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Philadelphia jewelry classes

Can anyone refer me to a private studio or school for classes in
hand made jewelry manufacturing? I have 3 years experience and
would like to take continuing education courses-

Thanks in advance-
Denise W-

Tyler in Phili has a good jewelry program. In NYC you can’t beat
the Jewelry Arts Institute, 92nd Street Y and the Crafts Student
League and then there’s designer Whitney Abrams who is starting
her own NYC teaching studio…email me if you want her phone.

cindy edelstein
jeweler’s resource

Hi Denise :slight_smile:

Cindy Edelstein mentions Tyler. A couple other Philly
alternatives would be Moore College of Art or Philadelphia
College of Art, both in town. I picked up my BFA in Metalsmithing
at Moore and did a few classes at PCA as well. Also, back in the
late 70’s, Glassboro State College (now Rowan College, in
Glassboro NJ) had a metals program. Rowan is maybe a half hour
from town. If memory serves, there is a techschool out in
Lancaster somewhere as well. I believe they advertise in the back
pages of JA/JCK and the like.

Good luck!


…a few fries short of a happy meal

Hello, There used to be a terrific little place in lancaster for
many years, Bowman Technical School, which taught the art of
being a true bench/repair jewelry, engraver, and watchmaking. I
believe it went out of business a few years ago.

Tyler (and University of the Arts metalsmithing departments)
will not, in my opinion, concentrate on manufacturing/repair
jewelry skills, but serve as an intro, and lean heavily on the
art end of it. You might do better, depending on what you are
looking for, contacting the GlA for their traveling
bench-metalsmiting workshops… unless of course you have the
opportunity to take courses with Alan Revere on the West Coast,
or some of the many fine schools in New York. Only my humble

Best to you!

Gail, formerly from Philadelphia

I agree on the GIA…and I understand there’s a fine school in
Paris Texas as well.


Sorry, the tech school in Lancaster, Bowman’s, closed about four
years ago. However, the metals Dept. at Millersville University
just outside Lancaster is a great place. I got my BFA there with
Brigid O’Hanrahan. Another Philadelphia college is The
University of the Arts. Bruce Metcalf and Sharon Church teach
there, I believe. Many of community college students transfer
there and I’ve heard good things about it. Hope this helps.

Hi! Unfortunately I did not catch the original thread, but I do
have some on jewelry/metals classes in Philadelphia.
I completed the program at University of the Arts about six
years ago. I transfered into this program from another program
specifically because of the breadth of the program there.
Students were encouraged to develop not only as artists, but also
as good technicians. Definitely the focus was on wearable art
rather than traditional techniques, but I feel that it was a
direct result of what the students wanted to get out of the
program. The professors at the time, Sharon Church, Rod
McCormick, Barbara Mail, Richard Reinhart ( performed workshops)
all made it a quality program. The techniques were there for the
learning, as a student all you had to do was ask. With such
talented professors, it was a great help to have them advise on
not only the technical aspects of what you were doing, but they
wanted to push the students to understand why they were doing it.
Concept, Aesthetic, and Technique all in balance. It was
inspiring to be around so many talented people, and in a
supporting program. I learned a lot there and would recommend
it to anyone who wishes to learn more about jewelry/metals. I
know that they have classes for those not enrolled in the
University. Also, Tyler and Moore have great programs. I also
have been impressed with the program at Univ. of New York New
Paltz. Sorry for the long note. This is my first post on
Orchid. I hope this is helpful. Sara Teixido

Dear Sara, Thank you for your fascinating post on Orchid. (I’m
sending direct because I don’t want to clutter up Orchid with a
personal query)

I was particularly interested in your mention of the University
of the Arts program in Philadelphia. I am an Australian jeweller
who has worked professionally as a jeweller, then master jeweller
and more recently as a full time teacher in the Australian
vocational education sector. I’m a late blooming academic, I
guess. I am doing post graduate research into training of
jewellers and would genuinely appreciate any further
opinion, suggestions etc., about where you think
training is going or should go. I am particularly interested in
how you became a jeweller. What sort of training? Was it all
university based or was there a component of apprenticeship-type

I would genuinely appreciate your feed-back, with best wishes
Rex Steele Merten (“Rex from Oz” on Orchid)

I agree with what Gail said about the artistic bent of the
jewelry courses in Philly. That is where I started learning
fabrication. I am still trying to add the skills needed for
repair, and precision work. There is nothing wrong with
artistically focused programs. If you plan on working in a
manufacturing/repair setting, you will need a different mindset.
Just my highly biased view…


