Ideal length of workshops

I was brainstorming about what would be more convenient. I think
there are good points for both. What do you think? What would be your
ideal length of time to learn something new?

Today’s topic is 2day vs. 4day workshops

2day Pros:
Skill development

2day Cons:
Not a good value for your $$
Not enough time to develop skill
No time to practice
No time for questions, practical or non-practical

4day Pros:
Great value for your buck
Skill development
Sufficient time to practice
Sufficient time to develop questions that arise practical and
develop relationships with instructor and classmates
Full staff support

4day Cons:
Conflicts with busy schedules
Wanting to stay and not go back
Have a nice day

Gabriel Manzo

Interesting Gabriel,

I run neither 2 day nor 4 day. Never have. Mine are 1 day, 3 day, 5
day, and some 10 days at the college. I’d guess 70% are 5 days. The
shorter ones are specialties like ring engraving, or making blanking

People come from all over to take them and have never mentioned any
concerns other than that they’d like me to do them even more often.

That’s not likely to happen though, since I’m all there is here. I
write the workshops, I print the notebooks, I answer the phones, I
order what’s needed, I teach every workshop (All 22 techniques), I
fix what breaks, and I clean the toilets when everyone leaves…

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA USA

I prefer a three day workshop format, with a perspective which comes
from time equally at both sides of the desk and bench. As an
instructor, I find that three days allows adequate time to insure
everyone is making progress at their own pace and provides the
opportunity to look further into the details of the process or

As a student, I prefer three days because there is sufficient time
to apply the new skill set in the classroom and ask for additional
direction and guidance where it is needed. The majority of the
workshops I have taken at the Revere Academy were three day classes.
They were intensive and focused and we were able to accomplish our
projects with confidence and without feeling rushed.

I think the most important thing for any workshop is that the
instructor has an organized well laid out format, which presents the
objectives within the available classroom time, and produces
satisfying results for the participants.

Michael David Sturlin

i have a bit of experience with classes for various age groups and
skill levels. I am of the opinion that for kids, two days isn’t
enough time to establish boundaries and get them into the rythym of
following specific steps to an end…unless it’s really simple basic
stringing or saw and tab construction, or sand or cuttlefish casting
that is more exemplary than precision directed. A four days to a
week intensive or ongoing for a perscribed amount of time ( i like to
do 6 weekend in a row four hour a day sessions with kids say 9-16
that actually want to learn jewelery arts or a specific facet of the
art).works well for me if the goal for the kids is to learn
something rather than just demonstration or something to do…once.
However for adults, or kids over 16, a four day intensive can be
productive if they come with a basic set of experiences that allow
one to save explaining how to correctly load a sawblade, or what
hammer to use for x result. I like a seven ten day workshop/class for
about eight to ten participantsthough, as its long enough to absorb
what the teacher is offering and to observe the execution of the
technique more than once and to fully grasp a concept or technique so
that the individual can continue the process of perfecting whatever
‘it’ is in their home studio after some trial at the workshop.In
most cases. completing a piece during the workshop/class can’t be
done in two days if the time periods are two to three hours each day
particularly in the case of beginners… It should be said though
that there are some subjects that don’t require a week ( like
cuttlefish bone /broom casting, or scrap reclaimation for the small
shop) and others that a week or ten days barely covers the basics (
for instance basic stonesetting, or hand engraving).

So i suppose it all comes down to the course being taught, the
audience it is intended for, and the skill level and number of

Cost is almost a moot point.Generally,I have found materials run
fairly standard for the number of pieces the participants either
sign-on to make or recieve pre packaged materials for, wether or not
they complete all at the workshop/class. And the class fees are
structured to the degree of complexity, facilities cut, if any, and
other administrative costs- and sad, but true, the
reputation/popularity of the instructor in some cases if the class
is tied to a publicity event rather than say an operational school of
arts and craft ( i.e. penland, wildacres, arrowmont, revere
academy,J.C.Campbell folkschool etc)

Hi gabriel,

What would be your ideal length of time to learn something new? 

it all depends on whether you wish to attract people from interstate
or not… for me, if it’s local, 4 days is great, but if i have to
travel, find accommodation, transport, etc. 4 days usually works out
too dear

Hello Gabriel,

The ideal length of time to learn something new? An important
consideration is whether the learners have some basic skills in the
area, or if this is something totally new - meaning having to learn
and use new terms, tools, coordinated motions, etc.

