Jewelry-making is serious business these days. Hobbyists can browse aisles (and aisles) of beads and hardware at the big national chain craft stores -- but art schools and a jeweler are running classes for enthusiasts who want to spend several weeks learning how to design, melt and mold their own bracelets, rings and necklaces from start to finish:
WHEN | WHERE Next sessions begin week of Feb. 24, 107 E. Deer Park Rd., Dix Hills
COST $135-$380 for 4 to 8 sessions (plus supplies)
The school offers a robust curriculum of jewelry-making classes focused on the basics of metal smiting (think soldering, setting stones) to contemporary knotting/stringing to carving more sculptural designs in wax molds. All of it results in original pieces. "I think the most important thing is to have that opportunity to make a piece of wearable art that you've created," says Dana Lagos, who teaches several classes. Students in the wax-carving classes make pieces ranging from belt buckles to teardrop earrings and choose whether to cast the mold into brass, copper or sterling silver. "I think that a lot of people have always wanted to do it, but they haven't known where they can go," Lagos says.
East End Art Council
WHEN | WHERE 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays April 9-30, 141 E. Main St., Riverhead
INFO 631-727-0900, eastendarts.org
COST $144 (plus materials, list given at registration)
This spring, the Riverhead-based arts program is offering its first jewelry-design workshop in four years. "It's one of those things I think that almost any age group can enjoy," says education director Shenole Latimer. Students will learn a new basic technique each week, such as wire-wrapping, beading and knotting silk cord -- but students will work on projects of their own choosing, says instructor Patricia Robinson.
WHEN | WHERE 4-6 p.m. Fridays March 14-May 2 or 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays March 15-May 3, 80 Main St., Southampton
INFO 631-283-2494, southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org
COST $385 (includes tools and supplies)
Jewelry tells a story, says master jeweler Eric Messin -- starting with its design and carrying through to how it's worn. Messin guides groups of no more than four students at a time through the steps of silversmithing at the village's Pelletreau Silver Shop, where each has his or her own work station. The most unusual designs, Messin says, come from the heart.
"Somebody was reinforming their vows, after 30 years, and designing a wedding band with a design that incorporates their story inside . . . ," says Messin, of a recent class. "So, it's kind of exciting to see how they're putting the story into metal."
For more: A felting class
WHEN | WHERE Check website for schedule; 925-6 Lincoln Ave., Holbrook
INFO 631-369-0127, ireneheckelbears.com
COST $65 (includes materials)
Felting is a very old -- yet still modern -- technique that's used to transform raw fiber into hardened, moldable material. Fiber artist Irene Heckel-Volpe teaches the craft in her Holbrook studio during three-hour classes, which begin with students wetting the fiber with hot soapy water and rubbing it into "rock solid balls of fiber." The resulting beads -- students choose their own colors -- can be strung with elastic to make contemporary bracelets. The technique can also be used to mold figurines that look like stuffed animals.