Tag Archives: courses

Advanced Jewellery Diploma review – back to school again!

Back in September 2015, after a year of jewellery making in an evening class, I took the plunge and decided to use up a good chunk of annual leave on a two-week Advanced Diploma in Creative Jewellery Course at London Jewellery School.

Real school wasn’t easy peasy for me. As it turns out, I am a stealth dyslexic who muddled through, mildly stressed-out, until a lecturer found me out through the help of a particularly nonsensical essay. So I was slightly nervous rather than excited going into my two-week staycation learning holiday. I already knew I really enjoyed making jewellery, but had been making my first pieces in a very excited, thankful-it-was-going-well kind of way and was a little undisciplined when it came to perfecting techniques. I still work a little in this manner, cracking on with each new idea, as it’s what I enjoy about making. The structure of this course, with specific days for designing and the various methods of making (and focussing on the different techniques within this), really helped to control my natural inclination to work in a scattered way. Although this course was ideal to rein in and consolidate ideas, I feel it would be equally beneficial to students approaching these weeks looking for creative inspiration.

Having whole days devoted to making was such a treat, I felt like a proper jeweller. All the tutors are practising, exhibiting and selling their work, so the conversations in the classes were often helpful beyond the subject being covered and I felt genuinely encouraged by people who knew their onions.

Speaking of onions… One of the areas where I had little formal training and had practiced at home the least was wax carving and so in that way that it felt that it was stretching me to learn – these two days of designing and making were a little like going back to school. I love the products (or should I say produce) of these days. These bad boys are perfect for me, they are heavy, ridiculous and pun-tastic. The expertise of the tutors was there to make the heavy and ridiculous aspects non-essential qualities of this design. This advice always assumes that you may want to start your own business; these pieces could be made lighter and more wearable and it considers the cost of casting as well as the customer experience of the piece.  I also could not have managed to create such spheres without the patient help of an expert.

Onions

Another thing that attracted me to sign up for this particular course was the prospect of the work placement, usually a week long, that staff will help you to arrange within an area that is of interest to you. I did mine with JC (Just Castings in Hatton Garden) and it was an invaluable insight into the process of casting, CAD design, plating, 3D printing and finishing jewellery to professional standards –but this is another story in itself. I wear the silver ‘haribo’ ring I made there every day. Along with many other pieces from my happy little jewellery holiday.

I would recommend (and have recommended) treating yourself to this course, I signed up after a quick visit to the studios but there are taster classes and you can visit on an exhibition day (next one is 7th July 6.30-8pm, no need to book). Essentially I left the course feeling like I had achieved real goals I didn’t even realise I had at the beginning and with a certificate to prove it!  It also led to the potential to sell my work, something that I have mostly kept in my back pocket until the opportunity to sell through an immersive art show last December presented itself.

Polishing up your potential

The small class sizes at the London Jewellery School means that you get a lot of expert tuition in the classes, making it possible to cover a range of techniques in these weeks. The course description gives a really good idea of what you will learn but here is a quick run through of my experience on the course.

The course starts with a design day, a great chance to think about what you want to make and ways to go about making pieces for the projects ahead. As we were a very small group, we also had time to start experimenting with resin.

Day two was for learning cold connections, truly riveting stuff! This involves looking at ways to join materials without soldering, a great technique for moving pieces or mixed media. I made a decorative hinge that I later used for an oyster card holder, various animal shapes as testers to hold metal pieces together, a technique I later used on a Perspex and sea glass silver ring.

Fold forming was next, a really fun and loud technique for creating shapes and textures through excessive hammering. We made silver origami frogs amongst other experiments (I attempted my usual crane but a simpler design that another student knew was more effective), seen here with the squashed frog necklace. When fold forming goes wrong it can still be pretty interesting (I love this piece but would recommend a simple boat as a fail-safe alternative.)

2017-05-07 15.59.05_Edited (1)

The two days of mixed media jewellery making were a total dream of experimenting and resolving ideas through different techniques. Making a sea glass, silver and perspex ring with rivets, a wooden neckpiece with a tube of multi-coloured macramé and perspex fastenings to hang from, some ‘Banana handbag’ earrings and a spirit level cuff. So not a bad haul at all. This was so useful as a chance to explore different materials and how to work with them. Great for exploring colour, shape and using bits and pieces you may not have considered using before.

The two days of stone setting were honing specific techniques that could be employed in any piece after the course and also resulted in 3 wearable items. Each of these techniques was challenging in its own way and I felt that each was improving my making skills in a recognisable way. These were channel, collet and claw settings and pictures of these 3 pieces were posted on the Schools’ Instagram account, a small gesture that was really encouraging, as probably only friends would have seen my work before.

Bean

Bean ring (magic beans for growth)

The last day of the taught course was recycling silver. I had done a little bit of silver recycling before so didn’t expect that going through the process in a structured manner would shed that much light on a technique. However, melting my silver scraps in the crucible on this day produced a really fun ‘Bean’ ring, a product of the natural shape and texture that can be achieved with this technique. I had already made some cast vegetable jewellery so it fits into my little collection nicely and its smoothness makes it distinctly more wearable than my Romanesco Cauliflower ring. One of the tutors recently reminded me to follow up the ‘food jewellery’ and get selling my work. This really illustrated to me how much they genuinely care about nurturing any ambitions you might be trying to shy away from and keep you making jewellery! Magic beans indeed!

