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Parent - Child Jewlery project


Hello folks. I’m going to be teaching a parent/child jewelry class
this fall (as well as an adult class) at a Boston arts center. The
environment is pretty laid back - focus on learning, art, and fun.
This is my first teaching experience, and drawing on past lessons
learned myself, I’m planning on a beginner’s project of a
sweat-soldered cut-out ring. So I’m not worried about the adult class
too much, but am wondering if anyone has any innovative ideas for the
parent/child project? I believe that the child must be at least 12
years old. This is the first time the arts center has run a course
like this, so don’t have a pre-planned project. The course is
advertised as “needing four hands to complete the project.” (I didn’t
write the course description.) Does anyone have any innovative ideas
for beginners? Or should I stick to the tried and true ring project
to introduce sawing, filing, soldering and polishing? Thanks in
advance for your wisdom and advice.

Holly in Boston.


I think you could include younger children down to 9 and even
precocious 7year-olds, especially accompanyed by a parent. Take a
look at the results of my classes with kids and parents, sometimes
there were three generations working together:



Holly, I do have some thoughts. Forget soldering. Start with a cold
connection project. Faster and way less to learn in a short time.
The experience will be more rewarding for all. Consider a found
object project. A brooch or pendant works best. A field trip to
search out good stuff, class show and tell with an opportunity to
share and trade. Miniature nuts and bolts work great for this type of
project. There are lots of connecting options in scrap booking shops
and the nuts and bolts can be purchased locally at hobby stores, a
few (0/80) at Ace Hardware or ordered from RMS. Bill

Bill, Deborah, Michele & Sarah
Reactive Metals Studio, Inc
928-634-3434, 800-876-3434, 928-634-6734fx


as a former montessori teacher i want to say yeah, let the 12 year
olds experience soldering.Particularly if the class is ongoing and
you lead up to its introduction… however as a jeweler for more years
than that ( and after countless experiences with kids and torches and
day camps and jewelery making lessons) i say absolutely don’t let any
kids near a torch…with or without parents present- as there will
always be one smart ass kid that has to show off his/her infinitly
advanced knowledge for everyone in the group…with fire and gasses
it’s too much of a risk…

another consideration is where are you going to get a number of
torches, preferably of the same brand, that run problem free and
using the same types of fuel gasses so as to expedite the teaching

I would suggest a cold connection project…perhaps skim joanna
gollberg’s book for some inspiration if you can’t think of a ring,
or bracelet project that uses tabs,jump rings, or riveted hinges to
hold the workpiece together…If you insist on introducing the torch,
make certain everyone signs a waiver of responsibility along with
enrollment papers…the center will thank you, your personal
liability insurer will thank you, and you can’t become the victim of
litigation when little ashley or maxmillian decides to burn their
just moussed hair off not paying attention to where the flame is
directed… On the other hand I have done it before ( with waivers in
hand) so if you need more info i’ll be happy to discuss lesson plans,
projects etc. with you off orchid…feel free to write me at:




I have in the past used wax to make a childs thumbprint and then
cast it and made pendants in metal. You could do the same with
precious metal clay. Precious metal clay could be used in a variety
of child parent projects. There are other materials that harden that
could be painted and used.

Good Luck
J Morley Goldsmith

as a jeweler for more years than that (and after countless
experiences with kids and torches and day camps and jewelery
making lessons) i say absolutely don't let any kids near a torch.. 

My experience is to the contrary. I’ve been teaching kids off and on
for several years and I always allow the child to hold the torch
(propane/air), while I apply flux and have a controlling hand on
some part of the torch handpiece. Most are thrilled to be trusted,
and very respectful of the power entrusted in them, even though I’ve
got overall control with my near-side hand. Very rarely have I had to
’pull up! pull up!’ if they wander too close.

Most commonly, they are so wrapped up in what they’re seeing (solder
melting and appearing all shiny in the joint) that they tend to
forget they have the torch aimed at it, and require a gentle nudge to
raise the torch from the workpiece.

My tendency when teaching kids is to always put the main tool in
their ‘control’ and with that little bit of trust so generate a
reciprocal respect and awe on their part (not shock and awe!). They
get to use the hammer while I might hold the work still, they use the
mallet to hit the ring down the mandrel, they hold the torch while I
ensure the heat’s in the right place and the flux is applied

When they are using a hammer while I hold, say, a punch I’ll get
them to hold the top of the punch with their other hand over my hand,
so they are unlikely to hit me. They have never hit themselves in
this setup.

another consideration is where are you going to get a number of

In my case, when teaching children I use only one torch setup, and I
have full control over it at all times. No soldering happens without

B r i a n A d a m
B u s h J e w e l l e r y W o r k s h o p s


I have done some workshops for girls at Girl Scout camp and a Girl
Scout conference. Both times I did variations on "hand tools only,"
where the girls used a hand drill to drill a hole and lots of
chasing tools to make designs and write words.

