There is a hidden world across the main Fullerton College campus, behind the Wilshire auditorium where the Art Department’s fabrication studio lies.
Michele Van Ry has been teaching the jewelry courses offered at Fullerton College for the past 22 years and supervised the foundry, the workshop for casting metal, for over 15 of those years.
“It’s not new,” Van Ry said, referencing the class that is advertised as a new program in this semester’s class schedule. “It says new because the course number changed.”
The class is designed to have some lecture but it is mostly lab work. Van Ry describes the class as a mini workshop.
“It’s a nice class to have on a Monday morning when you don’t feel like being ‘in class’,” Van Ry said.
The students vary from first-time college students to those working on advancing to their master’s degree.
“I am taking this course as part of the requirements for Art, but I may continue to the certificate program for jewelry,” said Itzel Mercado, art major.
At 60, Carl Brines has been working with jewelry since he was 17. He holds a master’s degree in Art History and is taking courses here to add to his requirements for a master’s in Fine Arts.
Brines was working on one part of a larger design. He explained the smaller pieces will be linked by a chain making a chatelaine, a piece of jewelry that was worn as part of a lady’s dress in sixteenth-century Europe.
The classroom can be intimidating because of the amount of tools that students can work with, including small cutting instruments, hand saws and torches.
Van Ry explains that an art background isn’t needed to succeed in this class.
“When someone is scared of working with the torches, I give them time to get comfortable with it,” Van Ry said. “It’s the same as turning on the stove at home.”
Whether you’re taking this course as a requirement or a hobby, it is clear that students enjoy what they are doing.
For more information on the jewelry fabrication series, see the Fullerton College course catalog.