Got a weekend afternoon to spare? Want to play jewelry designer for a few hours? Brookland-based jeweler Rachel Pfeffer and community hub the Lemon Collective have you covered. Sure, you won’t leave with Pfeffer’s undeniable talent, but you’ll get an inside look at her process, a new skill and a customized piece all your own.
Earlier this month, Pfeffer hosted a class on brass pendant stamping. Each participant left with a cute disc necklace stamped with something sweet. Participants chose monograms of their loved ones, encouraging adages and so on. As for me, I trotted out of class with a shiny pendant reading “Nah,” my reaction to almost everything now immortalized on a chain I now wear daily.
Pfeffer says the Lemon Collective, a workshop space for artists, approached her about hosting a class when they first opened in the Park View neighborhood in Northwest DC. The cozy class I attended took place on a rainy afternoon. Learning to use brass stamps was a welcome distraction from the dreary day, and proved to be a bit trickier to the untrained hand (aka me).
But lucky for those of us with unsteady hands or indecisive tendencies, we had test swatches of brass to practice our technique on before committing our designs to the necklace. Patiently standing over the table, Pfeffer was ready and able to assist with questions on everything from design suggestions to jewelry making basics.
“The hardest part [of teaching] is remembering that not everyone knows how to use pliers,” she says. “Sometimes I forget to explain how to hold them, or how to use a hammer.”
One must be shockingly purposeful in the case of brass stamping, with a single steady strike to get a perfectly imprinted shape – something a newbie like myself never would have guessed. But teaching even the most basic of skills is still a rewarding task for Pfeffer, who says, “the best part is seeing the students leave with something they never thought they would be able to make themselves.”
When she is not instructing jewelry novices, Pfeffer can be found in her studio on the Brookland Arts Walk, which conveniently doubles as a showroom and shop. She finds inspiration for her one-of-a-kind pieces in “anything and everything,” from how gems end up resting on her workbench to designs that literally come to her in a dream.
“Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I come up with a design and groggily scratch it out on paper so I don’t forget,” she says. “Or, I convince myself that of course I’ll remember what it looks like and then in the morning I can’t remember at all!”
Remember or not, Pfeffer’s pieces are special. Among her most popular pieces are her honeycomb pendants – even Beyoncé has this Rachel Pfeffer original in her accessory arsenal, which in fewer words means you need it too, obviously.
If you didn’t make it to her first class, fear not – Pfeffer will be leading the creative charge at the Lemon Collective once again on Friday, March 9 at 7 p.m. This time, her class will make brass stamped cuffs, and there will be wine. You can snag tickets here for $55.
Prefer to shop one of Pfeffer’s handmade designs? Visit her shop and studio, but be sure to check her Instagram at @rachelpfeffer for her shop location and hours as they vary daily. Learn more at www.rachelpfeffer.com or shop her Etsy site for all of your bejeweled needs.
The Lemon Collective: 3015 Georgia Ave NW, DC; 202-464-0787; www.wearethelemoncollective.com