holding this tool.

stamped cuff by Jeff Fulkerson

And as a special treat for my viewers, Jeff has given me a coupon code for $2.00 off (essentially 10%.) This is only for my blog readers and viewers. Just enter the coupon code MUIR during check out. Jeff’s website is www.ArtistJeffFulkerson.com

Of course, Tool Time Tuesday just wouldn’t be complete without a video.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/V707Vl7cQqo


Winner for Sarah Thompson’s Wire Weaving Workshop

Congratulations to LORI T. I hope you enjoy the workshop as much as I did. I can’t wait to try my hand at other projects in the near future.

Sarah Thompson's Woven Wave Bracelet 5

I know I was supposed to post this last week, however Monday night I got really sick with some sort of alien that took over my body and rendered it useless. I think I have expelled the creature, however it has left me with a slight case of bronchitis. But at least I am human, out of bed and being productive once again. Due to my illness, Sarah has graciously extended the half off promotion.

Sarah Thompson's Woven Wave Bracelet 6-3

 Just use THIS LINK for 50% off her workshop.

It will expire next Tuesday, May 19th. This  link makes the workshop only $20. That is such a small amount of money for the education you get. It is more than worth the $40 that is the regular price. So be sure to take advantage of the promotion. The workshop won’t ever expire. You can watch it as many times as you would like.


Tool Time Tuesday – Workshop Review And Giveaway – Wire Weaving with Sarah Thompson

It isn’t often that I get to learn new techniques in a class setting. I don’t have the time or money to travel to workshops, there aren’t many taught here in Utah, and I have been so busy working on my book and videos that I rarely have time. Can I just say how much I love the day and age we live in? I can now sit in bed before I go to sleep and watch amazing people with amazing talent teach me all sorts of new things. And I do it on this ultra thin, ultra light “television” that I hold in my hands with tiny speakers with amazing sound quality plugged into my ears,  and the blankets pulled over my head so I don’t keep my husband awake. Did you ever imagine we would have this ability when you were a kid? If you were born after 1990, DON’T ANSWER!

It reminds me of when I got my first iPod Touch. We were thrilled that we could connect wirelessly to the internet and watch videos on YouTube, or even better, download a full length movie to entertain the kids. I am still waiting for the holographic set ups we used to see in “Vision of the Future” types of set ups at Disney land. We have 3D televisions, who knows, perhaps that is next and nobody will ever have to miss out of an amazing workshop again and we will be able to have our favorite artist or teacher right there at our shoulder in the workshop. Ahhhh, the dreams of the future.

Okay, back to what we are really here for. I have just spent the last couple of weeks reviewing Sarah Thompson’s Craftsy workshop.



When I started making jewelry, it wasn’t by stringing beads. I started with wire. I have always loved wire. To this day, you will find quite a bit of wire work in my metalwork. I love the movement that it adds. I have done a few wire weaving things, but it never really clicked for me before I get into doing more metal work. But I have always adored the style of Sarah. (See more of her amazing work on her website: http://www.sarah-n-dippity.com/, Her Etsy Store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/sarahndippity or her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-n-dippity/240358204033?ref=hl You may want to have some tissues ready to wipe the drool, her work is that amazing.

I have always wanted to do this style of work, but was intimidated by the amount of work involved, the meticulous nature of the tight weave and, well, I just never thought I could actually do it. So I was thrilled when I was approached and given the opportunity to evaluate her workshop.

In addition to well thought out projects, she uses large props while she teaches the weave fundamentals. And she does it in such a way that you remember it. That doesn’t mean to say that I never ran into a problem…. but that isn’t Sarah’s fault.

The Craftsy format is great too. You can view the video in Full Screen mode, watch at several different speeds, rewind when necessary, add notes and even ask the teacher questions as specific locations within the video. You can easily skip around the 7-part lesson for easy navigation and review.



This is quite a detailed technique and the video is great to watch with TONS of close ups so you don’t get lost and can see exactly what Sarah is doing.

WireWeavingBracelets4 WireWeavingBracelets2


Most of you know that I truly have ADD, I have since I was a child. I have a hard time sitting still while doing online workshops. One of the things I love about the Craftsy workshops is that I can change the speed. So most of the time, the first time I watch a workshop, I will put it on double speed. Then I can move to a slower speed if I need to see something more clearly or get a better understanding. Even though I did this with a good portion of this workshop, I found that even when I was watching at normal speed, Sarah was very engaging and easy to follow. She was very clear, well spoken and made certain every little detail was covered.

Want to see what I came up with? This is what I started with. I know, it is a bad cell phone photo…. I started with 18 gauge sterling silver for the base and wrapped with 28 gauge fine silver. I added a few 2 mm crystals for a bit of sparkle. The focal bead was made by my good Ohio friend Laura Critchfield.



After finally getting everything attached and the clasp connected, I added a bit of LOS (Liver of Sulfur) patina, removing from the highlights with a bit of #0000 steel wool.






I would highly recommend this workshop if you have ever wanted to try this technique. I just look at Sarah’s work and i get so inspired. I can’t wait to try more.


Now for the exciting part. I have one free workshop to giveaway to one of my fabulous blog readers. I will make it really simple. Take a look at Sarah’s work and just leave a comment on the blog telling me your favorite piece, a link back to the page would be great too.

I will draw and announce the winner next Tuesday, May 5th.

If you don’t want to take your chance on not winning and would like to get started learning with Sarah, she has given my readers 50% off for the next two weeks (until midnight, Tuesday, May 12th.) Just use THIS LINK for 50% off her workshop.

Sarah, Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop. I learned quite a bit and I cannot wait to add more of this style into my work. And I am quite proud to say, I never broke a wire. :) You are an excellent teacher and very talented artist.

Tool Time Tuesday – Hydraulic Press Essential Setup

Hi Everyone. I know the title reads Tool Time Tuesday, and that is because that is what this was supposed to be. However, I updated my Final Cut Pro – the video editing software I use for my videos – and it wouldn’t let me import my videos. I worked on it for three days. Finally had to load it on to my old computer with an older version of the program. UGH. Otherwise this would have been done on Monday. I did get the video up last night though, and even that was a miracle considering I am not feeling well right now. My productivity has gone right out the window. Even once I get done here, I am going to go back to bed.

A while back I did a blog post about the tools I consider essential when getting a hydraulic press set up. Well, this is a companion video to that post.

As you all know, I totally love the Hydraulic press. It has completely changed my body of work. The book I am currently writing is how to use the hydraulic press to make jewelry and is nearly finished. So of course, you will see a LOT of pieces by me made with the press.


There are a number of presses available out there, and they will all pretty much do the same thing. I happen to have purchased a press by Potter USA and that is what will be featured in my book and videos. However, the information and suggestions will work for any number of the presses.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/gvy2MG1NUnc