Clasp was fantastic!

For anyone who didn’t make it to Clasp, you really should try to get
to the next one! It was an incredible experience! Not only were
there seminars on techniques and business, but inspirational speakers
who really spoke to the soul of us all! I feel more refreshed and
ready to get back to work than I have in ages!

It was also wonderful putting faces to names of people I’ve been in
touch with via the Internet over the years! Was also great to meet
other jewelers, and to get to know some of them better. Nice to
finally meet Hanuman as well!

Overall, well worth the trip! Can’t wait until next year!


Hello All,

Today was the last day of Clasp. I travel to many conferences each
year, Tucson, MJSA, SNAG, Kraftwerks, JCK, JA and now Clasp. All have
their merits and all are pretty good giving to their
target audiences. I honestly feel, that at Clasp, Rio Grande hit
their target audience and hit it dead on.

It was hard to attend all the talks, and am grateful that as an
attendee, I will receive a DVD. For my interest and for the overall
health of Metalwerx, I chose the Money theme track of talks. Clasp’s
intent was Muse, Method and Money. My muse works overtime, and I feel
that I am a pretty creative person. Having access to the school, the
Method portion were demos that I had seen before. The Money track for
the business of running Metalwerx was what I was after. Like many
artists, we tend to run away from the business side, because what we
don’t understand, we will avoid at any cost. And that is the point,
to work smarter, to work with more passion, I had to understand the
Money track.

Combined with the business jewels from the Panel with the Experts,
the last lecture was from Rio Grande’s CEO, Andrea Hill. Listening
throughout this lecture showed me a course of action for Metalwerx to
continue listening to my gut and to my heart. To understand the
BUSINESS of running Metalwerx will make this school become more
efficient and run smoother.

If you care about your art, if you are passionate about your art and
if you are excited about turning your passion into a business, you
MUST LEARN THE SECRETS OF BUSINESS. It’s not hard, it’s like
attacking jewelry for the first time. You collected a few tools, you
took some classes and your confidence began to be build. Business is
no different. You just have to think of business skills like tools.
Like a tool box for jewelry tools, begin a tool box of business
skills. Ask for help before you are in trouble. And just like jewelry
teachers who do the same process but attack it differently, business
people are the same. Ultimately you have to have decide what is the
right way for you.

Some people, including myself thought that spending $715 for this
conference was too expensive. Yet, we as professional jewelers want
the highest and fair price for the work we do. The people who spoke
at the Clasp Conference were professionals in their field. You know
what, I felt like I got a bargain! The connections I made and the
energy generated by the attendees could have lit up Nashville.

One last word about the hotel in Nashville. The Doubletree in
Nashville was undoubtedly had the best service I have ever

Wow. Wow. Wow. Clasp is a winner. I’ll be back.


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio

Clasp = Clever Learning And Super People. Jewelers love tools! Then
Think of Clasp as essential as the spark for our Torch, the energy
to recharge, be inspired, and learn something new. The motivational
speakers instilled the confidence to be unique with inner
reflection. The teachers gave innovation to our creativity. And the
business took the fear out of being successful. But the
most fun was all the new people I was able to connect with in a
nurturing atmosphere. My personal experience all around was good
vibrations. It felt wonderful to connect with others in this business
from all over, in every area, and learn valuable to my
unique field. I came out charged and ready to go with clear ideas
because Rio simplified the concepts for us to expand on. I like the
feeling of community and respect I received even as a new be. I am
excited to see how the next Clasp could ever out do this one, maybe
an electric message chair in my room, Haha!

Amy Burkholder

I have to agree!

The speakers where excellent, the food was excellent, the company was
excellent, the organization of the event was excellent!

On this forum many people expressed their concern over the price of
the Clasp convergence.

But unlike many other conferences, Clasp organizers had on-site
breakfast, lunch, and happy hour fair, which created opportunities to
sit and talk with other convergence attendees. And justified the

The Clasp organizers also provided opportunities for attendees to go
out to dinner within a group to local restaurants.

I was very impressed with the atmosphere of a high quality
experience generated by the organizing staff. They did a fabulous
job. During the three days of Clasp there was always something
interesting to see, hear, read or fascinating people to speak with.
The Egyptian and 5000 Years of Jewelry exhibits at Nashville’s Frist
Museum where the icing on the cake.

