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Daniel Valencia and the Art of Jewelry Making

Teaching Students to Make the Jewelry into Works of Art

Imagine the pleasure of giving a friend or family member a beautiful, hand-made bracelet, earring, or necklace that you made yourself. Even better, an engagement ring that you designed for the magic moment of the proposal? What could be more thoughtful and fulfilling than that?

The aforementioned scenarios are often the experiences of students who have learned the art of jewelry-making and metal design at JewelryClassDC. 

Owner Daniel Valencia comes from a family of artists. He taught himself the art of working with silver because he wasn’t happy with the manner of instruction in other jewelry schools, such as the correct way to solder silver. He opened his first school in 2011 as a sole proprietor, operating out of his house. From the start he has been passionate about teaching professional practices to students entering the practice at a beginner level. Through the years he has fine-tuned his business, incorporating it in 2014, with his brick and mortar school on Capitol Hill.

The jewelry-making classes are structured at different levels with students ranging in age from 14 to 80+. According to the school’s syllabus, Metal I students spend eight weeks making four sterling silver projects while learning the basic techniques of metalsmithing, including hammering, sawing, filing, and bezel setting. Unlike other schools, its students make their own bezels (the enclosures around a stone) from a bar of metal.

Metal II students create their own designs while honing their stone setting skills. All tools and equipment are provided for studio use and small classes allow for individual instruction and step-by-step demonstration of the fabrication processes.

Metal III students learn advanced fabrication and stone setting in process-oriented classes.

Metal II and Metal III students are allowed the perks of open studio time as space permits, free of charge. Open studio is each Sunday 9am - 2pm, and Tuesdays, 2pm - 6pm, by appointment. Tool lists, supplier recommendations and studio set-up advice are always available. 

The studio also offers extended study programs, and private instruction is available ranging from beginner to advanced.

Valencia may be a perfectionist, but he wants his students to have fun. They work in an art-deco building filled with art, light, music, and laughter. The studio walls are decorated with antique tools, several dating back to the 18th century. Each student bench is conveniently equipped with a complement of professional metal smithing tools, so that students never spend time looking for a tool when they arrive.

Kay, a retired teacher, and city planner started coming to the studio three years ago and has been taking classes ever since. “Dan has a wonderful sense of design, he has a great sense of humor but is a serious task master when it comes to working with the metal," Kay explains. "He is flexible but expects you to do the work correctly.”

For more information go to the website: JewelryClassDC.com.

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