To anyone seeking excellent learning opportunities, I will share my
experiences of two magical weeks I've recently had in two very
different settings. I will preface my comments by saying that I have
very limited opportunities to spend time learning new skills by
"going to school," and rely on books and videotapes (and Orchid) to
learn new tricks. So I have very high hopes, and expectations, when
I can get some time with a teacher. I am a paying student, and these
comments, although glowing, are unsolicited. When something exceeds
my expectations, I try to pass the word.
One week had me at Revere Academy in San Francisco
for a portion of their Masters Symposia
which are held every April. I took a five day course in "Ancient
Rings," and an extra two days of "Advanced Ancient Rings" from my
guru, goddess, and friend, Jean Stark. Jean literally wrote the book
from which I've learned so much, and it is always a treat to learn
from her. In the past, I've also taken courses from Jean in
granulation, and had the joy of having her as a fellow student in
another class. In the other room, opposite Jean's class, was
Valentin Yotkov teaching "Chasing and Repousse," a course I have
taken previously. Having two world masters teaching at the same time
is pretty heady stuff, but standard fare for April at Revere Academy.
The facilities are excellent, the staff is fantastic, and the school
is located in the heart of a vibrant city with hundreds of housing
choices nearby. I try to attend at least one Masters class every
year and over the years Alan Revere and his fine staff have become
dear friends. Anyone seeking to improve their jewelry making skills
should check our the schedule of classes on the website, but
especially keep an eye out for the Master's Symposium schedule as
these classes fill quickly.
Several weeks earlier I attended the GRS Engraving school in
Emporia, KS for the first time (http://www.grstools.com
fantastic experience where I came away with skills far in advance of
what I arrived with, and with my high expectations met and vastly
exceeded. I have owned their engraving equipment (GraverMax) for over
a year, and had little luck with the "self-teaching" method despite
several excellent GRS videos on the subject. 5 days at GRS gave me
the foundation from which to build with diligent practice. Their
teaching staff is composed of visiting masters, and one can choose
from several areas of engraving interest when registering for
classes. In addition to superb teaching, the facilities were amazing,
with state-of-the-art tools on each student's workbench in a
beautiful new dedicated teaching area attached to their main
manufacturing and office building. During the week, we were offered a
tour of the factory where so many of my bench tools are made, and got
to meet the people behind the scenes. The staff, from loading dock to
front office, was fantastic and treated us like family, including a
personal welcome and farewell from the president of the company. They
are rightly very proud of their school, factory, and equipment.
Emporia was very easy to get around by car, and very affordable
housing is available within a several minute drive of the school.
Anyone seeking to improve their engraving skills (as well, they offer
several stone-setting classes) should consider a GRS course either in
Emporia or at one of their off-site sessions.
Obviously, these are very different settings and subjects, but both
excellent schools give excellent value for the dollar. While San
Francisco has more "night life," after a long day of school it's
dinner and off to bed for me anyway. I'll return to both.