Have you ever wondered how silver jewellery is made? Do you feel a burst in desire to work with tools and make your own jewellery? Then there's no better place than the Goldsmith's School in Boundary Rd, Bardon.
Ring by co-owner Susan Rothbrust
From the outside it looks like a set of shops in a besser block concrete building. Once inside, you enter a long studio workshop with glass windows all along the back revealing a beautiful view of trees and lush grass. It's a great view to inspire your inner silversmith.
There are many classes on offer but to start there are the three Beginners courses, each one consisting of five three hour sessions. In each course you are taught a range of skills from sawing metal, filing, metal preparation, link making, soldering, stippling, finishing, polishing and the beginnings of gemsetting. Each skill is taught as you make a project such as a ring, pendant or chain.
So far I have made a ring from flat piece of silver and a pendant also from a flat piece of silver. And this is after only five weeks. After the first lesson which focussed on sawing metal and involved lots of broken saw blades and swearing I was not sure if silversmithing was for me. However by week three I seemed to have found my groove. I even started to enjoy sawing and filing as I could see the results with the beautiful ring I had made. Make no mistake though it is hard work and you will file your fingernails off by accident. There is a real pleasure though in taking your time to transform a flat piece of metal into a piece of jewellery. I now appreciate why handmade silver jewellery is priced as it is. There is a lot of work involved.
The school is very flexible.The classes have a rolling structure so you can start anytime and there are two tutors available to help you and the other students progress your projects. The atmosphere is fun and it helps to be in a session with more experienced students who can give you some tips and also to see what is possible for students to create. The tutors are unfailingly helpful and ensure that the jewellery you produce is of a good quality.
Bangle by Elmar Rothbrust
You can also purchase supplies from the school so that you can set yourself up with a mini workshop at home. Perhaps the best option is to have a few tools at home so you can progress pieces in your own time and then come into the studio to use some of the larger equipment and make use of the tutors invaluable knowledge.
If you get hooked you can continue on to a 38 week VocationalCourse involving two - three hour sessions per week plus Master Classes. This is a relatively quick way to develop your skills and can be followed with an Advanced Certificate Course. Alternatively you can enrol in the slower paced Construction Course where you continue with one session per week In an open ended, self paced, project based system.
It's well worth the money to dip your toes in the water with the first of the Beginners Courses. Even if you only do the first course you will have a much better understanding about how jewellery is made.