Jewelry Class

I’m doing something new this summer – I’m taking a jewelry class at a local art center. Yesterday was our first session.

Abington Art Center is about 10 minutes from my house, and I have participated in events there over the years, but I have not taken a class (there or anywhere, in fact) for some time. I chose jewelry because I know absolutely nothing about making it, I have no ambitions to sell it, and I equate it to tiny bits of sculpture. I do not wear much jewelry and I don’t really care much about it for myself, but maybe I could make a couple of gifts, I thought.

So I’ve got the beginner’s mind for the subject. I figured it this way – the run of classes is only six weeks, so, if I don’t much like it, I’d be out only a reasonable class fee and 18 hours of my time.

Yesterday was the first class. I arrived early. No surprise, I always do – I like to get the lay of the land on the first day of any new activity. The jewelry studio was empty when I arrived. I wandered around looking at things:


It brought home how much there is to learn when taking on a new activity – because all of these devices and implements have purposes and skills to master.

Our class has five students and our teacher is Matt. He told us we would leave the day’s session having made a silver ring. Well, I had my doubts.

Matt demonstrated the process and in doing so also showed us the functions of many of the mysterious items in the room. I also learned about annealing, pickling, filing, work-hardening a metal, and how to solder a seam. We each got a strip of silver – some people used stamps for embellishment, but I ran mine through the rolling mill several times and got a nice criss-crossing pattern. Then we got to work on constructing our own rings.

Guess what, it was true. We did each make a ring. Now, let me be real – I did each step and then Matt cleaned things up. The only thing I didn’t do was polish the ring (though he demonstrated the machine that does this task, I think polishing is an advanced skill, as it seems really easy to ruin a nice piece by bad polishing. Maybe later on).

The ring I made is too large for my finger, but – I did not try to be accurate. Because of my hand surgeries I wouldn’t be wearing another ring, and initially that fact dampened my enthusiasm for this project. Then one of the other students suggested that I could wear my ring on a chain. Fantastic.

So here is my finished ring. I like the result. I think I would actually wear it in the manner I mentioned. And believe me, at the beginning of the class, I would never have thought such a thing could happen. Looking forward to next week’s class already.

13 thoughts on “Jewelry Class

  1. petrujviljoen

    It’s a lovely skill to learn. I went on a similar course, years ago. Buying the necessary equipment to do it full-time at home was beyond my means and I then moved away from the large centres that offered their workshops and equipment similar to the one you describe above – at a low cost. If you can work with clay, working with metal isn’t so difficult as the two mediums behave similarly. The one more malleable than the other for sure but still. Looking forward what you’ll be making next.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I was not sure how I’d like any of it but I think it will suit me. I like all the tools (I will have to get over my fear of the torch) and there are a lot of steps to making each piece, which means lots of creating but not building up lots of items. I am lucky to have this art center so close as you are right, I’d never get all this equipment. I don’t know what we’ll be doing next but I will report in. !!!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I chose this medium for the sort of sculpture aspect of it (meaning making little objects) and because I know absolutely nothing about it so I can’t pressure myself. I was astounded that we were actually able to make something nice in just three + hours of work and instruction.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I was pleasantly surprised to be happy leaving the class and looking forward to the next one. I planned to finish out the sessions no matter what (I have a history of dropping out of classes) but I feel energy about this.

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    Woah! I am impressed that you managed to create that ring at the end of your very first class in jewellery making. Here’s another idea for the ring: you could use it to hold a scarf in place. That is something my Gran used to do with costume jewellery rings. I would, however, probably like you turn it into a pendant. I think you have a fantastic attitude towards this class and learning a new skill. Trying new things is always fun.

  3. Laura (PA Pict)

    By which I mean trying new creative things because (and I believe you know me well enough to know this about me) not all new experiences are fun. Nope. Not at all. But broadening one’s creative horizons is great.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, you hit the nail on the head. I needed to start to return to going out of the house more. This is my attempt at a start. I was determined to stick with it even if I didn’t much like it (I have a habit of not finishing classes) but I am genuinely enthusiastic about this one and I really like the idea of a fresh start in a new medium, with no idea of doing anything more than just what I am doing. I also really like all the tools we use, somehow that appeals to me.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I really thought finishing a ring was too ambitious but all of us did it and we made creditable looking pieces. Everyone was happy. It makes for a nice atmosphere to accomplish something like this and created enthusiasm in me for the next class.

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