Textured Circles is one of the workshops I’m teaching this year. I designed this workshop as I was writing my book, Making Metal Jewelry, because I’m wanting to teach some beginning metalworking classes that are fun and simple, but absolutely in line with the fundamentals one needs to learn when first starting to work with metal.
I’ve thought a lot about the silversmithing instruction I received at my community college. My instructor – a 4th generation goldsmith – developed his classes using the exact same learning methods that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather employed. Not that there is anything wrong being a purist, in my humble opinion, other than it sucks the life out of creativity. There is definitely something to be said for starting at the beginning and honing one’s skills. However, my overriding problem with this type of traditionalist instruction is that it’s boring. Plain and simple. BORING! The other problem is that traditional silversmithing instruction often has haughty air about it, which can be intimidating to beginners.
Again, it’s my humble belief art shouldn’t be intimidating. Creativity is spontaneous, joyful, free, introspective and unfettered. Even when writing about the visual arts a decade ago, I choose to interview artists whose work had something to say. The expression of art has always been more important to me than technical perfection. This viewpoint would often put me at odds with gallery owners and other art critics who continued to voice acclaim for the same artists; the ones whose technical skills were refined but who, again in my opinion, failed to reinvent, or even push, themselves. What good is a perfectly technical painting when it’s been done over and over? What exactly does it say? How does it inspire? What does anything that tightly controlled make me feel other than reminding me of my grandma’s girdles from the 1940s?
Even though I don’t express these opinions outright in my book, those who know me understand that making art accessible is one of my main missions in my teaching and publishing. I certainly want to create work that is inspiring and joyful, but I also want to be the kind of instructor who stands up in front of the room and sets the tone by saying, “Let’s have fun! You will learn more than you think you will and you will walk out of this room today with some beautiful things to wear.”
A lot of thought and preparation went into my workshops this year. For example, although the sample pics of my Textured Circles class looks rather minimalist, students will learn punching, dapping, doming, texturing with hammers and also a new high pressure rolling press called the Artisan Xplorer, annealing, quenching, pickling, filing, shaping and patinas (including our brand new cold enameling). All of these metalworking fundamentals are tightly packed into this 3 hour workshop. It’s metalworking 101 in a fast-paced and totally fun learning environment.
I’m teaching this workshop three times this year (four actually, as I taught it in Tucson in February); CREATE Orange County, the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee and Art Unraveled in Phoenix. If you happen to live close by any of these retreats, or if you feel like jumping on a plane and coming to meet me in person, it would be an honor to see you and have you in my classes. Also, be sure to check out all the other amazing instructors at these venues. Wowza…talk about creativity being unfettered!
Here’s wishing you a truly Artful weekend. Go have fun! Life is too short to be boring.