Last night I took a class at the Creative Side, a jewelry academy here in Austin. I found them online as I was looking for classes to increase my jewelry-making knowledge, and signed up right away for a ring-making class with Janice Simmons. I thought that I probably knew most of the basic techniques they’d be using in the class, but I really need concentrated help on things like soldering, so I figured this would be a good way to learn more stuff.
Well, I’ll be damned if I didn’t learn a lot. And a lot of it was better, smarter, new and improved ways to do things I *thought* I knew how to do. A lot of my metal working skills are self-taught or things I’ve learned from books and tutorials, but there is absolutely nothing better than a smart, patient teacher. The class was scheduled to be 3.5 hours, and went well past that time, but not because the pace was too slow – no indeed. Janice and her assistant for the evening, Sage, kept things moving along quickly, and provided tons of great information.
Tool info – how do you cut sheet metal into super sleek pieces? Where should you buy digital calipers? What kind of mandrel should I use on the flex shaft? Where can I get that hammer? It went on and on – a virtual treasure box of great information on how to stock your studio. Method info – what do you use for a non-toxic pickle? So that’s why I’ve never had success with stamping on sterling silver… You can use a saw for that?
I could have come away from that class feeling dejected – like my finished piece was crappy or I didn’t have half the knowledge I thought I did, or… whatever else – but Janice and Sage kept giving individual support and attention, so I never felt less than capable. There’s no magic, they seemed to say, just work. Hard work that you have to practice. And anyone can work hard and practice. So instead of feeling like the kid who failed shop class, I came away from that class feeling like I’d spent my money well, and that I’d gotten great value for my buck. And I’d learned a ton. Isn’t that exactly why you take a class?