Behind the glitz: A tutor's guide to jewellery making

At Kent Adult Education, we pride ourselves on the quality of our tutors. Our courses are taught by some of the best, most enthusiastic people around who work tirelessly to provide you with excellent adult education.

So who are these tutors? Well, we thought we’d give you an insight into what it’s like to take a course by talking to Debbie France, who teaches Jewellery Making as well as specialist sessions on Metal Clay Jewellery.

Debbie has been taking jewellery making courses for the last four years with Kent Adult Education. She is an expert in the subject, especially when it comes to working with metal clay. However, everyone has to start somewhere, and originally Debbie was another learner just looking for a hobby.

“I was introduced to metal clay by a friend who dragged me along to an introductory day at a craft warehouse,” she said, “and I haven’t looked back since then. I’ve done some qualifications that are backed by the manufacturers of art clay and other courses along the way.”

Debbie France, one of our expert tutors, tells us all about jewellery making.

Since then, Debbie has studied jewellery making extensively, as well as qualifying for a diploma in teaching and education so she can pass on her knowledge. But what started her off on her career path is a love of the craft, particularly working with metal clay.

So what is metal clay? Essentially, it is particles of silver (or another precious metal) mixed together with a binding material. This can be shaped and moulded just like potter’s clay or plasticine, then fired in a kiln. The heat burns away the binding material, leaving you with a piece of solid silver.

This is not what most people picture when they think of jewellery making. There’s no sweating over a hot forge in Debbie’s classes – in fact, one of the most transferrable skills her learners tend to have is cake decorating! People used to working with icing often find they are great at rolling out and shaping the metal clay.

As you can imagine, this means that the people Debbie teaches usually see quick results, coming away with their own jewellery in a short amount of time. “You can pretty much produce something in two sessions,” she said – one for designing and shaping the piece, and the second for firing and polishing.

This means that Debbie is able to have much more freeform lessons than many tutors. On one of her courses, you can make whatever you like as long as it is physically possible. Debbie lets all her learners design their jewellery from scratch, giving them as much help as they need along the way.

A typical lesson will start out with everyone deciding on their piece for the day. “Each person can choose what they want to make to suit themselves, and then I will give them techniques that will suit all of those designs,” Debbie said.

So what can you make on one of Debbie’s courses? The answer is pretty much anything. Pendants are the most common pieces learners come away with, but people make everything from bracelets to rings to brooches.

Debbie has all sorts of people come to her courses. A lot of them are complete beginners who have never taken a class like this in their lives. Debbie said: “Often I’ve heard people say ‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body’, but they do. They think they have to draw, but it isn’t about that.”

This has made jewellery making one of the best classes to opt for if you have never tried a creative hobby. Why not sign up for one of Debbie’s classes, which run all over Kent? You might find, just like Debbie, that it’s one of the best things that have ever happened to you.

Book a Jewellery Making course today

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