Friday, 11 January 2013

A Learning Adventure

Last night was the first session of an 8 week Creative Craft Skills - Jewellery course at Bedwas Adult Education Centre. Nine lovely ladies joined me (3 more to follow) to work towards a Level 1 certificate worth 3 credits. Over the next few weeks I plan to post updates on our progress and give the learners a chance to check on tasks, ask questions and hopefully get to know one another better.
As three ladies were unable to make the first session, I'm going to mention some of the things we did so they can catch up a little before next week.

The first night is always slow with lots (and lots!) of paperwork to get through. Workshops don't require this level of formality but as I delve ever further into the tutor's role, it is without doubt the most intense aspect and one we have to adhere to. In order for me to prove each learner's progress through the course, we must ensure every area of criteria is met, recorded and dated. Each learner has a workbook covering the areas and will be required to complete these as well as producing evidence of work and a  final design piece.

The learners have varying degrees of skills in jewellery making ranging from zero knowledge to confident and experienced. It will be my job now to ensure everyone is comfortable and competent using the tools and are familiar with the materials before we embark on the main design.

Last night we discussed how jewellery is not just an object but can be something that invokes strong feelings. Learners were asked to close their eyes and picture a specific item of jewellery, this could be a piece they own, have bought for someone, would like to own, used to own, anything), they were then asked to open their eyes and give one word to describe how the item looks. Some great words were given describing style, shape and material. They were then asked to close their eyes again and picture the same item. Upon opening their eyes this time they were asked to give one word that described how they felt about this item. 'Love' was a popular one and it was interesting watching many of them automatically smiling while they thought of their word. Jewellery just an object? I don't think so! This exercise was to show that as well as jewellery having a visual impact, it will generally have some meaning behind it and hold memories. Learners are asked to recall this when planning a design and use it to incorporate personal elements into their jewellery.

Sketch books are an essential tool for any designer and all learners are asked to keep an on going record of their ideas and the task as it progresses. By keeping notes and drawing ideas, you can come back to it again and again, altering as ideas flow and boundaries are met - if something didn't work write down why and sketch an alternative. These are important points as you will be expected to show these processes in your workbook as well as submitting the sketch book as evidence. There are no rules as such with a design book, if you see a pattern or colour you like in a magazine, cut it out and stick it in, found a pretty flower? take a  picture and put it in or dry it out/laminate it and place in the book for inspiration. Get used to noting down measurements too, I usually have a  dressmaker's tape measure draped around my neck for checking sizes. This is also important as all accredited courses must include embedding skills - maths and English etc

I showed how to create a 'mood' board by collating a selection of images that promote a particular 'style' or 'look'. For example if you wanted to create a 'Vintage' effect, the ladies were quick to volunteer 'brown's, 'creams' and 'antique metals' as examples of how to achieve this look. Gathering SOURCE MATERIAL like this is a great way to spark ideas and can include original images/magazine cuttings or rubbings of patterns even. Start looking at buildings and nature to see shapes/beautiful patterns and think about how they could be used in designs


 I've asked the learners to do a little bit of homework for next week and taking what they have learned about design to create at least  a  page of ideas for a name tag/brooch. It's a fun project and just to start everyone off with getting used to using the sketch books as well as working towards the required criteria. Using a range of mixed media (EG paper, feathers, ribbon, cord) leaners are to design a tag that doubles as a brooch and shows their names clearly. Large safety pins are supplied and the overall size is to be no more than 3"x 2". I must observe the learner cutting and laminating so preparation can be done before next week and we will be laminating them at the start of the session.
Laminated Paper Jewellery
Next week we will be introduced to the various tools and materials we will use over the duration of the course and we may even start making some jewellery!

If anyone attending is unsure of what they may need please email me at and I can answer any questions. If you have access to Facebook, look up Chilichic Jewellery and 'Like' it to get updates.

See y'all next week!

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