The Studio – Jewelry Blog by Rio Grande

Video Project with Bill Fretz: Twist Forged Bracelet with the Fretz Jeweler’s Sledge Hammer

Sep 5, 2013
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Molly Therese Bell

Designed by Bill Fretz, the Fretz Jeweler's Sledge Hammer is ideal for forging heavy wire, rod, or sheet. In this short video, Bill creates a striking twist forged bracelet using his workhorse hammer.

A little about the Fretz Jeweler's Sledge Hammer

The 1"-round face, relatively small compared to the larger head on this hammer, is designed so that it keeps the work visible as the hammer descends toward the metal. The cross-peen face, used to draw metal lengthwise or to widen, curves slightly toward the user to complement the natural radius motion of the wrist when hammering.

The large, heavy head on its sturdy, shortened handle delivers an irresistible force to the workpiece, making—according to award-winning designer Sessin Durgham—"flattening and rounding effortless." The substantial, curved handle makes the hammer comfortable and easy to hold; the weight of the head does the lion's share of the work.

The handle is made of Padauk, known for its strength, stability, and beauty, and is oil-finished. The construction features a wedge and a head of stainless tool steel that ensures hardness and endurance. The special shape of the handle provides a comfortable grip and just enough flex to maximize the effectiveness of every blow.

Do you have a favorite Fretz hammer? Or a Fretz hammer wish list? Share a picture or two of what you've been able to accomplish with your Fretz hammers!

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Video Project with Bill Fretz: Making Cool Cuffs with his Sweet Stakes

Oct 22, 2012
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Yvonne M. Padilla

Today, on The Studio, we’re sharing a video project which features the ever-brilliant Bill Fretz forming a concave cuff bracelet using his new Silversmith’s Forming Stakes and a brass blank. Enjoy!

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Hot New Video: Forming Hollow Rings with Bill Fretz

Aug 13, 2012
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Yvonne M. Padilla

The Studio is excited to bring you another video clip featuring Bill Fretz and his innovative forming stakes. Last year, Bill showed Studio readers some Basic Hammering and Forming. This year, he helps us take forming a few steps further with a clip from his latest DVD, Metalsmith Essentials: Forming Hollow Rings with Bill Fretz.

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The Story of the First Fretz Hammer

Feb 15, 2012
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Spencer Baum
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Since their worldwide debut at the 2007 Catalog in Motion Show, Fretz Hammers have become a staple of the industry, and the hammer of choice for those who are doing traditional forming on a jewelry-sized scale. Thousands of Fretz Hammers are out in the world now, each of them with 420 stainless heads, oil-finished padauk handles, and a perfect, almost magical balance in the hand when you pick them up. And all of those many hammers can trace their roots back to this one, the very First Fretz Hammer. . .

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Basic Jewelry Hammering and Forming with Bill Fretz, Volume 2

Nov 28, 2011
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Spencer Baum
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In this clip from volume 2 of Basic Jewelry Hammering and Forming with Bill Fretz, Bill shares great hammering technique and demonstrates planishing with the Fretz HMR-1 Hammer and the Fretz anvils. . .

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New Bill Fretz DVD: Basic Jewelry Hammering and Forming

Nov 7, 2011
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Spencer Baum
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Bill Fretz has teamed up with Interweave to make a great new set of DVDs that demonstrate his extraordinary skill with jewelry hammers and stakes. check it out!

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Bill Fretz Wields His Metalsmith’s Hammers

Feb 2, 2011
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Viqui Sanchez
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While Rio In Motion was underway here at Rio Grande, I spent a day with Bill Fretz, creator of the Fretz line of metalsmith’s hammers and miniature stakes. The inspiration for the miniature stakes that launched the line came from a quantity of unusually shaped tourmaline that came to Bill to be set. Having to […]

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A Tour of Fretz Hammers and Their Uses

Dec 6, 2010
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Bill Fretz
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Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of explaining all the different Fretz hammers and their uses at various trade shows such as the Society of North American Goldsmith’s Conference and JCK. At those shows, I have answered the question, “What’s this one used for?” countless times. Following is an outline of the answers I give to this question for the planishing, raising, and embossing hammers…

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Rio Grande’s Winter Workshop Series: Today’s Tour of Jewelry Making Classes

Jan 29, 2014
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Amy Cliser
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Today Amy visited several of the bustling classrooms here at Rio Grande’s Winter Workshop. Some participants were quiet and intensely focused on trying new techniques. Others worked in a happy cacophony of clanging and then paused to examine their progress. Rio Grande is wonderful place to be this week—learning and discovery is all around us! Maybe today’s photo tour will get you planning your trip to the Land of Enchantment for next year’s Winter Workshop.

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Welcome to Rio Grande’s Annual Winter Workshop!

Jan 23, 2014
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Amy Cliser
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Rio Grande’s annual Winter Workshop starts this Sunday, and we are busy setting up benches, cameras for close-ups of instructors’ work, Foredom® flex shafts, anvils, 3DESIGN® software–you name it! Follow our excitement this week as we bring you highlights of this GREAT event where participants hone their skills with some of the very best teachers in the industry, mingle and crowd around workbenches in the demonstration area, exchange jewelry-making experiences and tips, bond with each other over wonderful meals, and get a behind-the-scenes look at Rio’s facilities.

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