Several months ago I offered to conduct a jewelry workshop for a
group of Girl Scouts. These girls range from 12-14 years old. The
troop leader is a good friend of mine and she’s always looking for
something different to expose her group to. I’ll have 2-3 hours with
them which isn’t much time. I’m asked to discuss my work inclusive of
various shows that I do. However I’d like each girl to create
something simple and leave with a finished product. That product
could be a simple pair of beaded ear rings, bracelet, or even a
pendant. My primary objective of course is to hopefully spark an
interest in any of these youngsters.
This opportunity will certainly be a challenge for me. Any ideas for
subject matter would certainly be welcome. What can I teach a dozen
kids in 3 hours? There’s just so much. Where to begin…
I’ve done a couple of these presentations for Girls Scouts working
towards a badge. It’s a lot of fun!
Two or three hours can go by very quickly! I have no doubt that the
girls will love a hands on activity. Just keep in mind that what is
so easy for you, may not be for them. That was the biggest surprize
for me the first time I did this. I brought glass beads, beadalon,
base metal crimps and clasps. I also brought along a box of old
crimping pliers, pliers, etc. that I can’t use anymore, but are just
fine for the kids. I start with an explaination of how to use the
tools and demo a bracelet but explain how it could just as easily be
an anklet or a necklace. I also have a couple of hand outs that
explain the steps with illustrations and a list of local stores where
materials can be found. I wanted to teach them that making jewelry
was something that they could continue to do on their own.
I have found it best to start them out with the project early on and
then deliver the presentation to them as they’re working and I’m
walking around to assist them. By the end of the time I show them
some of the fabricated pieces I’m currently working on and briefly
explain how they are made, starting with sheet metal, etc.
I hope you have a lot of fun with this! Don’t be surprised if you get
calls asking if you offer classes.
First, check with the leader and see if they are doing this to meet
badge requirements - if so there will be some specific things they
need you to talk about (don’t have the age level book with me and
can’t remember, but lots of career stuff usually).
Next, my daughter is 14 and has been making and selling jewelry for
3 years now - so that age CAN do most anything you want to do with
They love beading, and patterns, and weaving beads. Love chokers and
bracelets and long dangly earrings. Don’t care if the beads/stones
are gemstones - just need to be pretty and colorful. They also love
wire wrapping, if you have a simple project they could do in the
time period. Copper is very “in”, and it wraps pretty easily - I tend
to get mine at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores :>. You could show them
how to use pliers to create bracelets with beads and wire. This age
(around here, anyway) isn’t into the pearls as much as the colorful
stone beads and long dangly earrings. Earthtones are pretty big in
the stores right now, although many (but definitely not all!!) girls
like things in the pink/rose range.
Another option if you have the tools is to precut some sections of
silver, and let them hammer them, then drill a hole in them, then
put them on earstuds or whatever you have on hand. They love the
hammering and drilling, and they could even drill holes in the bottom
of the pieces and dangle beads. This would give them a "classier"
Good luck, and aren’t you wonderful to do this with them!
Beth in SC who leads 2 Girl Scout troops in 2 different counties!
Years back, I too, did a mini-workshop/presentation for a girl’s
scout troop. I had only about an 1 1/2 hour slot. So, I presented my
work quickly, talked a little about gemstones & geographical sites
around the world. Then I had the girls each tell me a favorite color
and I gave them a small gem in that color with it’s probable site of
origin to locate on a map… We/ they quickly epoxied them into a
simple inexpensive pendant to take home…They also asked me a lot
of questions about being a female jeweler while we worked on this
project. You would be surprised at some of the inquiries. They got
their badges for jewelry and a few tips on being better informed
jewelry buyers… Another thought, you might, as you stated, think
of doing some bead work-possibly earrings or pendant…Just have
some/lots of choices of beads, tiger tail (fine braided wire that is
plastic coated) if you are making a necklace, end caps to tie off
the necklace and some needle nose pliers & tweezers - then stand back
and let the creativity fly. Or fine wire & earring findings for that
project. And make sure they have some kind of tray to lay the beads
into-either a beading tray, styrofoam meat tray or box. You might
set up some examples but don’t reveal too much. Oh, you also might
snag a couple of friends or moms to be extra helpers…You & they
will have a great time!!
Hope all goes well…
Sincerely, Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan
A girl scout at heart
I’ve recently discovered creating gem trees and gem tree brooches.
With the pins, you would need 9 pieces of 22 or 24 ga. dead soft
wire, 6" each, plus one 5" wire (matching gauge) that is half hard to
create the pin, and glue (E-6000) which really is optional.
Naturally, the wire and gemstones could be pre-cut and assembled into
kits beforehand, saving time. I would have wire cutters on hand, just
I can make one, start to finish, in less than an hour. I use two
flat nose pliers, one round nose pliers, masking tape and gemstone
chips. The wire can be the very inexpensive colored craft wire.
Depending on how you add the chips, either as you go, or at the end,
would determine if you need glue or not. Personally, I don’t care for
glue, so I add chips as I go. It really makes the project go faster,
and adds a bit more twisting and turning to the project.
Minimal tools, minimal cost, and they end up with something no one
else will have. Contact me off list and I can give you more detail if
I brought glass beads, beadalon, base metal crimps and clasps. I
also brought along a box of old crimping pliers, pliers, etc. Pam
Oh yes! That reminds me! I’ve done memory wire and glass beads with
kids, in a library program.