Interested in finding out more about the Advanced Diploma in Creative Jewellery? Our next intake is Monday 4th September 2017. Take a look at our website for more information. Have questions? Give us a call on 0203 176 0546

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

 

 

Building a website for your Jewellery Business

Whenever someone tells me about a jewellery business my first point of call is to Google it and take a look at their website. These days if you are not online then you practically don’t exist and it is such an effective way to engage customers and promote and sell your work that its vital we get it right.

Building a website: DIY

If you can build your own website is a great option as it is affordable, easy to change and best of all, you are in control. You don’t need to be a computer wiz to make a successful website. With modern programmes such as Create.net and Mr. Site anyone can make a simple and effective website to sell their work on. There are lots of packages out their but Create.net is my favorite, as it is very simple to use (but read the instructions if you get stuck) the websites created on it are of an excellent quality and perhaps best of all you can try it for free for 30 days. After that its affordable at packages from £2.99- £19.00 per month all inclusive. Like most packages it links to Paypal and has a ‘shop’ feature allowing you to sell your work – very important.

However doing your own website does take time and try not to be too impatient, it is a good idea to put aside a few days if not weeks to perfect your design before going live.

Using a web designer

The obvious downside to using a designer is that the budget will need to be significantly larger, however it does give you much more freedom design-wise as you are not working from a template. Here are the main things to agree with your designer before embarking on a website project:

–       Working to a budget – make sure it is clear what you are paying and what this will include, you don’t want to be caught out with unexpected costs.

–       Timing – when will the website be finished? They will usually need quite a bit of time and from my experience aren’t ever finished by the due date so expect it to take a little longer to avoid frustration.

–       CMS – This stands for content management system and basically means a website that you can update yourself, if possible this is the best option as you can make updates as and when required.

Social Networking

Whether you love it or hate it social networking is here to stay and is a hugely successful way of promoting your jewellery business.

The two most important sites to be on are Facebook and Twitter and they are fairly simple to use after some playing around. If you have never used them before, you are bound to have friends who have so ask them to give you a quick demo and get on your way. Here are a few pointers to get you started on each;

 

–       Facebook

Open a business profile and aim to get as many people to ‘Like’ you as possible. Be sure to upload plenty of lovely pictures and update your info regularly. Competitions and free giveaways always go down a treat.

–       Twitter

Set up and account and get tweeting, that is writing a short sentence a few times a week on what you are up to and related topics of interest. Also be sure to follow lots of jewellers etc… to get in with the community.

You can start by sending me a message and I will be sure to tell as many people as I can about your business:

Twitter: @jewelleryschool

Facebook: London Jewellery School

Linkedin: Jessica Rose

Some of the other sites you might want a profile on include; forums, blogs, you tube videos, Google +1 and Flickr. It’s addictive but also great for your business.

SEO and Online Advertising

Once you have a website the main task is getting people to find you online, this is referred to as SEO which stands for Search Engine Optimization. The main areas of SEO include; building a website with high-quality, relevant content such as text, images and video but also social networking and paid adverts.

The two main paid advert providers are Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. They can be great for getting new customers to find your site but make sure you are very specific with your advert, make it targeted and stick to a budget.

You can also get listed for free on Google Maps and Google Places which will help with you SEO.

Finally, once you have a website you will want to sign up for Google Analytics and Google Alerts which tracks who is using your site when and also when other sites mention you – very useful information for your business.

 Using Online selling Platforms

If you don’t have a website (or even if you do) then online selling platforms such as Etsy and Folksy are a great way of promoting and selling your work whilst also providing an online presence for your business. Take a look at these sites for more info www.etsy.com, www.folksy.com, www.misi.co.uk

Find out more…

For more in-depth information on running your own jewellery business the London Jewellery School run regular Jewellery Business courses at their London training centre and are currently developing a distance learning, set up your own jewellery business course, visit www.londonjewelleryschool.co.uk or call 0203 176 0546 for more details. Also sign up to their blog for Jessica’s weekly posts on everything jewellery related at https://blog.londonjewelleryschool.co.uk/

If you have any tips or experiences to share on this topic please do post a comment in the box below,

Until next time,

Happy making

Jessica at LJS x

Perspex – Create pieces with serious WOW factor!

Just a look at the knockout pieces created in our Perspex course!

This versatile and  affordable material comes in endless colours, giving your creativity no bounds when making your individual statement pieces.

Our perspex course is taught by catwalk jewellery designer Michael Milloy who regularly integrates perspex into his high fashion designs. Let him inspire you and show you the incredible potential of working with perspex and the new, exciting asthetic you can bring to your work.

Perspex being quite an affordable material is fantastic for those looking to create from home on a modest budget. Included in the course is practical information on where to source all the tools and materials you need to get started at home.

Our next Perspex course is coming up very soon! Book now to avoid disappointment.