Teach Jewelry Classes with “Something Extra”

by Michelle Buettner.
When teaching jewelry classes, one important asset that allows you to stand out from another instructor who may be teaching a similar class, is your ability to give your students “more”.

Ceramic bead pin by Michelle Buettner

Just like going the extra mile and providing exceptional customer service when you sell your jewelry online, at trade shows, at craft fairs and other events, as an instructor (which, as you know, is nice way to add extra income to your jewelry business) you should strive to provide something “extra” for your students.

What Was Missing
from Other Jewelry Classes

A few years back I signed up to take a jewelry class during an annual bead show.

I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. As I entered the room, I was warmly greeted by the instructor and then promptly told that “You will need to pay an extra $10.00 because the price of our kits increased after everyone prepaid and registered.”

Okay, not exactly what I had expected. I mean, it was only $10.00, but still, good thing I had cash on hand – the exact amount too – because no one, even the instructor, had change! Hmmm….

As I sat in another class with a completely different instructor that same year, I was eager to learn all this instructor had to offer because I had signed up for the “advanced class” that was “guaranteed to push your skills over the top” and I was ready to soak it all up!

However, I experienced a complete block when she instructed us to be free and “just create anything your heart tells you”.

“You’re kidding me?” I thought. I can “just create” in the comfort of my own studio in my PJ’s and slippers, complete with a cup of tea on my bench and smooth jazz playing in the background!

But here, now … to just create, oh, the pressure was on!

Amber wire-wrapped pendant necklace
by Michelle Buettner

Then, in yet another class, I was asked by the woman sitting beside me if I knew how to do a certain wire wrapping technique because “The instructor wasn’t very clear and there aren’t an printed instructions for the piece of jewelry she’s passing around. She’s helping other students and I don’t want to interrupt her or have her repeat herself.”

So, with only the verbal instructions and visual demonstration that I could barely see from the back of the room, I assisted as best I could and together my new friend and I made what faintly resembled our instructor’s creation.

As an instructor myself, I look back on my experiences and now believe these were some of the best classes I’ve ever taken.

Not because of any particular technique I learned, (I did learn some new techniques by the way!) but because they helped me immensely in discovering ways to make my own classes better.

They helped me build classes that provide my students with the tools they need to succeed after they leave my class and helped me create classes my students will recommend to their friends!

Pearl necklace by Michelle Buettner


A List of the “Extras”

I Provide for All My Students

Use this list (and build upon it!) to help you create jewelry classes where your students will feel they have been given “more”.

    • Email your students one week prior to class (if you have their email address) to remind them of any supplies and/or tools they will need, and let them know to email you with questions prior to class should they have any.
    • Print out a “Welcome” sheet. This is something I have waiting for my students when they arrive that “Welcomes” them, asks them to turn off their phones, explains where the restrooms are, tells them where they can get snacks / beverages (if available) and lets them know to ask as many questions as they need to ask and to relax and have fun!
    • Provide a business card and an information sheetwith all your contact information and website (if you have one), along with a copy of your instructor bio.Students want to know who they are taking a class from even if it may have listed tons of information about you on the registration form/website.
    • Print out a simple class schedule. This can have bullets on what you’re teaching and when breaks will be taken, etc.
    • Print out step-by-step instructions of your class,complete with illustrations or photos, if possible.Black and white photos are better than not having any photos or illustrations at all.(I know these last few steps sound like a given, but I’ve walked away from classes where all I have are my own little chicken scratches on a scrap piece of paper and my “creation”.)

Turquoise and wood necklace by Michelle Buettner

  • Print out a list of various websites, stores/shops, and magazines where students can find additional supplies and tools, books and jewelry making information – and even some jewelry blogs or jewelry information sites that you enjoy that your students might also find useful.
  • Start class on time and introduce yourself.Tell your students a bit about who you are and how you got to where you are today.Keep this short – about a minute or two at most.
  • Ask your students to introduce themselvesand share a bit of information about what they hope to gain from the class, what classes they’ve taken before, or what mediums they normally work in or what types of jewelry they enjoy making the most.(Limit them to about a minute or you won’t have time left to teach what they came for!)
  • Provide a “Newsletter Sign-Up Sheet”so your students can be kept abreast of all your latest jewelry classes, jewelry sales, contests, shows and/or events.Make sure to let them know they do not have to sign up for your newsletters and that they can unsubscribe at anytime if they do choose to sign up.
  • Provide an “Instructor Evaluation Form” at the end of class and ask your students if they would kindly fill out the evaluation form (anonymously of course) to help assist you in providing even better classes and instruction!

