11 Reasons to Take a Jewelry Class

Discover your talents in a Bead Fest Wire Workshop!

I love learning things on my own, inventing and playing. Most of us are self-taught in one or another craft forms. But there are times when being a hermit has its drawbacks, or when homeschooling just isn’t economical, let alone safe. I can cut apart and re-stitch a botched piece of beadwork, but broken beads aren’t toxic. I don’t lose much money tossing a few mutant copper wire coils, but wasting small snips of silver wire adds up. To avoid calamity to purse or person, I look to the experts and take a workshop at Bead Fest. Why? Here are my top 11 reasons to take a class.

1: Conserve materials
Seems obvious, but I probably wasted a mile of metal in my early forays with wire. If only I had taken a class and seen early on how to, for instance, use wire from the spool to be more economical.

2: Learn safely about safety
If you’re a beginner, absolutely take classes in anything with flame, heat, toxic fumes or corrosive substances. Lampworking is an obvious example, with open flame and potentially explosive consequences. But using a hammer, drill, or dremel poses hazards, too—especially if you’re sitting there thinking, what’s a dremel?

A Bead Fest student has fun in a safely supervised lampworked-glass class.

3: Know the must-have tools
I am oddly attracted to specialty pliers with alien noses and funky-colored handles. And while a tool for bending a “V” in metal is something useful for people who do that a lot, I was taught to achieve this effect with tools I already owned, for the few times I want to do that.

Step by Step Wire Jewelry Editor-in-Chief and Bead Fest teacher Denise Peck brings shopping karma to our Bead Fest director, Karen Keegan.

4: Discover which tools do what
In the same light, if I was making a lot of V shapes, that tool would make sense. And, without the insight of a teacher, I wouldn’t have even known that tool existed.

I’m sure a teacher could tell me what the heck these pliers are!

5: Observe efficiency
Watch a teacher at work. Pay attention to their economy of movement, how they place things at hand in their work space and their sequence of production. Good teachers are usually as productive as they are creative. They can show you ways to be faster as well as better at the technique.

Bead Fest teacher Janice Berkebile shows how to keep your work space organized.

6: Add tricks and tips to your repertoire
How often have you seen something demonstrated and said, “Gee, I never thought to do it like that.”  Exactly.

Bead Fest teacher and vendor Lisa Niven Kelly shows a student her technique for stamping.

7: Learn about your medium
For instance, I didn’t know until I took a class that I could melt away an entire piece of silver wire trying to fuse it into a ring. The teacher showed me exactly how to position the torch.

Take a class for any kind of work with a torch so you don’t burn up your art. Believe me, I'm talking from experience.

 

8: Watch a technique in action
Some techniques are just plain difficult to explain in words or illustrations. I only learned Viking knit by watching it demonstrated by a skilled teacher.

Viking knit is easier to learn when you see it done in person. I didn't know which end was up, down, around, or through until I watched Denise Peck actually doing it.

9: Discover new resources
Teachers have their favorite sources and favorite brands for a reason. Expand your own sources for tools and materials from your mentors; consider their tried and true recommendations.

10: Be inspired
Most teachers would love to be spending more time in their studio, so we’re grateful for their generosity in sharing their time and expertise. Teaching is a special calling. Take advantage of being up close to the technique and material in your teacher’s work. Ask questions. Let that visual stimulation encourage you! Above all, show respect and don’t reproduce their designs for your own gain.

11. Make new friends and network
Enjoy the company of others of a like mind. Taking a class is fun. Meet people from many backgrounds with many diverse styles and skills. Share stories of juggling family, jobs, and jewelry. Hear why others are so passionate, and what other art forms lead them here. You’ll learn as much from your fellow students as from the teachers! Plus, you may find yourself with dinner companions!

 

Coiled Gem Drops

FREE WIRE & BEADS PROJECT!

The fun starts here, with a free project by Janice Berkebile, one of our popular Bead Fest Wire teachers. These Coiled Gem Drop earrings are such a wonderful way to bring beads into your wirework, or, to use wire to show off your beads. Sign up for Bead Fest Wire classes today so you don't miss out!

 Download Coiled Gem Drops Now!

Good teachers deserve good students. Do you have tips for first time students at Bead Fest? Do you have tips to help teachers be better teachers? Share them here!

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