Teaching Jewelry Making to Groups with Various Skill Levels

by Beth Millner.
(Marquette, Michigan USA)


I have recently started teaching workshops at a local bead store. The workshop that I am teaching covers basic wire working techniques such as a basic loop, a wrapped loop and how to make a pair of earrings (head pin, beads, store bought earring hook).

I have only taught two workshops. There were six people in the the first workshop – one of them felt as though she did not get enough information, the others seemed to grasp everything, but probably would not be able to learn much more without difficulty or confusion. The time alloted for the class is 3 hours.

When I taught this same workshop a few weeks later, there were only two people in the group.

Based on feedback from someone in the first group, I decided to add more information, basically showing the same techniques with different beads (turning beads into pendants; such as briolettes and beads that have an asymmetrical shape or hole in ‘wrong’ direction).

I also showed them how to make links from beads with wire. How to make a scroll, and some decorative endings for making their own pins to put beads on.

The two women who took this workshop seemed pleased, but one woman caught on instantly, while the other needed more direction. I eventually was able to help her understand all of the different steps, but the other woman started looking around in the bead store, which was fine too.

What I am worried about it how to strike a balance between too basic and too complicated. It is sort of like teaching to middle schoolers and college students, it is hard to strike a balance and make things interesting, not hard, and not easy.

Any advice you can offer would be a great help!

I am also thinking about having a survey of how they liked the class with a stamped envelope for easy feedback.


Teaching a Jewelry Workshop
to Students at Different Skill Levels

by Rena Klingenberg.

It can be tricky and exhausting to teach a class that has both beginners and more advanced students! The beginners always need more one-on-one help with the basic stuff, while the more advanced students quickly finish each step and sit waiting for more.

Separating Students by Skill Level

If possible, it’s much easier to try to attract students of similar levels to your classes. You can do this by:

* Gearing the projects you teach to specific skill levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced), and stating the skill level for each class.

* Offering different classes at each of these three levels, so there’s something for everyone. State that people will get the most benefit by signing up for the classes that are appropriate to their skill level.

* Listing required the skills for making the project (for example – “complete newbie”; “basic wire jewelry techniques including making scrolls and wrapped loops”; “advanced wire jewelry techniques including hammering, soldering, and oxidizing” – or whatever skills suit your particular project).

* Teaching classes in a series that takes students from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced. For example, Part 1 is the beginner class covering basic wireworking skills such as wrapped loops and scrolls. Part 2 is the intermediate class covering beaded wire links, clasp making, etc. Part 3 is the advanced class covering a wire-wrapped bead pendant, plus joining the previously made parts into one finished project.

Getting More Students for Your Classes

If the venue where you’re teaching doesn’t have enough people signing up for workshops to offer classes geared to different skill levels, they probably need to promote their classes more.

Here are ways you can help increase interest in your community about your jewelry classes, so you can gain more students and build up your market for more classes at different skill levels (of course, you’ll need to work with your bead shop or at least ask their permission before doing these things):

* Create flyers describing each workshop you’d like to teach and listing the beginner-intermediate-advanced info suggested above, along with a photo and description of the project the class covers. Include a quick bio paragraph about you, so people will understand the value of taking a class with you.

* Suggest that the bead shop email or snail-mail a notice to all customers about your jewelry workshops. Also suggest that they post the flyers in their front window for passers-by to see, and put a flyer in their customers’ bags along with every sale they make.

* You can also distribute these flyers to people you know, and ask your friends and family to help you spread the word. Jewelry classes can be quite popular when people know about them!

* Write up a press release about your workshops and include photos of you making jewelry (and if possible, photos of you actually teaching a class). Distribute your press release to all local media – newspaper, TV news stations, radio stations. They’re always looking for good stories, and if you have photos your story is even more likely to be published!

* Contact the “upcoming events” calendar editors for your local newspaper and radio stations, and submit the dates, projects, prices, and other info of your jewelry making classes, along with the bead store’s phone number for further info. The editors of these community calendars are always eager to receive events they can post!

* At the end of each jewelry workshop, ask your students to tell their friends about your classes. Word of mouth is the most effective publicity you can get!

* Contact your local continuing education / adult education / parks-and-recreation / home-schooling groups about promoting your jewelry classes or setting up separate classes for these groups, which would be delivered by you at the bead shop.

And absolutely survey your students after each class to find out what they liked and didn’t like, what classes they’d like to take from you in the future, what jewelry techniques they’re interested in, etc. Finding out exactly what classes they’d like to take, and then offering these classes to them will help your classes grow quickly!

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