I recently traveled to New Orleans with two friends to take jewelry classes with Thomas Mann. Thomas is an amazing metal jewelry designer who has been perfecting his craft for 40 years. Check out his website here and be sure and look at the gallery of his designs.
Here we are with Thomas and his excellent right-hand woman, Angele, who arranged the classes for us.
He is now teaching classes at his studio. He's created a space with 11 workstations, plus one for himself, and moveable tables he can set up for soldering or other kinds of specialty work.
I've worked with metal a lot, but needed some help with the jeweler's saw and soldering. I only broke about 5 saw blades, and melted my soldered piece once. It's never good when the instructor looks at your soldering and says "Start over". That's because I held the heat on too long and melted mine to little blobs. But I was having fun, and by the end I got it right.
He taught a week-long series of classes in metal working. We learned the proper way to use a jeweler's saw, soldering with a torch, and filing, etching, and cold connections to make a "Found Object Sandwich". Here's the soldering class holding our pieces.
Here are our finshed sandwich pieces. The sandwich consists of a metal front that has had the middle cut out, a plexiglas piece, a photo, and a metal back.
We stayed in a beautiful Bed & Breakfast right down the road from Thomas' studio. We could walk to his studio on Magazine St. in five minutes. We had a suite of two bedrooms and a sitting area on the top floor of The Terrell House.
Each morning, we were treated to a full, hot breakfast. The owner was even generous enough to share some recipes with us. We had egg dishes, pastries, all homemade, and an amazing bowl of fresh mixed fruit every day.
I highly recommend destination workshop vacations. It's great to get away from your usual life, great to visit a new city, learn something new, and meet new friends. If you've never done it, dare yourself to. Be bold, even if you have to travel alone. You'll find many surprises along the way -- like just how brave you can be and how much fun it is to try something new.