Our Team of Instructors

We're thrilled to provide you with a great team of experienced jewelry metalsmithing instructors, who are keep safe, 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 about a class or a private lesson with one of us? Contact Jen anytime, she'll respond within one business day.

Jen Lesea-Ames, Owner and Instructor

Jen LeseaAmes

A former exercise physiologist (M.S. Applied and Integrative Physiology, CU Boulder) and triathlete, Jen retired from her fitness career after receiving a diagnosis of hip dysplasia which required two hip preservation surgeries. It was at that point when she decided to retire from the fitness industry and go full-time with her jewelry business in 2014. 

Wanting more of a challenge after stringing beads for three years, she studied metalsmithing at the Denver School of Metal Arts (now called Denver Jewelry Studio) from 2012-2016. She decided to go full-time with her jewelry business in 2014 and opened Silver Peak Studio in July 2020, and has never looked back. She is thrilled to be expanding and moving the school to Old Town Lafayette in April 2024!

She is the owner, designer, and metalsmith of Jen Lesea Designs, (2009-present). Her jewelry is sold in over 40 stores, including Fallingwater Museum Store, the Vladem Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, NM and the national catalogs Uncommon Goods and Artful Home. Her experience and work has landed her local and national press. Jen is an Applied Jewelry Professional from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Her fun and friendly nature is apparent in everything she does, whether its teaching metalsmithing, talking to art show patrons, or motivating people to try something new, like stand up paddleboarding!  

As the owner of Silver Peak Studio and Gallery, it is her intention to provide a safe, professional, and fun environment where students can expand their skillset in the jewelry arts.

    Classes taught: Metals 2: Bezel Setting Pendant / Stone Earrings: Posts and Drops / Tube Setting Faceted Stones / Fusing Sterling Silver / Stacking Rings / Stamping Metal Jewelry / Business Development Workshops

    Alec Schweiger, Head Instructor

    Alec Schweiger bio pic
    Alec has an MFA with an emphasis in Metals and Jewelry from Colorado State University-Fort Collins, and has been teaching metalsmithing at the collegiate level (CSU) since 2019.  He received a work study scholarship to the Penland School of Craft to study under Kim Cridler, as well as learning from Navajo Silversmithing masters Allison and Trent Lee.  

    His "why" is described as being an extremely curious person who has always been driven to figure out how things work or how they are made.

    Alec has a passion for teaching and is thrilled by the opportunity to share his experiences and skills.

    Classes taught: Metals 1: Intro to Metalsmithing / Metals 2: Stone Statement Ring / Beginning Metalsmithing Intensive / Cold Connections (Riveting) / Soldering Techniques / Patinas 101 / Found Objects/Unconventional Materials in Jewelry

    Jen Barnhart

    Jen Barnhardt headshot

    Jen is a certified teacher in Colorado and Texas and is the owner, designer, and instructor of Stoic Sage Designs. She has led youth programs for over 20 years and taught High School English for 10 years. In 2021, she took a break from the classroom to pursue creative endeavors and taught herself jewelry design. After moving to Colorado from Texas in 2022, Jen began taking classes at Silver Peak Studio to learn metalsmithing, and she is mentored by Jen Lesea-Ames, the owner of Silver Peak Studio.

    Her “why” is to inspire youth and provide them opportunities to express their creativity. 

    While she loves making jewelry, she missed teaching, which is why she has now merged her passions and experience to teach jewelry making to kids and adults. 

    Classes taught: Flame Painting Copper / Torch Fired Enameling / Chainmaille (traditional and modern weaves) / Wire Wrapping / Pencil Art on Copper / Tween Night Out / Kids' Classes ages 7+

    Samantha Chang

    Samantha is from Buffalo, NY and recently moved to Louisville, CO after spending ten years in Brooklyn. She holds a BA in Art History and Management from SUNY Purchase and is a multidisciplinary artist and jeweler who has studied various jewelry processes including beading, wire wrapping, pearl knotting, fabrication, wax carving, and most recently, welding! She taught her first jewelry making class when she was 16 and fell in love with sharing knowledge and techniques in the jewelry arts. 

    Samantha learned jewelry-making through classes at local bead stores, lots of trial and error, and has taken metal fabrication classes at the Jewelry Arts Institute in Manhattan. She then was an apprentice for an independent jeweler in Brooklyn. Most recently, she was a bench jeweler at Catbird NYC before moving out to Colorado with her husband. Samantha now has a jewelry line, Saintly, that she sells on Etsy and at art festivals. And, she can be found in our new gallery space offering permanent jewelry services. 

    Classes taught: Pearl Knotting / Bangles / Stacking/Midi Rings / Minimalist Earrings: Hoops and Wishbone / Wrap Rings / Textured Cuff Bracelets

    Cheyenne Hughes

    Cheyenne Hughes bio pic

    Cheyenne is a Denver native who's been making jewelry since 2009. During that time he's been fortunate enough to have apprenticed under the accomplished jeweler/blacksmith, Ira Sherman. That six year
    apprenticeship (2009-2015) landed him a job as a bench jeweler working for platinum and gold expert, John Sholl of J.F. Sholl Fine Jewelry, in Littleton, CO.

    Cheyenne is currently running his own jewelry studio, Beast of Burden Jewelry, in Denver where he offers casting and other jewelry production services to the general public as well as other jewelers.

    Classes taught: Wax Carving / Casting: Lost Wax and Tufa / Stone Setting: Flush, Prong, Channel, Hammer, Pave, Bead / Professional Finishing

    Michele Throne

    Michele Throne

    Michele’s first dip into metalsmithing started with a high school class. She then picked it back up after getting her BFA at Florida State University. She’s been a full-time jeweler and owner of Sidhe Designs since 2010. Additionally, she has been teaching art since 1998 and metalsmithing since 2012.

    Her deep love and appreciation for everything outdoors and love for people inspire her to create jewelry focused on nature and the human experience. 

    Classes taught: Keum-boo: Attached Gold / Advanced Keum-boo: Window Pendant / Sweat Soldering Using the Heat Zone Method / Textures in Metal / Articulating Rivets / Box Clasp