The presentation Pam is talking about is, for Junior Girl Scouts, for
the Jewelry Badge, they have to learn about a process of
manufacturing, such as casting. And/or talk to a working jeweler
about their career.
Any ideas for subject matter would certainly be welcome. What can
I teach a dozen kids in 3 hours?
the simplest project would be stringing beads and found objects
(trust me on this, i have scars to verify experience). - make raids
on local thrift shops for old, cheap, whole or broken costume
jewelry, sometimes they have bags of odds and ends and whole pieces.
ask beader friends to contribute their orphans’ or hopeless cause
pieces. - beg older relatives and/or neighbor ladies to clean out
those dusty jewelry boxes. - divide the cache into enough material
for each scout (and leader) and put them into plastic bags with
sufficient bigger than average jump rings. - ideally you should have
a few bags more than you have scouts to replace ‘disappearing’ pieces
(a second “trust me” on this). you may have to break up some craft
store strands to add to each bag for fillers. - consider precutting
whatever you use for stringing ahead of time with an extra 6 inches
of fudge factor for those ‘healthy’ necks and knotting. if you use
monofillament fish line for stringing remember that some cyanacrylic
glue make monofillament line brittle. - scrounge up enough large
plastic/foam meat trays to use as individual bead trays. - stick up
any mirrors you can find where they can see themselves while they
work without getting into a line. the variety of ‘pearls’, beads,
cast and stamped pieces, etc, will give you the opportunity to
explain how each was made and let you segue into examples of your
work and how you made them. but jerry keep in mind that age they will
be more interested in what they are making for themselves than
in-depth demonstrations of how you cast it, forge it, fabricate it or
mold it out of cold grits.
~ note: when estimating time for the whole show - increase it by at
least 25% - 30% (the final “trust me”) .
good luck and keep your health insurance premiums current.
Without hand tools for each girl, you are limited to things like bead
stringing. However, there are several choices for what the beads are
strung ON. Stringing on stretchy stuff is really easy and only
requires the girls to create their design (taking into account the
different lengths necessary for the individual’s wrist), then to
thread the beads onto a length of the elastic material. You’ll be
needed to help them decide on length and to knot the elastic. Things
to point out:
~~the inner diameter of the bracelet is smaller than the length of
the beads strung together
~~be sure that the hole drilled in the bead on one end of the length
is large enough to hide the knot inside
~~repeated patterns are fine, but random designs can be very
~~texture (chips vs. round vs. other shapes) should be considered
I’m sure you’ll think of other concerns. Examples will help them see
possibilities and some will simply want to copy your example. It
will be fun to see how each approaches the creative process!
I use a piece of tiger tail folded in half for a needle when
stringing the stretchy bracelets. No clasp is necessary. It is
helpful if each girl brings a piece of velvet or a terry velour
washcloth to lay out her bead pattern prior to stringing. If you
provide some beading hoops, they can make matching earrings and you
can put the little bend in the straight end of the hoop.
Good for you and let us know how the projects turn out.
Judy in Kansas
Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 147 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944
Let me say first of all, thank you all for all the valuable input.
The workshop was yesterday. Those 15 young ladies wore me out. I
started by giving a brief overview of metalsmithing and jewelry,
passing around lots of tools, materials, and work I’d brought. I also
used the troop leaders and several scouts as models. Those ladies
were beaming… I do think they were glad when I finally shut up and
got on with the project. The troop leaders and I had discussed the
project for several weeks before the workshop. We decided on simple
beaded earrings. That project was more than challenging for the
majority of the scouts. It turned out to be a perfect first project.
I had taken a wide variety of beads in various colors shapes and
sizes including a variety of silver findings and nice ear wires that
I’d purchased. We had trays of goodies everywhere. The design was
completely up to them. Not one of the girls or even the troop
leaders had done anything like this previously. Yes, I made certain
the troop leaders did a project too. Each and everyone completed
their project. One girl even completed two projects - she thought I
didn’t know… ha ha… Two projects was fine with me.
We only had one with the “I can’t do this” attitude. I tend to
tackle negative attitudes head on but in nice and positive way. Then
go over the steps as often as necessary until they see the light.
That bad attitude quickly disappeared. She came through with shining
colors requiring just a little extra attention.
Conducting a workshop such as this was a wonderful opportunity. A
project that seems so insignificant to me made their day. I was very
humbled when they told me this was their best workshop to date. They
do workshops of all sorts reaching out into the community wherever
possible. They are such an excellent group of young ladies.
We’re discussing another workshop. Heck, can’t stop with just one
now can we… I asked for their input on what the next project should
Kudos to you. In the past seven years, I have sponsored Girl Scouts,
Brownies, the Winchester Middle School and today, the special needs
school, Dearborn Academy. They have their own jewelry program and
made rings in wax to cast. This morning, 15 students came to
Metalwerx and cast their rings and key rings.
I think any time you have the opportunity to have a few kids come
into your studio space with either a larger group or one on one,
carpe diem. Eyes open up and the oohs and ahs are great. Kids that
have ADD were completely focused. Although we didn’t let them handle
the torch, they did get to plunge the flasks into the water.
Keep doing it. Get kids involved in what we do.
Thanks for sharing Jerry.
M E T A L W E R X
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857 http://www.metalwerx.com/
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio