Students learn to craft jewelry in special class

David Kitsmiller was covered in wax shavings Thursday afternoon as he helped Grand Haven High School senior Erika Broas take excess wax from the blank cylinder onto which she would carve her ring design. Broas grasped the Dremel she was using to cut away the wax. It was her first time using the tool, she said, and learning it was one of the many things she gained by taking a jewelry class at the high school with Kitsmiller and Susan McElfish, an art teacher at the school.
Jordan Travis
Apr 16, 2011


Designs by the students will be displayed today at RK Jewelers, 124 Washington Ave., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Kitsmiller said. The public is invited to vote on their favorite design, and the winner will receive a $50 gift certificate for use at the jewelry store.

Kitsmiller has been teaching the class since 2002, when he called the high school about arranging a partnership, he said. He had a similar arrangement in Key West, Fla., where he also owned jewelry stores.

Students have the option of making a ring or pendant through a process called lost-wax casting, Kitsmiller said. The jewelry is made by drawing a design on paper, gluing the paper onto wax and carving the wax away around the design. The wax is then put into plaster and baked to melt it away, creating molds in the shape of the wax. Silver is then poured into the molds, and the result is polished into finished jewelry.

The class has drawn a lot of interest with students, McElfish said. She has had enough requests from students that there may be a second one next year, McElfish said.

Jacob Hemmeke, 17, was also working on carving his wax blank. “It’s just kind of a random pattern,” he said of the geometric shapes on his drawing.

Hemmeke said he enjoyed the class because he likes to do “art stuff.” He was also about to start work on a glass mural.

Chelsey Bassett, 17, was also working on a ring. She said she especially liked the project.

“I think this one’s amazing,” she said. “It’s the biggest project we’ve done so far.”

The jewelry will also be displayed at the school’s art fair starting Thursday, McElfish said.


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