• Sandra Lupo: Jewelry Designer, Instructor and Inventor

    Meet Sandra Lupo

    I became a maker in my 30’s while raising two children. I had worked in the corporate world for most of my 20’s and married. I discovered I liked to work with my hands and create after I had my best creations, my children! I didn’t enjoy the needle arts or sewing (as my Mom did) but I sure liked getting my hands dirty and rough, i.e. furniture refinishing, upholstery, stained glass. Jewelry making and playing with fire was next!

    Jewelry Designer, Instructor, Tool Inventor

    Join Tammy as she talks with Sandra Lupo, a renowned artist, educator, and tool inventor. Lean into Sandra’s journey, which includes the creation of her tool, Conetastic. See the transformative power of collaboration in DIY and jewelry making through Sandra’s eys. Gain invaluable insights into overcoming self-doubt, handling criticism, and navigating the business landscape as a creative entrepreneur. Explore the essence of creativity, staying true to your passion, and the vital role of sustainability in the ever-evolving DIY community. Tune in for a vibrant discussion filled with wisdom, encouragement, and the joy of crafting from the heart.

    To find Sandra visit these links; be sure to follow her to stay in the loop!

    Find her Conetastic tool at your favorite jewelry supplier.

    Conetastic tool invented by Sandra Lupo; manufactured by Beadalon

    Key Episode Takeaways

    • The importance of DIY

    • The value of teaching and collaboration in the maker community

    • The challenges of bookkeeping and studio organization in running a jewelry busines

    • Social media can be a necessary part of all we do but can also a chore

    • Teaching in person provides a unique and fulfilling experience, but online teaching has become more prevalent due to the pandemic.

    • Collaboration and community are essential for personal and professional growth as a maker.

    • Incorporating personal talents and experiences into one’s work adds a unique touch and helps to create a connection with customers.

    • Staying relevant in the DIY space involves staying informed about trends, being mindful of sustainability, and continuously learning and growing.

    • Traveling and exploring different environments can provide inspiration and broaden one’s horizons as a maker.

    mixed media, layered necklace: wood, wire, freshwater pearls, crystals, gemstones, cotton By Sandra Lupo


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    Introduction and Finding Creative Inspiration


    Sandra Lupo’s Creative Journey


    The Invention of Cone-tastic


    Continuing to Create and Make


    Navigating the Business Side


    Collaboration and Bringing Personal Talents


    Dealing with Self-Doubt and Negative Feedback


    Final Thoughts and Embracing Fun

    “Sun worship Duo” originally published in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Wire wrapping beads and stones, half-round wrapping, wire components fabrication, sheet manipulation, bezel making and stone setting


  • Francesca Watson, Jewelry Designer and Instructor

    Heart & Hands of a Maker

    Francesca Watson is a passionate metalsmith and jewelry-making instructor. She, along with her beloved husband Nick who is also an artist, manage the operation of The Makery. The Makery is a working and teaching studio in Old Village in Downtown Bulverde, Texas where they host in-person and online workshops, retreats, and more.

    In addition to The Makery, Francesca is host to an online community and co-director of Heart of the Maker (now open for enrollment!) , alongside Jessica Coté.  As an aside – their next collaboration will be called Hands of the Maker. And yes! It’s a complete coincidence their programs and the title of my podcast are so similarly named.

    Passionate maker, instructor, supporter of all who want to learn and grow

    In this episode of Heart & Hands of a Maker, Francesca shares insights from her personal maker journey, emphasizing the intrinsic value of creativity and making. Aspiring entrepreneurs will receive invaluable advice from Francesca, highlighting the imperative of seeking professional guidance and crafting robust business strategies—before(!) you start. Francesca emphasizes the value of community, sharing our knowledge to lift others up, and to never stop learning.

    I took a beading class, fell in love with rocks so picked up wire wrapping (because torches scared me), dabbled in metal clay as a “work around” to soldering, and finally bit the bullet and dove into metals wholeheartedly. My first experiences were not … let’s just say encouraging. Not encouraging at all. I was in love with the work of Connie Fox and could not get soldering to work for me at all. I was ready to just admit I was a failure and give it all up, but I took a class with Richard Salley and Jessica Jordan Coté that changed everything, and I really owe it to them that I’m a metalsmith.

