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Philadelphia jewllery classes

Dear Rex and others,

I have been reading with great interest the debate on training
in “Fine art” colleges. I was fortunate in that I took up
jewellery in an adult eduaction area. Discovered that I loved it,
and then went on to do a BA in Craft- major Jewellery at a Perth
university. My skills were way ahead of the other first year
students. I knew how to join metals by soldering or rivets etc.
At least I could express any conceptual ideas and be rewarded by
the joy of doing so, rather than the frustation of not knowing
how to reproduce my ideas. I shall probably be hounded out of my
State, but I very strongly believe that simple soldering and
other techniques should be taught right from the start. I can see
no point in turning out conceptual based art jewelllers who can
not survive in the “real” world. I also feel that students should
work with silver as soon as they can. Whilst this is more
expensive, it is far more rewarding than using copper and brass
and much easier!

I am regularly asked to take in third year students for work
experience. My proviso is that they must know how to solder
silver well and all the basic techniques which go with those
skills. I have been caught in the past where I have had someone
for two weeks and had to teach them from scratch, very time
consuming for me, wasted lots of my silver, and I don’t get paid
for having a work experience student! Somewhere there needs to
be a balance between “conceptual” creative work and having the
skills to produce work. Otherwise there will be a lot of
frustated would be jewellers out there.

I have taught part time in the university area, now teach in
the adult education area. Some of my students have gone onto
Univesity and once again their skills stand out.

I wonder if this reliance on conceptual teaching is because many
of the teachers are not practising artists too! Philistine! My
latest work experience student made individual square jump rings
for one of her projects, because no one could tell her how to
make them the "Normal " way!

I recently received a “Compliment”, courtesy of the economic
rationalists . My adult education classses were suddenly deemed
"Professional Development Classes" The price was hiked up, hours
reduced , the concessions removed, and my pay was increased. The
lack of concessions meant that those on pensions, students,
single parents etc had to pay full fees, instead of half fees. My
students and I were most upset that we and not the other Craft
courses were singled out. A judicious bit of prompting led to
letter writing, questions asked in Parliament and a petition of
five hundred signatures meant that the concesssions were
returned, hours increased , fees the same and I lost my pay
increase (small penalty to pay to promote a great craft) Nice to
think that the" little people can win some times"

sorry to go on!

Felicity in very rainy West Oz

Hey Felicity, I know your work and I think you’re great. There
are just so many ways to do things in our game.

I tell my students - and apprentices - that each technique is
like a building block - the more you’ve got, the higher you can
climb, and the further you can see.

All the best Felicity, keep on doing your thing! Rex

Heh. I love this topic.

I moseyed through 5 years at a Phila Art college to get my
degree in metals. Like Felicity has written, I entered my major
with a good deal more experience in metals than my classmates
(high school program, a summer at a local college’s metals
program and a few years of Saturday jewelry classes at the
college from which I graduated).

This certainly gave me an edge. Along with that, we had a
somewhat less than present faculty member, so I spent a lot of my
time helping my classmates and figuring things out for myself
rather than waiting for the prof. Also, I picked up a short term
work-study with a local metals artist that was a real eye opener.

NEVERTHELESS, when I got out there for my first job in the
industry, it was appalling how ill-prepared I was. As another of
our list-members mentioned the other day, it took me years until
I would comfortably call myself a jeweler. Now I use the term
Goldsmith to differentiate me from the salesfolk in the showroom
who call themselves jewelers and say “I can make that for you!”
Like to see 'em try.

I really wish there had been a formal apprenticeship program
available to me. I spent 5 frustrating years being turned into an
artist when all I ever wanted was to make lovely things. Pile
on that life drawing, painting, French, art-in-the-dark (Art
History), oh yes…and the 3-D Design class that I still can’t
perceive benefit one out of. Eventually, I learned to play the
game, critique, pander and got out with my sheepskin and a
lasting case of irritation. I may not know what I like, but I
know Art.

Yes, I guess it did round me out a bit and some of the classes I
had were indeed worthwhile. The most valuable things I came out
with are an ability to work problems out on my own and to ‘think
around corners’. To anyone now looking to make a career in
metals, I’d advise them to pick and choose more carefully. Blend
some college classes with some work in the field. 6 hours each
week of slave labor in a pro shop will teach you more than 6
hours in the studio. Forget the degree program and go for what
you want and need. It’ll save you huge amounts of time and years
of student loans.

Thanks for letting me rant a bit :wink:

Jane Armstrong