Taught By

Marilynn Nicholson

General Information about Workshops

Registration and Enrollment

Workshops are limited to 3 students. It is important to send a deposit of one half of the tuition as soon as possible to reserve a space. There is a minimum of two students and a maximum of three students in each workshop. If class enrollment does not meet the required minimum, students will be offered individual instruction for the whole week at an increased rate, or tuition will stay the same but the number of hours each day or the number or days will be reduced. If you have booked airline tickets or reserved accommodation, you can be assured that the workshop will not be cancelled. In case of personal emergencies, students can cancel up to one month before the workshop dates. A refund of the amount paid minus a $35 registration fee will be returned. Workshops cancelled within the 30 day period before the course date may be rescheduled at the discretion of the instructor. In the case of last minute cancellations where other students have been turned away from the course, there will not be a refund or rescheduled workshop.

Workshop Time

Classes start at 9 AM and end around 4:30 PM. We occasionally take field trips to galleries, museums, and suppliers at lunch time and at the end of the day. In order to finish projects, workshop time is sometimes extended if needed but working late evening hours is discouraged. Free time after class can be spent working on designs and resting in order to be fresh and alert the following day. More detailed information will be given to students when the workshop meets. Decisions about lunch and other class issues are made at the beginning of each course.

Please allow extra time during your stay in Taos to see local attractions. There are many interesting events happening during summer months that take place on weekends between classes. Please ask for web site addresses if you want more information on the calendar of events taking place at the time you plan to visit New Mexico.

Tools and Materials

All tools and equipment needed for the class will be made available for use during the workshop. Materials including metals will be supplied as part of the materials fee. Because of the recent increase in the cost of silver there may be an additional charge if projects are large and exceed the allowed amount. All gold used in classes will be supplied by students unless otherwise stated before the class begins.


Introduction to Jewelry Design

An in–depth look at learning the basics of fabricated jewelry design. Students become familiarized with all of the essential techniques, including sawing, cutting, filing, stamping, texturing, basic roller embossing, forming, finishing & polishing, riveting, and cold connections, as well as an opportunity to work with wire, fusing, soldering, patinas, and other coloring methods. The first two and a half days are spent watching demonstrations and trying each technique while making a variety of samples. The last two and a half days are dedicated to applying that knowledge to making one or more pieces of jewelry. In order to fully understand the process, it is necessary for each student to experience taking a concept and then follow through by making a finished piece.

Intermediate Jewelry Design

A workshop suitable for students with some experience that concentrates on adding more texture and depth to jewelry designs by further exploring techniques, such as reticulation, gold overlay, embossing, corrugating, fold forming, and an introduction to more complex stone setting techniques. A talk on design and an introduction to construction of simple mechanisms will be included. The first half of the course focuses on understanding and learning skills. The second half is devoted to using those skills to make finished pieces of jewelry.

Stone Setting Tricks, Soldering and Introduction to Basic Lapidary

A workshop for intermediate to advanced students who feel a need to improve their soldering, learn more about stone setting, and are interested in adding lapidary skills. Basic knowledge of stone cutting and polishing allows students to create more unique designs with stones, beads and found objects. Developing better soldering methods, making settings for special stones and learning how to problem solve when things don't fit will help students to think consciously while developing and constructing individually inspired designs. This course is filled with bench tricks and methods to stimulate your imagination!

Introduction to Jewelry Design Made Easy

A different approach to teaching the introductory course for students who want to experience making jewelry to see if they like it. This course offers an opportunity to try a series of diverse projects with step by step instructions. The first day is spent learning basic techniques while gaining familiarity with the layout of the studio and its equipment. The following days feature day–long projects in silver, including a stamped bracelet, roller–embossed earrings set with stones, a wire work and sheet pendant, bracelet or earrings, and a fused ring with a stone. Students will take home four finished pieces of jewelry!

Unusual Stone Setting Techniques

If you are tired of ordinary shaped stones and bezels, you will have an opportunity to learn to set stones in interesting new ways. The course includes instruction in making irregular–shaped settings, riveting stones, setting stones from the back, modifying channel settings, how to hold a stone in partial settings, tension settings, and more. Classes will feature demonstrations of many techniques and an opportunity to explore new ways of looking at the problem of how to trap a stone. Students are encouraged to bring stones and found objects that seem difficult to set with them. Don't worry if you don't already own stones. Local suppliers will offer a variety of things to tempt you. This workshop combines learning new methods with making one or more pieces of jewelry using newly acquired skills.

