Tucked away in a leafy garden in Lindfield, West Sussex, is the workshop of designer jeweller Debbie Smith.
After training at Sir John Cass School of Art, Debbie went onto work in the jewellery trade in London as both a designer and jeweller. After moving down to Sussex with their two young children in 2000, she and her husband Dennis Smith, a practising silversmith, set up a workshop in an old outbuilding, and converted it into a lovely fully equipped, bright studio space with space for five jewellery benches. Debbie completed a PGCE teaching qualification at Worthing in 2006 and since then has run short jewellery courses for up to four people, catering for all levels from beginners to advanced. All tools are provided and students are encouraged to work on their own designs, while Debbie teaches you the skills to create those pieces. Rather than having to follow a set syllabus the classes enable you to develop your own individuality and style. Classes are small and friendly, and everyone works at their own pace and level which means that there is a huge variety of creative skills and ideas. When a student is being taught a new skill, Debbie encourages the rest of the class to watch and get involved. The atmosphere is relaxed and the workshop is the perfect environment to be making jewellery.
“One day Beginners Courses are aimed at those with no previous experience but eager to try out a new skill,” said Debbie. “On a typical day, students will get the chance to experiment with silver wire to produce a simple ring and a pair of earrings to take home. I also offer a six week course for beginners. The classes are held either morning or afternoons. During the six weeks, students will learn how to use a piercing saw, files, hammers, mandrills, doming punches, rolling mills and a soldering torch. You will make and size a silver band ring and a silver pendant. At the end of the course you will a have a good basic knowledge of jewellery skills. All courses offer a great environment to develop your creativity and do something fun with like-minded people! Intermediate and Advanced sessions are also available.”
Some of Debbie’s students have been with her for over five years, which is testament to her teaching! Others have been inspired to set up their own jewellery bench from home and have started their own small business selling their jewellery.
As one student summed it up, “the Jewellery Workshop is a special little gem which continues to give me so much enjoyment…” Classes are held Tuesdays to Fridays, morning and afternoon sessions are available, and fit in with school terms. During the summer holidays, One Day taster courses are offered.
For more details please call Debbie on 01444 483138 or 0777 588 4990, or log onto the website: www.thejewellery-workshop.co.uk
Debbie enjoys creating her own work, which she sells locally. “I usually work in silver but am happy to work in gold – whenever I get the chance! I love to experiment with shape and form and create pieces that are tactile and easy to wear, I also combine my jewellery with semi-precious stones. I am happy to design and make individual pieces to order and my work can be seen at The Toll House in Lindfield and The Green Tree Gallery, Borde Hill.”