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Artist, Designer Education

Hello -

I am an artist very interested in jewelry design. I work full time
and cannot take the workshops I’ve seen listed at various schools
lasting one week to six months. There is one community art school
in my immediate area offering classes, but given when the classes
are offered, it would take me a couple of years to have the skills
to work on my own (problem number one). Problem number two, if I
did piecemeal classes at that school, I would not have anywhere to
work, as this school is only set up for courses and does not rent
studio / bench space.

I would be interested in taking courses online or working with a
mentor in my area: Northern Virginia/Metropolitan DC.

I am also very interested in learning CAD/CAM, and wonder if there
is a user-friendly software (I know Rhino is apparently very good)
that anyone can recommend.

Thank you!
Ms. M. Mac

ArtCam, JewelCad, Rhino w. Penguin…
Here’s a good list w. prices and write-ups:

This PDF is a good intro:

There’s no ‘quick and easy way’ even with CAD you should have a good
goldsmithing foundation.

Taylor in Toronto

      Problem number two, if I did piecemeal classes at that
school, I would not have anywhere to work, as this school is only
set up for courses and does not rent studio / bench space. I would
be interested in taking courses online or working with a mentor in
my area: Northern Virginia/Metropolitan DC. 

Hello Ms Mac: You have confused me - you say that if you did the
piecemeal classes at school, you wouldn’t have anyplace to work, but
where would you work if you took courses online? And to whom would
you go with a problem?

I’d vote for the piecemeal classes at the school - and the school
may even allow you to barter some of your skills in exchange for
using their workspace. I think courses on line work fine if you
already have a base from which to build, but it sounds like you need
to build a base first. Why not start taking one of the classes while
you look around for what you think would be more ideal or while you
look for workspace to rent (do you have any of the tools you need?).
You may surprise yourself and find that you progress much faster
than you think you would, and possibly the teacher would let you
move on with other projects. You may be a “natural” and find that
with very little instruction you could really move ahead quickly.
But by signing up for that first course, you will be able to tell
whether this plan will work for you.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

I believe you may find some form of help at the old Torpedo factory
in downtown Alexandria.

We moved away from the DC area in 1980 when conversion to a craft
center was either still a dream or just starting so I don’t know what
is really there… Easy to check out.


Dear Ms. M Mac,

I understand the difficulty of finding the time to take classes and
workshops, however, you will save yourself a lot of time and
frustration by doing so.

It’s very difficult to learn soldering and other techniques on your
own. And I simply can’t see learning goldsmithing online!

Finding a master to apprentice with is the traditional and probably
best way to learn goldsmithing. I apprenticed with my father, taught
myself many techniques and took classes at various schools.

One alternative is how-to videos. They can be very helpful.

But nothing is better than an in person demonstration and patient
guidance from a good teacher.

Many of my 5 Day Workshop students spend their vacation time at my
school. After which, they can start building up a home studio. It
doesn’t take that many tools to get started. Add more tools little by
little. I’m still buying tools.

Don’t put obstacles in your way! Good luck.

Fredricka Kulicke
PO Box 216
Augusta NJ 07822
phone 201 230 2973


3DESIGN express is a new solution for 3D jewelry design. You can
download it at and get a 1 month free
evaluation. The software comes with tutorials, a starting guide and
all the tools you need to start easily with it. In add, the
SWAROVSKI’s crystal fashion component library (the world=92s leading
manufacturer of cut crystal) is included in the software. Simply
launch the program once, you will be surprised to see how clear is
the interface and ergonomic are the icons.

keep me posted

Emilie Bonneton

Ms Mac,

Don’t short change yourself into thinking that you will not be about
to do anything with a few classes. If you are an artist you should
have some given talent to work with metal. See attached photo of my
piece that I made in my first class.

Now I was told that I was not the average student but I will not say
that I was the most talented to come through the class.

As for a working area all you need is a table. I started with one of
those 4ft folding tables from the office supply. Get a screw on type
bench pin with the anvil on the back. Get yourself a jewelers saw
and a good jewelers file. If there is a flea market around check it
out. There is a friend of mine that is always looking and she has
gotten a number of her tools there. Just this week she got the
little riveting hammer for like 50 cents.

Buy a couple of books. Get Tim McCreights The Complete Metalsmith as
a must. I have read it cover to cover at least 3 times. Even shows
how to build a simple bench is you have a friend that is handy with
some plywood.

Buy at least one of the following.

Jewelry - Fundamentals of Metalsmithing by Tim McCreight The
Encyclopedia of Jewelry-Making Techniques by Jenks McGrath- This was
my first book. Jewelry Making Techniques Book by Elizabeth Olver

Just go enroll in a class and see if this is for you. I have seen
people come to the first class and then never be seen again. If you
are discourage after the first class, please talk to the instructor.
You may just need a few minor correction on what you are doing to
feel more confident.


Rodney Carroll
RC Gems

Thank you for posting your location, that is always helpful. There
was a recent thread on classes in the D.C. Perhaps you can find it
in the archives. The discussion was about continuing education

I’d list them for you, but I don’t have the names exactly right. I
know there are some, though. Including a community college.

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


I am enjoying the suggestions you are giving to Becca. They are all
good and thoughtful. I would like to run one past you for feedback,
and that of course is open to anyone else here on Orchid.

Since my first exposure to this field, and I mean in just about
every avenue of it, I have been very dismayed to find a lack of
minorities anywhere.