Necklace, Pendant and Locket Design

A focused examination of ways to construct necklaces, including information on setting unusual shaped stones, hinging and mechanisms. A total design approach will be used to make simple and complex necklaces, emphasizing methods of making jewelry more dimensional and giving elements movement and individuality.

Ring Design

You will learn many approaches to designing and fabricating rings, including band, u–shaped, t–shaped, hollow, and h–shaped rings. Students will also learn about tension settings, cutouts, and rings with moving elements. Challenges involving sizing and designing and making a different type of ring will be explored each day. Students will make five or more different types of finished rings.

Earring Design

Imagine taking a whole week to concentrate on all the exciting possibilities and challenges presented by designing unique earrings. Each day we will focus on different techniques of forming, linking and making mechanisms on matched and unmatched pairs or earrings that shimmer and move. Special soldering methods used to construct 3–dimensional shapes and ways to assemble tiny moving parts will be reviewed. Earrings are the #1 best selling pieces of jewelry. Take advantage of the opportunity to figure out new designs!

Designing Bracelets

Take time to explore making cuff, linked, and hinged bracelets and add catches and mechanisms that compliment your designs. Tips will be given for efficiently soldering hinges and making box catches that work and are easy to construct. Other mechanisms will be demonstrated that will add style and individualism to your designs.

Jewelry Designed for Men

Designing for men presents special challenges and exciting possibilities for making pieces of jewelry in an area that is sometimes ignored. Belt buckles, bracelets, rings, cufflinks, bolo ties, etc., should have a strong simple approach and must ultimately be functional and comfortable to wear. The course will concentrate on making belt buckles and rings but students may choose to design and make other pieces. Because heavier gauge silver is often used there may be an additional charge for materials.

Designing Catches and Mechanisms

Refine the designs of your jewelry by adding findings specifically made for a particular piece. Information relevant to making tiny elements that move and soldering pieces in close proximity will be shared. A collection of historic examples and contemporary designs will stimulate your imagination. Bench tips and detailed descriptions of the sequence of building both simple and complex mechanisms will be explored.

Belt Buckles, Bolos and Bracelets for Men and Women

Designing for men is an area often ignored and this course will give students an opportunity to construct and design pieces with men in mind. For those attending the course and interested in making similar pieces for women, differences in construction will be covered. Jewelry for men usually has a rugged strong approach using heaver metal and making a bold direct statement. An extra materials fee will be added if pieces are larger and heavier.

Jump Start Your Creativity

An intensive review for students who have done some jewelry making a long time ago or for those students who have taken courses but feel they are missing necessary technical information. This workshop combines the advanced–beginner and intermediate workshops to cover many of the techniques from both classes. Because the course has only 3 or fewer students, it provides an opportunity to answer individual questions. It is designed to help fill in the gaps. Texturing, polishing and forming techniques, patinas, stone setting, soldering and many bench tricks are included. The workshop will evolve in answer to student inquires. It is necessary to have experience with soldering and knowledge of other basic jewelry making skills. The first half of the week will concentrate on demonstrations. The following two and a half days are spent applying new skills and developing sequential thought processes necessary for designing and fabricating jewelry.

The Total Approach in Design and Construction

Stone Setting, Lapidary and Mechanisms

If you have wanted a chance to examine your jewelry in reference to all aspects of design, technique, and marketing your work, this course will give you that opportunity. It is a workshop that combines knowledge from some of the other classes, and is set up to encourage jewelers to think about the total picture. What are you trying to say in making jewelry and is it working? Decision making and designing jewelry takes mental awareness and knowledge of how everything relates. It takes time to figure out improvements and implement new ideas. The course is suitable for jewelers with experience who don't want to get involved with a full mechanism, lapidary, or stone setting workshop but would like to try to add refinement to design and construction in those areas of their work. Students will be exposed to new ways of thinking and get to experiment in a supportive atmosphere.

