By Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
Educational, entertaining, enchanting.
For more than a quarter century, Eastern New Mexico University professor Greg Senn has tried to reach these ends in an elective class on jewelry making.
“For me, the goal of the course is to give students a unique learning experience that is safe and sane,” says Senn. “What I want the students to experience is the joy of discovering that while it is technically challenging it is not hard to design and make jewelry. And it should be fun.”
Senn has been teaching the class for 26 years, after he gained interest in the subject from a ceramics course he took at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1978.
Students get to learn the process of making jewelry in this class, using power tools, torches and other machinery.
Creativity is a huge part of the class, with students using their imaginations to come up with the type of jewelry they want to make.
Student Marissa Hyde is currently making a metal peacock with colorful, glass wine bottles serving as the peacock’s feathers.
“I’m making a lawn ornament out of recycled wine bottles,” said Hyde.
Once given free reign of the shop, usually after a semester of introduction, students come up with their own projects to work on.
“I’ve made rings, earrings, necklaces, cuff bracelets. My favorite piece was a coin ring I made (resembling) my husband’s tattoo,” says Angel Anderson, a self-proclaimed class mother who is taking her third semester of jewelry class.
Anderson is a jewelry class veteran but says it took time and work to get to where she can just come in and begin working on her projects without much direction.
“(Senn) does three demos that are absolutely imperative you don’t miss or you will be lost in this class,” says Anderson.
The first project is a keychain where everything that students need to know is encompassed into one project that takes about two weeks.
After completing the keychain, the next project has students making their own tools.
“You end up making tools to fit what you need. You start out with only six, but I ended up with so many that were different sizes and shapes,” says Anderson.
The third demo focuses on wax, where students learn how to use it to make molds.
After those three demos, students usually are free to do what they please. “Your only limitation,” student Zach Wachter said, “is your imagination.”