My jewellery making masterclass inspired by the art of our ancient ancestors – part 2

Part 2 of my jewellery making masterclass inspired by the art of our ancient ancestors 

A peek behind the scenes… as I share with you some of the prep work that goes into my teaching. My aim is to make it all run smoothly and flow, and seem effortless when I’m teaching the class.

First the designs

My starting point is to first review the designs I already have in my repertoire, I look at some of the designs I’ve taught previously and decide which of them might be suitable for this class.

Next, I spend many hours – days/weeks - in a creative bubble, working on new designs, looking at source material, such as Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, carvings and other artworks, then I try to turn something 2D into a 3D wirework design. My experiments don’t all work out, and sometimes I have to simplify down and just focus on a smaller section from an artwork and be realistic of what is achievable to be created in the time we have in the class.

I look at the steps, what do I need to teach first to get to that design and yes, the word ‘flow’ again, the ‘flow’ is important, it’s a crucial ingredient in a well-planned class.

designing Anglo-Saxon inspired jewellery for my masterclass at the British Library

“On my first driving lesson with my dad, he had me driving in 3rd gear, before he’d even taught me how to stop, big mistake, he said he nearly had a heart attack when we ended up in a hedge, not my fault!”

Next the planning

It’d be hard work for our hands if we were just creating wirework all day. I need to break the day up, pepper some other learning into it, info about the Anglo-Saxons, the tools, and materials we’re using, and include other types of jewellery making into the day.

I create a sketchy lesson plan, but it’s really just a rough guide to help me when I’m teaching, more a reminder than anything, as often so many variables come into it, if we need 10 minutes longer on a particular design or there’s problems with some of the materials/components we’re working with and everyone needs extra help to use them.

Followed by ordering the materials

I look at how much wire we might need of each thickness, how many earrings, pendants and necklaces we will potentially create, and then order a little bit extra just in case.

Ordering materials for the class was actually a lot more time consuming than it’d normally be, as my main jewellery making supplier had retired and the other supplier I’d used previously, wasn’t stocking the items I needed anymore. After researching jewellery making suppliers, I found 2 new UK suppliers and ordered a few things in advance to see what they were like.

Luckily whilst making a few extra examples in the days before heading to London to teach, I discovered some of the wire I’d ordered for the 2nd day of the masterclass was harder to work with than the one I’d previously used. Fortunately, I could bring some of my own wire to work with instead, but there wasn’t time to check all the components from the new suppliers and some turned out to be of a harder metal and more difficult to work with. 

Then organising it all

The materials; beads and components get put into bead boxes, wire, cord and tools into containers (and double check I’m bringing enough of my tools), organise and display or group together my examples, and pack them all into my suitcase. I put together a PowerPoint presentation and create one or more handouts.

I need to research, then book my train tickets and hotel (ideally well in advance).

creating Anglo-Saxon inspired jewellery at the British Library

After the class

I review how it went… How was the flow? Did my timings work out, or were there were any difficulties with designs, materials, engagement? and most importantly did my students enjoy being creative and their time spent at the class?
I make a note of anything I could improve upon for future classes.

Is it worth the time it takes to do all of this?

I think you’ll agree? Yes, it involves tons of work, there’s many, many hours over months spent on it, especially if I'm doing research, developing and creating new designs. 

But to me, it's worth all the work involved, as I get so much out of it. Its intrinsic value is priceless...  

It benefits my own learning and creativity; the research I do helps me learn more about our ancient ancestors and the designing I do for it ignites my own creative spark, with many more designs flowing because of it.  Then, there’s the buzz I get from teaching it and helping others to be creative.

"Did I mention it also boosts my self-esteem and confidence, as I push myself far outside my comfort zone."

I’m thankful for the many opportunities I’ve been given over the past 14 years to design and teach my Anglo-Saxon theme jewellery making classes and look forward to more adventures ahead...

Thanks for reading my blog posts about my jewellery making masterclass inspired by the art of our ancient ancestors at the British Library in London, March 2023. There is magic all around us, wishing you sparkles and hugs xx Rowena, elfin alchemy