Teaching a teen class

I am teaching a 7 week summer jewerly class for young adults (14
to 19) Presently projects will include a ring and pendant
constructed and an organic casting (leaf, bug, lace, etc.)
Anyone have a nifty idea on a project they might go ga ga over?
Thanks Joy

Hey Joy: What about a simple etching project (for a pendant),
using copier transfers, and Ferric Chloride for the etchant?
Perhaps it’s time to resurrect Darth Vadar. Good Luck, Helene

Hi Joy, You might want to contact Karen Foggin, via website “For
Your Ears Only” (sorry, don’t have the url on hand)… she is a
member of Jewelcollect, and also taught kids during the summers .
Gail Selig

A project that teens might go << go ga ga >> over? I suspect
there is little that teens go ga ga over these days. However, a
project that is easy to teach, simple to do and results in a
really handsome finished product is a crocheted (woven, knitted
depending on what you call it) chain. All you need is some fine
wire (about 0.5 mm - 24 ga, annealed) of any type, and a tapered
tool like an ice pick, plus the patience to make a few hundred
loops. The key will be the terminations that transform it into a
wearable bracelet. If you don’t know the chain and need help,
let me know.

Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
San Francisco

How about casting (direct pour) into a tuna can of beans or rock
salt? Be sure to have a ‘lid’ handy when pouring into the salt,
as it can ‘spit’ back at you. The ‘bean casting’ doesn’t spit
but does create a great deal of smelly smoke. If you need more
info let me know. Another good project is to provide a length of
wire (10-15 feet) and ask for a sculpture construction using a
continuous line/wire, no cuts. I’ve found it helpful to
establish some limits: it must fit under a 3 LB. coffee can, etc.
to limit the size created. If you have the tools available,
have them construct small wire forms for earrings, key chain
tags, bracelets, etc.

Let us know how it turns out. I had classes with 4-6th graders
last summer and they enjoyed wire projects but we were very
limited because we did not have tools. They did do some nice
things with just their hands, however.


Joy, We are trying Camp Metalwerx this July, a one week, two
session intensive for grades 7-12. I’m having them cover their
binders or sketch books with a metal applique. It involves
roller printing, soldering, riveting, etc. My partner is
assiging a votive candle holder with some alternative connection
for the sides of the open box.

Good for you to teach teens. I’m hoping this will work out for
us too!


Karen Christians
416 Main St.
Woburn, MA 01801

Current Artwork:

I once did a workshop for Senior and Cadette Girl Scouts (junior
high and high school) with only hand tools – we had saws, tin
snips, hand drills and stamping tools, oh, and hammers, files,
sandpaper. They were really, really into stamping designs and
writing words. (I didn’t have letter stamps, so they had to
create the letters themselves.) So that might work.

You could also give some “arty” type assignments with them
making sculpture instead of jewelry. Some of my early jewelry
class assignments (as a student) were to make a container,
utensils, an alter.

PMC would also be very well received. Is there a kiln?

Good luck,


Hi All:
Last week a friend of mine did a class for school kids in the
Puget sound area, I had a bunch of odd shaped tumble stone that l
make from small pieces and trims that l shape, The children used
these and copper wire to make pendant wire wraps, these were put
on a silk cord. the kids had a ball, individual creativity was
accomplished, and the instructor was not overly stressed. Have
fun with the kids!

Welcome To Ringmans Dreams

I wanted to comment that teens have the same capabilities as
adults. I would approach the class the same as I would for an
adult class of the same length. The only question is what is the
goal? Is it to come out with lots of interesting, completed
"projects" or to build a foundation of metalsmithing skills, as
in a beginning college class?

People who have limited exposure to young people sometimes think
of them in stereotypical ways. Many of them are very mature and
deep people. And they certainly have the coordination to do

My two cents.

Have you thought of hemp cord jewelry as a possible project?
There are several books on techniques for creating it. I’ve
noticed a lot of young people wearing this type of jewelry at my
university. So maybe your students would enjoy this as a
project. You just need some hemp cord (it comes in lots of
different colors) and some interesting beads. You might even want
to have them try making their own beads. You can find lots of
books on lampworking and bead creation. Another thing, have you
thought of precious metal clay for a project? You can order it
from Rio Grande. I’ve “tried” it before, and it was sort of
fun. You would need some type of kiln though.

Hope this helps.