Allyson and Gail,

I too, started my metals/jewelry training in Phila. I greatly
enjoyed and valued the"artistic" approach to training, but I’ve
been annoyed for years at the (IMHO) negligent lack of trade type
skills that were taught. Not even how to do a basic ring
sizing! In fact, I recall an outright hostility to any thing
trade related. Although the school I attended had the finest
in facilities and equipment, the students were crippled by not
having the"low" tech approach at least explained. Few of the
students could manually do a burnout for casting or for that
matter, to do a spin casting with anything other than an
electrically driven casting machine! It made it difficult to
start out and make a living. One wonders if they were only
interested in creating a class of metalsmiths who couldn’t do
any thing without the latest, most high-tech studio…Could
they be lining up the next batch of Grad students (high-tech
studio junkies)? I don’t mean to suggest in anyway that grad
students are “solely” addicted to this high tech equipment, only
that the instructors seemed to actively sabotage any PRACTICAL
(or inexpensive) approaches to basic techniques. Sorry for the
rant, but"been buggin’ me fi a long,long time". Eben

Eben, I have found both adult ed classes, and community college
courses, that more than adequately teach exactly the skills you

There is an instructor at Palomar CC, Anthony Lugo, that has a
following of students who are exquisite craftsmen/women. some
with MFA’s, who continually attend as “independent studies.” Some
are on these news groups also.

I have been taking these courses as credit courses, and have
missed too many days due to field trips I take independent of
those from the school. tomorrow, I too will sign up as an
independent studies student.

One other feature, is access to machinery beyond the means of my
pocket. Heavy duty rolling mills, sand blasters, kilns, etc.

Just as in education today, the vocational end is looked down
upon. Artistic/academic is great built on a firm base. Teresa

Eben et al: I’ve been following this thread for a while and
thought I’d add my $.02 worth. When I earned my masters in
metalsmithing 20 years ago I thought I was pretty hot stuff. I
had several gallery shows under my belt and thought I had a
handle on being a jeweler… 'til I started working in a trade
shop. It took another 5 years of working in the trade befor I
could honestly say I was a jeweler. However, I would never have
attained the creative sensitivity had I not gone through the
academic training first. I found that the trade jewelers view
academic training with the same jaundiced eye that the
academicians view the trade folks. Both are right to a point. It
all depends on what your goals are. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you want to generate an income that will support a family
    in a reasonably short period of time? If so find the best bench
    jeweler you can and apprentice for little pay until your skills
    are marketable. (it’s worth it when you consider that an
    education of comprable quality can cost $20,000 a year or

  2. Do you want to make a name for yourself in the rarified
    atmosphere of the “museum quality” designer -craftsman milieu and
    postpone the family thing for a few more years while you do the
    craft fair and gallery circuit? Reminds me of a joke. Whats the
    differance between an artist and a pizza? answer… A pizza can
    feed a family of four.

  3. Do you want to teach teachers to teach teachers to teach
    jewelry. (good luck finding tenure)

Teresa, Nice post. Nice complement for Anthony. I have taken the
liberty to forward same to him. I have a comment on tube making
in the ether somewhere to you and Peter. Bill in Hot, Hot Vista,
the future home of the trash transfer site.

Dear Teresa I read your post with a great deal of interest. Your
comment about the differences in training philosophies is
central to current research I am doing.

The Australian jewellery industry has, until recently, been
served by traditional apprentice-based vocational education.
However, with the increasingly concerted attempts to destroy the
apprenticeship system by the economic rationalist policies of
education department bureaucrats, there is an increasing reliance
being forced on the industry to draw its replacement personnel
from university trained graduates rather than industry and
technically educated apprentices.

There are some wonderfully talented and enthusiastic graduates
coming from the Fine Arts departments of Australian universities
who have never been shown the most basic technical skills. Their
employers are tearing their hair out with frustration as they
have to retrain these expensive employees from scratch. And not
only retrain, but re-educate them into the realities of
real-world commerce.

With a foot in both worlds of academia and industry (a late
blooming academic with two contemporary degrees, a B.A. and B.Ed.
in Adult Vocational Education and forty three years as a
manufacturing jeweller with twenty years in my own business), I
am involved in a research project which will hopefully bring some
sanity back into industry training.

