top of page


The Alchemy of Inspiration

As a maker, are you ready to explore outside your own box? Swordsmith Peter Johnsson and jewelry artist Bette Barnett will collaborate to guide you through a ten-day expedition into creative intuition, design theory, and technical instruction in their areas of expertise. This invitation-only gathering will be part class and part experimental lab, with structure and curriculum but also plenty of room to get outside your comfort zone and explore things unforeseen. It is an experience designed to expose you to new techniques, and to put you off balance and make you uncomfortable. You are already a talented maker, now come and seek the growth that can only be found with new experience and influence.


The Instructors

Peter Johnsson Headshot.jpeg

Peter Johnsson


Bette Barnett Headshot.jpg

Bette Barnett

Jewelry Artist

Hailing from Sweden, Peter is a master swordsmith known for his medieval style work as well as his swords "out of time," a body of work that is uniquely his own.

Peter uses his signature theory of modular geometric design to instill wholeness, tension, and grace into each of his pieces.

Bette has published articles in various jewelry journals and was a featured speaker at the 2022 Santa Fe Symposium, a research consortium dedicated to new developments in jewelry manufacturing. She is also a speaker at this year's Colorado Metalsmithing Association and is currently authoring a book entitled Creating Steel Jewelry scheduled for publication this year.


November 9-19 2023
A ten-day invitation-only creative retreat

Philosophy & Mindset 

Artistic growth, in its highest expression, is a never-ending journey of exploration and discovery. You have worked long and hard to develop a set of skills and a body of work to be proud of, and we see in you something we see in ourselves: a conscious desire to court inspiration and push yourself as a maker toward what you might find next. Though there is no recipe to tell you what that might be, your best bet is to acquire new skills and new influences, to push yourself into the cauldron of discomfort and see what alchemy might emerge.


It is with this ambition in mind that we invite you to participate in Metalmorphosis; Alchemy & Inspiration, a ten-day creative retreat in the New England countryside, this November. You will be guided by jeweler Bette Barnett and swordsmith Peter Johnsson, who along with the event’s host, bladesmith Zack Jonas, have created a curriculum designed to expose you to a range of techniques rooted in their individual expertise and to push you out of your comfort zone.


The retreat will be part class and part experimental lab, with a balance between tailored instruction and opportunity to explore the unforeseen. The session will be limited to twelve students, skilled makers all, hailing from various disciplines of metalsmithing. It will be built around a central theme, represented by an object for each student to conceive and construct over the ten-day period. This theme, will be kept under wraps until the retreat begins; in the interest of exploring new ground, the plan is for you to arrive with the least preconception possible so that you may start fresh and thereby reap the greatest benefit.


Each day will be divided into segments, and each segment will begin with a gathering, a chance for the instructors to introduce the subject at hand and to bring the group into a focused frame of mind. These segments will contain instruction and demonstration, as well as practical exercises, theory discussions, perhaps some philosophy, and space for more free-form exploration.


Topics of inquiry and instruction may include, but are not limited to:


Philosophy of making, the nature of power objects

Design principles, and exercises to limber up those muscles

Geometry & proportion

Translating concept into form

Forging & forming



Fusing gold & other metals to steel


Keum boo/Eun boo


Gas welding

Heat treatment



Texturing, finishing, patination


We could not hope to cover each of these topics comprehensively; the full ten days could be spent on any one of them. The aim is to introduce each topic and give you a sense of the fundamentals so that you can build an idea of what might be possible. Paydirt for this retreat is to be found when you combine the contemplative aspects with the technical possibilities and see where it takes you. In Peter’s words, “to allow each attendee to wander into the garden and see what they might harvest."


We want to emphasize that this not a “make-and-take” class. You may leave with one or more finished objects, but you would be far better served by placing the emphasis on gathering a new set of skills and a galvanized sense of creativity to apply to your work. It would be a mistake to force your object through to completion at the expense other aspects of the curriculum.


You may rightly wonder as you consider this opportunity who else will be attending. This session will be by invitation only. It is virtually impossible to quantify a list of requirements to be considered because of the varied backgrounds of our invitees, so we have simply invited those who we feel would be a worthy addition to the group, yourself included. It is not required that each attendee be a full-time artist, but this will be structured as a professional-level class. In one sense, there will be no beginners. In another sense, because the goal is to break new ground for yourself, we expect that all will feel like beginners at some point or another.


Tuition for this session will be $2800. There will be additional costs in the form of materials—we expect something in the range of $300-$400 per person—as well as your travel and accommodations. Zack and his wife Karina will provide food on site for those who opt in. The cost for dining will be $300 and will cover three meals a day plus inevitable odds and ends, unlimited coffee, and so on. This works out to ~$10/meal, and though it is easily the most convenient option it is by no means required. Past attendees have threatened to return for the food alone, regardless of class content.

Contact Us



  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page