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Kids Camp

Hello All!

We are wrapping up our first “Camp Metalwerx” today with seven
campers, ages 11-14. This has been quite an experience for all of
us and one that we would repeat. These kids were fearless with a
torch, a hammer, and broke way less sawblades than my “adults” while
piercing very complex patterns. They happily dived in with their
needle files concentrating on making every rough surface smooth.
They played with PMC, brought back rocks from the DeCordova Museum
Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA and drilled holes for a rock wrapping
project. They all are going home with rings on their fingers and
toggles for their backpacks zippers. Today we are concluding with a
visit to the Brannen Brothers Flute Company, a gallery show of their
work, complete with professional cases and a BBQ this afternoon.

We were so encouraged by their attentiveness and courage, that we
will be hosting an After School Metals program in the fall.

If you ever have a chance to work with kids, I encourage you to do


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


Fantastic - thank you for sharing. And thanks for thinking of the
next generation.

My only question: that sounded like so much fun, when are you going
to do “camp”-style classes for grownups!


Karen, You just reminded me, when my grandson’s were living with me,
I enrolled them in a charter School.

I volunteered in each classroom for something over 3 years. I was
asked to teach in the after school program and did so. I taught
lapidary, the children learned to identify stones and then I taught
them to make jewelry for themselves and their family.

For quite some time after my guys moved to Texas, I would get hugged
in markets and similar. Those children would pull over their parent
and so happily say, “this is my teacher.”

I joined a Rock and Mineral Culb that welcomed children. As the boys
reached 8, they were allowed to use the equipment and cut cabachons.
They loved it.

A rather elderly lady was trying to learn the machinery and a very
proud 8 year old Anthony, gently took her hands an showed her how to
rotate the dop and finish her stone.

We need to bring the children into our midst, the survival of Rock
and Mineral groups is contingent on youth with interested parents.

  We need to bring the children into our midst, the survival of
Rock and Mineral groups is contingent on youth with interested

When my father gave me all his lapidary and metalsmithing tools and
materials, I joined the local (one of the Tucson) rock clubs that
has a nice clubhouse and workshop. I was really excited to learn from
all these great folks.

I went to a couple of meetings, where I was the youngest person by
25 years. I am 40! I got so much attention – it was like they were
STARVED for younger folks.

But unfortunately that attention drove me away. At the meetings I
was immediately pressured into filling long-vacant officer positions;
in the workshop I was treated like a 10 year old (the guy who
monitored the lapidary room would just grab the cabs out of my hands
when I asked a question about something – rather than tell me or
show me – he would just do it for me); the same guy ran the
metalsmith lab. I even got in a tug of war with him once when I tried
to hang on to my cab and say, “no just answer my question, please, I
want to learn!”

It’s too bad. I really wanted to learn and enjoy the company of
these folks, many of whom I remember and love from my youth following
my dad around rockhounding and polishing and making jewelry.

If rock clubs want to retain younger folks, they need to keep this
in mind for all ages. Karen had it just right: you let them do their
stuff, you modernized (zipper pulls for backpacks! great idea! the
rock club I joined was still making gem trees and glueing tumbled
rocks into tacky base metal bails…), and you help create the next


Go Terrie! What a wonderful thing you did!

You are so right - we must bring the next generation in. My dd is
13, and has been making and SELLING what she made since she was 12.
She does many of my shows with me, goes to the wholesale shows to buy
with me, figures out what the cost per bead or finding is, and
whether it is in a range that she can then use in a piece and still
be able to sell. She has learned to set up and take down the booth,
to greet customers and help them, she fills out the sales slips, and
does everything except the credit card sales. I can’t tell you what
an ego-booster all of this is!

We belong to a gem and mineral club, and she is at least 20 years
younger than anyone else. Most of the members are retired. I think
that is so sad! She has been to a workshop with me, and was the only
kid there. More folks need to encourage and mentor kids, get them
involved and interested.

Loren Damewood was wonderful, and came and did a mini “workshop” at
my dd’s school, and showed them what he does. What a wonderful
experience for the kids to see both what can be done, and then to
really begin to understand how much work, skill and talent goes into

Thanks for posting the info on the camp Karen - maybe it will
inspire more experienced people to do the same.

Beth in SC

Karen - your Kids Camp sounds great. I’d like to second the idea of
working with young adults. They are, after all, the future of our
craft. At The Arts Center in St. Petersburg, we are in the midst of
our Summer Camp for 5 to 16 year olds. We offer a jewlery class for
the older kids and it has been very successful. Also, when visitors
with children pop into the studio, we open a box of inexpensive
tumbled rocks and let each child pick their favorite. You never
know - you might be providing inspiration to the next generation of
jewelry artists!

Gini in very hot and humid FL.

