I have two very different types of classes that I offer, Technique-Based and Project-Based.
The Technique classes are where I demonstrate a technique, and then the students will get one or more opportunities to do the technique with my supervision and assistance. Then, we discuss ways in which everyone can incorporate the technique into their own work.
It is impossible to master a skill in one or three tries in one class, and I let everyone know this. It is like algebra. I can teach you how to do a formula, but you haven’t mastered it till you’ve practiced it on your own successfully and built up your confidence. And, because of the limited nature of the class I can keep the prices for these classes very low, so that some can opt to retake the class to further master the skill in a more supervised setting. This bothered me at first. I asked myself, “Why would someone retake the class?” I thought that maybe I hadn’t done a very good job, but after talking to the students, I felt more at ease, and was better able to assist them in mastering the skill. Some people just feel more confident practicing with a teacher supervising.
Really, no one can just do just one technique and start making jewelry, or at least interesting jewelry. But, each class is set up so that we are concentrating only on one skill. So, they don’t exactly go home with something that they can wear. This class is set up for those who are about to or have already set up a work area at home, and they want to seriously concentrate on building their set of skills. At first this was a hard sell to my student base that were used to bead classes, where they would see a finished product before signing up. But, after a few classes, a buzz began and now classes fill up within hours of posting a schedule for the month. I believe that this builds a better student base for something such as metalsmithing, but I had to keep my fingers crossed in the beginning.
Here is a list of a few classes that I have prepared in this style:
Introduction to soldering
Introduction to the jeweler’s saw
Project based classes are very different. In this type of class, the students will do a series of techniques to make something that they can wear home, such as a cuff with a stone, a ring with a tube-set gemstone, or a pendant with a cab. In my experience, it is harder for a student to fully grasp any of the multiple techniques that they are being taught if their mind is focused on the end product. They are constantly trying to envision what it’s going to look like, why they’re doing this specific thing, or pensive about the next step. But, it’s great for different reasons. New students get to sample what the whole craft of metalsmithing is like, and more experienced students get to take the skills that they have started learning to a new level. It is also an excellent opportunity to discuss things that we wouldn’t cover in a technique class, like proportions, functionality, color, stone selections, or aesthetic in general.
Project based classes attract several different types of students. Some are people wondering if metalsmithing would be something that they would enjoy, and they want to try it. Some are more social and just like taking classes to do something new and meet new people. But, then this is also an opportunity for the students who have had my technique courses to discuss and study the art of what we are doing.
Usually, these types of classes are longer and more expensive. I also have a lot more preparation to get more tools ready and more supplies. It also just takes longer to guide the students through several techniques, and they can last from 6 hours to 2 days. But, all in all, it is the best way to incorporate student needs. Using both the technique classes and the projects, they can get the most from the learning experience.
If you have questions about classes, please contact me at MichaelJohnson@cosmicfolklore.com.
I am willing to travel to teach at new locations.