Those who can do, do. Those that can’t, teach…….. ummm really? I think it would be fairly difficult to teach something that you don’t know how to do, no? Those who teach do so because they have a passion for teaching, so they acquire the knowledge and expertise in a field they love in order to be great instructors.
In metal arts school, we had three different instructors for metal techniques class. When working on a long project we would often have one instructor help us one day, and another the next. More often than not they would have different ideas of how to approach what we were trying to make, or how to problem solve what went wrong with what we were attempting to create, which when learning metalsmithing happened more frequently than I care to recall. Some of my classmates found this to be, well, frustrating…. I however, found it fascinating that there were so many different approaches, and ways of creating the same thing. Sure there are certain ‘rules’ or tried and true techniques, but everyone seems to have their own way of getting the job done. When starting a new project I would first try and figure out how to do it myself, then I would proceed to collect advice from all three of my instructors. All of the problem solving and strategizing has helped me immensely when working solo. Through my experiences with many different instructors and working with different metalsmiths, I have come to the conclusion that there really is 1000 ways to do the same thing with no one right way. Learning from various people, seeing and trying different methods, you discover what works best for you, and you develop your own way of doing things. When learning, taking a variety of silversmithing classes on different techniques is essential, and classes with different instructors can be very beneficial.
At Workingsilver, we have several instructors each with their own set of skills acquired in their unique way. Along with myself, Serena Bartok, Kathy Brandon, Kelley Allanson, Rachael Hatala, Liz McDonald and all the Workingsilver instructors, we obviously find it well worth the effort and have lots of fun in the process. We all have a passion for silversmithing, precious metal clay work, and jewellery and a great enthusiasm for sharing our knowledge with others. Since we are having fun, there is a high probability that you will too if you take our classes. You may even end up teaching us something! For more information on our gifted Instructors, see their bios: HERE
Generally being a jewellery designer or jewellery maker can be a bit of a solitary endeavor, since most are sole proprietary businesses. Although I certainly enjoy my alone time in the studio, the perfect way for me to satisfy my own need to share ideas, experience, knowledge and just have fun with people sharing my interests, is to lead a class. As it turns out teaching, although I love it, is a lot more work than it looks. A lot happens behind the scenes, including; coming up with a suitable design project with wide appeal, figuring out the best possible method of making it, organizing the class in a way that best uses the class and student’s time, and then actually teaching the class.
This project is a perfect example – Open cuff bracelet with spring bling that we were hoping to add to the spring classes, but need to simplify the making process before offering up this class to students. Hopefully I will be able to get back to this in the studio soon!
When helping out in one of Kathy’s Beginner Silversmithing classes, one student had a suggestion….. When sweat soldering we normally cut out our design, then pre-melt solder onto the top piece, then sweat solder. “Why don’t we pre-melt the solder before we cut out our design from the silver” ummmmm that’s not what we have always done, but let’s have fun and do an experiment! This method could solve a few issues such as getting the solder onto the small sections of a design, melting small exposed bits when pre-melting the solder, the solder running up the sides to the top of the piece…. On the flip side, it could waste solder covering the entire piece. We proceeded with our experiment, and it turned out great! Now we have two ways of approaching this project.
At Workingsilver, our Classes really are the beating heart of our business. All the Instructors in the Workingsilver Studio work with Kathy to create classes with techniques that build silversmithing and Precious Metal Clay knowledge and experience. Our students appreciate the organization and structure of our classes, the functionality of the studio, and enthusiastically approach the learning we offer.
YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE TAKING OUR CLASSES!
Written by Serena Bartok