    Boho sterling silver earrings by Francesca Watson

    Find and Follow Francesca Watson

    To find Francesca, please follow these links then follow her to stay up to date on all she has going on and is offering: 

    Francesca offers her thanks and appreciation to those who have influenced and helped her along her maker journey. Those she references are as follows and can be found through their respective links:

    Richard Salley

    Jessica Coté 

    Charles Lewton Brain 

    Loretta Lam 

    Tonya Davidson 

    Connie Fox 

    Key Episode Takeaways

    • Creativity is valuable for its own sake and does not need to be monetized to be worthwhile.
    • Aspiring business owners should seek professional help and create a solid business plan.
    • Balancing teaching and making can be challenging, but it is important to give oneself permission to focus on personal creative projects.
    • Busy is not a virtue, and it is important to make time for stillness and creativity.
    • Embrace failure and learn from mistakes
    • Don’t worry about what others think and focus on your own journey
    • Take classes from different teachers to gain different perspectives and techniques
    • Create a safe space for students to learn and grow
    • Find joy in making pretty things
    Hope, necklace by Francesca Watson


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    The Value of Creativity


    Advice for Business Owners


    Personal Creative Projects


    Creating a Safe Space for Learning and Growth


    The Joy of Making Pretty Things

    Redemption Series, work in progress by Francesca Watson


  • Jen Cushman: Freedom Through Art and Spirit

    Jen Cushman is a natural storyteller drawn to the imperfect, the quirky, the artsy, and the authentic. She’s spent 25 years as a mixed-media artist and instructor, authored two jewelry-making books, appeared on numerous DIY television shows as a guest artist, and has been published in national magazines. Currently, she is a contributing artist on the MadeTV maker network. 

    To learn more about Jen, visit her website  or follow her social media:


    To learn about Jen’s retreats in the South of France visit: soulstirringretreats.com

    Each Monday, at 11:11 am Arizona time, Jen hosts her Magic Mondays livestreams, where she teaches about personal growth, wellness, energy medicine or spirituality.

    She also does mini readings for a handful of her live viewers using her own Joy FULL Oracle Card Deck for Creatives, Healers and Feelers.

    In This Episode of Heart & Hands of a Maker

    Jen discusses the importance of self-care and setting boundaries. She emphasizes the need to prioritize oneself and overcome cultural conditioning that often places women’s needs at the bottom. Jen also encourages embracing failure as a learning opportunity and reframing mistakes as feedback. She highlights the freedom of art and the power of embracing imperfection. Additionally, she challenges the notion that artists are not essential and asserts that art brings beauty and meaning to the world. Jen concludes by emphasizing the importance of supporting and empowering each other on our creative journeys.

    Key Takeaways

    • Embrace authenticity and be true to yourself in your creative journey.

    • Art and spirit are interconnected and combining them can lead to a deeper understanding of oneself.

    • Business evolution often involves finding a balance between teaching and creating.

    • The pandemic has led to a pivot in business strategies, such as Soul Stir Magic, and a greater appreciation for in-person connections.

    • Digital learning has become more accepted and provides opportunities for both convenience and connection.

    • Taking care of oneself is essential, and it can be achieved by starting with small, manageable steps.

    • Authenticity is valued and appreciated, and it is important to embrace and share your unique gifts with the world.

    • Embrace failure as a learning opportunity and view mistakes as feedback.

    • Challenge cultural conditioning that undermines the essentiality of artists and recognize the value they bring to the world.

    • Support and empower each other on our creative journeys.


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    Introduction and Creative Journey


    Art Plus Spirit


    Business Evolution and Teaching


    Creating an Oracle Card Deck


    Pandemic Pivot and Soul Stir Magic


    Balancing In-Person and Digital Learning


    The Importance of Authenticity


    Resetting and Taking Care of Yourself


    The Importance of Self-Care and Setting Boundaries


    Embracing Failure and Learning from Mistakes


    The Freedom of Art and Embracing Imperfection


    Challenging Cultural Conditioning and Recognizing the Essentiality of Artists


    Supporting and Empowering Each Other


    Final Thoughts and Call to Action


  • Chris Anderson: Tool Maker, Jewelry Designer, Lapidarist and More

    Fine silver foxtail chain with pendant featuring an Ellensburg blue agate
    chris anderson - tool maker, lapidarist, jewelry maker

    In This Episode of Heart & Hands of a Maker

    We’re talking with tool maker Chris Anderson of Lion Punch Forge. Chris has been a maker nearly all his life and embraces new paths and challenges without fear. Not only is he a tool maker, he is also a jewelry designer, lapidarist, and so much more. Chris is a voracious reader and applies all he consumes to all facets of his life. His knowledge serves him in his pursuits including all he does to help others with their businesses, tool needs, and more.

    Tool maker, lapidary artist, community leader

    Through this in-depth conversation, Chris shares the value of building a business around a community that supports (and protects) each other. He highlights the importance of meeting customers where they are and providing support for their needs. Chris shares his perspective on success as a journey. He also discusses the importance and value of networking with other businesses.

