About Our Volunteers
What makes The Curious Forge GREAT? Our volunteers! Professionals or experts in their field dedicate regular weekly time in their studio to support members. Besides maintaining the area, doing the certifications, and creating experiences during Happy Hours, they are here to support members’ projects and goals.
Looking for the hours of a Studio Guide?
Studio Guides at the Curious Forge:
Instructor and Area Guide Karen Olsen Ramsey is an international award-winning professional goldsmith who has been making jewelry at the bench since 1989. She first studied jewelry making and design at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. After moving to California and a short mentorship with Jima Abbott of Mendocino, California, she attended classes at the Revere Academy of Jewelry in San Francisco. In 1990, she and her husband purchased 20 acres overlooking a canyon on the west slope of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is here where they built their home, and where she draws her inspiration for her jewelry designs. Shortly after, Karen began teaching jewelry making privately, and in 2014 she set up the jewelry lab and began teaching classes at The Curious Forge.
Karen brings her years of expertise to The Curious Forge and loves teaching her students what she knows as much as she loves fabricating the jewels of her imagination. See her work at artjeweler.com. She’s in the jewelry area Tuesdays from 4 pm to 8 pm.
I’m almost 39 years old. I have 10 years of experience with metalsmithing, wire wrap jewelry, beading, and gemstone setting. I recently started to explore epoxy resin, digital fabrication, and glass lampworking. I’ve been volunteering at The Curious Forge for almost 3 years now. My biggest joy is motherhood followed closely by all of the arts. I study Kuk Sool Won martial arts as well and am close to achieving my first-degree black belt. I’m in the jewelry area Tuesday evenings.
Glass Fusing and Slumping
I’ve worked with fused and flame-worked glass for about 10 years. I love the variety of techniques, colors, and textures you can with experiment with in glass. You can see some examples of my work at sugarpineglass.com. I’m in the glass area on Wednesday afternoons.
Love to sew and create! Been sewing since I was 8 years old and have made clothing for myself, kids, and grandkids as well as many home decorative items such as duvets, curtains, pillows, napkins, placemats, tote bags, wallets, computer sleeves, etc. I have reupholstered dining chair seats and made matching cornice boards for my dining room. In the beginning, I watched my older sister, mom, and grandma sew and learned from them. I took a few classes in school but am mostly self-taught by reading and watching YouTube. I’m in the textiles area on Tuesdays from 3 pm to 7 pm.
I have always been drawn to the interplay of sculptural form. My goal is to distill the design into its simplest elements in order to create a timeless presence. I’m in the woodshop Tuesdays from 4 pm to 8 pm.
James Heaphy started his journey as a woodworker and craftsperson at the age of 5, spending time in his Grandfather’s cabinet shop, learning how to use, and misuse tools. He has worked professionally as a fabricator since 2004 in a variety of disciplines including the sign industry and countertop fabrication and repair. In those industries, James worked with a wide variety of materials including, acrylic, composites, wood, steel, aluminum, and cast resins. James has extensive knowledge in finishing using everything from rag-applied polyurethanes to sprayed catalyzed paints. Above all else, he enjoys sharing his knowledge and hopes to help members at The Curious Forge build awesome things. He’s in the shop on Tuesdays from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm.
Liam is the Founder of the Curious Forge and is known for being “loose” with all kinds of materials and will generally learn anything once. Aesthetically appealing, utilitarian, and weirdly functional assemblage pieces are his main interest. Metal was his first love and the first cut is the deepest. I’m in the metal areas Wednesday afternoons.
I have been managing construction and welding projects for 40 years before an accident put me in a wheelchair and forced my retirement. Designing and building marinas and huge patio boats were some of my bigger projects. I feel I can still help beginners learn metalwork and welding. I have taught shop to many teens through homeschooling groups and Boy Scouts. Hoping to teach beginners and meet new people here!
Our newest Studio Guide in the metal area, Pete’s jumped in with both feet and is eager to help out members and the Forge!
A professional oboe-est who has played with the San Francisco Symphony, SF Opera, and SF Ballet orchestras, he discovered that being a professional musician didn’t always pay the bills. He learned lessons in machine tools technology to at first make parts for musical instruments and then worked in various machine shops honing his skills. He is available by appointment in the Machine Shop as your reference.
Pam Montalbano comes to us from the NY/NJ area where she taught in her home studio, the recreation dept., and the university in the town of Teaneck. She has taught successfully for 25 years. She has exhibited on both the east and west coasts over the thirty-plus years she has been involved with clay. She describes clay as her natural medium, as it’s so malleable and forgiving. She’s in the ceramics areas Wednesday from 3 pm to 7 pm.
Kian began volunteering in the Forge and through his marketing and computer talents quickly became one of our part-time staff members. His interest in blacksmithing has led him to his new role of Blacksmithing Area Manager as well. He’s in the blacksmith area Wednesday from 2 pm to 6 pm.
Glass Studio – Flameworking
Linda’s enthusiasm for flameworking is catching, she loves teaching people the art of it and seeing their creations happen. You can find her in the glass shop Wednesdays from 2 pm to 6 pm.
Robert Kahl, a glassblower since the early 1990s, has been influenced greatly by nature in his work. He and his wife Sunny’s business is Flame Memorials, in which they add loved ones’ ashes into glass for beautiful memorials and keepsakes. Robert was a key leader in creating the glass-blowing studio at the Forge and leads workshops and tasters.
Born in Australia, Michael received a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Sydney University and later an MBA from Rutgers in New Jersey. Recently retired from a career in electronic product development, he has worked developing various types of equipment including radio station automation equipment, commercial security, fire alarm systems, point of sale systems, and most recently home automation systems specializing in automated lighting systems. He’s in the Digital Fab area Wednesdays from 1 pm to 6 pm.
Kurt was born and raised in Cologne, Germany where he went to school and also attended the local university and art institute.
He spent several years traveling (mostly overland) to Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, and Japan before immigrating to the US. He lived in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and Oregon before settling in Marin County, CA where he went into business as a building contractor. He has lived and worked as a contractor and artist in Nevada County since 1994. His art, which can be viewed at kurtniederhaus.com, encompasses abstract as well as figurative styles using acrylic paint, charcoal, aquarelle, and pastels. He’s in mixed media Tuesdays from 2 pm to 6 pm.
You can find Kurt on Instagram @kurtniederhaus.