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What to do before taking a jewelry-making class

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Note: This blog post is a part of our series “How to get the most out of a class.”

OK, you’ve researched and signed up for a jewelry-making class. But, what now? Taking these extra steps to prepare for your class will set you up for success on the big day.

Talk to your teacher. Some teaching programs are set up to facilitate early teacher-student interaction. (Teachers at the Bead&Button Show, for example, are required to contact their students before class to solicit questions and to clarify any tool lists or class requirements.) If the teacher doesn’t contact you, don’t hesitate to contact them with any questions.

You can discuss your skill level, the prerequisites, the teacher’s expectations, the tool list — anything that you want clarified before the class. Your goal is one that the instructor shares: You both want to make sure that you’re not wasting your time. This should not, however, be seen as an opportunity to get your teacher to change his or her class outline as you desire. The class is their product; you’re deciding whether that product is right for you.

“Success in a class involves the teacher and student partnership. Most important is communication.”
—Leslee Frumin

Brush up your skills. If you’re taking a fabrication class, but it’s been a year since you’ve sat down at the bench, take some time and refamiliarize yourself with the tools and the basic processes. You don’t want to waste your class time playing catch-up on things you already know. You’ll always make the most of your class time if you can hit the ground running.

“If I’m taking an intermediate or advanced class that involves a technique I haven’t done for a while, I take some time to practice prior to taking the class. I work up some samples just to make sure the technique is in my head and my fingers.”
—Peggy Anderson

Tools, tools, tools! Check and double-check the required tool list. Make any purchases well in advance, and familiarize yourself with the tools. If you have any questions about the tools, check with your teacher. If you’re thinking about substituting one tool for another, check with your teacher. If you can’t find the tools you’re asked to bring — yep, you got it, check with the teacher. Your teacher should always be happy to answer questions that will cut down on problems during class. Bring any tools that you consider personal “must haves,” even if they’re not on the list. Better to have and not use than need and not have.

“Teachers give you a supply list, but I have a basic ‘kit’ that I take to every class, and I almost always use something from that kit that wasn’t on the supply list.”
—Peggy Anderson

Don’t overextend. It’s a real temptation, especially in a show setting, where the class offerings look like a grand buffet that lasts seven days, to fill up every minute of your time. But be realistic about how much you can handle. Even if your body can handle the nonstop action, you’ll retain more knowledge if you pace yourself.

Get some sleep! Don’t show up at class already nodding off. The same rules apply to jewelry classes that used to apply in high school. If you get enough sleep the night before, you’ll be more likely to remember what the teacher says.

“If you want a good experience, you need to be alert and rested.”
—Anne Mitchel

The Bead&Button Show, the biggest consumer bead show in the world, runs June 3-13, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wis. Find out more about classes during the show at Bead&ButtonShow.com

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