Going Back to School at 60 Years Old
There was one thing that made me excited about turning 60 years old in March. Once you are 60 years old, you are eligible to audit classes at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse (UWL) as long as there are open seats and the professor approves it. You only pay for books and material fees. This is a bonus for going back to school to take a class in something I have always wanted to learn. This fall I enrolled in a semester-long metalsmithing class at UWL. I was a little nervous about going the first day considering I would be the only 60 year old women in the class. Everyone has been very friendly and the instructor is great. I was even asked to join the Guild of Metalworkers club, which meets once per month.
When I am in the classroom/lab, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. There is every type of tool and machine you could imagine. Each week we are introduced to a new method and are assigned a project. This class has already been so much fun and I am very excited about all the new techniques I am learning. This opens up a whole new world for me as far as designing and creating jewelry. I am excited to see what direction my new jewelry collections take this next year as I create necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings.
The first week we learned how to use a jewelry saw. Well, some people learned how to use a jewelry saw. After eight broken saw blades, I was able to get all the shapes we were assigned cut out. Luckily, we are not limited to the number of saw blades we get. I finally decided to ask for help and was able to learn how to get the saw blade on tight which makes a huge difference.
The second week we learned how to use the torch. Our assignment was to do three different types of soldering. Our instructor demonstrated how to do each of the soldering methods before letting us loose. I was a bit nervous about using the torches, but thankfully the soldering went much better than the jewelry saw. I can't wait to start using my mini torch at home that I have had for a long time.
The third week we were tested on the skills we had already learned. Our assignment was to make layered band rings. I decided I was going to conquer the jewelry saw with this project. When I made my design to cut out, I made a lot of different curves to work on my cutting skills. It was a struggle to get around all those curves. The top layer of the ring is copper and the underlayer is sterling silver. I was pretty successful with cutting the design and shaping the band ring. I wasn't as successful getting the seam soldered without any gaps. I had to re-do it three times and still had a small gap! I was pretty proud of my band ring and then the instructor looked at it and had a few things to say about it. Okay, maybe more than a few. I still like it and having to do this project was a great learning experience. Who knew school would be this much fun.