Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Which workshops shall I take?


I am a beginner metalsmith and have taken an 8 week course at a
local arts center in beginning metalsmith. I have been reading up
books on different techniques and skillsets on my own outside of

This summer term, I have decided that I might forgo metalsmithing
Part 2 and take a bunch of weekend technique workshops instead as I
have narrowed down pretty specifically skills I want to learn:

  1. Advanced forging/synclastic/antisynclastic
  2. Epoxy Resin for Jewelry-making
  3. Fused Loop in loop chains
  4. Enameling

The reason behind this decision is that I think I would be able to
focus on the techniques I am interested in learning (instead of a
guided course) and getting exposed to a few different established

These workshops, which are taught by some great instructors, are not
cheap of course (averaging between $115-$200 for a 1 or 2-day
weekend workshop, per technique), so I would like everyone’s
feedback on what techniques I would most benefit from external
instruction and what I can learn on my own by reading books and

Thank you so much!


feedback on what techniques I would most benefit from external
instruction and what I can learn on my own by reading books and

Take all of the classes! I can’t really answer your question without
knowing what you’re good at and how you learn.

115 to 200. per course actually sounds really cheap. They go for more
around here.

If you must drop one class, I would drop the epoxy and buy the book
on the subject by Sheri Haab.

But, realize that you save a lot of time when you take a class. The
instructor has (hopefully) been doing it for years and has already
made the mistakes, and can prevent you from doing the same. Tips,
tricks, that improve your speed and accuracy, decrease your failure
and annoyance.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


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!

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry

You should consider taking classes at the William Holland School of
Lapidary Arts in Young Harris Ga. Each class is a weel long; starting
Mondy morning and going through Friday afternoon. Cost of the school
is $310 per week which includes a room with private bath, all meals
and instruction. The only additional cost would be for materials used
in class. The school maintains a web site which provides a schedule
for the classes and description of class content.

Good luck;
Howard Siegel
Laptique, ltd.