Beading classes — in which students learn to wire beads together into a bracelet or necklace — have long been popular. But for the girl who loves a little more glimmer and glam, the classes at I Dream of Beading in Poughkeepsie take the jewelry-making experience to the next level. Called “Jeweler’s Bench,” these three-hour sessions teach participants to manipulate precious metals from start to finish. When you’re done, you have your own masterpiece to wear home.
Owner Janice Peterson began offering the classes in October 2011 after getting some instruction in silversmithing in New York City. “I really enjoyed those classes, but realized there was no place around here to do them,” she says. “I decided to put a studio in my house — but my husband was like, ‘Eh, not so fast.’ ” So Peterson, with the help of customer-turned-employee Kayla Rinne Lawlor, cleaned out the storage room behind her bead shop and set up a silversmithing studio. Lawlor, who has her B.F.A. in metals from SUNY New Paltz, both designs the jewelry and teaches the classes.
Peterson says people with all levels of experience can participate. “It’s beginner, but not baby stuff,” she says. Fundamental metalsmithing techniques are taught in each class, the most important of which is soldering, in which the metal pieces are heated and attached to each other using a torch with a flame the size of a pen nib. “Soldering seems scarier than it actually is,” declares Peterson. “The first reaction is, ‘Oh, I can’t do that.’ But it’s really fun once you do it a couple of times.” Also taught is enameling, which Peterson describes as “painting with powdered glass.” The metal is brushed with enamel, then heated in the kiln; the result is a translucent finish.
Three different jewelry classes are offered this month; in one, students create a heart pendant and earrings set for Valentine’s Day. Prices range from $100 to $150; call ahead for specific dates and times.
488 Freedom Plains Rd., Ste. 107, Poughkeepsie. 845-452-7611 or www.idreamofbeading.com