The object of any course in jewellery making should to teach how
to make anything which can be called jewellery. Quality bezels are
above any beginner's skill set.
I think the key here is the term “quality”. I still wear the very
first ring I ever made, at the beginning silversmithing class I
took. Bezel set two-color stone. I love it, I constantly get “oooohs
and aaaaahs” from folks on it. Is it a “quality” bezel? Heck no! Is
it an adequate bezel? For sure! Did it inspire me to continue in
metalsmithing, to learn more, to improve? You betcha!!!
The bezels I make today are way, way better than this one - but what
I wear is the first one. I sell the ones I make now!
The key is in being clear with yourself and your students as to what
your aim is. When I teach beginners, my aim is to inspire them, to
instill a love for metal work, and confidence that yes - they really
and truly CAN do this. They know that they are not going to walk out
of a beginners workshop with “quality” professional work - they
don’t expect that, I don’t expect that. But they DO walk out with
work they are excited about, that encourages them to continue either
on their own or with additional classes with me or with someone else.
I have had adult students who have taken a wide number and variety
of art/craft workshops tell me my beginning workshop was the best
they ever did - because I made sure they did something unique that
pushed them and was successful, that they loved, and that they will
wear. That doesn’t mean it was “quality”.
I’ll be doing a copper workshop next week that will include some
students who took an earlier class with me this summer, and some who
are friends with those folks who heard such great things that they
want to take a class too. Because of this mix I’ve changed what
we’ll be doing to something that will work for both groups, and my
hope is that we will have enough interest to make it a monthly or
twice-a- month open sort of class where they can come and work. I
love teaching, and love seeing students of any age ignite with
passion for what they are doing.
On a related note, today I’ll be helping my 18 year old daughter
with her craft students at the recreation department summer camp. I
came up through an MFA program, and am trained in painting,
printmaking, paper making, and fiber art. The jewelry started as a
kid, then vanished to reappear when the above daughter wanted me to
teach HER when she was a kid. So yesterday we helped the kids (ages 4
- 10 - now THATS a challenge!) make paper pulp. Today we’ll help them
couch sheets of paper, which my daughter will then help them make
into little “books”. Are their sheets going to be “quality” sheets of
paper? Of course not!! Will they BE sheets of paper that each child
made themself? Yes!!! How exciting is that for the kids - to actually
make their own paper?
I think beginning classes in anything are based on imparting some
basic level of knowledge and competence, but a high level of
excitement that encourages the student to continue.
Kudos to everyone who teaches and passes on knowledge and passion,
in whatever field.
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio