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 instructor who teaches on a regular basis at our studio. Guest instructor bios are listed with their class description.

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: Fresh fish (same-day caught) with sauteed veggies
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 bio picEducation:
  • 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.

Jen Barnhart, Youth Class Coordinator/Instructor

Jen Barnhardt headshotEducation:
  • BA in Literature – University of Texas
  • Silver Peak Studio (2022-present)


  • Over 20 years of experience leading youth programs and teaching
  • Certified Teacher: state of Colorado and Texas
  • Owner, Stoic Sage Designs
Superpower: Making jewelry while chasing after my two year old
My “why”: I want youth (and adults) to feel inspired, gain confidence, and express their creativity because there is pure magic when those things are combined.
Favorite Process: Flame painting copper
Favorite Tool: Ball-peen hammer

Pet Peeve: Belly buttons (particularly when my kids touch mine or their own)

Favorite Color: Olive green

Favorite Food: Tex-Mex Queso
If I could live anywhere, it would be: We moved here from Texas last December and this is exactly where I want to be.

In my free time, I…hike, bike, and read.

Samantha Chang

Samantha 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

Cheyenne Hughes

Cheyenne Hughes bio picEducation:

  • 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

Shawn Rybacki

Shawn headshotEducation:

  • B.A. Psychology
  • M.A. Counseling Psychology - Naropa University


  • Lifelong jewelry maker and self-taught wire-wrapper
Superpower: Kindness
My "why": Because I have to! I can't imagine not making art. Creating is like breathing, I can't stop!
Favorite process: Design conceptualization, hunting for materials, and weaving advanced patterns
Favorite Tool:   my hands
Pet Peeve:  Last minute changes to my schedule
Favorite Color: I like all colors!
Favorite Food: mushrooms
If I could live anywhere, it would be: Somewhere warm with a beach
In my free time, I... Dance, watch documentaries, and enjoy cooking!

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.