Jewelry + Light Metals Course Descriptions

Core: Level One Courses

Refer to Certificate Program Guide for specific semesters offered.

Drawing is an essential means of communicating, and central to every artist’s and designer’s practice. This class is a more rigorous and sustained introduction to the drawing medium. Drawing I students begin learning to define shapes and forms with line: investigating weight, direction and speed through gesture, contour and planar analysis. Then moving on to value, using both additive and reductive ways of working, they learn to utilize the power of light and dark to create a sense of texture, volume and space. Spatial systems, including perspective, are investigated as well as fundamentals of composition to construct dynamic imagery. Measuring and attention to negative space are essential skills used and reinforced throughout the learning process. Transcribing what is seen or imagined into visual form utilizing multiple approaches, from note taking to rendering to diagramming and sketching, is explored. The class is structured around demonstrations, guided exercises, and sustained drawing of varied subject matter including still-life, landscape, architecture and the human form.

Design is the discipline underlying all forms of visual expression, and an understanding of design principles is the basis for all art forms. This course introduces students to the formal elements of design: line, shape, pattern, value, texture, color and space. Working through a variety of challenging exercises, students use these elements to engage with problems of visual organization. Deliberate and considered placement of visual elements into an organized whole is the basis of composition, and skills acquired in this course have direct applications to anyone working in art and design, from painters and artists to art directors, illustrators, interior designers and interactive designers.

Inspiration plays an essential role in the design and creation of jewelry — so does research. In this course, students learn to research and reference primary sources to gather information and inspiration to explore how to translate designs through sketches and models. The course begins with a variety of paper exercises that allow students to learn essential model making skills as well as ways of cutting, manipulating, bending and folding that help them understand different materials’ natural properties. Students then learn about materials and sources for making designs a reality. To facilitate this process, students visit the RISD Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, observing how nature and natural forms are ideal catalysts in the development of unique pieces of jewelry. Fundamental techniques for wire-wrapping and working with found objects are explored, and examples of contemporary jewelry design are shown though digital presentations. As the course takes place outside of the jewelry studio, all projects are created using readily available tools and materials such as paper, wire and everyday materials. Students of all levels are welcome.

Explore the interdisciplinary relationship between imaging, coding, text, animation and video that come together as the designer’s toolkit. This fast-paced digital media course is ideal for the novice or even the intermediate user desiring a better understanding of computer-based workflow. A single unified Web design project, built over 12 sessions, is broken down into manageable lessons that include bitmap editing, vector graphics, page layout, image capture, preservation and manipulation. The terminology, protocols and connections between products are made clear as you become familiar with the techniques necessary for anyone who designs digitally.

Varies by semester. Electives may be taken at any point in the program, provided prerequisites have been met.

Concentration: Level Two Courses

Refer to Certificate Program Guide for specific semesters offered.
Note: Successful completion of the Core curriculum (above) is crucial prior to starting the Concentration level.

Rhino is the industry standard of 3D modeling applications, both affordable and easy to learn. Its files can be exported into any program that supports surfaces or solids, or into CAD/CAM and other prototyping applications used by product designers, as well as those used for architectural and jewelry design and rendering, computer animation, filmmaking and Web design. Realistic renderings are generated by outputting to programs such as Maya, Flash, Photoshop and other popular software. Work begins with a sketch, drawing or physical model and Rhino provides the tools to construct realistic models. Learning the communication language unique to this 3D modeling application allows students to fully realize their designs, as they produce the illusion of three dimensions in digital form. Note: Prior 3D modeling experience is not required. This course is taught on a Windows platform.

An intriguing piece of jewelry not only attracts the eye, but also complements its wearer or tells a story. In this course, we move beyond appreciation to creation by learning the fundamentals of jewelry-making techniques, design and fabrication. A range of hand-tool processes is covered through practical exercises and imaginative concept-based projects. The non-technical side of the course focuses on idea development and the critical-thinking skills needed to realize a vision. On the technical front, we cover sawing, piercing, filing, annealing, soldering, texturing, cold connections, basic hollow construction, ring sizing and more. In addition, discussion of design, materials, jewelry history and alternative techniques is part of every class.

Working in precious and non-precious metals, this class moves beyond the foundation learned in Jewelry + Light Metals I: Materials + Techniques to refine and combine a variety of jewelry construction methods. The focus of the class is to encourage students to pursue intermediate level projects that incorporate more complicated soldering techniques such as wire construction and chain making, as well as allow students more room for individual artistic development. Additionally, more advanced techniques such as hinge making, complicated scoring and bending, and other fabrication methods are introduced. Image lectures are presented to inspire students with new design possibilities and to help articulate more involved ideas and concepts in their work. By the end of the course, students should find themselves able to both create more intricate pieces and to approach jewelry design from a decidedly more sophisticated vantage point.

The finger ring dates back 6,000 years to ancient Egypt when they were given and received as gifts, and they continue to be the most popular and meaningful form of jewelry today. Students in this course learn to design and make ornamentation specifically for the finger. Through discussion and hands-on demonstration, you learn about fabricating bands and ways of integrating special details into individual rings with techniques such as piercing, forming, soldering, finishing and basic bezel stone setting. Everyone is encouraged to fully express their design ideas and make well-crafted pieces of jewelry, and even potentially make their own series of stacked rings. This course is ideal for both students new to jewelry and intermediate/advanced students who want to begin to create their own more complex work/series.

Like a fantastic frame for a piece of art, the right setting for a precious stone or gem intensifies its visual impact and beauty. This beginner course focuses on two aspects of jewelry ornamentation techniques: simple stone settings and the ancient art of filigree. The stone setting methods introduced include bezel, prong and flush settings. Filigree, meaning “wirework,” is an ancient technique that combines the curling, twisting and bending of fine threads of wire into intricate designs joined with solder. By the middle of this course, students begin to use their newfound stone setting and filigree abilities to complete their own rings, earrings and other unique pieces of handmade jewelry. This course is for beginners as well as more advanced students wanting to learn a specialized technique.

Just as a precious stone is set securely on a base of finely wrought metal, the work of a jeweler or metalsmith rests on a solid foundation of strong design and honed craftsmanship. In this final studio course, participants go beyond the basic and intermediate-level courses, expanding and refining both their aesthetic sensibilities and their skills to create beautifully executed pieces of jewelry and metalwork. While students continue to use a variety of basic metalworking techniques, the course emphasizes the use of advanced techniques and more sophisticated design skills. Students begin the course by identifying sources of inspiration and create a series of design studies and models that lead to the development of a small collection of jewelry work. Throughout, participants are encouraged to develop a unique body of work in response to their individual design ideas. Certificate students: Your instructor will schedule a final portfolio review date, independent of the scheduled class dates.