Monday, 8 April 2013
Over two years ago I started studying at the École de Joaillerie de Montréal (Montreal silversmithing/goldsmithing school). They offer a full time CEGEP level program and a part time adult program (which is the one I'm doing). There are 6 levels of silversmithing and a 7th level to learn to work with gold, although I don't know anyone who could afford to do it just for fun with the price of gold these days...
I really like the way the course is given. You have a certain amount of projects to complete to finish each level, each of these projects requiring you to acquire a certain set of skills. Within the given parameters, you are pretty much free to do what you want. The classes are a mix of levels, each student having a bench and tools and working at their own speed and level. The teacher and assistant go around to each student to help, show a technique, give feedback, correct mistakes, etc. The great thing about this system is that you get to see what everybody else is doing, which is not only inspiring, but also gives you a chance to learn a lot by looking at the techniques the other students use for their (most probably) very different projects.
So far I have completed levels 1 and 2 in 3 1/2 sessions (60 hours per session). It's long but it's impossible to complete the projects in each level in one session if you don't work during the rest of the week (there are free workshop hours during the week so you can work some more on your own) and for the first two sessions I was way too scared to do anything on my own and ruin it all. After that I started going a day a week. And I didn't even work on my class project. I figured it was time to make some jewelry to sell because that's the whole point. I'm taking a break right now, for various reasons, but I'm still thinking about my projects, coming up with designs, writing down notes and ideas for when I start again.
The following picture is one of my projects for level 2 : "jewelry item with cabochon stone", and my favorite piece so far. The stone is kyanite and around the bezel is japanese paper encased in resin. I just love it and wear it a lot.