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Interview with instructor Dale Hernsdorf

Jewelry 5

We are pleased to announce a new instructor to our program. Dale Hernsdorf will be teaching Handmade Jewelry I this summer, and is looking forward to bringing her personal style and skill set to the classroom.

We spoke with Dale about her background in jewelry design, and her personal aesthetic. To see more samples of her work, visit www.dalehernsdorf.com.

What drew you to jewelry design and how did you get started?
I’ve always had an interest in both the fine and decorative arts. At Wesleyan University I majored in painting, studied photography, and took my first silversmithing class. I worked as a photographer and a graphic designer after graduation, but was always interested in metalworking. I took a couple of classes at The New School in New York City, and then in 1997 I took this very class here at UCLA Extension. I continued studying with Master Goldsmith Ralph Goldstein in his studio, fine tuning the techniques I’ll be teaching here in Handmade Jewelry I.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it.
I’ve been commissioned to create many different pieces of jewelry, and have always enjoyed the process of working with my clients. But recently the husband of one of my best friends in college contacted me from Charleston, South Carolina, and asked me to create a bracelet for a special occasion. Designing the piece involved solving a number of technical issues, as my friend is a serious athlete and it was important that the piece be substantial, every-day-wearable, and close with a toggle clasp that would under no circumstances come accidentally undone. I crafted an 18kt gold and yellow sapphire triple-chain bracelet joined by a unique X-shaped toggle that relies on bilateral tension as it drapes around the wrist to stay closed. I always love the design process, and solving problems in a beautiful way is richly satisfying. This piece not only suits my client’s personality, aesthetic and life style, but also pushed me creatively.

What can students expect from the Handmade Jewelry class?
We will be working in fine silver, which is more pure than sterling and gleams like platinum. I’ll teach the basic skills of hand fabrication: drilling, sawing, filing and soldering; pulling wire and making tubing; making prong and bezel settings; setting stones; and finishing. A series of projects is designed to build a foundation of these fundamentals, which can be applied, with further practice on one’s own or with more advanced study, to the creation of pieces like those of mine shown here.

Any advice for designers just starting out?
Stay true to your own aesthetic. Take note of what you’re drawn to, and consider why. Notice how things are constructed, proportions, and the relationships between parts. And ALWAYS carry a sketchbook. Inspiration hits in random and surprising moments.

Jewelry 4

Jewelry 3

Jewelry 2

Jewelry 1

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