Imagination inspires craftsmanship

Creative setting facilitates craftsman skills, growth


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Student Anastashia Limko hones her skills, creating a fire scale in a sheet of copper during the Hot Metals for Beginning Jewelry class on Feb. 29. Fire scaling changes the color of metal depending on the technique used.

By Jshania Owens, Staff Writer

A class inspiring self-expression through jewelry making is offered Mondays and Wednesdays in the Art Building.

Fine and media arts professor Wendy McDermott, who teaches Art 135, Hot Metals for Beginning Jewelry, gives students brass and copper to start any project they think of, as well as the assigned projects.

Seventeen years ago McDermott started off with a small room and a budget of $5,000. “It was barely enough,” she said.

She cleared the room of stuff and put tables in. Through a grant she was able to purchase the rest of the necessary supplies, such as toolboxes and enamels.

“There used to be six levels,” she said about the number of jewelry classes. “We’ve been able to fill the class. We start with the basics, like stone setting and forge casting. Then it grows from there.”

For this semester, the students have the required materials for their projects, but McDermott is hoping to get more equipment to improve the class tutorials.

“I would love a video camera for the demonstrations,” she said.

These demonstrations are one of the most exciting and engaging parts of the class.

The students gather around McDermott’s desk as she goes over a step-by-step lesson. Monday’s demonstration was on soldering. She used different tools like wire and metal to show them how to anneal pieces and expand the metal.

The students range from beginners to the more experienced. In addition, high school students are able to get credit for graduation when taking this class.

Julio Castillo, a high school senior, is currently creating a necklace with two other students taking the class. They soldered a piece of metal into a sphere and formed it into the necklace.

Janice Sharpe, a real estate major, made a piece for her son. “I don’t think he wants jewelry,” she said. “But I’m hoping he likes it.”

Sharpe said she finds the class a relaxing escape from her other classes. “I never thought I had any artistic ability.”

Some students even enjoy it enough to repeat the class.

Second semester student Ashley Rivas made a sunflower during this semester. “It’s easier to think in shapes than words,” she said.

She said she likes that she can be in the class and make exactly what she thinks about come to life.

The soldering room is a favorite for the students.

They are able to use a torch and mold the metals into any shape as they rotate it. But it is not as easy as it looks.

It took student Teresa Tabre five times to cut and redo her piece until it was complete. With patience and practice, the students learn how to use fire appropriately and are able to really create any project that comes to mind.

There is a lot of student interaction during class. The students are eager to help each other and often share their projects together, something that is important to learn.

“They really are a great class,” McDermott said about the students. After making their own art, students can sell it. Those students who still need experience with metals or art can learn depending on their interest.