Friday, March 15, 2013

Jewelry Making for Teens at the Library

For once, I'm actually writing about both my passions... jewelry making and libraries.  In my day job, I work as a collections and youth services librarian and most of my professional life has been spent with a focus on teen services.  This week one of my co-workers and I did our first in a series of jewelry making programs at all of our library branches.

This whole thing started out last fall as one of those crazy ideas that I threw out there and never thought would stick.  I was surprised when my co-worker and I actually got the green light to pursue doing a series of jewelry making programs for teens.  Because of the funding cycle for teen programs, we plotted out the basic idea and bought our supplies almost six months ago.  Per my usual m.o., I felt like we had all the time in the world to get things together... then, suddenly, our first program was bearing down on us!

After tossing lots of different ideas around, we decided to teach the teens how to make a front clasping necklace with a book cover charm pendant and little dangles hanging from the chain.  We also hoped to have them make coordinating earrings.
The sample I made to publicize the programs.
Our first program was this week and I think it went pretty well!  Neither of us had ever actually taught any jewelry skills before (although I've taken a number of classes) so this was new territory for both of us.  Due to conflicting schedules we didn't get a chance to do a dry run beforehand, so our first program attendees were also our guinea pigs.  I realize that this is not the ideal way to approach teaching, but it is what it is!

I made up a few handouts for the participants, the main one on how to make a simple loop was adapted from instructions from Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.  I also gave them a list of resources for purchasing jewelry making supplies as well as library materials on beading.
The table set up for the class.

We started by explaining what everyone had at their station and outlining what we'd be doing in the class.  At that point we had the girls pick out the book pendant they wanted to use (big shout out to my co-worker for making them in advance for us!) as well as beads to go with their choice. 

Anyone who has ever made jewelry knows that learning how to make a decent loop can be a frustrating and steep learning curve.  Most of the class was spent showing the girls how to make loops and helping them to make the bead unit dangles for their necklaces.   We had five teens signed up and most of them got the hang of it pretty quickly.  Were they the most beautiful loops ever?  No, but neither were my first attempts.  I think that it would have been much easier for them if we could have afforded higher quality tools.   
Every now and then, one of the other library staff members would wander through and check out the progress.  They were surprised at how quiet most of the girls were, really concentrating on what they were doing.  I think most of the staff was jealous and wanted to join the fun and make something too!

Once everyone had most of their bead units made, we taught them how to open and close jump rings and loops so that they could put the clasp on the chain, attach their pendants, and add in the dangles.  Voila!  Finished!

Here are the finished designs from our inaugural program... I think they all did a great job!




I mentioned before that we had hoped to have them make earrings as well... time just didn't allow for that so we will nix that from the rest of our planned programs.  We also learned that having registration set at ten might be a little ambitious for novice teachers.  Luckily, five was just about right for our first time out.  All the girls but one really seemed to be super interested and excited about the program and the end result.  A couple of them said at the end that they thought they had found a new hobby!

Overall it was a great first teaching experience.  I think we learned a lot on how to go forward and I feel good that we provided a quality program that was interesting and something different from the usual.

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