I want to express my personal thanks to Cynthia Eid and James
Binnion, who came to my aid while I was experiencing some minor demo
demons. You guys are the greatest. Thanks!

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228

I don’t know if you attended the Granulation lecture I gave at
CLASP. I tried to get a list from Rio, but we have no record of who
attended which lecture. I have found a “typo” in the text of my
lecture that I didn’t catch until returning home. It has to do with
the formula of 22kt gold. It should have read 22dwt not 21dwt!!! You
can email me at: The corrected text will be in
the DVD that will be available to you.

CLASP - What an experience. It was buzzing with energy. To be around
that many people with the same passion that I have for something
that I LOVE so much… And the sharing of all around
you. It is something that we take for granted here in the US. Having
taught in Europe, I find that the jewelers there are desperate for
and that there are so very few that are willing to give
it. At the end of my first workshop in Switzerland, three of my
German students cried. One woman in her mid forties told me a story
of how she had so desperately wanted to learn all her life. The
apprenticeships were not available to a woman. Not only would none
help her, but that the attitude was and still is: “Don’t dare ask
questions, and don’t even LOOK at my work.” We are so very lucky here
to have an industry that supports us as artists and as The people at
CLASP were from all walks of our industry… those new to the jewelry
world and those that are well seasoned. One young man that I met
stated, “I go to work in my studio, I do my thing, I go home, I hang
out with my friends. They don’t really GET what I do. I have never
been around so many people that all speak the same language as me!” I
felt honored to be a part of what was just the first of an annual
conference of education, inspiration, and being among those dedicated
to sharing the knowledge in a spirited atmosphere.

Ronda Coryell


The “Convergence of Jewelers” Clasp Conference that just ended will
add to the vast pool of talent already on Orchid. Perhaps a few
thoughts as they have flowed through my head since the Conference

In history, jewelry has been a close to the vest process. Most was a
secret, and much went to the grave with its owner. One has only to
look to the vast amount of efforts going on at this time on a Viking
Knit Site, to see how difficult it is to get to the “authentic” way
to recreate this weave.

When Dr. E. Aspler, fondly known to us as Hanuman, started Orchid,
the secret veil began to crack, and the floodgates opened wide, and
rusted in that position. Charles Lewton Brain, opened many eyes with
his impassioned plea during an Orchid Dinner, to the need to be
supportive of Orchid. Ton, joined Hanuman, and the dynamism
continued to grow.

Rio Grande joined in with the level of support Orchid could grow on,
and grow they did. Adding Andrea Hill into the mix, brought about
this first Clasp Conference.

While circulating amidst Clasp participants, I noticed many names I
did not recognize from the Orchid list. They were individuals,
companies, students, all from Rio Grande’s vast customer base. They
heard about Orchid while at Clasp, and had the opportunity to meet
Hanuman and Ton.

I see this as an enrichment to the Orchid Forum, a very positive
happening to all of us. As a welcome to all of them, may I say, we
are happy you have decided to check us out. Please have the patience
to wander through all of what Orchid has to offer. The archives are
an unlimited encyclopedia of select a topic and give it
a try. As was mentioned in one of the Clasp sessions I attended,
there is a thread on jeweler’s benches. Many members have posted
photos of theirs. Browse through these and find ideas galore. Yours
not there, please add them. We can always use a bench tip.

Have a question or an idea, ask or tell away. This Forum consists of
friends, yes we have become friends, seen or sight unseen. All
questions will receive answers, yes plural, as there are many
solutions. There is almost an AHA! everyday. There is no need for
apprehension, rarely does anyone bite. List members freely share
no one is fearful of their “secrets” being stolen.
There are no more secrets, there is only respect. Referrals to other
sites and/or vendors is common. Responses frequently are from in
house experts from the many companies serving the jewelry industry.

My personal thanks to all those who have enriched my life, yes, that
is what this Forum has done. The early pioneers responsible for what
we are today, and to those joining who will add to it all. Hanuman,
You are “The Man,”

Charles Lewton Brain, who sensed what it could be, and led the way,

Dave Arens, he gathered the first group together to begin, the still
geographically expanding Orchid Dinners.

