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Getting ready to teach metalsmithing, Part 1

Make sure you have a plan before you set out to share your skills!
Sheppard teaching p 1

Ready to start sharing your talents with the world? DO IT! But wait, how do you teach a workshop? Where the heck do you start?

I know you're ready to start teaching, I have faith in you! Just take a deep breath, step back and go through this checklist. It's all ya need!

STEP ONE: Develop a topic for your workshop

This very first step in creating a workshop is to think about teaching something that you know, and are actually able to teach. No need to get fancy, keep it simple. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere just like you did. What was the first technique you learned? Me? Cold Connection. Don’t teach a workshop on soldering if you are lacking at that skill. I taught a cold connection workshop because that’s my strong suit and what I know the best. I could teach soldering, but I know students would learn more from me if I taught something that excites me, and that I know I’m really freaking good at.  

When you are developing your workshop, think about what level of student you want to teach: beginner, intermediate, advanced. I prefer to teach beginner to intermediate-level students, that’s what I’m most comfortable with. Develop your plan around their skill level. I made a mistake once of incorporating large rivets in a workshop, which meant that students had to use a large drill bit. This was easy for me because I was experienced with using large bits, but beginners are not. I was so terrified that someone would literally lose a finger that I altered the design so that students would only use a small drill bit, perfect for beginners.

Next, write up your Workshop Description/Details.

The workshop description is your teaser, this is what Art Centers will read to see if they want to bring on your workshop, and it will also be what students will read to see if they want to take your class. So hit them with your smarts and grab them from the get-go!.  Your description should be a short recap of what students will learn, take away from the workshop and why they should take this class from you. Make sure to include a good photo (or photos) of a finished example of what students will create during the workshop. These photos will be used for promoting/marking your workshop so it is super important to make sure they are pretty killer photos that represent you and your work. This photo may be the first impression on your future students or the art center you work with so make it GOOD. 


Sheppard Gun Street Girl

I developed the Gun Street Girl Bracelet workshop, which focuses on a specific design, a finished cold connection cuff with a hinge.

Students learned how to saw, drill, file, tube rivet, wire and sheet form, the mechanics of a hinge, clasp and catch, oxidization, and finish work.

When developing a project-based workshop, think about what techniques you are able to teach students from making a specific design. 

Sheppard Student work

A technique-based workshop focuses on a specific technique, like fold forming, that students will practice until they accomplish or feel comfortable with this technique.

Since there are a lot of different techniques within fold forming, I decided to focus on a few basic folds for students to learn when developing a technique-based workshop: basic line, tight line and forged line folds. Once students had these basics down, I incorporated these techniques (folds) into a simple finished cuff. 

This not only showed students how to bring technique into a design, but also gave them something to bring home to show off to others.


Once you’ve developed your workshop, it’s time to reach out to local art centers. If you don’t know of any, look online! You can also search online to find out where other artists are teaching and contact those centers.

Send an email or call a center with a professional request to teach a workshop. Take into consideration that places fill up with workshops from a few months up to years in advance. I’d say a good rule of thumb is to plan to have your workshop three-six months from first contact, but it may be longer. Make sure to give yourself at least two-three months for both art centers and yourself to promote the workshop. That’s right, you will have to promote your own workshop. This is extremely important to make sure your workshop fills.

When sending an email to a center be sure to include the list below and make certain that your information is up-to-date BEFORE you reach out. Some studios/centers may ask for your artist statement and/or references so be prepared for that! Do not make the art centers wait for you to get your things together. Also, don’t be afraid to let them know you don’t have something on hand (besides the list below), but that you will get those things to them as soon as possible. And ask questions if you don’t understand or know something, we don’t all know it all, even if we appear to!

Sample email:

Dear (insert center or the contact name here),

I’m currently teaching a workshop called “Gun Street Girl Bracelet” which incorporates my love and passion for cold connection. This workshop is a fun platform for beginners to intermediate students to learn the basics of cold techniques including creating a hinge, all without the use of a torch.

I think your studio would be a perfect fit for this workshop, I’d love to talk to you about how we can bring this workshop to your center.

I’ve attached a brief description and a photo for “Gun Street Girl” workshop, along with my resume and artist bio.

Please let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to talking with you.

Thank you for your time,

Casey Sheppard

(phone number)

(email address)

(website or social media address)


Checklist of Materials to include in email:

  • Updated Resume/CV
  • Updated Artist Bio/Bio
  • Workshop description
  • Workshop Example Photo
  • ALL of your contact info: website, phone number, physical mailing address, email address, social media (blog, Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest)  

IF you get past the initial contact and an art center is ready to start talking about details, be ready with all of the following. YES, ALL OF IT. 


  • An up-to-date headshot of yourself. I bet you know a professional photographer....
  • An updated Artist Statement
  • Make sure your website or social media is also updated and ready to rock!!!
  • References: At least three people with job titles, phone number and email address

(References should be people who know your work ethic. They do not have to be in the jewelry industry, but this does help. Make sure you ask your references if it’s okay to add them to your references sheet beforehand, so there are no surprises.)


1. Your RATE. 

You NEED to know this. This rate is for your instructing time only; this does not include materials or other costs. In my experience, the rate for first-time workshop instructors ranges from $300-$400 per 7-8 hour day. You can base your rate on the number of students signed up as well; example:  4 students -- $300;  5 students -- $350; 6 students  -- $400;  7 students -- $450; 8 students -- $500. If you are still unsure what to charge, ask the studio if they have a budget or a flat rate. They will be more than happy to work with you on this.


This is a list of all of the materials (metal, wire, tubing) and every single tool (hammers, drill bits, sandpaper) needed for the workshop. You need to know exactly what materials and tools each student will need to use, and how much they will cost. 

Maybe the Art Center has tools for students to use. Maybe you'll be working with students who are advanced enough that they will bring their own tools. Maybe YOU need to have enough saws and pliers and hammers for everyone to share. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE DETAILS so you're not caught off-guard the morning of your workshop (trust me, it's happened!)

Do you source the materials, or does the Art Center? Do the students pay a materials fee to you directly, or does the Art Center process the payment? What are the actual costs?

Be sure to calculate the price of materials, per student. Use the internet; it is a great tool to look up current prices of materials. Organize this with the studio; it's possible they can source wholesale cheaper than you can.  


It is imperative that you do NOT take on more students than you can handle. If you’re doing your rate by student, it may be tempting to take on as many students as possible, but do NOT take on more students than you think you can handle. Again, do NOT take on more students than you think you can handle. Why is this so important? Students are paying you for a service, and if you aren’t able to get hands-on with them, they will be disappointed. When I teach, I spend the entire workshop going from student to student, checking in, seeing if they need help. I’m always on my feet, working the room. I have fun with it, and in turn, so do the students.

The more difficult the workshop, the more hands on you will have to be. I usually won’t take on more than eight students. I have taken on more and I worked my arse off!!! The perfect number for me is six-eight students. Centers usually have a limit so talk with them and find the right number that works with you both.

So if you're at this point, you are ROCKING IT. In next month's post, we'll cover what to prepare for the actual day that you stand up to teach. It's gonna be awesome. 

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