As a beginning metalsmith with only an 8-week course under your belt
so far, I personally believe you would be better served by taking the
"part 2" course. Let me tell you why, based on my personal
experiences… your mileage may vary.
After my first semester of jewelrysmithing, I felt great - eager and
ready to take on the world, so to speak. I felt like my technique was
good and I understood the basic concepts. Workshops seemed like a
wonderful idea! Plus, I “knew” which techniques I really liked and
wanted to pursue.
What I found over time, however, was that my technique was “ok"
relative to those who had been doing this for years and that I didn’t
really have enough of the personal experience with working with metal
and making intermediate-level mistakes to truly get the most out of
the workshops I took. In a weird way, I was still too immersed in the
"awe” of the process to be able to step back, deconstruct it, and
take away the insights that these stellar instructors were able to
provide. What I took away was really just surface-level technique,
which was really a waste of my money.
In recent years, I’ve found that workshops have a much more intense
value for me. I’m now looking at these world-class instructors with a
totally different frame of reference. I’m not paying as much
attention to the minutiae of every technique as I am to their
wholistic approach to the metal and how they work it. Because I
understand how to solder, form, set stones, etc., my work in the
workshops is focused on really refining technique and approach and
identify new tools (physical, mental, and otherwise) to include in my
toolkit. I’m getting 500% more out of a workshop today that I would
when I was first starting out.
My recommendation would be to take the “part 2” course (which will
expose you to an entirely new set of skills and techniques) and keep
working to refine and make instinctive the skills you’ve achieved so
far. Be patient, and then take the workshops a bit later when you’ve
got more personal experiences to build on.
I’m fortunate in that I have access to a great jewelry program
(Bucks County Community College, in PA). We have folks in the
"advanced fabrication" and casting classes who have been taking them
over and over for 10, 15 years. Why do they do that? Well, first off
it builds a community of sharing around techniques and tools. Second,
it provides ongoing access to a well-equipped studio. But more
importantly, each time you explore a technique you do so from a
slightly different space and bring new insights into it. Every
semester is different… too many different techniques to teach in a
single semester and it’s frankly impossible to truly master even one
new technique in that time. That’s the essence of learning the
jewelry arts - continual exploration.
Good luck and best wishes!
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry