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Metal Clay Training, Classes, Courses and Workshops

by Julia Rai (2011)

In this section you will find everything you need to know about the metal clay training available including the following topics...

  • Metal Clay Teaching Code of Practice
  • Art Clay Certification
  • PMC Certification
  • PMC Diploma
  • MCSJ Silver Metal Clay Diploma
  • MCSJ Silver Metal Clay Diploma Home Study Course
  • Higher Metal Clay Diploma

Guidance on Choosing a Metal Clay Teacher

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. There is also now the Higher Metal Clay Diploma. 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.

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 at both levels, they're authorised to train Art Clay Certification classes but you should be aware that there is no specific teacher training in the Art Clay Certification. 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.

The Silver Metal Clay Diploma, currently only running in the UK, includes a training module which teaches lesson planning and learning theory. It also requires the trainee teachers to plan and deliver a training session and only trainees who pass this are awarded the full Diploma.

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!

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 PMC Guild has a facility for PMC Guild members to list their classes. It also allows students to rate their experience with the teacher. Anyone can add a review, you don't have to be a member of the PMC Guild to review your experience with a teacher. We'd encourage you to leave a review of the teacher you've trained with. This is really helpful for others to see when they're trying to choose a teacher. We'd also encourage you to look at the reviews of any teachers you are considering training with.

Metal Clay Teaching Code of Practice

The Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery have introduced a teaching Code of Practice which all their Diploma Support Centres have signed up to. For the first time, students have peace of mind when choosing a metal clay training provider. All the MCSJ Diploma Support Centres have committed to deliver metal clay training offering students a safe and supportive class experience. When you choose an authorised Support Centre for your metal clay training, you can be sure you will get value for money and experienced metal clay teachers with brand neutral qualifications.

Art Clay Certification

Art Clay Certification follows a syllabus set by Aida Chemicals, the manufacturer of Art Clay. It is administered by the Art Clay Guilds in each country. Only people who have passed the Art Clay Certification can run classes called "Art Clay Certification".

Art Clay Certification has two levels. Level 1 Certification requires you to have some basic experience with metal clay, they don’t take complete beginners. It’s an intense course normally run over three days.

At Level 1, a number of projects have to be completed exactly as they are specified in the Art Clay Beginners Book. The focus is on technique, precision and finishing pieces to a consistently high standard. On this course there is no design freedom in the projects. One major advantage is that the course includes a very comprehensive toolkit and all the materials needed including silver findings.

Once Level 1 Certification is passed, holders can teach beginners Art Clay classes and normally get a small discount on buying Art Clay from the official distributors of Art Clay. Level 1 Certification holders can call themselves Art Clay Level 1 Instructors.

Level 2 Certification covers more advanced techniques and runs over four days. In the UK, you have to wait six months from the date of your Level 1 Certification before you can take the Level 2 class.

A number of pieces have to be completed during the course. Like the Level 1 Certification, the Level 2 projects have to be completed exactly as they are specified in the Art Clay Advanced Book. There is no 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 certification to be awarded, together with three pieces made after the course which are submitted and evaluated by a panel. Like the Level 1 Certification, the course includes more items to add to the toolkit and all the materials needed including silver findings. A bigger discount on buying Art Clay from the official distributors of Art Clay is an advantage of the qualification. UK buyers should check out the other UK suppliers for discounts before attending a course offering this. There are suppliers in the UK who offer discounts to anyone with no requirement to attend courses.

In the USA, France and the UK, passing Level 2 and submitting three original pieces qualifies you to apply for Senior Instructor status. Once approved, you can then teach Level 1 and 2 certification classes.

PMC Certification

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 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 - click here to see what is covered in this class. Part two is a two day class of more advanced techniques - click here to see what's covered in this class. 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, certification is run by The PMC Studio in Chesham, Buckinghamshire. It is structured in three modules that can be taken in any order. All are three day courses. The PMC Studio operate a network of PMC Studio Accredited Teaching Centres (ATCs) across the UK. A current list can be found in the back of Fine Silver magazine or 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.

In Australia, there are four levels available for PMC Certification. Taught by Senior Instructor May Bartrum, this workshop will allow people to teach at an introductory level and to receive a discount of 10% on purchases of PMC.

The PMC Guild supports the development of Certification programmes. Anyone can set up a certification programme for PMC provided they follow the guidelines from the PMC Guild. The following is taken from the PMC Guild website:-

"The PMC Guild is an international member-based organization whose mission is to promote, support, and encourage PMC activities. Consistent with its educational mission, the Guild has created this list of minimum requirements to help schools, teachers, and others develop certification programs. This list is offered as a starting point, with the assumption that companies and individuals will tailor their program to their specific market, perhaps adding additional items to this list. "

To see the PMC Guild's minimum requirements referred to above, click here. The Guild will recognise a teacher who is following these guidelines and they will be allowed to display the Guild logo on their marketing material and website. No formal teacher training is required to deliver this training and the Guild have no control over the quality of the training.