They really enjoyed it and wrote lots of names out.

Girls often aren’t taught how to use cool tools like drills, and
they really like it.

I worked with girls age junior high to high school.


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

On the other hand I have done it before (with waivers in hand) 

I am not a lawyer and have no legal experience, but I am under the
impression that if there is an accident, your waiver may do little
or nothing to protect you from being sued, or from losing if a jury
thinks you should have been able to prevent the accident. I urge
you to check with a lawyer before putting yourself in the position
of needing to depend on a waiver. Do we have an actual knowledgable
lawyer out there?



Dear All,

I, too, have a kid project coming up. The local high school art
instructor has asked my husband and I to help teach a jewelry unit.
Last year they learned how to form and solder a silver band. This
year he would like to add simple stone setting. Many of the kids will
be repeats from last year, but some will be totally new to the
jewelry unit. The instructor would like help forming the lesson
plans, as well as ordering the appropriate materials.

I’ve not taught a class before, so I’m open to all suggestions. I
want to challenge the kids, but not overwhelm them. I’m thinking
pendant, earring, or ring projects that focus on cutting, filing,
soldering, and texturing, with simple stone setting might be the
ticket. I’m thinking round, sturdy stones, cabachon or faceted. I’m
thinking preformed bezels might be the way to go, and should be
readily available in sterling. Probably some 16 gauge strip to make
rings out of, and some 18 or 20 gauge for pendants and earrings.
Thoughts or opinions? Better ideas? Any good lesson plans already out
there I should review before I reinvent the wheel? I did look at
Brian’s site from New Zealand and got some ideas.

The kids will range in age from 15 to 18, and we will be working in
silver. The school has equipment for soldering and sanding and
filing, but I don’t believe they have casting facilities.

Thanks for any advice you might have.

Nesheim Fuller Design
Mason City, Iowa


While we’re on the subject of letting children use torches…I’ve
observed some unsettling situations in workshops with a large
constituency of senior citizens… Some have been doing jewelry for
many years, love what they’re doing, and are very skilled.
Unfortunately, for a few, it’s time to hang up the torch In one
instance, a student had developed a tremor and refused to
acknowledge that her hand was no longer steady enough to manage a
torch safely. Most people who develop health problems that would
affect their work adjust gracefully to their limitations or give up
the class. But every so often, you get someone who is in total denial
that anything is wrong…like the one who was developing serious
memory problems and kept forgetting to turn off equipment…and
became indignant when it was called to his attention. How can a
teacher or a studio monitor remove such people from a class or studio
without bruising delicate egos or stepping on toes?



Hi Holly;

I’ve got a few ideas along these lines, but the descriptions are too
long to post here. Email me off forum and I’ll give you a phone
number, and if you call me during regular business hours, I’ll
describe them. That is, if you don’t come up with enough suggestions
from others here on Orchid.

David L. Huffman


Reading this series definitely brought back memories. I used to teach
jewelry making and enameling at the Wichita Center for the Arts. In
the summer classes for youth were offered, and the lower age limit
for jewelry classes was 13. My first thought was “thirteen year olds
with torches - what were they thinking”? However, the only bad
experience was when several of the boys and girls in one class knew
each other. They were too rowdy (pointing torches at each other,
etc) and I had to exercise a lot more discipline than usual. But in
most classes of 13 and 14 year olds, they were shy around others they
didn’t know, and were afraid of the torches, which is not a bad
thing because it can translate to respect for them. And as another
wrote, you work with one kid at a time when soldering. In the end, I
think someone young realizing they can actually create a
3-dimensional piece was really thrilling to them. Compare that to a
drawing or painting class - everyone knows how to put pencil or paint
to paper, so it’s not a revelation to them, just a matter of
increasing technique and skill level. But they were so proud that
they could actually manipulate metal, and overcome fear of the torch.
I like to think it helped increase their confidence - yes, especially
the young girls. And an afterthought - the only really bad experience
did not involve a torch, just the soldering tweezers. I was lecturing
at one of the work stations. Ours had a strip of electrical outlets
running down the middle of each table between facing stations. One
student absent-mindedly stuck his tweezers into the outlet. Still
gives me chills - he let go quickly enough when the boom, the flash,
and the lights going out occurred, that he did not get electrocuted.
I asked if he did not recognize an electrical outlet when he saw one,
and he replied - not on a table, just on the wall. I learned not to
take anything for granted, and to err on the side of explaining too

Linda Gebert