Ever peep a cute piece of fashion jewelry and wonder how that gold-painted piece of nickel could possibly cost 2 benjamins? Ever send a curse upon the woman who always has the most unique pieces, leaving you wondering where she could possibly be finding them?
We’ve certainly all have moments when we declare, “I could make that!” But did you actually end up making it? Of course not. Fortunately, there’s an outlet for all your wildest metal-bending dreams: jewelry making class at Main Line Art Center.
Don’t get it twisted; this isn’t your average pre-school bead-stringing party. I figured this out upon stepping into the studio filled with drills, guillotines, and other rotating things that looked like they were meant for human torture. These are the tools that could turn any of your jewelry fantasies into real, wearable pieces in a mere 5 evenings of once-a-week classes.
Professional Jeweler and Tyler Art School grad Dawn Bergmaier teaches the basics of working with metal. You will defeat everything from sawing, polishing, saudering and shaping to “roll-printing,” the process of printing texture on metal by placing lace, dried leaves or fabric through a manual mill with the metal. Another all-too-easy technique she demonstrates is “etching,” where patterns or words are drawn onto metal with a sharpie, then it’s tossed into a solution that eats the exposed metal away, resulting in etched metal designs sans scary fire torch.
I was fortunate to sit in on the first session, in which we were instructed to cut Abraham Lincoln out of a penny. “Someone in my class always asks ‘Isn’t that illegal?’ Well yes, it totally is,” chuckled Dawn. But when she got her first job at a jewelry store on the Main Line, her boss ordered her to do the tricky maneuver flawlessly, leaving a perfectly polished, smooth Lincoln pretty enough to be a charm. Trust me- the real challenge is not escaping the law, but cutting out Abe’s nose with a needle-thin hand saw without making him look like Pinocchio.
Dawn will prepare you for not only your own creations, but the handcrafted jewelry industry itself. And for those who want to make more projects- that gold set of earrings you could replicate for cheap- that knuckle ring with your name on it- whatever your style, you can use all the machinery and tools in-studio in supervised sessions through March 22nd. You can go to the Mainline Art Center website or call 610.525.0272 to register. The next two batches of classes start Friday mornings from 9:30-12:30, February 24-March 23 or for those who sleep in late, Thursday nights 6:30- 9:30 February 23-March 22. So get on it, future jewelers.