Cuttlefish casting with Pewter, is a very quick little project
that I’ve used with my junior classes. Simply, allow them half a
piece of cuttle fish, and a piece of M.D.F. enough to cover the
flattened back of the cuttlefish, drilled with a hole large
enough to pour down, cut it in half through the hole, and tape it
securely to the cuttlefish after it has been carved. Presto! your
students have a small flat backed casting and if they haven’t
undercut the mold, they might even get two or three other
castings as well.

P.S. I often check out my own cuttlefish castings using Pewter
first before I use precious metal, first, it tests the pattern,
second it gives me a solid pattern to use again.[ just press it
into the cuttlefish]

Cheers, Brian Minnear in Cold but Sunny New Zealand


I have taught kids ages 4-13 for a few years and am always
amazed at what they can do. Some projects that have worked well
for the younger group might be popular with the older ones too.
They’re even popular with the way-older ones!

Cuff bracelets are a wonderful opportunity for all kinds of
surface treatments: stamping, planishing, rollerprinting,
etching, and especially sandblasting and coloring with
prismacolor pencils. To elaborate on Alan’s suggestion, a spool
knitter is great for making a chain in copper or fine silver. It
works up quickly into a bracelet or necklace. Pull it through a
wood drawplate and it looks wonderful. (I’ve seen spool knitters
at Wal-Mart for about $3, in the fabric area.)

Last year choker necklaces were the rage with the older
students. A single strand of 16-18 g , formed round with a simple
self-hook in back. And beads, always beads. And wire-sculpture

This one is a bit of a guess, but I think making charm bracelets
would be a lot of fun. A nice way to use small castings or
pierced pieces, and fun to swap for those so inclined.

I had a very good group one year and we did raising- a small
copper dish. Very exciting.

Lapidary Journal’s back pages are a wonderful resource for
projects for classes. Having a lot of resource materials around
like LJ, Metalsmith, Ornament, etc. is inspiring to the students

Good luck and have fun!

Jeanne Applegate

Joy, I’m assuming you have a torch and a few standard tools.

One of the things my high school students seem to enjoy is the
reverse twist hot forming technique taught to me as the
Carbondale twist. I’ve done this technique with them with silver
square wire and brass square rods. They make bracelets, stacked
bands, neckbands and chains of interlocking soldered bands and
learn additional forging skills.

Several have recently been enjoying the chasing/repousse
alternative to pitch of hollow dapping copper into a carved
wooden form then chasing (rudimentary) from the front.

Although it has driven me nuts this semester, a lot of the
students actively enjoyed making simple rings (I couldn’t seem
to get design concepts to rule over popular trends) with half
round sterling wire topped by bezel set cabs. And yes, Alan, they
can get excited about something it’s just not particularly what
you want them to be excited about. (They did learn bezel setting
though so I just push for more elegant design solutions on other

I also do an assignment where the students have to combine metal
with a non-metal material other than a cabochon. One of the best
solutions to this problem I ever got was a brass/silver brooch
with wire elements, a fibula type clasp and a couple of pegged
and riveted Lego pieces. Another was a scored and bent brass car
door brooch with an acrylic side “mirror” and an acetate window.
It’s also a great opportunity for epoxy “inlay” with a variety of
different materials. Hope some of these appeal to your students.

Linda M


I taught a class of teens for a year at a private school.
Following is some of the things I learned at the class. If you
use a jewelers saw, make sure you use good blades, less breakage
which equals less frustration for the teen. The first project was
to cut out the head of a penny…overall the teens had fun with
this project and broke a lot of blades. (don’t ask me if it is
legal) One students goal was to save the smallest portion of
the broken blade and still saw. (hey whatever works) Our next
project was to hand fabricate a simple ring. Cutting the ring
blank out of copper or sterling sheet stock. They also bezel
set a stone onto the ring. (this was more frustrating for some
of the students and I needed to work one on one with all of the

Another project we did (overall the favorite) was cuttlebone
casting. I had an electomelt loaned to me by a friend…this
worked out great. The teens loved this, they liked the glowing
metal…even the smell gave them something to talk about and
share with their friends. Best of all they liked how quick it
all came together. Melt the metal, pour into the cuttlebone,
dunk in water…voile!

I also taught them some simple wire work techniques. Some of the
students took copper wire and added beads to them for rings.
Simple, colorful and quick.

