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Personal Jewelry Retreat:
Opals Queen of Gems with Holly and Chris Gage

A pairing of art and fine food

This 3-day retreat is all about spoiling you! We’ll pamper you every step of the way, from your artistic experience to the gourmet food. Holly and Chris have a combined 47 years of experience, and they plan on feeding your soul, your creative spirit, and your need to learn and grow in a nurturing environment. Your workshop experience will be customized to your ability, and tailored to your skill level, so whether you are a newbie or a seasoned veteran, we’ll make sure you leave with something you are proud to own and wear. Gage Design Studio is well equipped with Jewelry, Metal Clay, and Lapidary equipment, so if you can imagine it, you can create it. We are nestled off the beaten path in the beautiful rolling hills of quiet Lancaster County.

Chef Chris will cater your retreat with his special brand of TLC in his meticulously prepared and locally sourced meals. Chris has been cooking and hosting retreats with Holly for over 20 years, and students are always ready to return for more.


Groups up to 3 are welcome, at $ 1735 per person
Accommodations are off -location at your own expense.

Spousal Rate is $250
Includes meals. Does not include studio, bench, or lesson time.

Optional Material Kits are available for your convenience (See Materials list for details of inclusion)
Rough Opal Slab for Cabbing approx.           $35 – $105 depending on size and number of cabs cut
Fire-in-Place Opals and Opal Shards                $2.50  – $45 each
Metal Clay Kit (depends on class selection)   $85 – $135               

Prices include teaching fees, pdf, bench fees, all tools, equipment, firing, and meals.
Air flight is the responsibility of the student and is not included above.
Payment packages available. Please inquire.

Your 3-Day Retreat Includes

  • Class starts on Friday morning, 10:00 am (Arrive at 9:45)

  • Workshop Friday – Sunday

  • (3) Nights, (3) day event

  • (2) Breakfasts

  • (3) Gourmet Lunches 

  • (3) Gourmet Dinners with dessert

  • 2 - day Metal Clay Workshop with Holly Gage

  • 1- day Lapidary Session with Chris Gage where you can make 3 – 5 cabs depending on size for a single student.
    1 per student groups of 3.

  • Alfresco Dinner on our quiet, peaceful deck weather permitting.

  • Evenings on your own to explore.

  • Depart on Sunday after class.

    Note: Any dining as a group away from the property will be covered by the host.


Details of Your Retreat Stay

Cultured Opal Cutting with Chris Gage
This 1-day workshop will satisfy the Opal lover in you!
Opal cutting is fun and therapeutic as you cut and shape your opal until a smooth mirror finish. You’ll start with your choice of rough opal material and select from a variety of template shapes. Using a tile saw, you will cut the rough shape of the cabochon, then using the 6-wheel professional lapidary machine, you will shape, polish, and work your way through the various wheels until you have a beautiful stone you are proud to have and to hold. Time allotment and size will determine how many stones you will be able to finish, approximately 3 – 5 per rough slab.

Material Kit:  $35 – $105

  • Dopping Wax and Dop

  • Rough Cultured Opal Slab for Cabbing     

  • Access to All Lapidary Equipment

Metal Clay Workshop with Holly Gage
Select from 1 of 3 (2) day workshops. Holly has taught all over the world, and now you get a private one-to-one workshop of your choice. Each selection focuses on Cultured Opals. You can set your very own Opal made with Chris, using one of tw
o unique bezel setting techniques, Bezel Setting like a Pro or Romancing the Stone: Reverse Bezel Setting. Alternatively, you can try the Radiant Opal Pendant using the NEW
Fire-in-Place Opals with intricate rotary tool carving and piercing techniques and Opal Inlay. Each class has its own unique techniques and skills to learn, taught at your own pace with design learning opportunities, well-illustrated handouts, demonstrations of each step, and as much hand-holding as you need or not.

Radiant Opal Pendant
Bold design and delicate textures surround beautiful Fire in Place Cultured Opals with a combination of surprising techniques. You’ll create intricate open spaces and surface textures with your rotary tool and various diamond burs in the greenware stage of your Silver Metal Clay. Yeah, your rotary tool! And it’s easy on your hands!

Then you’ll capture the allure of  Heat-Resistant Cultured Opals having all the radiance and iridescence you love in a good quality Opal, but unlike Natural Opals, these can be fired at 1650º F or 900º C without burning up from the extreme heat needed to sinter the Metal Clay. After being told a long firing isn’t probable, I went on a quest to figure out how to fire them in place in Metal Clay. After many tests and trial and error, I figured out the secret of firing long and hot for strength without cracking the stones, discoloring, or hazing. I’m really excited about the possibilities, but more than that, I can’t wait to teach you.