PMC Diploma

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.

MCSJ Silver Metal Clay Diploma

Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery Silver Metal Clay Diploma - Cornwall, UK

This independent, brand neutral qualification is only run by the Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery and supported by a network of Diploma Support Centres in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Austria, Germany and Greece. It has no association with any supplier of metal clay and also includes an element of silverwork, allowing students to make their own silver findings. The course includes working with both brands of silver metal clay.

The course is recognised by the PMC Guild International and the grades of competency greatly exceed the minimum requirements suggested by the PMC Guild. Teachers training this Diploma all have formal teaching qualifications as well as many years of experience working with metal clay.

Competency Certificates are awarded at each grade to successful students. Once the student has passed all four grades, their name will be registered and displayed on the Diploma Graduates page of the Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery website. Upon completion of all four grades, artists will be entitled to use the registered letters after their names. For example, Mary Maker, MCSJ Dip. MC.

There are four grades which have to be completed to gain the full qualification. Grade 1 is for complete beginners and is a two day course covering the basics of working with metal clay. Students make at least two pairs of earrings, two pendants, two beads and a shell charm.

Grade 2 is for intermediate level students and is three days. This covers more complex projects and students make at least two pendants, a ring, three pairs of earrings and a charm.

The Grade 3 class is two days and covers very advanced projects including three pairs of earrings, two brooches and a silver box bead.

There are two routes to follow at Grade 4. One is the metal clay teaching module, the other is the metal clay Design and Construction module. Students can complete one of these modules for the full diploma. They are able to take both modules at Grade 4 if they wish.

The two day metal clay teaching module covers lesson planning, learning theory and what makes a good class. Essential business topics like insurance and health and safety are also discussed. Students have to prepare and deliver a short training session to allow the teacher to assess their training skills and they have a metal clay knowledge test which must be passed.

The two day metal clay Design and Construction module covers the principles and elements of design. With this information in mind students construct an advanced project to their own design and take part in a group critique of each persons work. This class will suit students who want to progress to a higher level in their artistic and technical abilities.

MCSJ Silver Metal Clay Diploma Home Study Course

The Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery have launched the world's first home study metal clay qualification. Their highly regarded Silver Metal Clay Diploma launches as a home study course on 1st September. The Diploma Grade 1 will be available to pre-order from their website here, sent out after 1st September.

School Director Lisa Cain explains why they developed the Diploma into a home study programme. “The MCSJ Diploma is widely acknowledged as the most thorough and comprehensive metal clay qualification in the world. We know from our email and post that many people would love to study the Diploma but have work or family commitments that prevent them travelling to study with us. So we decided to take the Diploma to them!”

“People can study at their own pace and at a time that suits them. This allows them to fit it around their own commitments. The course consists of two 90 minute DVDs.” Lisa explained. “One contains me teaching all the basic metal clay skills and knowledge just as we do in the live training. The other has a detailed tutorial of each project in which I demonstrate the techniques. All the tips and tricks we give students in our live training is on the DVDs. There are detailed project notes and illustrations on CD in the pack also.”

We asked Lisa what else is in the Home Study pack. “We’ve included all the materials required to make the projects. This includes PMC3, PMC+, PMC Standard and Art Clay 650 lump clay, a metal clay syringe, cork clay, moulding compound and all the resources you need.” Lisa explained. “A complete tool kit isn’t included to keep the cost down but we will give students a list of the tools they require and students can buy a tool kit from us if necessary.”

The cost of the Home Study Grade 1 course will be £350.

The course is also supported by a network of Diploma Support Centres around the UK and in Ireland, Austria, Greece, Spain and Germany. All these Centres have signed up to a Teaching Code of Practice to give students peace of mind when choosing metal clay training from them.

The Higher Metal Clay Diploma

This Diploma is only run by the Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery. The independent Higher Metal Clay Diploma integrates the following three segments:

This Diploma should not be confused with any other metal clay certification or qualification. This training stands alone for quality and depth.

No other course gives such a broad hands-on education covering all types of metal clay. You can study for this qualification gradually and each of the individual segments can stand alone as a significant achievement.

If you already have the MCSJ Silver Metal Clay Diploma you can simply ‘bolt on’ the additional Art Clay and Bronze Clay classes to progress to the Higher Metal Clay Diploma.

If you have the Art Clay Certification from another teacher, on production of your certificates you will be credited with this portion of the Higher Diploma.

Thanks to our friend Julia Rai for taking the time to pull all of this data together into a well thought out document.  Please check with all references to make sure information is all up-to-date!

Last updated on Fri, January 13, 2012 by Metal Clay Guru