Gem drop earrings by Michelle Buettner

By doing these simple things, your students will understand that you want them to get the most out of their time with you, and to succeed well after your jewelry class has ended!

Author Michelle Buettner is the owner and jewelry designer behind MiShel Designs. She is a pearl specialist and holds a Graduate Pearls Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Michelle specializes in creating jewelry that is stylish and fun with classic, clean lines.

She taught jewelry classes at the Manning House Bead Show during the 2009 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.

Keep up with Michelle on her MiShel Designs blog.

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  • Klara says:

    This article was very helpful, thank you! I feel like I am still not ready to start teaching even though I would love to. But when the time comes, I want to give my students something extra as well as I am trying to give extra to my customers.

  • Patricia Eisele says:

    What a wonderful list! I don’t teach, but totally agree with your suggestions. I’ve taken many classes over the years and the best ones have done these things. I’ve always complimented them on this, too. The ones that haven’t won’t have me as a repeat student. I hope more instructors read and follow this advice. Maybe you could give this to those in charge of these events to distribute.

  • Bev Carlson says:

    Great helpful article. Reminded me of my high school Math teacher who said “I teach the enriched class”. Which he did. Going the extra mile is always a good thing, no matter what you are doing.

  • Ani says:

    Super article. Had to laugh, because I play smooth jazz everytime I’m making jewelry too!

  • Lynda says:

    Thank you, Shel, for taking the time to post this great article. I haven’t formally taught a class yet, but I’ve saved this valuable info just in case I ever decide to.

  • Drake says:

    I’ve definitely found that having an instruction sheet helps immensely. My classes at the moment are through the local lapidary club, so the students all know me, and know what I do, but once I start getting classes outside of the club, I’m definitely going to have to put together a bio sheet.

  • susan says:

    What great thoughts, tips and ideas from everyone! It seems everyone is making jewelry these days. Then again, not every one is but many more would like to…. So much is dependent on knowing how to properly use the tools and right behind that is knowing or feeling the “inspiration to create”.

    Using the tools is critical to being able to create what’s in your minds’ eye but perhaps more critical is being able to “see” it. Guess that’s why I like to give pointers to gain that creative vision…. nature, history, fabric (for color), consistency of style (back to history), scale and proportion…. think it might have been Picasso who said something like you have to know the rules in order to break them….
    Great post!
    Susan, aka, Camille

  • Lara says:

    Thank you so much for the pointers & the checklist-so helpful, Michelle! And thank you Rena, for always having such great info for us!

  • Nancy says:

    How do you get started in the first place? How do you find guests, etc.? Do you follow the example of the direct sales companies and find a hostess and let her make up the guest list? Would love to get into this!

  • Hi Nancy, you’ll find lots of tips and ideas for teaching jewelry making and doing parties in this section:
    Teaching Jewelry Making.
    I wish you every joy and success with it – it’s really rewarding to help other people learn how to make jewelry! 🙂

  • Patricia says:

    Thank you, I really love teaching others how to make their own jewelry. I have taught some basic Jewelry making classes in the past,but I did not have this much information to share share with the students. These tips are right on time especially for me, I will be starting to teach workshops next month for the holidays. Its very rewarding knowing you’ve help someone else tap into their own creative space. The gift is given to you to share!

  • Thanks so much for this article and the subsequent link in the comments to the teaching section!!!!!!!! Right up my alley now as I get more in depth with the areas I’m teaching and looking into private parties. I’m revamping my website right now and plan to include not only my calendar, but possibly a way for people to pre-register and pay for in home classes. Thanks!

  • mary jaggernauth says:

    i am interested to get how to make jewelery training :
    Where are your classes held

  • Erynn says:

    This is a great list with very helpful tips!
    I am going to be preparing to teach a class in the next month or so at a supply store in my area but I’m not sure how much to charge for the class. How do you decide on the cost of your classes?

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