Friday, May 11, 2012

Jewel School

Kristin Hanson's Fine Jewelry School Workshop

After graduating from college, I went back to school at F.I.T. to get an Associates Degree in Jewelry Design.  While I learned a lot from the program, there's always room for improvement, so I was really excited to have the opportunity to take a sampling of one of Kristin Hanson's courses at her Fine Jewelry School in TriBeCa.  Kristin herself is an accomplished fine jeweler, who specializes in colored diamonds, and who sells her eponymous collection in her own store at 60 Reade Street.  Behind the discreet boutique lies a massive three story studio, which houses her showroom, as well as the jewelry school.

Founded in 2006, the school offers courses ranging from the fundamentals for the complete novice, to advanced workshops for professionals, as well as an intensive two year program designed to help aspiring designers launch their first collection.  The studio is lovely and spacious, yet the setting feels slightly more intimate (and well kept) than the studios at F.I.T.

For the workshop I attended, we did a basic introduction to piercing and sawing, carving out a simple flat pendant from a sheet of brass.  While I've done my fair share of sawing, it's been a longtime (lets just say it's not the most fun part of jewelry making), so it was good to get back into shape.  I was amazed by how fast Kirstin and John taught the course, and with a bit of their help, almost all of the students managed to knock out a pendant during the course time.  I will definitely consider returning to brush up on some of my bench work skills, and I highly recommend the studio for all of the untrained jewelers out there who are looking to take their work to the next level.  Here are some photos from the course, including my final piece, which took about an hour and a half to make (I'm proud to say I didn't break a single saw blade in the process).

Starfish from Kirstin's latest collection, stones, and a wax ring model.

The first step involved designing a flat shape on paper and then gluing the paper to a flat piece of brass to serve as a guide for carving out the pendant.

I designed a simple geometric shape using stencils, and made two prongs that would later be bent over and used as bales to slip chain through.

After our shapes were designed, we used jewelers saws to cut out the shapes from the metal.  Here is Kirsten herself, helping a student complete their piece.

Once the shapes were carved out, we used a metal file to smooth and file down the sharp edges. 

John, the instructor from the class, helped create the bales, and attach the chain to the pendant, before we gave the piece a quick satin finish.

My piece after the course. I might go back and cut out holes and refine the shape.

Pieces from Kirstin Hanson's Men's collection

Pieces from Kirstin Hanson's Men's collection

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1 comment:

Matter Of Style said...

great behind the scenes! :D