Materials List: $135
Fine Silver Metal Clay,  Fire in Place Opal Round Gems of your choice ($45 allowance), Gem Burr to match,
Other shaped gems need a matching template 2 – 3 mm bigger than the stone, Super Sculpey Original® or Premo® Polymer Clay, Foam Shaper/Healing Tool, Rotary Tool, Diamond Burr Set, Carbon Paper, Ball Point Pen, 3M Polishing Paper Set, Tissue Blade, Small Pottery Loop Tool, Polishing Pads, 3M Polishing Points - 3mm, Eve® Bristle Brushes, Eve® Rubber Wheels, and Knife, Edge sets, Fused Silica Bead Firing Dish or Fiber bowl, Vermiculite, Grafix® Incredible White Mask, Liquid Frisket, Basic Tool Kit, Kiln.

How to Inlay Opal Shards is a “bonus” section to be discussed only.
Materials Needed: Art Resin® Epoxy Resin, Opal Shards or Crushed Opal, Toothpick, 3 Small Cups for mixing resin.

                               • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Bezel Setting Like a Pro
A fantastic stone needs a fantastic setting: and in this workshop, that’s exactly what you’ll learn to make. Good craftsmanship and a clean and well-finished bezel are the keys to a professionally set stone. This 2-part firing method of working with bezel setting and Metal Clay is clean and forgiving, so there is no soldering, no investment placeholder, no pull away from embedding the wire, no distortion, and the stone fits every time! During the class, you will learn design concepts surrounding the creation of a bezel for a stone of your choice using fine silver bezel wire. The bezel will be attached to a piece that has been designed and fired first. Afterward, you will attach the bezel to the rest of your piece and prepare for a second firing. Finally, the stone will be set and ready for the final touch. The result will have people wondering, “How did you do that?” So come and join me, and you, too, will be setting stones like a pro.

You will use the Opal cab you cut with Chris during your lapidary lesson.

“Evolved Design Exploration” will also be covered. It’s a guided method of finding your motivation, pushing yourself to new levels of awareness, and evolving your design to the next creative level. Your perceptions are sharpened, and your imagination can develop beyond what was previously available by going deeper within.

Materials List: $85
Cultured Opal Cabochon, 15 mm and up, PMC 3 or  Art Clay Fine Silver, Art Clay Paste® type  — brand specific, must be this brand), Glycerin, Fine Silver Bezel Wire —must go just above the curve of the stone or just above the height of a flat stone. Too high is better than too low. 26 – 30 gauge. (Up to a 15 mm stone, use a thinner gauge wire such as a 30 gauge. Larger stones use a thicker gauge wire, such as 26 - 28. All, however, will work), 1/8 thick foam paper sponge applicator, Black Sharpie® Fine Point Marker, 400 grit sandpaper, 3 M polishing Papers®, Polishing cloth, Bench Block, Nylon, Plastic or Rawhide Mallet, Rotary tool Eve® Rubber Polishing Wheels and Knife-edge for Silver, Black (coarse), Blue (medium), Pink (fine) with mandrel for rotary tool
Barrel-shaped Diamond Bur, 3M Radial Bristle Brushes 400 grit to fine, Tweezers (Cross-lock Optional), Flat, round, and chain nose pliers, Flush cutters, Basic Metal Clay Tools, and Textures, Burnisher or bezel rocker, Kiln.

                               • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Romancing the Stone: Reverse Stone Setting
Delicate gems need special treatment and an extra-special setting.  Many beautiful stones can not be fired in place, so when you wish to overlap the stone with details, you add an additional challenge to the design of your piece. My solution is to set the gem from the back.  It may sound as if you have to design the whole piece backward, but this is not the case. Not only that, but you can even make a reversible pendant if you so desire, and it is much easier than you might imagine!

We will discuss a successful design to enhance the stone, bezel setting, tube bails, tube set gems, flush set gems, buds, snake charming, finishing techniques, and more. This is like my Bezel Setting Like a Pro Class on steroids!
You will use the Opal cab you cut with Chris during your lapidary lesson.

