AR 219 Student WorkAR_219_Student_Work.html
AR 371/372 IndependentAR_371_372_Independent_Study.html
AR 319 MetalsmithingAR_319_Metalsmithing.html
AR 320 Jewelry & Metals IIAR_320_J%26MII.html
AR 219 Jewelry & Metals IAR_219_J%26MI.html
AR 219 Syllabus
AR 219 Sample AssignmentsAR_219_Sample_Assignments.html





COURSE DESCRIPTION:  Jewelry & Metals I is a four (4) credit, intermediate level studio art course. designed to provide a comprehensive, hands-on introduction to the fundamental technical, conceptual, and aesthetic issues of contemporary art-metals (jewelry and metalsmithing).  Through a series of graduated, explorational assignments and short-term technical exercises students will engage a broad range of processes, progressing from the simpler to the more complex.  While this technical component is often demanding, it must be understood that "technique" is but a means of achieving an end and never an end in itself. 

COURSE STRUCTURE:  Classes meet formally six (6) hours per week in Saisselin 207 (the Jewelry & Metals studio). Hands-on studio activities will comprise approximately two-thirds of scheduled class time, the balance being comprised of lectures, group critiques, and technical demonstrations.  Supplemental gallery talks, “slide” presentations, and visiting artist workshops may also be scheduled as time and interest permits.  Group critiques (approximately 6 per semester) are an essential component of this course; attendance and participation at critiques is compulsory.  Quizzes on safety and related technical information may be given as deemed appropriate.

ASSIGNMENTS:  Assignments may take a variety of forms including short-term technical exercises (aka “test-pieces”), formal design studies, and long-term, major assignments.  Although the actual number and nature of assignments may vary from semester to semester, students will typically complete five (5) short-term exercises and three (3) major assignments.  The prospectus for each assignment will outline the objectives, timeframe, and technical parameters.  All assignments are designed to balance technical skill-building with design theory (aesthetics) and creative problem-solving; encouraging students to uncover unique , personally derived solutions within the framework of traditional precedents.

A brief list of sample assignments is provided at the end of this syllabus.

COURSE GOALS:  To better understand the goals of this course it must first be understood what this course is most definitely not about.  This is not a "How-to" course.  Students will be expected to think for themselves, to solve problems creatively, and take ownership of their work (failures as well as successes).  When common-sense and lecture notes fail to provide an answer, students should turn to "research" before asking for a quick-and-easy solution.  This is also not a product-oriented course.  The work produced in this course, like that in any course across this campus, is first-and-foremost, tangible evidence of a student’s learning.  As such, it is essential that students actively engage the learning goals of this course.  In doing so, students will naturally produce results which are thoughtful, well-executed, and personally valuable.  With that in mind, the major goals of this course are:

1) The exploration of formal aesthetic principles and concepts, common to all of the visual/plastic arts;

2) The broadening of personal aesthetic sensibilities and creative problem-solving skills;

3) The achievement of proficiency in the techniques and processes introduced, with an emphasis on studio safety;

4) The understanding of traditional and contemporary issues in jewelry and metalsmithing, and studio art practice in general (e.g. the concept of craft-as-art and its relevance to individual student work.);

5) The broadening of critical skills through participation in class discussions and critiques; requiring an understanding of the relevant criteria, vocabulary, and the practical aspects of critical discourse.

EVALUATION AND GRADING:  Assignments are evaluated on the basis of quality

Quality may be evidenced in many forms;  intellectual insight, aesthetic sensibility, and technical acumen are particularly important quality-yardsticks for a studio artist.  The quality of engagement (that is, effort) is best evidenced by work which reflects high levels of initiative, perseverance, and an applied understanding of the techniques and concepts presented in the course.

It surprises many to learn that each year Skidmore College publishes the following grading standards in its College Catalogue.  The catalogue reads, “grades are assigned on the following basis”:

Distinguished work = A+, A

Superior work = A-, B+, B

Satisfactory work = B-, C+, C

Passing, poor-quality work = C-, D+, D

Failure, no credit earned = F

Regardless of how one constructs a rubric for assessment, “grading” is always a highly charged process.  Personal and external expectations, self-esteem, and competitive rankings quite naturally inject emotion into a process which should be, by definition, dispassionately critical and objective.  

Attendance and participation are MANDATORY!  Late arrivals, inadequate preparation and lack of participation (especially during critiques) will incur grade penalties; negatively effecting a student’s final grade for the course. 

As a rule students will be forgiven two absences* during the semester.  Each additional absence may lower the final grade as much as one full letter.  Students are solely responsible for all work missed during an absence.   In circumstances where essential safety information has been missed, a student MUST arrange a special meeting with their instructor before proceeding.  Note:  A "late attendance" or “early departure” will be regarded as an "absence" when any portion of a significant activity (i.e. demonstration or critique) is missed.  For more information on the attendance policy see Jewelry and Metalsmithing Studio Policies.

*In circumstances where a serious health impairment or family crisis leads to a prolonged absence, students should contact their instructor (as soon as practical) to discuss the nature of the problem and possible options for completing coursework.

Late work will be penalized one full letter grade for each class period beyond the due date.  No work will be accepted beyond the third scheduled class period after the due date.  Work will be recorded as late when it is not completely finished before the beginning of class on the day it is due.

Plagiarism (and other unethical practices) will not, under any circumstances, be tolerated.  Students are expected to embrace the very highest standards of Academic Integrity (see the Skidmore Honor Code). 




The first ten class sessions of this course are essential to all work that will follow.  It is during this period that the technical foundation is presented and important aesthetic considerations are introduced.  Each class session will comprise one or more technical demonstrations, skill-building exercises, and open group discussions. 