My experiences in Rock and Mineral Societies, have shown there to be
vestiges of prejudices. I find this distressing, and want to be a
part of ending it. I have never known a child of any culture to not
love “rocks.” From Rock Field Trips, come an interest in Lapidary,
from there Smithing, and up the scale.

I wonder how to begin a mentor program to involve both minority
children as well as their parents. It is time to open this up to all
human beings.

Along the way I have found some kindred souls, but not very many. I
personally have taught lapidary and basic mounting of stones in the
after school program at the school my grandson’s attended. This was
very positive with children introducing me to their parents at
markets in such a loving way.

We talk about apprenticeships, I wonder if some of us at a personal
level can take the time to introduce the field we so much love to
others, and bring them into local rock and mineral clubs that allow
children to be members, many do not.

If there are any suggestions, please send them along. Many Societies
are near closing because of declining membership. these Societies
were formed after WW 2, and the members are late age. I do believe
this is the answer to regenerating the hobby and introducing
children to Earth Sciences and Fine Arts.


For classes in Northern Virginia, try Arlington County Dept. of
Recreation. They have an amazing jewelry studio at an arts center
under the big Thomas Jefferson Middle School on S. 2nd street, just
off intersection of Glebe Rd. and Rt. 50, Arlington Blvd. Lots of
classes in many things, year round.

You could also take metal and jewelry classes at Montgomery College
in nearby Maryland -


Hi Terrie,

The California MAJORITY was never part our local lapidary club.
Spanish speaking folks didn’t come around 'till they heard that I’d
be there - and even though they all were bilingual, they were more
comfortable with an instructor who is also bilingual. When I left a
few years later, one by one they quit…

People seem to be comfortable when there are several members of a
culture present - or at least someone who thoroughly "understands."
Seven years in Mexico qualified me, I guess.


    I wonder how to begin a mentor program to involve both
minority children as well as their parents. It is time to open this
up to all human beings. 

Go where the kids are already. Gather up your fellow rock hounds
and create a “speakers bureau.” Create an “activity in a box,” I
mean an actual Rubbermaid box.

Advertise to places like Boys and Girls Clubs that are successful in
the inner city, and offer to send in your volunteers.

Create flyers and put them at the local council offices of the Girl
Scouts of the USA and Boy Scouts of America.

To be really successful, research their badge requirements for both
Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Junior Girl Scouts has an "Art to Wear"
badge, for example, that has as one of its options having a jeweler
come in to explain casting or another process. (For more
on Girl Scouts, see, or write
to me.)

Work with the YMCA. They do a lot of things with kids during the
school day.

Develop relationships with the staff there, so they really know what
you have to offer and will tell the volunteers who work directly
with the kids.

It’s not hard, it just takes time. Very grant fundable, though.
Ideal for rock societies and metals guilds. No need to create new
organizations, just need someone to bring people together.

Message combined

I would like every Girl Scout Council in the US to have a “program
box,” for leaders to check out which would have the in
it, in a ready to use and easy to understand way, the stuff needed
to complete the “learn about casting” requirement for the Junior
Girl Scout “Art to Wear” badge.

(Junior Girl Scouts are 4th, 5th, 6th grade.)

Here’s what is needed:

  • a rubber mold of something easy to visualize, like a ring

  • a wax shot from that mold. One to be glued down so it won’t
    break, and extras for the girls to actually feel and touch.

  • a fresh rough casting made from that wax, including sprue. Metal
    type doesn’t matter, the cheaper the better

  • a finished piece of jewelry from the same mold.

  • a video actually showing the process of casting would be terrific.
    the shorter the better.

  • and some pictures to be put on a small poster and laminated. For
    these images to be provided by, oh, I don’t know, a large supplier
    who already has the pictures, would be great.

I hereby volunteer to coordinate this project.

My first step will be to determine how many Girl Scout councils
(local offices) there are in the US.

I invite anyone who wishes to to duplicate the project for something
rock hound related, or the same project for Girl Guides in other
countries, to do so.

I am not excluding boys, I just have no experience with Boy Scouts
of America. I happen to have extensive experience with and
knowledge of Girl Scouts of the USA, and therefore find it easy to
work with them. The Art to Wear badge is particularly popular as
well, so this would be a program box that would get used.

To keep it simple, I guess it would be easiest if one person or
company donated the items in a group: the mold, the waxes, the rough
casting and the finished casting.

If you would like to make this donation to a not for profit agency,
I’m sure that can be worked out, either through Girl Scouts
directly, or perhaps through a metals guild.

If appropriate, perhaps the Ganoksin Project could somehow be a

Please contact me off list and I will provide you with my address if
you would like to participate.

Thank you.
Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Hello Orchidland,

Terrie posted about the need to nurture youngsters in their
interests as “pebble puppies” and jewelry makers. I’ll suggest that
anyone interested in doing this should contact your local 4-H
Extension office (every U.S. county should have one - look under
county offices in your phone book) and offer to be a volunteer
leader in your area of skill. The 4-H coordinator will locate and
put together interested youth and arrange meeting times and sites.

Here’s what I have planned for this summer. I’m teaching a half-day
wire-wrapping class to twelve 4-H kids. Kenneth Singh (bless his
heart) is helping assemble kits with basic, inexpensive hand tools,
which I will complete with supplies of sterling and copper wire,
findings, and stone beads. The course fee covers the cost of the
kit and I donate my time. They’ll learn the basics of manipulating
wire and beads to make links and assemble them into a bracelet and
earrings. We’ll make simple rings to size, and learn to work-harden
the metal. Nothing fancy. I want them to experience success and
have the necessary tools to work on their own. It should be fun.

Judy in Kansas