Metal Clay Qualifications, Training, Classes, Courses and Workshops
In this section you will find everything you need to know about the metal clay training available. All external links open in a new window.
The best place to start if you’re looking for a metal clay teacher is to think about what you want to do with metal clay. Consider the following questions…
Do you want to dip your toe in the water and see if you like working with metal clay? If so look for a teacher who offers taster sessions of maybe a few hours or half a day. By choosing a short taster you can find out if you like working with metal clay and also find out if you like the teachers' training style. This also allows you to see the facility the teacher trains in - is it clean and tidy, well equipped, free from distractions, safe? Can you see yourself enjoying a longer course here?
Do you want to jump right in and learn as much as possible about metal clay in a weekend? There are lots of teachers offering weekend beginners courses in PMC and Art Clay. Have a look at our metal clay training pages to see what’s available in your area. Again, this allows you to find out the teacher's style and their facilities without spending too much money.
Do you want to do a recognised metal clay certification or diploma training course? There are several ways of doing this; Art Clay Certification, PMC Certification or the Diploma in Silver Metal Clay Proficiency. Each of these courses have specific merits so read on to find out the one that’s right for you. This is a more expensive and risky option though. The calibre of the teaching is not linked to the level of training or certification the teacher has.
Finally, do you want to do a qualification that's recognised by colleges, universities or employers, is accredited by a nationally authorised awarding body and is taught by people who are trained teachers and validated by the Adult Education Department? Look at your local Adult Education Department for evening or weekend classes which offer subsidised qualification courses and see if anything suits your needs. The Cornwall School of Art, Craft and Jewellery runs qualification classes which include metal clay in the curriculum in a format which suits local people as well as those travelling from a distance. More information is here.
One thing to bear in mind is that very few teachers delivering metal clay training have had any formal teacher training. This doesn't mean they're bad teachers though.
When someone passes the Art Clay Certification or Diploma, they're authorised to train Art Clay qualification classes but you should be aware that there is no specific teacher training in the Art Clay Certification. There will be a teaching module in the UK/EU Art Clay Diploma curriculum in the future but there is no indication yet of when that will be available. At the moment, someone simply has to prove they can make jewelry items to a consistent standard, NOT that they can then pass that knowledge on to others.
Look carefully at the way the teacher has worded their qualifications. Attending a course isn't the same as passing a course. Studying to certification or diploma level isn't the same as passing the course either.
You might want to ask the teacher what formal teacher training they've had before booking a course with them. Remember though that they may still be an excellent teacher without formal qualifications. Likewise, someone who has teaching qualifications may not be a good teacher!
Make sure the teacher or organisation you intend to train with has valid insurance so you are protected in case of an accident. It's perfectly valid to ask to see the insurance certificate of an organisation before booking training with them.
A really good way to find out the quality of the training is to ask other students who have trained with the teacher. Recommendations from others is a great way to choose a teacher. And a good teacher will be very happy to give you the names of others who have trained with them and should also have testimonials on their website or in their brochure from happy students.
The Cornwall School of Art, Craft and Jewellery are the first training provider in the UK to deliver fully accredited training which includes metal clay in the syllabus. They have partnered with Cornwall Adult Education Department to deliver this qualification which is recognised by employers, colleges and universities. It puts learners on the first step to a foundation degree and is a great choice for people who want to get a fully recognised qualification. The syllabus is on the CSACJ website and includes jewellery design, beading and wirework, glass fusing and silver metal clay.
This runs as an evening class and in three long weekend module blocks. The first classes started in October 2013 and will run every year. This means that those living outside Cornwall can study for the qualification and it is also open to EU Nationals.
The course is subsidised by the Skills Funding Agency so the whole 60 hour course costs less than £300. Plans are underway to run the NCFE Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications in subsequent years as well as running more Level 1 classes.
NCFE is a national Awarding Organisation, passionate about designing, developing and certificating diverse, nationally recognised qualifications and awards. These qualifications contribute to the success of millions of learners at all levels, bringing them closer to fulfilling their personal goals. Last year alone, over 340,000 learners from over 2,000 colleges, schools and training organisations chose NCFE as the Awarding Organisation to help them move their careers forward.
NCFE’s extensive product catalogue includes a wide range of general and vocationally related QCF qualifications in a variety of subject areas, as well as Competence Based qualifications/NVQs, and Functional Skills qualifications.
NCFE is recognised as an Awarding Organisation by the qualification regulators ('regulators') for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The regulators are the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual) in England, the Welsh Government in Wales and the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland.
Art Clay Certification follows a syllabus set by Aida Chemicals, the manufacturer of Art Clay. It is administered by the Art Clay Distributors in each country. Only people who have passed the Art Clay Certification can run classes called "Art Clay Certification".
Art Clay Certification varies between countries. Level 1 Certification requires you to have some basic experience with metal clay, they don’t take complete beginners.
Art Clay Certification is slightly different in each country and the qualification is no longer internationally recognised. This means that if you qualify in the USA, you will not be authorised to teach in the UK/EU and vice versa. Qualifications across the EU will be recognised though.
In order to become a certified instructor, you must successfully complete the courses as laid out in your own country. This course is designed to provide an in-depth knowledge of Art Clay.
In the USA, the Certification curriculum consists of nine different projects taught over 24 hours of instruction (typically three eight hour days), and covers a variety of techniques. Some of the techniques include use of organic forms, creating flat and round-shank rings, addition and firing of gemstones and glass, creating a mirror finish, and much more. This course provides general and technical information, as well as some helpful teaching guidelines.
In the US, there are a total of seven projects taught over 32 hours (typically four eight hour days). This course teaches students to incorporate gold foil, brass, and fine silver bezel wire. It also introduces the use of three-dimensional design, with emphasis on detail and fine finishing. Successful completion of this course entitles you to apply for Senior Instructor Status in the USA.