    To find Chris and Lion Punch Forge:

    Be sure to also read this fascinating “welding in a small studio” article by Chris, published in Southern Jewelry News.

    excerpt: “
    A welder can be used to tack (lightly attach) a complicated soldering operation into position, saving set up time and increasing the success of that operation. Combining solder and welding can yield very successful and timely results. A welder can also be used to create complex jewelry forms that may otherwise be out of reach using just a solder join.”

    tool maker, jewelry designer, lapidarist Chris Anderson of Lion Punch Forge

    Key Episode Takeaways

    • Be adaptive and willing to change in order to succeed in business.
    • Find inspiration in your surroundings and incorporate it into your art.
    • Embrace mistakes and persevere to create beautiful results.
    • Spread positivity and hope through your art and interactions with others.
    • Take risks and be unique in your creative work.
    • Attend shows and events to make in-person connections and learn from others.
    Fine silver foxtail chain with pendant featuring an Ellensburg blue agate
    Fine silver foxtail chain with pendant featuring an Ellensburg blue agate. "The general construction of this necklace isn’t very complex. The complexity occurs when it comes to the stone setting. In this case the bezel setting is inside the hollow form and suspended." By Chris Anderson


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    Introduction and Background


    Jill’s Creative Journey


    Discovering a Passion for Teaching


    Starting an E-Learning Company


    Transitioning to Making Dog Wear


    Embracing Technology and Overcoming Fear


    The Rise of Makers and the Importance of Handmade


    Creating Custom Fit Dog Wear


    Teaching Others to Make Dog Wear


    Marrying Passion for Making and Teaching


    Advice for Those Starting Out


    The Importance of Goal Planning


    Dealing with Imposter Syndrome


    Balancing Work and Pursuing a Passion


    Taking Time for Yourself


    Believing in Yourself and Overcoming Fear


    Transitioning from One Business to Another


    Dealing with Imposter Syndrome


    Finding Joy in Creativity


    Creating New Designs and Overcoming Fear


    Teaching and Empowering Others


    Closing Remarks

    two finger hollow form ring in sterling silver, adorned with leaf shot made with Kevin Potter's plates. The ring itself has 11 set stones including amethyst, vintage tourmaline leaf carvings, citrine, and peridot.
    "A challenge ring" - two finger hollow form ring in sterling silver, adorned with leaf shot made with Kevin Potter's plates. The ring itself has 11 set stones including amethyst, vintage tourmaline leaf carvings, citrine, and peridot. The challenge was I dedicated myself to doing the construction with a plumber's torch. By Chris Anderson
    Titanium solder pick made by Lion Punch Forge, personalized engraving
    Chain. By Chris Anderson


  • Historical Look Back at Tucson Gem and Mineral Shows

    Tucson Gem & Mineral Shows Attract Collectors and Then Some!

    Tucson, Arizona, a city found in the beautiful Sonoran Desert, transforms into a global haven for gemstone and mineral enthusiasts every late January early February. What began as a small exhibition in the 1950s has burgeoned into the largest and most renowned gathering of its kind.

    amethyst geodes

    The Genesis

    The Tucson shows date back to the mid-20th century when the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society (TGMS) laid the cornerstone. In 1955, the TGMS organized the first showcase, intended primarily for local collectors and enthusiasts. Held at a local school on East Glenn, this humble event laid the foundation for what would eventually evolve into 45+ shows that take over the whole city!

    amethyst slices on display
    amethyst slices on display

    Over Time

    The first Tucson Gem & Mineral club show was a success and moved to the local fairgrounds for the next decade+. The show continued to grow, attracting more exhibitors and more visitors. In 1960, the curator for the Smithsonian was invited to exhibit—and he said “yes!” The curator brought with him an exhibit and, it is said, this changed the course of the shows from their forward.


    Pivotal Growth

    By 1970 there were 100 exhibitors and $2 million worth of collections on display. In 1973 the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society hosted their club show at the Tucson Convention Center. This was a significant milestone and offered them space to accommodate the swelling number of participants, including international vendors and attendees. Change from here forward was exponential.

    Gemstone strands as seen in the Dakota Stones booth during the Tucson Gem & Mineral Shows
    Gemstone strands as seen in the Dakota Stones booth during the Tucson Gem & Mineral Shows

    Time Marches On

    Each year, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Shows continue to evolve, welcoming new technologies and trends. The rise of e-commerce and online platforms has influenced the way business is conducted, enabling the show’s global impact to extend far beyond its physical location. However, the in-person experience remains irreplaceable, as it offers a tactile and immersive encounter with all that can be found in this beautiful city.

