Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tip of the Month - Class Prep

One of the most important aspects of being successful in a classroom situation is being a good student. Of course you want to make sure you have a great instructor, one whose work you admire and whose style you relate to. But, a satisfying class is a collaboration between the student and the teacher. Preparation and forethought can make all the difference. Here are my top five actions to take into account:

Micro molds (like this bead), can
be modified to accentuate any project
1. Sign up! That seems like a given, but often students wait until the last minute to register for a class. But teachers, and the institutions they work with, need to know that a class will have a certain number of students to be profitable in order to run it. The local art center I teach for cancels classes a week in advance if they don't see the numbers they need. Sometimes delays in registering have to do with the student's schedule, monetary issues, or procrastination (I'm a foot dragger from way back). Letting the instructor know that you plan on taking the class (even if you can't sign up in advance) will allow them to prepare, purchase materials, and keep the class on their calendar.

Set small CZ's into micro molds of
decorative headpins.
2. Make sure the skill level of the class matches your own. If the description says it's for intermediate to advanced artists, and you're really just beginning, don't do yourself and the other students the disservice of signing up. You'll be frustrated, and because the instructor will probably spend more time with you, the other students will miss that one-on-one attention. Email the instructor in advance with questions and he or she might have some suggestions on how you can prep for the class and be successful with your level of experience and knowledge.

3. If you are just beginning, and the class is an Intro, don't expect that the instructor will let you set a diamond, make a ring, or try another advanced technique. There is a learning curve to every craft, and we all have to start with the basics. Don't get in your own way by trying to create a masterpiece your first time out of the gate.

Shadow box made with micro
molds of leaves and rocks, and
a commercial brass stamping.
4. Bring whatever you think you might need to make a piece you're proud of. You have an artistic voice or style that may be different from the instructors. Filling your toolbox with textures, gems or other inclusions, and carving tools or cutters that you like will help make a project really special and personal. Make micro molds or gem settings in advance, bring metal clay sheet cut into shapes that you like, or create custom shape templates to put your own spin on the project.

5. Don't be afraid to finish the piece at home. Spend time learning the actual technique and put the finishing touches on when you can take your time in your own familiar and comfortable studio. You're learning how to build a box, make hinges, create a specific texture, or carve into clay. A project is made up of a variety of techniques, and your goal should be to learn the techniques so that you can adapt them to work with your style of production. Don't think you need to make a piece that looks exactly like the instructor's sample. On the other hand, don't spend class time trying to re-invent the wheel. Sometimes making something that does look exactly like the instructor's sample frees your mind from design choices that might otherwise distract you from the business of the class.

The most important thing to think about is why you're taking that class, what you hope to learn from it, and how can you take your new skills and make them work with your own jewelry making practice.

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor


Martha Biggar said...

Very well written Lora!!!

Lora Hart said...

Thanks Martha!

Michela Verani said...

Great advise. To bad I can't sent this to all my students in advance!!

Lora Hart said...


Seavbeach Designs said...

That my dear is why I'm taking your class :)

Lora Hart said...

Can't wait to see what kind of embellishments and tools you bring to make your work really pop!