You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

21 03 2010

One of my favorite local small businesses, Imaginese, hosted a jewelry making class the other night. It was taught by one of the local artists whose beaded jewelry is carried in the store. I’ve never made jewelry before and decided to sign up for the class.

The project we’d be learning to make that night was a pair of chandelier earrings. I was excited and a little apprehensive to see how I was going to do with this type of craft. Before that evening I hadn’t made any jewelry since the days of friendship bracelets or macramé necklaces. Most of my artistic expression had taken the form of latch hook rugs, macramé plant hangers, crocheted blankets, cross-stitched bibs, and most recently embellished magnets.

Apparently, I’m a bit of a late bloomer since the other class attendees were, at best, in their early tweens. I almost think if you added the ages of the other class attendees together, I’d STILL be older. The artist/instructor was only 16 years old herself and has been making jewelry since she was 8 years old!

Each seat at the table was provided with the basic materials for the earrings:

There was a selection of beads to choose from to embellish them:

After an introduction to all of the materials, the tools we’d be using, and the basic premise of the final product (including an example), she walked us step by step through the process:

Until finally, and I mean FINALLY since ever other classmate completed their earrings LONG before me, I had a beautiful pair of earrings suitable for wearing:

I really enjoyed putting these together and seeing what choices the other girls made when selecting from the beads and putting together the designs. The hardest part for me was learning how to roll the wire holding the beads into a loop that could then be opened slightly to allow the string of beads to be added to the chandelier holder. Our instructor made this look SO easy, with every twist of her wrist resulting in a perfect circle with seemingly no effort whatsoever. Obviously that is the sort of skill that comes with practice and experience. Mine were nowhere near so perfect or so consistent in their shape and size. The perfectionist in me was screaming while the other side was quietly reminding me that this was supposed to be fun and relaxing, not stressful.

The other young ladies in the class came up with some beautiful earring designs. It was amazing to see the combinations that could be achieved with the number of beads provided for the class:

With so many choices of beads and options for arranging them possible, I could see myself becoming overwhelmed by the entire decision making process. It always seems when I’m shopping for jewelry that it would be so much easier if I could just make what I was wanting, but now that I’ve actually made the earrings I no longer believe this to be true. I learned so much and hope that the classes continue so that I can pick up some more skills and perhaps dabble some more with the hopes of being able to make gifts for my friends.

I left the experience with a whole new appreciation for friends/artists who make jewelry of all sorts. The talent and skill they possess (not to mention the restraint!) is amazing, just one more reason why it is SO important to support local artists. The vision they possess, the things that they are able to accomplish, the unique pieces of art they create in all shapes and sizes, and the beauty they bring to the world are contributions we cannot afford to lose.

Seeing the abilities of the young ladies in the class, I’m filled with hope that the future is brimming with potential for talented young artists. I think it isn’t so bad off for the friendship bracelet making old dogs in the crowd either.