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Continuing Education for Metalwork


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I hope that other miniaturists will post about their continuing education experiences in metalworking, at local colleges, makerspaces, museums and privately organized guilds in this forum topic.

>Jan, I wish you would start a new forum topic about your experiences with local jewelry classes, when you have time.  I think it would be an excellent topic.

It has been on my list to find people locally since 2015... so I'm hoping to learn how other miniaturists found these sources.  While our local county has a population greater then 250,000 people, the local South Bend Museum of Art (where I participated in a weaving class) doesn't really inspire me much...  I have considered rejoining the museum as a member and take a jewelry class, but I think the life size stuff would be a distraction and I don't need anymore distractions from the miniature world.  I am hoping to learn about other miniaturists who made that connection.  I am figuratively chained to my desk 5 days a week, so perhaps that is part of my problem, but I must work while I am able to work! 


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Tamra, thanks for doing this!  I have no issue with belonging to jewellery making classes - after all, most of their work is tiny, and it is the techniques that you need to learn!  After doing Bill Hudson' pedal pony cart in 1992 at GS, I searched and searched for opportunities.  Finally I found someone who would give me a 6 week class - 2 hrs a week, which got me started but it wasn't impressive!  He used silver plated copper wire - so nothing really worked out well!  Then we convinced a young jeweller to start a silversmithing class at our local lapidary club (my husband was a long time member) and that was excellent.  The club already had a super tool collection that had been passed on to it when another group closed down in the 1980s, and had previously had a silversmithing group, so it had everything we needed!  That was back about 2000 I think! That group still runs, having had a series of jewellers volunteering to lead the group.  You can work on your own projects and there is help and advice when needed.

Then I was given the scholarship to the GS and I enrolled in Pete Acquisto's class in 2002.  I was desperate for experience with a metal lathe and finally was told that there was a jewellery making group that had continued on from a college class that the members had completed.  That is the group I still go to!!  (Bring your lunch, $1 a day and coffee and cookies provided!) The lathe I was introduced to was a pre-war Hercus, about 3 foot long!  But I was taught to pull it apart and put it back together so I could keep it in good condition!  But I survived Pete's class and was delighted to find the group had acquired a Unimat 3 lathe.  Then I found one for myself at an auction!  I now have the choice of 3 lathes in the workshop, which is separate from the silversmithing workshop.

In 2012, I had the privilege of a 3 day class with Rob Tukham where I turned lots of different materials, but not metal.  Super!  

Both the groups I go to are jewellery making groups, but I make miniatures in both.  And have even converted some people!!  Jewellery making classes are also sometimes offered through our Adult Education system, but they are very expensive.

I would think that rockhound or lapidary clubs would be a good starting point for appropriate classes.  What have others found?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jan, thanks for adding to the conversation... I made an appointment and am investigating a local firearts non-profit studio next week.  The artists have experience in mold making, bronze casting, and pottery too... so definitely some possibilities...  they don't have a miniature wheel though, so I don't think I can throw scale miniature pottery as easy on a life size wheel as a miniature wheel... interesting thought... next year I will ask people at the bishop show.  (Jon Almeda's class is on the top of my wish list...)

 On the surface it seems like they have resident artists that work in jewelry, but I'm not sure they have had enough interest in classes in our community.  The local art museum offers jewelry classes, but they are more like crafting with beads vs. silversmithing; I am more interested in working with metals, and I would like to practice soldering, using metals, etc, etc...

I have a project that I really want to make that has been on my list for decades... the cost at the firearts studio as a 'guest' is $75 per month + $25 for  a mentoring fee... I like your fee schedule better then mine, but guess my air travel may add to my cost to join your group.   I looked at classes in Chicago, too, but would hate driving into that crazy city weekly; it is bad enough driving in 3-4 x per year to fly, shop or go to mini events. But I think they will be able to help me with my project; I have a few items I would like to cast, so I will have to work on my first model first and then can join for help with the molds...


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  • 1 month later...

Now that there are "Makers Spaces" in many cities, getting jewelry classes and workshops should be easier.

If you are in Northern California, Richmond Art Center and The Crucible have both weekend workshops and longer classes. Ed Lay at Richmond Art Center is wonderful and you can even sign up for half of a session.


More expensive, but lots of short workshops in Oakland:


Both of the above are in the San Francisco area - so plan a vacation and learn a new skill.

And for a pretty location in Northern California Mendocino Art Center does short classes:



In Houston, I had fantastic classes at Glassell and a friend of mine also took beginning jewelry classes at Houston Community College:


I also took short workshops at the local bead shop:



Now in Boston I am thrilled by the classes and workshops offered by Metalwerx, including five day workshops with a goldsmith where I was in way over my head but still learned so much:


And I plan to take some workshops here soon:



Taking classes at a Jewelry Making Museum is definitely on my list:




I've also collected workshops and classes on a pinterest board (very unorganized) It is amazing what is available across the country and around the world:


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