When it comes to designing and making jewellery, Aileen is one lady who knows her stuff. Studying at Epsom College of Art and completing her masters at the Royal College of Art, Aileen has spent a lifetime creating her own pieces, as well as teaching her art. When her dreams came true and she set up her own studio, the Creative Jewellery Workshop, we were keen to find out more. Whether you’re interested in learning the industry secrets from a highly qualified professional, or looking for a new hobby, this is an expert worth listening to.
So Aileen, how long have you been teaching and how did you start?
What’s your background, how did you get to where you are today?
I studied jewellery making at Epsom School of Art and then for a further three years at the Royal College of Art. On graduating I set up my own studio, designing jewellery ranges, working to commission and exhibiting at Goldsmith’s and the Chelsea Craft Fair. I’ve now worked in the industry for over 30 years and have also been involved in curating exhibitions.
I had a dream that one day I would run my own jewellery school, and this ambition was realised three years ago when I built a new workshop and started offering classes. A year later, it became obvious that I was rapidly outgrowing the space, so I sold the workshop and replaced it with one twice the size. It was the best move I’ve ever made, and my glasses have gone from strength to strength. With my new purpose-built studio up and running, I’m doing what I really love, offering a wide range of courses for beginners and experienced students.
How did your passion for the jewellery industry develop?
It began when I was little with a trip to Woolworths with my pocket money, where I bought my first ‘diamond’ ring!
How do you challenge your students?
I have a hands-on approach to teaching and start with simple projects to build skills and confidence. If students then decide to attend regular classes, I continue to introduce new techniques to expand their skill base. I feel it’s important for them to see a project from start to finish, so projects I set are designed to be achievable, and very quickly they go home with a finished piece of jewellery they feel proud to have made.
Which of your courses do you love teaching the most?
I absolutely love the ‘make your own wedding rings’ course. There is nothing more satisfying than helping a couple make the most important day of their life even more special. When couples first come to me they are often worried their rings won’t look as good or ‘professional’ as bought rings. I explain that they practise in copper and silver before they tackle their actual rings. I’ll be there to guide them through each step and reassure them they’ll be happy with their finished rings and each ring will be unique.
In your experience, why do most people take the course?
What could be more romantic than making your own wedding rings! People are turning away from the mass produced jewellery on offer on the high street and looking for a more creative and personal experience to make their wedding day really special.
What is the most satisfying thing about teaching?
For me, it’s very important for students to gain a sense of achievement. I love to pass on my knowledge and inspire students, watching their confidence grow as they achieve amazing results.
I run taster sessions for beginners. Many are terrified of making a mistake, but by explaining and demonstrating a process step by step, I hand them the tools and get them to have a go. Within an hour I have them soldering and at the end of the session they leave with their first silver ring and a big smile on their face.
What do your students gain most from your classes?
Jewellery making is very therapeutic, involving creativity and concentration. Many people come to my class to unwind after a busy working week. Some have passion for jewellery and want to have a go at making their own, while others bring along old unloved jewellery to recycle, creating new pieces to wear.
If Aileen has got you itching to have a go yourself, why not take a look at the jewellery design courses on Hotcourses. What’s more if you fancy meeting Aileen and working with her, take a look at the courses she has on offer at Creative Jewellery Workshop.