We're thrilled to provide you with a great team of experienced jewelry metalsmithing instructors, who are professional, patient, and fun! Read the bios below to learn more about each team member. 

Questions? Contact us anytime, we'd love to hear from you!  

Jen Lesea-Ames, Owner

Jen LeseaAmesEducation: 
  • B.S. Exercise Science, UC Davis
  • M.S. Kinesiology, CU Boulder
  • Denver School of Metal Arts, 2012-2016
  • Accredited Jewelry Professional, GIA (Gemological Institute of America)
  • Owner, Jen Lesea Designs
  • Over 20 years of teaching and coaching experience
Superpower: A supportive visionary
My "why":  I wanted to create a fun, supportive, drama-free space where people can tap into their inner creative and fall in love with metalsmithing
Favorite process: Fusing sterling silver 
Favorite Tool: my torch
Pet Peeve: Getting interrupted while talking
Favorite Color: Cobalt blue
Favorite Food: Pizza
If I could live anywhere, it would be: Hawaii (Big Island)
In my free time, I... recreate outdoors, travel, and relax with my fur babies, Addie and Stevie.

Alec Schweiger, Head Instructor

Alec Schweiger headshotEducation:
  • BFA in Ceramics – University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • MFA in Metals and Jewelry – Colorado State University-Fort Collins


  • Instructor, Colorado State University-Fort Collins: 2019-present
Superpower: Creative problem solving
My “why”: I am an extremely curious person and have always been driven to figure out how things work or how they are made. I have a passion for teaching
Favorite Process: Raising Vessels
Favorite Tool:
My riveting hammer
Pet Peeve:
When shoppers don’t return their carts to the corral
Favorite Color:
Favorite Food:
If I could live anywhere, it would be: An imaginary place that is a cross of WI and CO, where all my friends and family are close by.

In my free time, I…disc golf, golf, jam to vinyl with my wife, Emma, and dog, Micah.

Samantha Chang

Samantha Chang headshotEducation:

  • BA, Art History and Arts Management, SUNY Purchase 
  • Jewelry Arts Institute, NYC


  • 2016-2019, Apprentice under Judith Haas LLC
  • 2019-2022, Jeweler at Catbird NYC
  • 2022 - present, Founder of Saintly
Superpower: hardly ever buying any item first hand; I’ve sourced my wardrobe, home furnishings & my booth display from thrift stores, estate sales and Facebook marketplace!
My "why": I love teaching & connecting with others over jewelry and gemstones. 
Favorite process: wire wrapping is so meditative 
Favorite Tool: my hammers!!
Pet Peeve: gatekeeping information; 'the flame of a candle never went out from lighting another candle!'
Favorite Color: olive green
Favorite Food: homegrown veggies
If I could live anywhere, it would be: Greece but only if my whole family moves with me!
In my free time, I... walk my dog, paint or draw, journal, try a new craft, spend time with my husband

Tony Finocchio

Tony Finocchio


  • Studying metalsmithing since 2009 with master metalsmiths in Boulder and the surrounding area in Colorado


  • 2018-present: Instructor, Ah Haa School for the Arts, Telluride, CO 
  • Owner, Metalrock Designs

Your "superpower": Getting in the "zone" while creating
Your "why": I enjoy helping others express their creativity
Favorite Process/type of jewelry to make: Forging jewelry from scraps
Favorite tool: My Anvil
Pet Peeve: Rising gold prices
Favorite color: Orange
Favorite food: Truffle fries
If I could live anywhere, it would be... Hmmmm...
In my free time I... Play guitar

Cheyenne Hughes

Cheyenne HughesEducation:

  • Apprenticeship under Ira Sherman: 2009-2015


  • Bench Jeweler: J.F. Sholl Fine Jewelry in Littleton, CO
  • Owner, Beast of Burden Jewelry
Superpower: Can finish an entire Chipotle burrito
My "why": I love making things that someone would actually like to put on their body and walk around!
Favorite process: CAD
Favorite Tool:  sprue cutters
Pet Peeve: when people say "casted"
Favorite Color: orange
Favorite Food: BBQ
If I could live anywhere, it would be: A cave cliff home
In my free time, I... play video games

Michele Throne

Michele ThroneEducation:

  • BFA with a concentration in Drawing and Large Installations, Florida State University


  • 1998-present: teaching art and since 2012, metalsmithing
  • Owner, Sidhe Designs
Superpower: Sawing and, finding the best in people and see what they have to offer
My "why": I like creating meaningful jewelry with a story. I’ve found sawing imagery to be the best way to express this so far! 
Favorite process: sawing and sweat soldering
Favorite Tool: my jeweler's saw
Pet Peeve: Disingenuous behavior and my own space cadet state of mind.
Favorite Color: maroon and aqua blue
Favorite Food: a tie between Thai and Indian
If I could live anywhere, it would be: Where I’m at-minus the fire danger and in a house with a bigger studio! Ireland would be magical too, but I think the rain would lead me to drink.
In my free time, I... play as much as I can outdoors! Rock climb, hike with my neighbors and our dogs, mountain bike a little.