Great Jewelry/Metals Class Resource - West City!
I don't teach general jewelry/metals classes anymore, since I'm focusing on the specialized technique of mokume gane. I get a lot of inquiries from people wanting to learn or improve their jewelry skills, so I want to recommend West City, where I taught from 2012-2018 (work at right made by my students at the time, Karen R. and Yoko R.). West City is part of the San Diego Community College District; these are non-credit, semester length classes. They are fairly low cost, and taught by a highly skilled and experienced instructor (Leslie Shershow). It is a very well equipped facility. The fall intermediate/advanced class is full, but here is a link to the next beginning class, starting Sept 13.
When I first began making custom mokume gane wedding rings back in 2008, my clients were all based here in San Diego. They would visit the studio first to see ring samples, find out their size, try on different styles and widths etc. After a good design session, I'd give them a price, take their 50% deposit and get started on their rings. When the rings were finished, the clients would come back to pick up their rings and pay.
But of course, this was also the first time they would see the rings that had been custom made for them. I came to realize what a special moment this was. I enjoyed stepping back and watching it unfold as the customer cautiously approached the box, lifting the lid, peeking inside. What a joy it always is, to hear the gasp or squeal as they extract it and slip it on their finger, admiring and smiling excitedly, showing it to their partner, eyes shining.
I don't always get to see that part now - my business is much larger, and the majority of my clients are out of town or even overseas. But I know what an important moment it is, and that's why I'm hesitant to replace it, well really to ruin it, by sending photos of finished rings to clients before they see the actual ring. Rings are a symbol of love and commitment, meant to be worn with any luck for decades. I know how casual I am about opening emails - I could be at a stoplight, in line for coffee, blearily first thing in the morning. It's the opposite of an occasion. I want folks to have that 'reveal' moment together, maybe over a toast (fireplace? snacks?), or at least deliberate, and noted in some way.
There's another reason too, and it has to do with the fact that I'm a better jeweler than I am a photographer! I do the best I can with my photos, but there are often artifacts in them that have no relation to the ring. Seeing a photo of the ring first is such a pale comparison to the real thing. I recall some clients that wanted the photo first, before final payment and shipping. I took the best photo I could with the time I had available, and emailed it off. I got it back with an area circled in red. "What's that scratch?" they said. Hmm. It turned out to be a fragment from the polishing cloth. Another client was concerned that the rose gold in their photo wasn't the same shade as in the sample photo. (The lighting was a bit different, so the white balance was off.) Neither of these things were a concern once the clients saw the rings in real life, but it caused us all needless angst, delay, and worry.
I don't get to be part of that 'reveal' moment as often as I used to, but still my hope is that clients will want to see their rings in real life for the first time, and make it an occasion to remember.
Educator, metalsmith, jeweler, maker of custom mokume gane jewelry and wedding rings.