For Susan Ibrahim, of Ventnor, beading and making jewelry is more than just stringing beads on a piece of wire - unless, of course, that is your intention.
"You do more intricate work," Ibrahim said. "You basically follow your instincts and what looks good to you - colors, different types of beads and wire. Things just start to take shape."
Ibrahim has been taking jewelrymaking and metalsmithing classes at the Ventnor City Cultural Arts Center with instructor Janet Bodoff, of Ventnor, for about 2½ years. Her first class was a gift for Christmas.
"There's always new things to learn and people to meet and find inspiration from," Ibrahim said.
One of the things that has inspired her came from a spider web she happened upon, when she was outside with her dog.
"I saw a spider spinning a web, and I remembered something my friend had told me about spraying a web with spray paint and lifting it," she said. "I went from doing it with paint to doing it with jewelry."
Bodoff has been instructing classes at the center for "several years," but she says the art of making jewelry never changes. The methods that she employs have been consistent since "Venetian times."
"We just enjoy ourselves," Bodoff said. "It becomes a very Zen-like thing. You focus on the jewelrymaking, and it kind of pushes the rest of the world away."
The classes that are offered at the Ventnor City Cultural Arts Center this fall are beading, beginners metalsmithing (metals one), and intermediate metalsmithing (metals two).
"The metalworking class was the first class that I took with (Bodoff)," Ibrahim said. "How to cut, how to solder ... there are so many different approaches depending on what you like and the tools that you have. The pieces start to take shape."
While some people might be intimidated at the prospect of soldering their own metal, Bodoff insists that the class is beginner-friendly.
"Jewelrymaking helps if you have no hand skills," Bodoff said. "Some people take to it like a fish to water."
Other projects that students undertake are kumihimo Japanese bead weaving, and soldering copper and silver.
Ibrahim says she enjoys turning vintage jewelry pieces that she finds into new pieces by taking them apart and redesigning them to add different things to something that she is already making.
"There's a lot of different things that you can do. And it always helps to have someone who knows their stuff who can expose you to what can be done," Ibrahim said. "It's more than just putting beads on string. But if that's what you like you can do that, too."
The Ventnor City Cultural Arts Center, 6500 Atlantic Ave., offers a variety of classes, such as dance and art. Jewelry and metalsmithing classes begin Sept. 4. For more information, call 609-823-7952 or 609-287-6449.
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