Materials List: $85
Cultured Opal Cabochon, PMC 3 or Low fire Art Clay, Art Clay Paste Type® (Brand-specific), Glycerin, Fine silver bezel wire the height of the stone, Texture plate,  Extruder, and tube adapter, Carving tool or mini Dockyard® tools, Mascara brush (optional), 4 - 6 mm fire in place gem, Gem bur the size of the stone, Rotary tool, Eve® Rubber polishing wheels, and knife-edge for Silver, blue (medium), pink (fine) for rotary tool, 3M Radial Bristle Brushes 400 grit to fine for rotary tool, 3M radial bristle discs coarse to fine for silver to fit your rotary tool, Bezel rocker or burnisher,  Basic Tool Kit, Kiln.


Studio, Dining, and Accommodations


Our studio comes with its own Zen. It is a place where daily life is placed on the other side of the door, and you can relax and enjoy a creative experience.  You can access the studio from the first floor directly from outside or through a door in the main house. Outdoor provides easy access with no steps. From the house, it is one step, and you're there. The studio is temperature-controlled with both hot and cool air.

Students should wear comfortable clothes and closed-toed shoes. I have dusk masks, aprons, and safety goggles for you.
Although alcoholic beverages will be available on your personal retreat after studio hours, there will be no alcoholic beverages allowed in the studio for safety purposes, nor students under the influence.

All special dietary needs and food-related allergies should be reported upon booking.

Schedule a Retreat

Your customized 3-day retreat is waiting for you. Read about the 3 classes to choose from and give us a call to set up the date at

Chris Gage teaching a student lapidary


Lodging is about 15 minutes away. A list will be provided upon booking.

Special Accommodations:
We want to make the class as fulfilling and comfortable as possible. Please let us know if you have any special needs we need to consider so you can make the best of your trip.

Policies, Dining, Weather, and Transportation:

Registration Policy:
Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. All bookings require a 50% deposit; the balance is due 60 days prior to your arrival date. Payment package available; please inquire. Deposits can be made by secured pay pal account, wire, or express mail by check. In order to hold a reservation, we must receive the depo
sit within ten days of the booking.

Cancellation and refund policy:

Reservations can be canceled up to 45 days before check-in. This means you will receive a full refund, or you can reschedule your retreat for another time, subject to availability.

Reservations canceled 7 days or less will be subject to a full refund, minus $250 per person for food, and preparations, etc.

For 100% refund, you may sell your seat to another student with all transfer of funds remaining between you and the participant. Gage Design Studio will not be responsible for re-filling any reservation previously made. Please notify your host about the change.

Extenuating Circumstances

In instances such as the death of an immediate relative, natural disaster, Covid, or other illness, you may reschedule your retreat for another time. Valid proof will be required to provide supporting documentation for your circumstance. Reservations canceled 7 days or less will be subject to a full refund, minus $250 per person for food, and preparations, etc.


Please don’t come if you have a temperature, are sick, or have been exposed to someone who is ill without testing negative for the illness. Chris and Holly are both immune compromised.

Should the retreat be canceled by Gage Design Studio, the entire amount paid will be refunded within fourteen days (14) after the retreat’s cancellation. Once this occurs, we have no obligations regarding any additional costs or fees related to the issuance and/or cancellation of airline tickets or other travel reservations. We accept no liability for any airline cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a non-refundable ticket. Nor do we accept liability for canceled flights. Please consider purchasing insurance for your travel, as you never know what life surprises come about.

Flight arrivals will come into Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), which is 1 hour from the retreat location: Philadelphia Airport (PHL) is a 1 1/2 hrs. away. We suggest you look into car rentals or Uber since the area is rural. Arrangements can be made either in advance through the Internet or on location at the airport. Please submit travel itineraries a week prior to arrival so that we can stay abreast.

Travel Insurance.

It is strongly recommended that all workshop participants purchase Trip Cancellation, Emergency Medical Evacuation, Baggage, Accident, and Medical insurance from a reputable insurance company.

Weather for the local area:

We have the typical 4 seasons here in Lancaster, so dress for the season. Dressing in layers is a safe bet, so you can shed or add clothing as needed. The Studio is climate controlled, with heat and air conditioning as needed for your comfort.


We want our Retreat guests to have the best time and most enjoyable learning experience possible, and we have put in the effort to make it a reality. However, life can present situations beyond our control, and therefore we can not be held responsible for acts of nature, other students, and unforeseen situations. Additionally, while Holly Gage has fired hundreds of loads of work with precision ad accuracy, we can not be held liable should a firing issue arise from electrical surges, project breakage during firing, or other undesirable results. We will try our best to avoid these situations, but would be remiss in not mentioning these possibilities.

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