There are many jewelry classes offered in the Baltimore region. Still, many of them are for beginners, and the focus is usually a simple beaded project or a wire wrapped bead.
Finding affordable classes/instruction that offer more is difficult.
The Baltimore Jewelry Center is a great resource, but the cost is high, and the location is iffy. They are on North Avenue, in a refurbished theater building. The interior of the building and the shop space are very handsome, but parking is an issue, and the neighborhood is dangerous.
The Jewelry Center is also stuck in a rut when it comes to the class format. They want to compete with college-level offerings, and so they devote too much time chatting/lecturing and showing poor quality slides. The reason for this time-waster may be that if you want to work on a project on-site, you must rent bench time at $10 per hour!!
In the Woodberry neighborhood, the Gem Cutters Guild’s focus is on cabochon cutting, but they also offer metalworking classes. The group members are somewhat disorganized, though, and so the offerings are few and far between. It is worth taking their metalworking class because student members who have passed this can attend open shop– after paying a meager annual fee that is under $100! A better deal by far than the Jewelry Center.
There are still lots of processes and equipment that the two local shops do not offer. One is a reasonably priced machine to melt silver and other metals. Melting silver with an acetylene/oxygen torch is laborious and sometimes dangerous. With an electric pot like the one below, it is possible to melt larger quantities and also have a safe way to pour the molten metal into your mold. This item is pretty affordable at under $400.
I will probably purchase a cheaper model, hoping that it does the job and lasts a couple of years.
The model above lists for under $170 and has very good reviews on Amazon. The one hitch is that you have to use propane, but the company advises using a small butane tank like the ones that you can purchase in a hardware store. Not as cumbersome and dangerous as using a larger tank, like my acetylene set up. The Deluxe Mini Kwik Kiln Propane Furnace includes the kiln, tongs, Anhydrous Borax, 2 crucibles, and a graphite ingot mold. You can melt gold, silver, copper, brass and aluminum in this furnace, all that I’ll need in my studio. PMC Supplies offers this on Amazon, a reliable company that always stands by their products.