Thanks Roseanne.

 you modernized (zipper pulls for backpacks! great idea! the rock
club I joined was still making gem trees and glueing tumbled rocks
into tacky base metal bails...), and you help create the next

We try to protect our kids from everything these days and forget, we
did things in our youth, that we would never do now. We rode our
bikes at night, got into mischief and a lot of fun. We forget the
kind of fearless spirit that kids have. They want to be challenged
and stretched. They want to learn.

If you want to bring kids into the next generation of metalsmiths
and jewelers, contact your local schools. Bring your work, your
slides and your enthusiasm. Sponsor a field trip. Get involved.
They will listen, I promise you.


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio

Very nifty Karen. I’ll put in a pitch for teaching Sunday School.
We have a rotational program going, so that every week the class
goes to a different class reflecting a different activity. I taught
a “make a gift” session during the weeks before Christmas. Each
youngster made a bracelet and earrings for a gift to a special woman

  • Mom, Grandma, teacher, baby-sitter, etc.

The primary school ages were successful making stretchy bead
bracelets. High Schoolers formed links with stone beads on wire.
It appeared to be fun for all ages and genders.

Terrie’s correct in that exposing those young folks to
lapidary/jewelry activities is the future. I think it’s very
important that they come away with a feeling of success and
something tangible to show off. Karen’s camp sounds perfect!

Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944

I am an art teacher in a great private school in Houston. I teach
metalsmithing to my oldest students (6th graders) during the school
year. They take a quarter of art 4 days a week. I teach them to
etch and shape a copper bracelet, cut pieces with a jeweler’s saw and
rivet them together, hammer bracelets from wire, and make earrings
using pieces that they cut and etch combined with beads. You can see
what I am teaching them on our school website,, click on
Fine Arts, Visual Art, Middle School Art Gallery. I teach Lower
School there, as well. LOVE my job. Kids are SO interested in
working with metal. They really love it and do things I might never
think of doing! I also teach a summer camp in June that is open to
any students in 6th grade or older, including adults. Many of the
kids who take my class during the school year come back in the summer
to do the camp. I charge them 250 a week (3 hours a day) and supply
everything they need unless if they want to buy some silver. Such

Linda Woods

    I am an art teacher in a great private school in Houston.  I
teach metalsmithing to my oldest students (6th graders) during the
school year. 

Wow, Linda - I’m impressed with your 6th graders. Terrific designs

  • who would have thought they could do such detailed work. What you
    are doing is so terrific - I wish all schools would offer this type
    of training instead of what happens at most schools which is that
    they tend to squelch creativity in students (probably not
    intentionally, but just don’t think it terribly important). Thanks
    for giving these young students a chance to flex their creative side


I loved reading about the kids camp at Metalwerx. Sorry that since I
live in CT it was just a bit too far for my kids to attend. I know
they would have loved it. I have a great story of my own about
working with kids. Last summer when my daughter was 13 she and I
hosted a mother/daughter jewelry group in my studio for around 6 of
her friends and their moms. We would get together one evening a week
over the summer and make beaded jewelry together. There was a
different project with different skills each week - elastic
bracelets and neclaces, memory wire, double strand pieces, floating
pearls etc. I’d order a pizza, we’d open a bottle of wine for the
moms. sparkling cider for the girls and we’d all have a great time.
We’d all become little girls for the night, sharing our excitment
over creating beautiful things together. It was a great way for the
moms to be together with daughters who are at the cusp of adolesence
and beginning to distance themselves. Three of the girls who
participated in the group (including my daughter) got really hooked
on making jewelry and continued to produce in great quantity after
the summer was over. The girls asked if they could participate in my
annual open studio sale in December. They joined me and several
other professional artists who participate in the show. They did
everything we did - they struggled to come up with prices that were
fair to themselves and attractive to customers, they put together a
mailing list of friends and sent out invitations, they put together
a smashing looking display for their work (with no input from me),
and since they were set up by the entrance to the stdio they greeted
everyone, made sure everyone signed our mail list and oriented them
to the show. They had a blast and sold many hundreds of dollars
worth of work. Very exciting for 13 year olds! As the summer
approached this year I was contacted by a woman who has a 5th grade
daughter who had seen the girls work at the show and had heard about
our mother/daughter jewelry group. She was interested in doing a
similar thing with her daughter this summer and was wondering if my
daughter and her friend might like to teach the younger girls to
make jewelry. Needless to say they were thrilled and after much
planning they will be having their first of 6 classes next week.
They are talking about starting a business running jewelry making
birthday parties and also starting a jewelry making club in high
school which they will enter in the fall. I am proud of them,
thrilled that they have found a passion… and the special bonus
for me is that it is one that we share.

By best to all, Ellen

Ellen - kudos to you, and to your daughter! What a wonderful idea,
and how great for the girls! Finding a way to stay connected to
teenagers is so important, and can be so difficult. Please pass my
good wishes on to the girls - I hope their classes go well.

Beth in SC