Friday, December 14, 2012

Lemons and Lemonade in the Classroom

by Linda Kline
Director of Education

Every teacher must have a favorite tool in their tool box. Mine is a hammer. My motto, “When all else fails, beat the crap out of it!”

A few weeks ago my class made syringe projects. Some people just take naturally to the syringe….others, not so much. I’ve seen people use it with amazing grace and style….just like a natural extension of their hand. They can write with it, draw with it, and control it with precision for beautiful, detailed results. On the flip side, there are those who literally have their hands full….no pun intended. No matter what we try, the syringe just doesn’t work for them. As painful as it may be, I encourage them to make at least one syringe project because there are so many amazing techniques and skills that can be achieved with the use of the syringe…….and if you don’t try, you’ll never know!

This group suffered more than a few mishaps. As a teacher I’ve learned that it’s sometimes okay to let your students make their own mistakes….. like when it comes to laying on enough layers of paste or getting a syringed design sturdy enough to survive the firing and cleaning process.  I ask them, “Does it ‘feel’ like a piece of jewelry?” There’s no substitute for experience when it comes to learning these lessons. But when impatience gets the better of them and they fire the piece prematurely - without sufficient silver - the inevitable “meltdown” poses multitudes of opportunities for making lemonade from lemons.

Take the case of the Boo-Boo Ball…………

Several students made syringed beads created over hard cotton balls. The heat from the burn-off of the cotton can cause the silver to overheat and sometimes melt if it isn’t thick enough. So yep, we had several cases of Boo-Boo Ball…….partially melted beads. Of course, they could have added more silver and re-fired. Instead, I reached into my little bag of tricks and whipped out my trusty hammer. I had them cut the beads open so they would lay flat on a metal block and we literally hammered the crap out of them. The students were amazed at the unique and abstract pieces of silver they salvaged and even more excited that they could create inspiring new designs from their unfortunate meltdowns.  It caused a frenzy of excitement in the group and now everyone is trying to mimic those mishaps.

As Marlynda Taylor, one of my PMC sisters and mentors once told me, “There is no such thing as an ugly piece of PMC jewelry…….it just isn’t finished yet.”  Rethink it….recreate it….or when all else fails, beat the crap out of it!

Creative blessings,


Mary Hicks said...

Just an awesome lesson, if you ask me. What a concept!

Alcina said...

You can end up with a lot of bits and pieces......