Andrea Hill, who brought Rio Grande and the Bell Family into the
mix. they will.

In deepest gratitude,

Teresa Masters

I enjoyed every speaker I heard, and found it to be the friendliest
atmosphere I have ever experienced at a conference. I learned
something useful from every person I listened to----both those that
were speaking from podiums, and the attendees that I met between
events. Every detail of the conference was carefully planned and
beautifully executed.

Though it was tough to choose which speaker to go hear sometimes, I
am comforted by knowing that I will get a CD with the slides from
each speaker. The complaint that I heard most was that it was
difficult to have to miss some of the speakers. Tim McCreight had a
good response to this, saying (approximately his wording): If you go
to a restaurant, and there are several good choices on the menu, you
don’t complain about that, do you?

I thoroughly enjoyed Clasp, and will put it on my calendar for next
year, as soon as the “when and where” are announced.

Cynthia Eid

I want to sincerely thank everyone who made the Clasp Conference
happen. From the wonderful folks at Rio, especially Andrea Hill and
the Bell family, to all the incredibly talented and giving speakers
– thank you for sharing your wisdom, your positive energy, and your
passion for making jewelry.

The conference was truly inspirational and has given me the
knowledge and confidence to kick start my jewelry career. The weekend
was filled with many learning opportunities, many laughs, and the
start of many new friendships.

Hope to see many more of you at the 2007 Clasp Conference.

Bonnie Cooper

Clasp = Clever Learning And Super People 

Amy, what a wonderful thought! I agree!

Reading the things my new friends have already posted about the
Clasp conference, I have many things I would love to add. I can
repeat and embellish on what others have written, add the one line
(only one?) from each workshop that stood out for me. I might still
do that on another post. Here’s what I would like to share in this

The staff that Rio Grande brought with them were FABULOUS! Each and
every one of them had a smile on their face when you talked with
them. It was so clear that they love their jobs and love working for
Rio Grande. Patience and humor were in combination everywhere.
Knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile was second nature to
them. The pecan pie they served in the cad/cam room was fantastic.
(It really was!)

I was concerned with spending what I considered a lot of money on a
conference. My instincts were right. I agree with Karen when she
said, at the end of the first day I had gotten my money’s worth, the
rest was frosting on the cake.

Hanuman, it was a delight to meet you!

Jenny Levernier
jmml designs
Minneapolis, MN

Good morning all!

What a whirlwind!

Since speaking with Hanuman at Tucson in February - my first whiff
of the idea and format of Clasp - I’ve known it would address MY
perceived needs. However, the cost was a big consideration for me and
it was almost last minute that I knew that I could go to the Clasp

Beginning with the events leading to my decision to attend the
conference, the details of making the arrangements, the smoothness
of every step of the travel experience and culminating with the
convergence itself, I can only say I was where I needed to be and my
being there was meant to be! Now, there’s no looking back to what
might have been!

I offer a huge thank you and congratulations to Rio and their staff
and much appreciation as well to our own Ganoksin, Manufacturing
Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA), The Society of North
American Goldsmiths (SNAG), and Bench Media who served in advisory
rolls and were instrumental in contributing to the resounding
effectiveness of this inaugural Clasp event. Even the hotel and staff
were wonderful.

I was very impressed with Wendy Rosen for her willingness to spend
so many hours each day reviewing portfolios and mentoring artists
regarding possible entry into the wholesale arena and targeting
markets for their work.

The event was phenomenal in nearly every way and worth more to me
than I could have dreamed. Rio’s planning, consideration of our needs
(personal, physical and professional) and attention to myriad
details was evident as the hours continued to unfold. Wherever there
may have been a concern or question, it seemed to have already been

This was a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with friends, meet so
many Orchid posters and lurkers as well as others in the industry -
potential Orchid members :slight_smile: - and network. Kind of like an Orchid
dinner that lasts for days. WOW!