    Cabochons carved by Joe Jelks of Horizon Minerals
    Cabochons carved by Joe Jelks of Horizon Minerals

    Nature on Display

    The shows also celebrate the artistic aspect of minerals and gems, showcasing the natural specimens as well as craftsmanship of lapidary artists who transform raw stones into juicy pieces of art ripe for your next jewelry making endeavor. From intricately carved cameos to beautifully faceted gemstones, these creations add a layer of artistry to the event, elevating it beyond a mere trade show.

    American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) show held inside the Tucson Convention Center
    American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) show held inside the Tucson Convention Center


    To this day the shows attract visitors, collectors, and dealers from every corner of the world. The Tucson Gem and Mineral club show is still a cornerstone of the Tucson Gem and Mineral shows and it is still held at the Tucson Convention Center which also houses the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) show. The AGTA show is held early in the weeks the shows can be attended and the TGMS shows runs the last few days of the cycle and it remains a “must see!”

    During the MOJO event, l to r: Katie Hacker, Meredith Roddy, Sandra Lupo, Wyatt White, Tamara Honaman, Deb Floros

    Tucson Gem and Mineral Shows Offer More Than Gemstones

    The Tucson Gem and Mineral Shows (as a collective) is more than just a commercial event. The shows are a melting pot of cultures, knowledge, and artistry. The shows play host to a diverse array of exhibitors, from individual collectors, dealers showcasing their finest gemstones and minerals, finished jewelry pieces as well as raw stones, fossils, lapidary art, and the latest finds, fresh from the Earth. You can also learn how to make jewelry while in town! 

    Tucson’s geographical setting plays a significant role in the show’s success. A hub for “snowbirds,” there are many more who like to escape winter and flock to the desert southwest! There is also great food to be had, friends to connect with, art, and culture, too.

    For a more in-depth look, be sure to read Terri Haag’s account of the shows history. 

  • Milagros Rivera Mixed Media Artist

    Meet Milagros Rivera a Mixed Media Artist and Instructor

    Milagros Rivera is, at her core, an artist. She breathes life into any material that speaks to her and empowers others through her words and imagery. Mixed Media is her passion!

    Milagros is also a business woman, operating The Paper Boutique Scrapbooking Studio in Puerto Rico since 2006. Here, she hosts in-person workshops as well as live workshops and education sessions. You can also shop with her, in-person or virtually.

    Her boutique is filled with all the materials you could need to create until your hearts content. You’ll also find her signature stamps which speak to your soul. Follow her on social to catch her lives, listen to her words, be empowered by her art. 

    In This Episode of Heart & Hands of a Maker

    Milagros Rivera, a mixed media artist living in Puerto Rico, shares her creative journey, how her business came to be, and how she navigated the challenges of hurricane Maria and the pandemic. Milagros shares the importance of being adaptive in business and finding inspiration in her surroundings. She also emphasizes the power of giving and sharing, as well as taking risks and embracing mistakes. Milagros encourages artists to be unique and authentic in their work and highlights the value of in-person connections at shows and events.

    Key Takeaways

    • Attending in-person events is crucial for learning techniques, making connections, and seeing products up close.
    • Adapting to challenges and taking risks is essential for success in business.
    • Being unique and original is key to getting published and standing out in the creative industry.
    • Building a community and giving back can bring joy and fulfillment in the creative journey.
    • Finding inspiration from the surroundings and embracing mistakes can lead to new ideas and growth.
    • Attending craft shows and in-person events provides valuable opportunities for learning, networking, and showcasing creativity. Creativity is essential for personal growth and self-expression.
    • Finding inspiration can come from unexpected sources.
    • Challenges are opportunities for learning and growth.
    • Building a community of like-minded individuals can provide support and encouragement.
    • Advice for aspiring makers: embrace failure, be persistent, and stay true to yourself.
    Be Bold; Scribble Stick and ink, by Milagros Rivera


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    Introduction and Creative Inspiration


    Starting a Creative Business


    Overcoming Challenges: Hurricane and Pandemic


    Adapting to Change in Business


    The Importance of Being Adaptive


    Supporting the Community


    The Power of Giving and Sharing


    Getting Published and Being Unique


    Taking Risks and Making Contacts


    Finding Inspiration in the Surroundings


    Creating with Unconventional Materials


    The Power of ‘What If’


    Being Spontaneous and Experimental


    Embracing Mistakes and Persevering


    Spreading Positivity and Hope


    Upcoming Projects and Travel


    Preserving Puerto Rican Culture


    The Value of In-Person Connections


    Closing Remarks

    Espiritu Libre; watercolor by Milagros Rivera
    Yesterday is Heavy; acrylic and ink, by Milagros Rivera
    Stamps designed by Milagros Rivera