AR 219 focuses upon processes and techniques deemed elemental to the discipline of metalsmithing .  Metal, specifically non-ferrous and precious (silver, bronze, etc.), has the ability to be highly plastic or unyieldingly tensile; mirror smooth or aggressively textured.  Its potential to be shaped and formed is almost limitless, save for the limitations of the artist.  Students will explore this material's expressive potential both through formal lecture/demonstrations and through creative discovery.

Many of the techniques and concepts presented will be tested through a series of short-term, out-of-class exercises (often due the following class).

Basic processes introduced in AR 219:

1) Fundamental Techniques

     a) piercing (jewelers saw)

     b) filing

     c) drilling

     e) annealing and pickling

2) Fabrication Techniques

     a) riveting

     b) soldering


3) Wrought Techniques

     a) forging

     b) forming, sinking, repousse’

     c) sheet and wire reduction

     d) chasing and planishing

4) Finishing Techniques

     a) surfacing (abrasive papers)

     b) buffing/polishing

     c) texturing

     d) patination

5) Supplemental Techniques  (optional)

     a) stone setting

     b) repousse’ (traditional)

     c) reticulation of metal

     d) engraving

     e) etching

      f) electroforming

     g) anodizing

     h) line and pattern inlay

Studio Safety is an essential component of this course.  Students are expected to read and follow all Department and Studio Safety Guidelines.  These are posted and available to all students.  ALL demonstrations will include important safety information.  Students who have not attended these demonstrations or are otherwise apprehensive about a process must speak with their instructor before attempting to use the tools or equipment in question.

STUDIO PRACTICES:  Safe and responsible studio work practices are essential to, and inseparable from, all other components of this course.  Students must familiarize themselves with all policies pertinent to studio safety and conduct.  Studio efficiency, effectiveness and harmony are a shared responsibility. 

  Please read the "Jewelry and Metals Studio Guidelines" and the "Department Studio Safety Guidelines".

DESIGN PRINCIPLES AND THEORY:  Throughout the semester students will explore the principles of design (composition) through short exercises and  longer integrated assignments.   While the specific exercises may vary from semester to semester, the objective is to build upon the experiences of AR 103 and 107, while providing a bridge between those concepts expressed on paper and those expressed in metal.  Typical short exercises might include:

• Visual Balance (Symmetry, Asymmetry, etc.):  "Destroying a Square", "Symmetry & Synergy".

• Texture, Pattern, and Repetition:  "Texture and Context (found and invented textures)”, "The Matrix: Systems and Sequences".

• Shape/Form Relationships:  "3 Planes", "Contour and Relief", "3D Tangram".

In theory, each exercise will build directly upon previous exercises, beginning with an elementally organized picture-plane, integrating texture and pattern, and ultimately considering how those compositional concerns might be expressed three-dimensionally.

CONCEPTUAL PROBLEM-SOLVING:  The artist's ability to think creatively, to use the forces of imagination and improvisation effectively, is of far greater consequence than the media chosen or the discipline practiced.  To help students to break through some of the many conceptual blocks which inhibit creativity, a short series of discussions and exercises will address the following topics:

1) Perceptual Blocks

2) Social and Cultural Blocks

3) Communicative Blocks

4) The Value of Research

5) The Value of Improvisation

NOTE:  Students are required to keep a combined Sketchbook/Notebook throughout the semester.  This should include detailed lecture and demonstration notes (with illustrations when appropriate) and may be collected for grading without advanced notice.

An extensive library of books and periodicals is available in the Jewelry& Metals studio (compliments of your instructor).  Please keep these volumes clean, organized, and available to all. Do NOT borrow them for personal use or remove them from the studio without the expressed permission of your instructor.  Additionally, a wealth of books and journals on metalsmithing, craft media and the decorative arts are available in The Scribner Library.

Recommended Reading:


The Complete Metalsmith - Timothy McCreight

Professional Goldsmithing - Alan Revere

Jewelry: Contemporary Design and Technique – Chuck Evans

Historical / Cultural:

•Poetry of The Physical - Edward Lucie-Smith

•A Theory of Craft-Function and Aesthetic Expression - Howard Risotti, Kenneth Trapp

•Treatises on Goldsmithing and Sculpture - Benvenuto Cellini

Aesthetic / Design Theory:

•The Art of Jewelry Design - Elizabeth Olver

•Geometry of Design: Studies in Proportion and Composition - Kimberley Elam


Metalsmith – Quarterly, Journal of the Society of North American Goldsmiths

American Craft – Bi-monthly, Journal of the American Craft Council


Supplies and Materials


  “Beginning Jewelry & Metals Kit” (pre-assembled cache of basic tools and supplies available at the Skidmore Shop);

   Safety Glasses;

   Permanent fine-point marker (e.g. Sharpie Extra Fine Point);

   Steel Rule/straightedge (6” or 12” with inch and metric scales);

   Incidentals: Masking tape, rubber cement, drawing pencils, etc.

   Two (2) padlocks;

  Sketchbook/Notebook .

Highly Recommended:

templates, bow compass, dividers (and similar drafting/layout tools).

Note: recommended sources for metal (additional to that supplied in “the kit”), including sterling silver, will be discussed in class when appropriate.

AR 219   Jewelry  &  Metals  I




            OFFICE PHONE: 518 580 5045

AR 219 Syllabi

Jewelry & Metals I

David PetersonHome.html
Printer VersionAR_219_JMI_Syllabi_files/219Syl2009.pdf