My current status is that I know my muse and continue to work at
refining the techniques relevant to my work. My continued
overwhelming weakness has been [no surprise!] the business topics
that are essential to jewelry makers. As great a temptation as it was
to follow my “Muse” or to glom onto details by experts in “Method”, I
filled my dance card from the “Money” track. I was not disappointed.
Thanks especially to David Feldman and Andrea Hill as well as the “75
Actionable Business Ideas In 75 Minutes” panel. The was
presented at a level I can understand and includes steps I can take
to achieve these skills. I appreciated hearing do-able,
understandable business steps presented in a way that encourage the
entrepreneur, individual or small group rather than being geared to
someone who already has a business degree. I can do this! Go me!

There is so much to speak of in superlatives that it is easy to
gloss over those elements that were lacking in some way. Common sense
would allow that there must be some things less than perfect and
there were.

Most of the issues that I had and comments that I heard reflected
individual levels of need for specific material and only rarely
concerned the effectiveness of a presenter or the materials.

The reality of negatives obliges the attention of anyone concerned
with excellence and I commend Rio for doggedly pushing us to complete
and return an honest evaluation of our experience. They offered
something to us in exchange for the they will use to
finesse their future performance: the evaluations were our "ticket"
for the full event CD!

Additionally, they were constantly alert to our on-the-spot
reactions and input, taking initiative to inquire what was and what
wasn’t working. The staff was actively involved with attendees in
breaks, happy hour events, “dinner with new friends” and impromptu

The evening that Clasp adjourned I had the great fortune to spend
some time with a group that included Mark Shipman, Business Coach of
Rio Grande. There was much laughter, sharing, networking and
satisfaction. A highlight of that evening for me was receiving from
Mark a small card imprinted with “The Bell Group Principles” of

I believe this list of principles encompasses the essence of what it
takes to be true to a goal of excellence and I would like to share
it here.

1. Do what you agree to do. 

2. Do not encroach on other people or their property. 

3. Create an environment of trust. 

4. Be open and honest. 

5. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. 

6. Express and value all feelings, concerns and ideas equally. 

7. Exchange your best effort for the best effort of others. 

8. Develop long-term relationships of mutual benefit (win/win). 

9. Have fun. 

10. Passionately develop and pursue shared and individual
purposes and goals. 

11. Strive to maintain a positive attitude at all times. 

12. Maintain your power to succeed by choosing not to believe
you are a victim. 

13. Take responsibility for your part in each life experience
and learn from it. 

14. Be successful by helping others to be successful and
accepting that help for yourself. 

15. Lead by influence (using reason, benefits, and inspiration)
rather than by coercion (using force, fear, and innuendo). 

Whereas this would apply to life as well as business, I would
suggest that they are not separate.

Orchid Rocks! Rio Rocks! Hanuman, Charles and Ton Rock! Jewelers
Rock! Live long and prosper, all of us!

Pam - who is back home in Arizona and giving abundant thanks to my
beautiful, brand new granddaughter, Abbigail Mary, who patiently
encouraged her not-as-patient mother to postpone labor for a week
past her due date so that I would be present when she arrived!! I
thank my beloved son and daughter-in-law Joe and Becky for presenting
us with so lovely a creature of marvel and miracle to join her
equally awesome nearly-2-year-old brother, Alex. My heart is full to

Pam Chott

Where is Clasp being held next year? I will put it on my calander.

For those of us who could not attend for what ever the
reason........Will the DVD's be available for purchase???.......
say from Rio Grande or........ here on Orchid? 

At this time we do not intend to sell the DVDs. The offer of the
DVDs had a few purposes: to encourage attendees to stay through the
last day (at many conferences people leave before the last sessions
are over), to encourage attendees to turn in their assessments of the
event so we would have the we need to improve it for
future years, and to add on to the value they received for the money
they spent to be there.

Great thanks to each of you who attended. It was a joy to spend time
with you and to serve you in this unique venue, and we learned so
much in the process. As the Rio crew gathered back in our office
yesterday after nearly 2 weeks in Nashville (we did Santa Fe
Symposium followed by Clasp in the same hotel), it was clear that all
of us were riding high on the emotions and experience of being
surrounded by such an intelligent, passionate and collaborative group
of people as we had at Clasp.

