Friday, 25 January 2013

Creative Craft Skills- Jewellery Week 3

Despite the appalling weather most of the ladies managed to get to class last night and let's hope next week is better!
We made a start on using the tools and materials last night and everyone demonstrated safe use of the pliers, cutters etc. This is one of the criteria to be met for this accredited course and gives me the chance to identify the various skill levels between students too, as some learners are used to using jewellery making tools but for others this is an introduction. Anyone wanting to make their own designs really needs to have a good idea of the basic tools they will need and how to use them effectively. There are some techniques that are a staple in this type of jewellery making and learning how to create perfect loops, opening and shutting jump rings/links correctly, cutting and filing and how to crimp beads will enable the maker to make informed choices for their work. There is a dizzying array of tools and resources available for the modern accessory maker and for a  beginner it must be quite overwhelming deciding what to buy and what exactly is needed to carry out the task in hand.

At the end of last night's session the ladies had all used each tool to produce examples of work. These can form part of their evidence to meet another criteria, experimenting with techniques. They were provided with a  basic earring kit and asked to come up with designs and ideas that would incorporate all of the techniques mentioned above. This is a practise exercise before embarking on the main design and allows for mistakes to be made as well as exploration of ideas.


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A student showing frustration while doing homework

As we approach week 4 of this course the question of the benefits of attending an accredited course as apposed to a workshop is, I think, worth addressing. What are the differences and benefits? Is it right for me? What extras are involved? Well the simple answer to whether someone should opt for joining an accredited course's up to you! Identifying what level you want to achieve is probably the main question to ask yourself and if you decide that you are willing to commit to 8 possibly even 20 weeks working towards a qualification then YES!, it's for you. Signing up to this type of course though, will mean a little extra will be required from both the learners and tutor and as with any exam, there is a requirement to provide evidence of learning having taken place and means there is inevitably a necessity for some written work, even for a  practical subject like jewellery making. This is of course not most peoples favourite aspect and I should see what the tutor has to do! But there is purpose to it all and everything we cover in these first few weeks form a permanent record for the learner to refer back to at any time and as someone who has attended many accredited courses as an adult, something to take pride in... 
YOU did that, YOU achieved that, all on your own. Well done YOU!  
My role in this process is to guide the learners by introducing the tools, demonstrate the skills, check they understand the techniques, gain the skills and have learnt enough to complete the task independently. 

So, back to my question, workshop or accreditation? In my opinion...both. A longer course will give you the chance to learn from the bottom, up including design and allowing time to master techniques. Workshops will then extend your skill set and help identify your own strong points and favoured area of jewellery design. If you've invested in a tool kit (you are required to provide all your own resources for accredited courses but not necessarily for workshops) then make the most of them, buy some materials and make, make, make. Practise will indeed make perfect so go and have some fun trying :). 

There are so many places to buy equipment and materials from today and (yes, as a sometimes contributor, I am biased!) I highly recommend checking out Making Jewellery Magazine for inspiration and help with all aspects of jewellery making and information on suppliers. If you are on Facebook,  Click here and 'like' their page for regular updates of the latest news.

So far this class has shown excellent application of their new skills by demonstrating an understanding for the need to gather resource info, plan a design, tool recognition, and carrying out basic techniques. It's only week 3 so the ladies should give themselves a pat on the back! Next week will involve getting everyone to the same stage in their workbooks. Hopefully those able to attend last night, will have examples of their earrings ready to be photographed and they will be asked to complete another criteria that asks for their own responses to the design/processes etc. This is where the workbooks will start to show individuality as each person approaches their own designs and interpret the results independently
This really is the aim, you have to prove you can carry out the work yourself from start to finish and everything the learners are doing now will help them to do this.

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