Silver Smith Workshop for College Object Art Students

February 25, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Object Art students in Year 11 have just spent a fascinating, intensive weekend learning the art of silver smithing with artist, Mia Straka at Workshop 6, the work space of a jewellery collective in Kingsland. The weekend course extended the skills taught to the students last year by Cheryl Sills during her period as Artist in Residence in the Jack Paine Centre. Cheryl is also a member of the Workshop 6 collective. Last year she worked with the same set of students, as Year 10’s, to create ‘adornment’ made from copper and silver. These pieces are currently on display in the JPC.

Object Art is an innovative new course that was introduced at Year 10 in 2013. It combines the technical skills of Technology with the creative freedom of Visual Art. It is unique to both the College and the country, offering students the chance to make three-dimensional products that aren’t bound by functionality or a rigid design process. Now in Year 11, the Object Art students are working across the Technology, Design and Visual Communication and Visual Art curriculums. This cross-disciplinary approach offers the students some unique learning opportunities designed to teach them divergent thinking practices whilst developing a range of technical skills such as basic silver smithing, carpentry, illustration and 3D ideation. In 2015 the Object Art course will evolve into Sculpture for Years 12 and 13.

The first major Object Art project for this year requires the Year 11 students ‘to make a specified outcome using resistant materials.’ In this instance, silver was chosen as the medium with a view to producing a piece of jewellery – a silver ring with a stone set into a bezel.

Whilst the task sounds deceptively simply, in reality silver smithing is a complex process that requires expert tuition and facilities. To follow on from the insight gained last year from Cheryl, and to further develop their knowledge and own skill set, the students were offered this unique opportunity to attend a full weekend course in a practising, dedicated workshop.

Over two days, students ran through a complex process that relied on their patience, precision and ability to accurately mark, measure and solder. After the work completed last year with Cheryl, and in class during their course work, the students had already developed a proficient grasp of the basic procedures and the language associated with craft. Mia continued the work, showing them how to extend these techniques, adding burnishing, oxidizing, machine finishes and stone setting to their metal fabrication repertoire.

By the end of the weekend, a group of tired but proud girls had outcomes befitting their hard work. Most importantly, the project has provided students with a broader skill set to assist them with their own design outcomes as the academic year progresses. The finished rings are proudly on display in the Jack Paine Centre. 

Design at the College

Design courses at the College offer many opportunities to interact with the wider community to support and inform classroom teaching and learning. Our Design staff actively seek experts to present and work with classes, and where possible, they encourage learning outside the classroom by way of trips and workshops so that students can gain valuable experience first-hand.  

Art and Technology courses become gradually more specialized as the students move through the year groups. Following shorter ‘taster courses’ in Years 7 and 8, students can later elect to study Painting and Printmaking or Photography and Design  in Art whilst Technology offers avenues as diverse as Digital Technology, Fashion and Textiles, Food Technology, Object Art, Product Design and Spatial Design. 

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