In my opening comments at Clasp I thanked the attendees for taking a
risk on us for an event that was unproven. I promised to do our best
to make the next 3 days worthy of that risk. And we know that each
year the commitment begins anew because the risk is taken anew. We
look forward to creating an even better event for you next year; an
event that builds upon the aspects you really liked and incorporates
your ideas for making Clasp better. Thank you not only for trusting
us, but also for challenging us.

Andrea Hill

Andrea M. Hill
Chief Executive Officer
The Bell Group
7500 Bluewater Road NW
Albuquerque, NM 87121
505.839.3033 ph
505.839.3032 fx


At this time we do not intend to sell the DVDs. 

I would like to encourage you to reconsider this. I think that there
are many of us who would like to purchase the DVDs. In the spirit of
CLASP and Orchid why not make this available to the
greatest number of people? The reports back from the Orchid community
have been great. We couldn’t all be there.

Joel Schwalb

Yes, it was fantastic! Others have already written so eloquently on
the subject that I don’t know what else there is to say about the
conference itself, so I will speak about what it meant to me. I feel
different, and better. I wonder how I will possibly find the time to
do all the great things that I now am ready to do. I feel like being
a little kinder and more positive and patient with those around me,
no doubt as a result of the modeling of those behaviors by every
single Rio Grande person that I spoke with there. They were a
treasure. I have a much better idea of how I want to proceed with
the business side of my work, and I had lots of validation of my ways
of being an artist. Contacts that I made there may lead me into a
whole new aspect of my career. Meeting a bunch of my heroes was great
fun, and I found many new ones, too. Clasp was fantastic, and my
experiences there have shown me that I am, in fact, fantastic, too.
Wow! Is that enough info for you? Does that make you want to attend
next year? Really, really, think about coming. And I got to meet
Hanuman, too! (Hi, H.!)

M’lou Brubaker
Minnesota, USA

Hi there,

I am getting a ton of email both on the forum and on the side
requesting that we “reconsider” our decision not to sell the Clasp
DVD. I try to avoid making long forum posts, but I think maybe this
time one is in order.

The Clasp DVD is primarily a compilation of PowerPoint
presentations. There were a few sessions we filmed, but some of those
we didn’t even have permission to distribute on the DVD. Some of the
PowerPoint presentations include extensive notes, but others are
primarily photographic. While I believe the DVD will have great value
to those who attended - as a way of reminding them what they saw and
heard while at the event - I don’t believe it will have the same
value for a person who purchases the program without having been in
attendance. So even if we had permissions to distribute the DVD
beyond the paid attendees (which we do not), the question of what
would be an appropriate price for the sale of the DVD would arise,
and this would be extremely difficult to answer to the satisfaction
of all involved. The paid attendees who receive a free DVD as another
perk of having been at Clasp will have different expectations of the
DVD than a person who pays cash for the DVD.

This is a challenge that is not unique to us as conference
organizers. Not all, but some conferences do sell their materials as
a stand-alone purchase, and they have carefully worked out the
details related to the concerns I stated above. It is highly possible
that in time we will have worked out all of those details to permit
not only the permissioned sale of the DVDs after the event but also
the extensive editing of the materials to enable someone not in
attendance to glean the full value. But for a first year event we had
so many other details to ensure were absolutely perfect for the
people who had taken the risk to be there that we decided not to
focus on this issue.

I hope this answer demonstrates to you that I genuinely respect your
wish, and it’s not a mere trifle to decide not to sell the DVD. This
is a matter of serious concern that it will take us some time to
resolve and therefore needs to be resolved for future events. Given
the number of emails I have received on this topic, I can assure you
we will be giving great thought to how we can effectively provide a
saleable Clasp DVD next time around.


Andrea Hill

Andrea M. Hill
Chief Executive Officer
The Bell Group
7500 Bluewater Road NW
Albuquerque, NM 87121
505.839.3033 ph
505.839.3032 fx

What would you say is the difference between the SNAG conference and

Linda Savineau


This is a good question. Since I have been attending SNAG Conferences
since 1991, I chose Clasp over SNAG this year for the following

  1. I wanted to experience something different which would be
    pertinent to my business

  2. SNAG does what it does and what it represents very well. A huge
    selection of academic art based metalsmiths and goldsmiths who are
    pushing the envelope of their field. However, year after year of
    pushing the art envelope I wanted something that had balance and
    Clasp fit that bill nicely.