I taught from 6 to eight teens. The creativity and skill of
most of the students was incredible. You should have a great
experience and go home tired but with a smile on your face. Have
fun! Linda Crawford Linda Crawford Designs
http://www.jps.net/lcrawford @Linda_Crawford

“It’s never to late to be what you might have been.”
–George Elliot

Joy, When I was taking a high school jewelry class, one of the
first projects we made was a keychain, and most of the kids
actually had a great time with them. We had to have atleast 2
levels of metal and solder them together, so they get to learn a
couple different processes. If you give them the choice of
sheets of nickel silver, brass, copper, etc., they can use the
color variations to make great designs. Let them cut their
designs out, file the edges smooth, go through the sanding
process, solder the layers together, and polish everything up.
All you have to do is add a hole, throw a key ring through it,
and there ya go! If you have any other questions, let me know.
I’m just glad to be able to help all you wonderful people who
have given me so much to work with.

While I’m delurking, I may as well introduce myself. I have only
been on Orchid a week or so, but have already learned so much! I
am 20 years old, and just starting out as a hobbyist jeweler. My
honey got tired of hearing me talking endlessly of how much I
loved my classes in high school that he decided to get me all
the equipment I needed to start doing some casting on my own.
Well, atleast making the wax molds and then polishing them at
home. I plan on making pieces which I hope to sell at
Rennaissance Faire type places and perhaps some caving
conventions. BTW, do any of you have a good place that does
casting services to recommend for me? I was told to go to Jaguar
in NY, but they charge a bit more than I’d like (I was told $30
or so, plus charge for metal). I plan on casting in silver,
perhaps a bit of 14k yellow gold. Any help is much appreciated!

-Cortney Mayle

Hey Joy,

I’m facing the same situation teachong metalwork at a camp
starting in a few weeks. I have been playing with a few projects
that seem pretty failure-proof. There are several types of chain
that can be made without soldering the links. Stuff like
"Etruscan" or “Idiots Delight” shown in Tim McCreight’s book.
Niels Lovschal who contributes to this list from beautiful
Denmark was also kind enough to send me instructions for several
varieties also. Although the instructions are in Danish, they
are pictorial enough to follow without reading. I have made a
bunch of 1" diameter links (out of heavy guage copper household
wiring with the insulation stripped off) to use for teaching
purposes. They are big enough for everyone to see how it is
done. Pretty well the most important thing to teens is talking
with their friends, and the beauty of chain making is that, like
knitting, you can do it while visiting. It is very portable and
can serve as an initial hook to get kids started.

There are also many variations of loop-in-loop chain that is no
more difficult than making a leather link belt, except that the
links must be soldered. It doesn’t take much time, but by the
time a youngster has soldered enough links to do a project, they
will have learned torch safety, a few important but easy torch
skills, and have some idea of how much heat is enough or too
much, the importance of flux, etc.

Another easy thing to do involves using copyright free designs.
There are many books of these designs available, and many of the
designs are both attractive and simple. The designs can be
photocopied, glued to silver, brass or copper sheetmetal (say 20
or 22 gauge), pierced and sawed out. This kind of project can be
done with no soldering but in a matter of a couple of hours can
teach drilling, sawing filing and finishing. Small pieces can
then be incorporated into bracelets or be used as pendants or
even earrings, although my sense is that most kids steer away
from dangly earrings.

Hope these ideas are useful. MP

Brian, I am stumped. What is M.D.F.? I will be teaching high
school kids art for the next 2 weeks and would love to try this
project if I can line up a torch for the class room. Thanks!

Further thoughts on this subject are how about including pierced
pieces of brass and copper, they could be assembled using a low
temp solder, a little ss wire and you can make earrings. Also
sand casting comes to mind. Shotting metal (pouring hot metal
into about 12 inches of water from a 4-5 foot fall) pour slowly
and the pieces makes good starts for projects, vary the height
to get different results. Hope this helps.

Ringman John

One project that’s been popular with my students ranging in age
from 10 - 70ish, is a lightning bracelet. Saw a zig-zag down the
length of a piece of wide low dome. Clean up any sawing errors
with a file. Solder the low dome to a 20 ga sheet, leaving a
space between the 2 pieces of low dome. Saw off excess sheet,
and round the ends of the bracelet. Sand off any firescale and
excess solder. Form into a cuff bracelet, polish, and blacken
the recessed zig-zag with liver of sulphur.

In Boulder, CO

If you’re interested in a great little book about woven jewelry
pick up a copy of “Great Wire Jewelry” by Irene From Petersen.
It’s full of detailed solderless chain designs including woven
(crocheted), braided, and many more at all levels. It also
explains how to make a wooden drawplate and finishing ideas. I’ve
really enjoyed the book and I’m sure it would be a hit in any
classroom. Oh, and the best part is it’s only $10! (at least on
amazon.com, I paid $14 at a bookstore).


Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry