Online education in jewelry making is a tough proposition. Learning a new casting method or beading technique by watching it from a single angle on a small screen can be difficult—even impossible. And should you have questions or want feedback, you’re essentially out of luck.
But Mastered, a new “maker”-focused website based in London, aims to take the frustration and confusion out of learning new skills in jewelry and other creative arts.
Instructors from the Holts Academy of Jewellry teaching a Mastered course (courtesy of Mastered).
The site launched this week with seven courses—four on jewelry fabrication—taught by craftspeople hailing from some of the U.K.’s most lauded artisan-based companies and educational institutions. The Casting Jewelry at Home course is taught by instructors from London’s Holts Academy of Jewellry; British jewelry designer Debbie Carlton helms the Foundations in Metal Clay Jewellry class; world-renowned textile artist Gilda Baron helms the Machine-Embroidered Jewelry workshop; and expert dyer Helen Neale, and jewelry maker Anna Alicia teach students how to make gorgeous textile-based jewelry.
Each class is composed of four modules, with video-based learning dominating, but independent projects are also included. “You work through the series of modules at your own pace,” explains Mastered’s creative director, Perri Lewis. “The first module might be a video, then we might send you an exercise to do. And with the videos, you can always go back and rewind and pause.”
Textile jewelry from instuctor Anna Alicia, who teaches these techniques in her Mastered course (courtesy of Mastered).
Every educational session taped for the site has been shot with three different cameras, showcasing a trio of perspectives. And yes, there is a super-close-up zoom that allows users to see, with unquestionable detail, just how the instructor is doing things. “We film exceptionally close,” says Lewis, adding, “if you were in a classroom, you’d never be able to get that close.” Also helpful: Classes are filmed with instuctors working with a real student—who, Lewis notes, often has the same questions as someone watching in Indiana or Boston might.
Additionally, when you sign up for a course (special pricing for the launch starts at $95 a class), you have email-based access to the instructor, and a Facebook-style feed of questions and answers posted by other students/teachers who have taken, or are currently taking, the class.
Also, you can upload photos of your project, in progress or when finished, for feedback from the instructor. “You can say, ‘This piece I’ve just cast, this bit went wrong—what did I do?’ ” says Lewis.
The site also strives to connect makers‚ both veteran and newbie, with industry opportunities. For example, enrollment in one of the jewelry classes comes with a guarantee that a fashion editor from one of the U.K.’s top fashion publications will see your work (she will be writing about her favorites in a column).
“We’re trying to bring [quality] creative education to people in a way that fits into their lives, and then balance that with industry opportunities,” says Lewis. “We have big plans.”