“I love watching that fear melt away after they light the torch for the first time and seeing them become empowered and inspired by the new skills they acquire in our classes.” - Courtney
10 years in, Courtney has started a makers movement in Austin empowering thousands to be confident in the craft of jewelry. From a private studio, Courtney’s Creative Side Jewelry Academy now hosts more than 60 instructors and 200 classes a year for all levels. As the business grew, one thing remained. Her passion and the same perseverance it took for her to make Creative Side a reality - every piece of work that leaves Courtney’s workshop is a story about life and the people that made them. What is a jewelry? What does it mean to make one yourself? How do you make it as a crafter and design business?
Read about Austin Jewelry Artist & Verlocal Host, Courtney’s story today and a story of the rarest gem in the making - giving passion.
- Can you introduce yourself and tell us about the classes that you offer through Verlocal?
Creative Side Jewelry Academy was born in 2006 when I decided to open up my private studio to students who wanted to learn about the craft of jewelry. We now have over 60 instructors and 200 classes a year for all levels. The intention of Creative Side is to provide a comfortable, fun, professional and creatively inspiring studio space where anyone can come learn, begin and build a skill set and career in the ever expanding craft of jewelry making and metalsmithing. With Verlocal, we give students the opportunity to try one of our introductory courses, Simple Series, ranging from ring making to blacksmithing.
- When did you first become interested/passionate in jewelry art?
I began my art career as a sculptor working in large scale metals, welding and working with glass. I then learned lost wax casting while working at a manufacturing company here in Austin. I discovered that jewelry was a form of wearable sculpture and I could create these small scale sculptures that people could wear and adorn themselves with. Most of my custom work is repurposing family heirlooms and creating wedding rings and engagement rings. There is something so special about creating these important symbols for people and working with them one on one to bring their ideas to fruition. We also have the honor of hosting couples who want to create their own wedding bands and jewelry in www.Forged Together.com.This is one of our favorite things to host!
- Where does your inspiration come from? What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?
My goal is to provide accessible courses that teach real skills at the bench. Whether you are a serious hobbyist, looking for employment with a jeweler or planning to start your own business, our curriculum will get you proficient in the craft. I hand pick our instructors who will provide true expertise, tricks and amazing tips to create ease at the bench for students. We want to make sure our classes are accessible to all of those with interest.
- How would you describe the link between your classes and the community around you?
Austin is full of artists and musicians and being open for 10 years we have fostered a local jewelry community and love watching it grow. The Creative Side family has flourished over the years and now hosts master instructors from all over the world, year round, right here in Austin. With over 200 courses a semester, students from all over the world come to immerse themselves in the studio and get hands-on with instructors.
- How long have you been living in Austin? What would you recommend to someone who just moved to this city?
I have been in Austin for 19 years and this is my city! I love the energy and creativity that the city attracts. There is something going on here all the time whether you like nature, live music, theater, creative workshops, like what we offer, there is something on every corner in austin. I would suggest checking out the bats that fly out from under the congress bridge and walking up Congress Avenue to explore the shops. There is so much to do here, be sure to schedule enough time to get the true feel of the city and its surrounding towns.
- Tell us about the favorite moment/story you’ve had between you and your students when you were teaching your classes.
My favorite moments are those when students find that they can accomplish way more than they thought. There is a lot of doubt and fear that can sneak in when you are taking risk and trying something new. I love watching that fear dissolves after they light the torch for the first time and seeing them become empowered and inspired by the new skills they acquire in our classes. We see people leave with huge smiles and beautiful creations. It is the best part about teaching.
- What is your favorite piece of work & story behind it?
One of my favorite pieces I have been able to create is an engagement ring set for a young couple. He proposed in the moment with a twist tie around her finger and they wanted an organic styled ring to reflect that in white gold with a pink sapphire. It was so much fun and very natural to create as I love working in organic forms. They absolutely loved the set and it matched their vision perfectly. This always makes my day!
- What are your goals for the future?
I see a bigger picture always….my big grand vision is to combine our 2 locations Creative Side Jewelry Academy and Metal Works into a larger facility. This would enable us to expand and serve our creative community even more. This facility would provide workshops in everything we offer and more including forging, welding, jewelry and more sculpture!
- Any recommendations to someone who wants to pursue their passion for a career?
I tell students who are trying to launch a career in this craft or any craft, perseverance is huge! Dive in and be willing to take risks and put yourself out there. Be confident about your skills and stand behind your work solidly. People will see that and want a part of that and a piece of your work. You must believe in yourself first and don’t give up no matter how discouraged you feel. There are always road humps on any new path. Keep getting up and trying new things, work on your business every day and it will grow and thrive. Also I’m a big believer that we are never done learning, always be open to change, growth and trying new things.
- What does Verlocal mean to you?
We love that Verlocal is creating a format to connect those who are desiring a creative outlet with the artisans providing them. We are all about community and spreading the awareness of theses experiences and opportunities to grow as artists and individuals through making.
Share your favorite piece of jewelry and story behind! Or, ask any questions you have for Courtney. Comment below before January 12, 2017 and one lucky commenter will receive a FREE class taught by Courtney and meet her in person!
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