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. Once the workshop starts there is no refund.

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.


Students who do bead work and make jewelry with Precious Metal Clay often Do Not have the metal working experience to sign up for intermediate and advanced workshops. A knowledge of soldering, stone setting, and basic fabrication techniques is essential to be able to work on silver jewelry.

Courses are set up so that students go home with finished pieces of jewelry. That means the students do not just watch the instructor doing demonstrations or make finished pieces of jewelry for them. Jewelry making requires participation and the instructor is there to help students design and explain how to make things, and not to construct projects for them.


Introduction to Jewelry Design

A workshop emphasizing an in–depth study learning the basics of designing and fabricating jewelry in a supportive atmosphere. Students become familiar with all of the essential techniques, including sawing, cutting, filing, stamping, texturing, roller embossing, forming, finishing & polishing, riveting, and cold connections, as well as an opportunity to work with wire, fusing, soldering, stone setting, 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 of design and technique by making things. It is necessary for each student to experience taking a concept and then follow through by making finished pieces.

Intermediate Jewelry Design

This workshop is suitable for students who want to acquire more advanced technical knowledge … It concentrates on adding more texture, depth, and volume to jewelry designs by further exploring techniques, such as reticulation, gold overlay, embossing, corrugating, fold forming, texturing and construction of complex pieces of jewelry using more advanced soldering and stone setting techniques. Talks on design and an introduction to construction of simple mechanisms will be included. Coordinating a thoughtful construction approach with a choice of conscious design elements will be emphasized. 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, Soldering and 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!

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 setting irregular–shaped gems, setting stones from the back, modifying channel settings, how to hold a stone in partial settings, tension settings, riveting stones, use of cold connections 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 several pieces of jewelry using newly acquired skills.

Ring Design

You will learn many approaches to designing and fabricating rings, including band, u–shaped, t–shaped, hollow, rings with moving parts, hinged, expandable, fused, h–shaped rings and many more … Students will also learn about tension settings, cutouts, and rings with elements that move in a variety of ways. Challenges involving different sizing methods for each type of ring will be reviewed. Each day a different type of ring or group of rings will be featured and hopefully finished that day so students can concentrate on the next shape the following day. Students will go home with 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 of earrings that catch the light, shimmer and move. Are they too big? Too heavy? Facing the wrong way? Questions that need to be answered. Soldering many small pieces used to construct 3–dimensional shapes and ways to protect tiny moving parts so they stay mobile is sometimes a trick. Creating hollow forms, balance, weight, and comfort all come into play. Earrings are the #1 best–selling pieces of jewelry. Take advantage of the opportunity to design production line pieces or concentrate on special “one of a kind ideas!

Introduction to Jewelry Design Made Easy

A course featuring a different approach to teaching an introduction to jewelry design to 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, a pendant designed with a specially constructed bail and a fused or textured ring. Guidelines will be given on possible projects but students will be encouraged to make their designs reflect their own taste by injecting their personal style into each project. An option to set stones on each piece of jewelry will be available. Learning the skills of soldering and practicing a variety of construction techniques is emphasized. Students will take home four finished pieces of jewelry!

Basic Metalworking Techniques for Beaders

Want to go beyond beading and add some of your own design details in metal? This is the course for you! Don’t just use manufactured components. Learn the basics with simple tools that can safely be use in your home based studio. It is not necessary to have a large number of tools to achieve great results. You will learn how to cut, polish, texture, and color metals including copper, brass and silver. Cold connection including rivets and simple soldering will allow you to join pieces of metal and then combine innovative coloring techniques like patinas and metal leaf for a unique effect. Bring ideas and beading projects that need to have a fresh approach and we will work to make them spectacular.

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. Men find practical designs that can be worn every day and for any occasion most appealing. Belt buckles, bolos and bracelets use especially designed catches and mechanisms reviewed in demonstrations. Sequence in the way larger pieces are made is essential to successful construction. Comfort is the key word. in design.

Jump Start Your Creativity

Have you learned metalsmithing techniques years ago and find you want a good review to start making jewelry again? If you are already making jewelry and feel your ideas are stale or maybe you have realized your techniques are dated this may also be for you. Come and play with new things and Jump Start Your Creativity!

Making jewelry and trying to develop new design ideas over a long period of time often seems like hard work and of course it is work! Allowing yourself to experiment with a new approach can be fun and life changing. You will make jewelry and explore thought processes you may not have considered before. This will be done with silver and traditional materials and will not just be a conceptual exercise. Come work with me and start out with techniques like direct poured cast textures, hammered and formed shapes and using heat induced surfaces and shapes to relax into a new form of expression. Explore use of photographing and photocopying elements of your designs to record and experiment with extending an idea. The resulting design ideas will amaze you!

Necklace, Pendant and Locket Design

Emphasis on a focused examination of ways to construct necklaces, including information on setting unusual shaped stones, hinging and mechanisms will inspire ideas. Lockets evoke additional mystery and romance because they are hollow construction and may contain a message, sacred objects, or secret meaning. Handmade catches, chains, and linking devices contribute special meaning to the wearer. The course promises more ideas than you can possibly make in a week! A total design approach will be used to make simple and complex necklaces, emphasizing communication of design concepts, methods of making jewelry more dimensional and giving elements movement and individuality.

Designing Bracelets

Take time out of your busy schedule to explore creative solutions for making cuff, linked, and hinged bracelets. Add especially made catches and mechanisms that compliment your designs. Use of stamping, roller embossing, fusing, reticulation, anticlastic raising, forging, stone setting or simple inlay, and a variety of other fabrication techniques will all work separately or in combination. The current trend is stacking groups of different textures and widths. Add color by including stones and patinas. Tips will be given for efficiently soldering hinges and making box catches that work and are easy to construct. Examples of other catches and mechanisms will be demonstrated to add style and individualism to your designs.

Designing Catches and Mechanisms

Upgrade the designs of your jewelry by adding findings specifically made for a particular piece. Commercial catches have not changed for decades and often are not the right size and do not compliment contemporary designs. The workshop focuses on making samples that can be modified later and used in pieces of jewelry you make in the future No matter how experienced you are you will improve your soldering methods by making a variety of catches. 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.

Making Jewelry Including Special Mechanisms and Unusual Design Features

This mechanism designing workshop goes beyond the other mechanism class I offer where that course focuses on making mechanism samples to be used later… Students will choose and design especially for the jewelry they will make during the class. Design and construction methods will be examined in detail.

The Total Approach in Design and Construction — Individual Study

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 Design, Inlay, and Stone Setting Techniques — Individual Study

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.

Intermediate Jewelry Design #2 - Questions and Answers

A course designed for students who want stimulating 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.