Introduction to Lapidary, Inlay and Designing with Stones

Cutting your own stones is fun and definitely adds personality and individuality to designing jewelry. The 5 day course will teach you how to cut and polish stones and plan designs and use them in your jewelry. Students will learn how to cut both simple and complex shapes and polish them in a variety of ways. An introduction to inlay will add color and pattern to your jewelry designs and jump start exploring new directions in your work. During the week students will learn about tools and have the opportunity to use a wide variety of machines and techniques. Students will be encouraged to make a finished piece of jewelry with one or more of the stones they cut. A knowledge basic of jewelry making techniques and soldering is necessary for taking this course. An extra materials fee will also be charged to cover stones and the use of expensive equipment.

Introduction to Lapidary Design, Inlay, and Stone Setting Techniques

If you would like to determine the shape and size of the stones used in your jewelry this workshop will give you experience in slabing raw material, and cutting , shaping, and polishing stones. Several methods of inlay will be introduced in order to give a full picture of how small stones can be used in combination to create individually determined designs. The first half of the week will emphasize learning how to cut and polish stones and inlay pieces. The balance of the week will be spent on learning to fabricate settings and make jewelry to compliment the stones cut in class. A variety of types of equipment at different costs will be demonstrated and used by students during the class in order to help students choose the best tools when setting up a workshop. This workshop may be taken in conjunction with the following week in order to further explore and practice the techniques involved.

More Lapidary, Inlay, and Stone Setting

This additional week workshop is a continuation of the previous week and gives students an opportunity to have more studio time to perfect techniques and learn new skills. Because of the complex nature of making pieces with inlay and cutting and polishing stones of different hardness in many shapes, more time is needed to practice skills. The second week allows students to accomplish complicated designs in a supportive atmosphere where problem solving approaches and additional skills will be explored more completely. Metal work needed to create a wide variety of settings specifically designed for stones and inlay will be reviewed in more detail.

*Notes on Inlay*

Many of the techniques used in stone cutting and polishing are the same for inlay. Differences often occur when inlay is designed because there are many ways to do both the stone work part of an inlayed designs and the metal work around it. Sometimes metal is part of the inlay design and is glued in place and polished at the same time as the stone work. Surfaces can vary from flat areas that are polished before or after setting to individual pieces of varying depth and contour that fit together like a minute puzzle. Each system demands metal work especially made to support and enhance the design. Perfecting skills involved in cutting small pieces of stone accurately and doing the metal work involved takes time, patience, and practice.

Designing Inlay – Lapidary and Metal Working Techniques

Individual Study Only

When designing inlay for jewelry it is important to consider particular techniques used to work with metal and stone. The course will cover a variety of approaches to building pieces of jewelry to accept inlay and the lapidary methods necessary to cut, fit, glue and polish inlay effectively. Planning designs using flat surfaces, contour, and areas divided by metal work will be examined. Students will get to try several different types of lapidary machines and compare costs of setting up a lapidary work area.

Adding Gold Details to Silver Jewelry and More!

A course including bench tips and technical information describing ways to add gold details to jewelry in order to achieve the wonderful gold color without the expense. Students will try a variety of techniques including Kum–Boo, gold overlay, fusing, soldering gold onto silver, working with textured surfaces, making unusual gold settings for stones, inlaying gold into stones and silver, and pen plating. Students will also be encouraged to finish several pieces of jewelry. Gold used in this course is not included in the materials fee. Students will receive a list of materials needed.

Intermediate Jewelry Design #2 - Questions and Answers

A course designed for students who want stuimulating new ideas and ways of thinking while having an opportunity to learn more techniques. This course will answer questions concerning methods possibly not covered in other courses. Because classes are small there will be time to address individual needs and problems. The workshop will continue to build on the skills learned in the basic Intermediate Jewelry Design workshop. Low–tech and low cost ways to create texture, volume, and add color while working with metals and designing jewelry in innovative ways will be examined. Creating form with basic anticlastic raising, and die forming without a hydrolic press, making hollow forms and beads, and changing the color of metals with patinas, plating and pigments together with other related metal working techniques will be covered. Because of the high cost of gold at the moment many students have asked about using gold from old jewelry. There will be an opportunity to work with scrap gold as details on silver jewelry or melting and reusing it in new designs. All gold and gold solder must be supplied by students.

The goal of the workshop is to challenge students to think about adding interest and individualism to their jewelry. By the end of the week students will have experimented with many ideas while making finished pieces of jewelry.

Future Courses

Please check back to learn about future courses. If you have a specific time frame or technique that you want to learn, consider taking an individual study course or arranging a specially scheduled workshop for you and your friends.