Many Orchid members are responding generously to my request for
on the type of training that got them started as
jewellers. So much so that I am reformulating my questions to
cover the range of being offered. May I put them to
you too, Teresa? I will be in touch as soon as they are cogently
formulated. Best wishes, Rex Steele Merten

   Sorry for the rant, but"been buggin' me fi a long, long   time". 

I’d bet you went to Tyler, huh? Nice shop.

They have, in recent years, been paying more attention to trying
to teach some surviable trade skills and business practices.
Your example of the manual burnout, and spring loaded casting
machine, though. makes me chuckle, as the caliber of students we
had there when I was a grad student there in '86-89 would have
needed just a couple minutes to figure that out on their own.
The money to buy even the basic equip is a more serious problem
for many, as is the simple truth that the industry doesn’t want
art school grads. They want low priced beginners who won’t mind
working cheap. Even the talented and capable students, grads
included, often have a very hard time making a living as artists
in the manner the schools train them for. Faculty at Tyler has
been wrestling with this problem for a long time. The current
thinking will strike many as heresy. Grads there now, no longer
work with hand made metal objects. Almost everything is CAD/CAM
or Rapid prototyping. These artist/metalsmiths are trying now
to develope the craft into something taking advantage of 21st
centurey technologies, not 19th century ones. whether they
succeed or not remains to be seen, but at least, the grads who
finish, in addition to getting just as valid an arts education as
any of us who did it while it was still more traditional hand
work, now have skills in computer design, CAD/CAM, RP, and all
that stuff. Unlike the graduates who try to take their BFA or MFA
into the industry only to be shot down, these kids have skills
that are very marketable. Not in jewelry yet, perhaps, but at
least they are able to find jobs that pay a decent wage…

Peter Rowe

I find the discussion on the Philadephia Jewelry classes rather
amusing. I recieved my jewelry training at Paris Texas. Anything
that mentioned jewelry making and art the the same breath was met
with rolled eyes and a smirk.It seems that both creativity and
technical skill are needed to make a living in this profession.

Been doing it for twenty years

Rex, Yes off course you may. You may be a bit disappointed, as I
continually take classes, but do not work for anyone. Just work
at home, and at both school and our Lapidary Club workshop. Not
really work in the money sense, but work in the crafting sense.

The more I read your posts, the more I feel we are on the same

If you are ever so inclined to visit this side of the Pacific. I
will happily welcome you and your family, into my home. I share
it with 3 Chinese exchange students, but we can certainly find
sleeping space. Teresa

Please, please, please people! Jewelery is an art! It has been
used as a mere method of generating income forever but until we
in the profession see it as an art form rather than a pound of
chopped liver that sells by the pound (or gram), it will be seen
as a mere commodity by our customers as well. How many times
have you had a customer enter your store, heft a piece and try to
buy it by weight? Feel good? I think not. There, I feel better

Steve Klepinger

      They want low priced beginners who won't mind working
cheap.  Even the talented and capable students, grads included,
often have a very hard time making a living as artists in the
manner the schools train them for. 

Hi Peter,

I don’t think its about money. I hired a Tyler grad who was very
talented but who really stuggled in a more commercial jewelry,
trade shop environment. And she was not my only college grad who
had trouble. I think the main problem is that they spent years
making stuff that did not require any precision. Where if you
take a person and train them from the begining yourself they
start out sizing rings and soldering chains and don’t progress
until they do it perfectly every time. And it continues like that
until every phase of jewelry making is mastered, or until they
have gone as far as they can. Many college trained metalsmiths
never really master the basics before graduating. I have found
that college grads are only slightly more valuable to me than
people out of a good high school metals program. It is very
defeating to a new college graduate when they find out that they
need to be retrained. Its hard for me to understand what the
school expected them to do for a living when they got out.

I don’t think that college is a waste of time of course, its
wonderful. I just think schools, even Tyler, are miles away from
producing the jewelers that they should be producing.

Also on a different subject, we may have a mutual friend, did
you know Mark Gondek?

Mark P.

I need to jump in this discussion again. I went to Drexel
University in Philadelphia. (I developed a jewelry interest
during grad school.) At Drexel, nearly all students participate
in the cooperative education program after their freshman year.
For three years students work six months in classes and six
months at a 9-5 job in industry. Those who don’t like or can’t
tolerate their major, switch very fast. By graduation, most
seniors have 1-2 years of practical job experience. Could
something like this work for jewelry majors ? The industry would
benefit from a fairly cheap labor source. After graduation, the
students would have more useful skills and some would be hired by
their co-op employers. Lastly, the money earned really helps
toward tuition.