If I’m removed from the beck and call of my everyday life, I’d vote
for two, twelve hour days, with a nice lunch and dinner provided in
30 minute breaks. IOW, a complete immersion in the new technique or
skill. That means a day for travel on each side of the training, so
it’s still 4 days out, but the travel time can be rejuvenating and a
time for reflection on the recent learning.

I’m curious to learn how others respond, Judy in Kansas, where we’re
"enjoying" temps in the 90s - is it fall yet???


As one who has both taken and taught jewelry workshops (primarily in
the use of Precious Metal Clay), I would like to offer several

  1. Taking Workshops

I have often felt when taking a 3-day workshop that I still had more
to learn by ‘doing’ and would have preferred to remain in the studio
to continue working. Anything more than the three days, and a little
break is needed, even if for a few hours ‘recess’ of doing nothing,
but longer for me would have been better.

Having been fortunate enough to be able to take a two-week workshop
years ago, I learned that, with that kind of intense learning
experience, one needs at least one day in the middle to 'breathe’
and refresh one’s brain cells. Very rewarding experience.

I guess, if I had to offer advice, I would say, find the time, make
the time to take longer workshops.

  1. Teaching Workshops

I generally teach 3-day workshops and have to pare and prune the
I want to share so that it fits into the time allotted.
I dislike eliminating but it’s a great exercise for me
to do this and my students generally tell me that they are filled to
overflowing. I like to hear that. I know that they will be able to
use the I’ve given them. I also make certain they have
in writing, too, with hand-outs.

However, I would prefer to teach longer workshops; five days to two
weeks. This permits extensive time for independent work, personal
attention, time for slides, etc. and a well-structured demo and
lecture time. It also is more practical for me in terms of time away

These longer workshops are more difficult to fill for the 'schools’
because (1) they are more expensive and (2) they require potential
students to make more time available. But, they are rich learning

There are such pluses to teaching. I am always rewarded by the
pleasure my student’s take in receiving the I give them.
I always learn something from my students. I get paid (that’s only a
good thing). It’s also not bad being respected as The Authority;
definitely nourishes one’s ego. Except for the time away from my own
studio (including travel time, too), teaching has been and continues
to be a positive, enriching activity for me.

All that being said, I teach because it is essential that whatever I
KNOW about making jewelry should be passed on to another generation
of jewelrymakers. I learned so much of what I know from generous
jewelers I met at craft shows, who were willing to share information
with me and from taking a range of workshops over the years. I
remember when those of us in the field spoke of the one person who
re-discovered (had to re-discover) how to do granulation, because
the technique had been lost. My skills are certainly different from
that, but I can pass on traditional jewelry making techniques and
techniques for using metal clay. My students will carry it on.

Linda Kaye-Moses

Dear all concerned!!!

For your to you on this topic I have MY suggestions.
Start early as possible, about 8:00 a.m. learn till 10:00 coffee
break and talk academics. Back again till noon. Nothing later, get
out of the shop totally, no ‘lunching-in’. Teach and demo till the
3:00 break…stop and hands-on after that, BUT finish totally at
6:00 or 5:30…no late evening sessions. Get MY drift? No 12 hour
shifts. At home re-write all of your notes, that’s still learning
though. If you go for dinner, talk academics after the food. Get your
mind off of the learning if you can! Remember that 30% of what you
learned in the day will most definitely be ‘lost’ in a few hours or
days…make notes while you are listening. Draw diagrams for easy
retrieval. As for setting this is one of the hardest things to learn
and remember. Another thing to think of is that right after big lunch
(try to avoid this), you might get a bit sleepy. So if this happens,
get up and grab a strong coffee…:>) These are my special
instructions for all and also to my students everywhere ! BTW at the
second day you will be MORE refreshed and then the topics will be
sinking in better…but make tons of notes I had one student in my
setting class in school, she used to make her notes in Mandarin. She
really learned well…Gerry!