Art Clay World, USA, approves and certifies instructors into the Senior Instructor community by reviewing an application and examining a selection of three pieces of original work. The pieces submitted must reflect the techniques and skills the individual learned during their Art Clay education, as well as the ability to creatively design original pieces while following guidelines. A non-refundable $200 application fee is also required from anyone submitting for Senior Instructor status.
At Level one in the UK, the curriculum changed on 1st November 2012 to bring it in line with the European curriculum. The name also changed from Certification to Diploma. The Level One course - now called the Level 1 Diploma - is 2-3 days and has six projects. The focus is on technique, precision and finishing pieces to a consistently high standard. In the new curriculum, there is some design freedom in the projects. Once the Level One Diploma is passed, holders can teach introductory/beginners Art Clay classes and project based classes. They will get a 15% discount on buying Art Clay from the official distributors.
In the UK, the Level 2 Senior Certification course curriculum also changed in November 2012 and is now called Level 2 Diploma. The Level 2 Diploma course is designed to provide advanced techniques as well as a creative challenge for the individuals who have completed the Level 1 Diploma.
In the UK and EU, the Level 2 Diploma, covers more advanced techniques and runs over 2.5 - 3 days. Four pieces have to be completed during the course. There is now some design freedom on the pieces. There is a criteria list of all the skills and competencies the instructor is looking for and this has to be completed successfully for the diploma to be awarded. The new curriculum states that Level 1 and Level 2 can now be done back to back or with a break, this is up to the tutor.
Once the Level 2 Diploma is passed, holders can teach introductory/beginners Art Clay classes and project based classes. They will get a 20% discount on buying Art Clay from the official distributors.
The new EU curriculum has introduced a concept called the Higher Diploma. This equates to the previous model which required those who had passed the Level 2 class projects to submit three pieces for evaluation. This step requires that six months have elapsed between taking the Level 1 course and submission of the Higher Diploma pieces. In the new curriculum, these three pieces must be independently designed by the student to specific criteria. They are submitted to a local distributor and evaluated by a panel.
Existing Art Clay senior instructors will still be able to run Level 1 and 2 Certification classes with just the Higher Diploma. After 1st July 2013 when the Teacher's Diploma is introduced, new Higher Diploma holders will have to take this additional level to teach the Art Clay Diploma (see below).
A discount of 30% on buying Art Clay from the official distributors of Art Clay is an advantage of the Higher Diploma.
Also introduced in the November 2012 update for the UK/EU is the Teacher's Diploma. This is still in the planning stages and no news on when this will be brought in is currently available.
Unlike Art Clay, the PMC training syllabus is not dictated by the manufacturer or overseen by the Guild. Anyone can set up their own training and call it PMC Certification, Diploma, Degree or whatever.
PMC Certification classes are defined by the PMC Guild as 'a special kind of class that is based on projects made to conform to a specific and universal standard. The rigorous class covers a wide range of techniques, and includes information on forming, firing, and finishing. Upon successful completion of the three-day class, certified artisans are entitled to certain discounts at the sponsoring company.'
There are two main companies offerering PMC Certification training in the US with a set syllabus; Rio Grande (which began running this certification in 1999) and PMC Connection. These links show you what's included in their training. The syllabus is different for each of them. They have been developed by these companies in conjunction with the manufacturer of PMC, Mitsubishi, although there is no quality control of this training by the manufacturer.
The PMC Connection training is divided into three segments. Part one is a two day class. Part two is a two day class of more advanced techniques. Part three is a two day class and covers even more advanced techniques.
The Rio Grande Certification is a three day class and covers advanced techniques through seven projects. The expectation is that the student for this class has already got quite a bit of experience with metal clay. Click here to find out more about it.
PMC Connection and Rio Grande only allow teachers who have gone through a rigorous selection process to give certification classes. Both PMC Connection and Rio Grande call these teachers senior teachers or instructors. When someone has been trained by these senior teachers they can train introductory or specialised PMC classes - like making rings, beads etc. They cannot certify students to get the discounts though, this can only be done by a senior teacher.
In the UK, there is a certification programme run by The PMC Studio in Chesham, Buckinghamshire. The flexible new style Certification programme allows students to choose the Module they want to do during any Certification session. Suitable for those who have completed the Introduction to PMC or Creative Copper Clay, each module takes two days to complete and is taught in small groups.
The new standard PMC Certification takes 10 hours to complete and has two modules that can be taken as several sessions any time (subject to availability). This course is designed for those looking to perfect their PMC jewellery making skills for pleasure or as a professional jewellery maker.
The extended PMC Certification consists of three modules is for those intending to teach PMC or create more technically complex items. Each module takes 14 hours to complete. Again, each module can be taken in time segments subject to studio availability. The PMC Studio operate a network of PMC Studio Accredited Teaching Centres (ATCs) across the UK. A current list can be found on their website.
In France, PMC Studio France is the only training centre running full certification classes in France and Continental Europe. Wholly independent, their courses are fully recognised by the PMC Guild internationally and the grades of competency exceed the minimum requirements set by the Guild. Their certification courses are modular (three in total), three days long and can be taken in any order. Some of their students complete the full course over nine days, some spread them out over several months, others complete them as part of a learning holiday.
Wild Designs Jewellery Making Diploma - Chester, Cheshire, UK
Diploma course with four levels. On successful completion you will be entitled to use the letters WDJ Dip after your name.
Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery Silver Metal Clay Diploma - Cornwall, UK
This course is only run by the Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery. It has no association with any supplier of metal clay.
The Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery has a home study metal clay course.
Hadar Jacobson announced she will be introducing an accreditation program for her own brand of Bronze and Copper clays. This will be by invitation only and will launch in 2014.