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Pros and Cons of teaching Workshops

Hi all,

I am looking for advice and opinions about teaching small workshops.
I need to make some extra money as I am paying off debt I accrued
from building my new studio. I was considering developing a few small
workshops that could be taught at a local art facility. I have not
taught anything formally. I have only taught some family and friends
fabrication basics, cutting, sawing, sanding, drilling, basic
soldering, and chainmaking. By teaching I hope that I could also
spread more word of mouth about my jewelry as well.

My first idea for a workshop would be as simple as possible. Cold
working techniques. And I know the project or projects should be
quick enough that the students would have something to take home with
them. If something like that went well, I thought maybe later I could
have a workshop that involved some basic soldering or maybe a PMC
class (which I would need to expand my knowledge in first). Both of
those ideas would likely require more financial investment (a PMC
kiln) and safety liability (having students working with a torch). So
a simple workshop with cold techniques seems the best place to start
and could be a lot of fun.

What all do I need to consider to get started?

-the materials for the projects and cost of materials

-the tools students would need and cost of these tools

-is the art facility I am considering an appropriate space for this
(not quite as critical with cold techniques. Hammering noise might be
the biggest consideration)

-planning some simple projects step by step

-any basic metalworking I might feel the students would
benefit knowing given out in photocopied handouts

-What would be the workshop cost, materials fee and how much would
the hosting facility get?

-safety, safety, safety

I appreciate any thoughts you all can share on this and your personal
experiences having taught workshops. I really love metalworking and I
enjoy seeing others get excited about the medium. I hope that by
trying this that it could be a really good experience for me.

Thanks-Carrie Nunes

Dear Carrie Nunes,

once you have an appropriate environment (and it doesn’t have to be
too flash) it is the quality of your teaching which will count and
keep 'em coming back for more. A working professional jeweller can
sometimes assume that because they know how to do something they can
teach it. Believe me, it ain’t necessarily so!

I’d been a jeweller for 30 years when I first began to teach and I
thought I knew what I was doing until further studies led me to
complete a Bachelor of Education (I now specialise in adult
vocational education across a wide range of tertiary institutions)

It was an epiphany to suddenly realise what I had missed in my
teaching practice. I’ve now been a jeweller for 51 years and continue
to maintain both my bench work (to remain contemporary) and
educational commitments (for the sheer pleasure of meeting with other

Good luck with setting up your school. You seem to have it well
thought through. Perhaps building up a reference library for your
students’ on-site use (don’t let them take your books away!) would be
a good idea too.

Kind regards,
Rex Steele Merten
Sydney, Australia

    I am looking for advice and opinions about teaching small

You might consider getting your feet wet teaching workshops at a
local community college for adult continued education, or through
metalsmithing guilds. You won’t have to worry about liability
insurance, and the overhead is low. They take care of the
advertising, getting the people signed up, and you don’t have to
worry about theft in your own studio.

    -What would be the workshop cost, materials fee and how much
would the hosting facility get? 

You set a price that will be equal to what you produce in your own
studio in a day. Take into consideration how many days total you will
be away from your studio, because it takes away from your available
production time. Also include meals, mileage and housing if you are
teaching outside of your home area. This will determine your base pay
that you will use to tell them how much you expect to be paid. You
will provide them either with a kit fee and supply the materials, or
you will give them an idea of how much each student will probably pay
for their materials bought at the workshop. They will set their own
price to the students from this

    -the tools students would need and cost of these tools 

If you are not in a situation where tools are supplied by a studio,
a neat solution that was offered by a metal teaching school I
recently taught at, was a tool kit they rented out. It had all the
basic hand tools needed for out-of-towners, and there were add on
kits for specific classes, such as the stone setting. Each kit was in
a roll-up package, slotted for the various tools, so they could
immediately identify if a tool was missing. Each tool had been
plastic dipped in a awful color they had mixed up, and probably not
easily replicated, so that expensive tools couldn’t be replaced with
inferior tools.

It was an elegant and innovative solution, especially for those that
had to fly. They didn’t have to worry about missing tools or getting
through the new security checks with a carry on with suspicious
looking items. I think the basic tool kit was $15 rental fee, whether
they had it for a day workshop, a week workshop, or if they were
there for a whole semester. There was also a deposit fee that was
returned when the tool kit was returned.

    -any basic metalworking I might feel the students
would benefit knowing given out in photocopied handouts 

If you are working with colleges, it helps to identify the skill
level required of a subject area you will be teaching. Beginning
level needs no skills to accomplish the projects, intermediate needs
one or two semesters background, advanced needs one year or more, or
comparable skill sets from their own experience, subject to your
permission and a way to adequately assess their skills, via interview
or samples of their work.

You can make up sets of masters for photocopies to hand out to
students that will be taking classes, and have them topic specific.
This way you can pull whichever masters you need for specific
classes. Handouts are invaluable, when used in conjunction with oral
instructions. They allow the students to check the steps in case they
forgot to write something in their notes, and they allow them check
the handout first for a solution before breaking into the lecture
part of the class at a critical time when uninterrupted flow is best.

Make sure you have your name and contact is on the
handouts, or staple a business card to the handouts, so your students
will be able to contact you at a later time for clarification,
troubleshooting, asking when you’ll be doing the next workshop, or
passing the card on to someone else who might be interested in your

Katherine Palochak