Jewelry-Making & Arts Integration


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In this presentation I approach jewelry-making from the perspective of an arts integration teacher. I found a number of connections to math, science, English and social-studies. Additionally, I developed "educational empathy" by stepping into the shoes of being a student.

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Jewelry-Making & Arts Integration

  1. 1. I was challenged to learn an art that was new to me. I have sung, played instruments, danced and acted. That left VISUAL ART! But how did I get to jewelry making… My mother, the photographer and babysitter, limited my choice of arts to something SHE was also interested in. I wanted to take a formal art lesson from someone I didn’t know to have an Artists make jewelry, so authentic beginner’s jewelry could be considered a experience. form of three dimensional art: line, shape, color, texture…
  2. 2. As I approached my class, I considered the importance of the visual arts in education. Imagination and expression are great sources for engaging and motivating students in education (Margolis & McCabe, 2006). Beauty is a source of imagination that never dries up (Moore, 1998).
  3. 3. ABeader’sColor Palette Beads were organized by color, texture and material. This was important for when I was looking to add beads to my work.
  4. 4. round-nose pliers (for bending, molding flush cutters The Tools of and shaping the wire) the Trade My arts experience was rich with new chain-nose pliers vocabulary and (for holding and smashing) terms. The instructor included geography by discussing the best suppliers of these items (Pakistan and Germany). Then a student brought up the political problems in Pakistan (social studies tie-in). project board Did you know that chain-nose pliers differ from needle-nose pliers in that their interior surfaces are smooth?
  5. 5. Project 1: Design a pattern for a bracelet. The “seed beads” fell sideways as I worked, so I had to estimate the length of my project taking the difference in length into account when they were finally strung on wire in their correct orientation. seed beads Unfortunately, I was given colors to work with. Darn. The zero is where the “focal point” of the piece goes.
  6. 6. Beginning: I knew I wanted the rectangle to be the focal point, and considered placements for contrasting round beads. Middle: I decided to work sections (dark-light-dark) and the overall pattern (dark-light- dark). End: I added a white bead in the center of each section to provide continuity between sections. As we worked, I overheard a neighboring student say, “I modeled mine after the pattern on a king snake.” What a great idea!
  7. 7. As you can see, the finished project shortened when the seed beads were in vertical alignment. To finish the bracelet, I used the chain-nose pliers to attach the “split ring” and “spring ring” to opposite ends. This formed a “clasp.” Did you know the wire used by beaders was developed by NASA for their space program? My students would have a field-day researching the science and physics links behind how the wire and crimp beads work. A crimp bead holds the wire in place using microscopic barbs!
  8. 8. Project 2: Design The beaded charm is abeaded charmfor a built on this “eye pin.” necklace. Here I am using the round-nose pliers to make the top link of the charm. Did you know that round-nose pliers aren’t perfect cones? They are elongated in the middle to provide more space for making links. But from the perspective of the naked eye, they look like true cones! What an interesting geometry puzzle. I would have fun proving this mathematically.
  9. 9. Although I was not limited by colors for this project, I decided to continue the pattern I started on the bracelet. I chose a gold flower charm because the brown and gold seed beads reminded me of the earth. To complete this project, I used the flush cutters to cut the “tail” of wire off, attached a chocolate brown cord and attached a “jump ring” and “spring ring” to make the clasp (not shown). Did you know the more you bend metal the more brittle it gets? That’s why you have to make the first (and only) bend count.
  10. 10. Each earring is built on this Project 3: Design “flat pin.” earrings to complete the set. Of the three tasks, this one proved to be the hardest for me. The original focal bead from the bracelet wasn’t available, so many people made earrings unrelated to their bracelet or necklace. I finally discovered a bead with similar texture and color to the bracelet’s rectangular bead, except it was round. This worked well with my set because I used contrasting spherical beads in the bracelet.
  11. 11. This was the focal bead from the bracelet I was trying to match. To make these earrings, I built the project on the eye pin. I started with the focal bead, then added a gold ring to tie in the gold from both the bracelet and necklace. After that I added a section of the seed beads to match the other two pieces. I used the round-nose pliers to make the finishing link, and trimmed the tail with the flush cutters. Finally, I connected the pieces to hooks using the chain-nose pliers. I had such a sensory and vocabulary rich experience, that I would be able to write about it with great, descriptive details.
  12. 12. The completed set. Not only did I learn beginning beading, but I discovered many ways to integrate and apply math, science, English and social studies. As an educator, I also developed “educational empathy.” It is important to step into the shoes of a student to remind me of what it is like learning something new (Pickreign, 2006).
  13. 13. Here’s what I experienced learning a new art, so I can infer that my students might experience similar things…
  14. 14. References Margolis, H., & McCabe, P. (2006). Improving Self-Efficacy and Motivation: What to Do, What to Say. Intervention in School & Clinic, 41(4), 218-227. Retrieved February 20, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database. Moore, T. (1998). Care of the soul: How to add depth and meaning to your everyday life. New York: Harper Collins. Pickreign, J. (2006) Alternative Base Arithmetic Activities to Develop Teacher Empathy for Mathematics Concept Development. On-Math (5)1. Retrieved April 1, 2009 from