Again, I’m here on this topic. I am starting a new class in my
community college, in 4 weeks time. My very first lesson is on
language, terms used in this class. Diamond names that will be used,
correct names of tools. Types of actual tools, Although it is a
setting class, this “new” language is still a part of their learning.
I do a quick verbal quiz at the end of the day…no guessing as I use
this newer language all the time during the 7day/49 hours…


Gerry,…I would not call 7 day/49hours not a workshop…thats a
full course!!!

Cheers from Don in SOFL


she used to make her notes in Mandarin

Just a small linguistic note here…Mandarin in a dialect of the
Chinese spoken language. Written Chinese is the same in any dialect
(though there are unique phrases used in various parts of the
country). It would be correct to say, “She took all her notes in

Cheers from Don in SOFL

Hi Judy and Gabriel,

First of all, Judy, it’s going to be in the 30s here in northern
Vermont one of these nights, soon, actually already has been. Send
some rays our way. On length of workshops: interesting question to
me, since this summer I signed up for a large number of workshops at
Snow Farm in MA and Fletcher Farm in VT, and I was at the beginning
level for all including the silver fabrication I and II. (The MA
workshops were for lampwork beads). the workshops I attended varied
from 2-day weekend extensive workshops to the two week silver
fabrication class, which I adored and would have kept on
indefinitely. On the whole, though, the four day workshops felt good,
because you had time to get over feeling shy and incompetent and
could actually produce something of value by the end of four days.
For the instructors, five days seemed to tire them and their patience
grew a little short on the last day; on the other hand, I think the
shortest workshops were frustrating because the instructors barely
got into their subject when it was time to finish up and leave, and
they really didn’t have a chance to get around to everyone (6-7 in a
class) and assist in trouble-shooting. Or, they would actually finish
a person’s project themselves just to get it done in the constricted
time frame. The days typically were 9-12 in studio, 45 minutes lunch,
1-5 in studio, 1 hour dinner plus 1 more hour break, open studio 7-10
pm. Thanks for letting me air my comments since I am new to Orchid.

Nancy in Vermont

Most of the workshops I teach are 2 days, Sat and Sunday. The
students get so much in such a short period of time, it
feels like their heads are swimming and their hands are screaming. I
have a self published books that I pass on to them to help to remind
them of what we covered in that short period of time. They tell me it
really helps.

My favorite workshops are the 5 days to a week… Where I can go over
the basics slowly, let their hands rest and teach them exercises to
release strain. They then can make a simple bracelet or something
small to get the technique down. Then I get to see where they take
the process into their own work. This is the most exciting part.
Something that I don’t get to see in a two day class.

We can problem solve together and I learn just as much from my
students as they learn from me.

I love it!!!

Joan Dulla
Crocheting with Wire

I have taken many classes at Mendocino Art Center during the last 10
years. The length of a class depends on what the instructor’s
expectations of the students are.

Some instructors want a finished product at the end of a 2-day
class. If that expectation sn’t included in the class description the
student is at a disadvantage. My reason for taking classes is to
learn a new skill or renew what I have previously learned from a
favorite instructor. Some students are able to design, fabricate,
cast (or whatever) and finish a new project in 2 days, others are

So if an instructor expects a finished (polished, ready to wear)
item at the end of a class, it would be helpful if they state that in
the description of the class.

Secondly, if a finished product is what they want to see, then a
very specific materials list should be sent to the student, so they
can decide if they can “afford” these tools and materials and/or meet
those expectations.

All that aside I prefer 4 day workshops. That is time enough to
learn new skills, tools, etc., finish one project, yet have energy to
have some fun in a new surrounding and let some of these new skills
“soak in”.

Yvonne Pankowski


Just reviewing my archived letters. In my very humbled opinion the
most advantageous length of classroom training would be a 4day
training session. If the session can be arranged from a Saturday till
Tuesday or from Monday till Thursday, these would be the best days.
This way there would be no conflicts with the retail period. No
skills can be taught in a 2day period. No time can be spent answering
important questions.

I have done some 3day teaching/training sessions, too much to demo,
stress levels are high both for the teacher and the student. Always
looking at the clock watching for what the client has to learn, if
they are slow, more time is incurred in the learning curve. It is not
conducive to a proper learning period. The end result is a
mismanagement of timing, for the student. Its money thrown out of the
window, stick with the 4 day session, anytime!

Those 4 day list of pro’s are very true and correct…