  3. I make art, but I run a business. SNAG is good at filling my art
    heart and inspiring me to push further. Clasp gave me the business
    expertise that I needed to make Metalwerx run smoother and prosper. I
    got that at Clasp and then some.

  4. From what I have been reading on Orchid, there has been an
    overwhelming request for the DVD’s of from Clasp. A few
    years back, SNAG also provided DVD’s of their conference, but I
    didn’t find the overwhelming request. Why?

We are facing a different world than that of the late 80’s when art
was prospering everywhere. We have a changing climate of overseas
production, independent studio jewelers all jockying for position to
make a decent living. Clasp offered a balance between the creative
mind and tools in which to facilitate those ideas. In Boston, a
jewelry store which has been in business since 1918 is now in
bankruptcy. Why? Because after the death of their president, one of
the basic principles which was stressed at Clasp was ignored by the
jewelry company. I learned from Clasp where my strength lies and to
keep to that strength. The new owners of the the jewelry store
decided to change the infrastructure, their attitude towards their
customer and go totally for innovation. They became stretched too
thin in all areas and collapsed. This was in many ways reading how
any of us, including myself approach business. I look at my reaction
to business like spinning plates. Get one plate spinning firmly, so
well in fact that it spins with its own inertia. Then move to the
next stick and begin to spin that one. I felt often like trying to
spin 10 plates and watching them wobble, run to that one, get it
going, only to find another one losing balance. That method wasn’t
good for me, nor good for Metalwerx.

Personally, I believe that the two conferences have something to
learn from each other. SNAG needs to embrace business practices. They
are beginning with their Professional ED section, but it needs to go
beyond that. People at SNAG need and SHOULD know basic business.
Clasp could introduce one superb artisan and have them give a lecture
on their work.

For me, Clasp was ideal. It was small and intimate and I not only
reunited with old friends, I made many new ones. At SNAG, it is
wonderful to talk pure art and conceptual ideas of metalsmithing
with some of the great art minds. At Clasp, it was equally wonderful
to have a long hour and half talk with Frank Dallahan, President of
MJSA and find out that we have similar ideas on promoting jewelry
education. Equally wonderful was meeting and talking with Wendy

This year was about the needs of my school. Metalwerx needed better
business management and I had a hunch that Clasp would fit the bill.
How important is Clasp to me? Important enough that I will attend
every year. How important is SNAG for me? Important enough that I
will also continue to attend. My goal is to take what I learned from
Clasp, schedule the time for these two important conferences, and
get Metalwerx to the point where it can send me to both.

It isn’t one versus the other. They both have excellent information
for different purposes. For some at Clasp it was Methods, for some
Muse, for me it was the Money track because that is what I needed. At
SNAG, it is art, old friends, fabulous jewelry that many wear which
is so gorgeous to look at. SNAG offers inspiring talks that speak to
my heart.

If you want my advice, attend Clasp and see for yourself. I took a
chance, and I was glad I did. It’s a decision you have to make for
yourself and answer the ultimate question I ask of everyone. What do
you want? But wouldn’t it be nice to be in the financial position to
reap the benefits of both? That is my goal, because I learn from

I hope to see you there,


Karen Christians
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857

What would you say is the difference between the SNAG conference
and Clasp? 

In a nutshell SNAG presentations are about sharing what the
presenter is doing /has done and Clasp presentations are about
presenting to help you in what you are doing.

Kind of like the difference between an artists slide presentation of
their work and a hands on workshop in the technique that the artist
works in. Both are informative but the latter probably has more
relevance to your own work.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


CLASP vs SNAG. To me Snag is great for jewlers starting out, needing
guidance on how to do a show, to see succesful speakers talk about
their work, and to network with thier fellow future collegues. Clasp
to me was a whole level above that, the next phase and beyond for
wanting to be a succesful jeweler. The classes were geared toward
helping us maintain inspiration in our work, networking, working
with technology, and clear business sense. Both are essential tools
for artists.

Amy Burkholder

Who do you contact if you have something to offer Clasp?