by Ashley Yakaboski as told to Emily Bennett
When it came time for me to decide on a major and to start looking into colleges, I was one of those people who really wasn’t sure where they wanted to go, or what they wanted to do. Being a creative spirit, and someone who grew up playing with beads and making jewelry throughout high school, the decision to enter into the Jewelry Design program came from my mother. I had always known about FIT, but when my mother informed me about the program I thought this must be a sign. I had never known that such a program existed, so when my mom said, “Ashley, you love making jewelry and working with your hands, why don’t you just apply and see what happens?” I started thinking about it seriously. Since being a part of the Jewelry Design program here at FIT, my love for design has only become more passionate. For me, jewelry is something that is always on my mind.
Looking into different schools I found that this was the only program that was appropriate for what I wanted to learn. Other schools have metal smithing, but FIT has everything from designing to actually making jewelry. For someone who never had much talent in drawing and painting before, my admissions process was a bit difficult, but rewarding. My first task was to write three different essays, one asked why I wanted to go into the jewelry program, and I had to prepare a portfolio. Taking an art portfolio class my senior year in high school was where I spent my time working on drawings and designs that I would submit. I also included pictures of different bead works I made at home. Coming to FIT to show my portfolio was intimidating, but in the end the chairman has positive things to say.
Jewelry Design is a major where you either fall in love with the program, or you fall apart. The teachers are so knowledgeable, passionate, and patient that you can’t help but be inspired by them. Jewelry Design is a small, close-knit program where you learn everything you need to know about making jewelry, from designs, technical drawings, soldering, wax carving and so forth. In Jewelry Design the main goal is to understand the process of jewelry and all the different aspects of it, so that way you can discover exactly what part of design you enjoy.
Since Jewelry Design is only an Associates program, they cram many different classes into your schedule. My first semester the main classes were Basic Sculpture, Drawing, Beginning Soldering Techniques, Piercing and Sawing, Wax Carving, Mechanical Drafting, Intro to Jewelry Design, and lastly Tools, Equipment and Processes. After learning all the basics you are then submerged in other classes such as Casting, White Metal Model, Jewelry Design Two, and eventually you pick between studio classes and jewelry design for your third and fourth semester. (Studio classes only involve the techniques of physically creating jewelry, and jewelry design only involves designing and rendering)
I have taken so many inspirational classes and each teacher has given me so much, but one of my favorites was Jewelry Casting with Rebekah Laskin. I never knew there are so many options when it comes to casting. Although I made a lot of mistakes in this class, those mistakes further helped me understand the process. In this class we took part in cuttlefish casting, where you pour hot metal into a cuttlefish bone, and the bone becomes the design. We also had a project where we were supposed to take a found object and get a mold and casting of it, then our found object would then be made into metal and jewelry. I had lace casted and made a pretty pair of earrings and ring.
Jewelry Design here at FIT prepares us to either work in studios, where we make jewelry, or we can work for companies that need designers to design and render different pieces that can be manufactured by the company. My ultimate goal would be to have my own home studio where I can design and make jewelry, depending on my inspiration.
Since graduating from Jewelry Design, I am now in a completely different major at FIT called Production Management, where we learn about the mass production or garments and all the steps of making a garment, from the tools, stitches, seam, construction, fabrics and so forth all in order to make the garment in the most efficient way. Although Jewelry Design is completely different from Production Management, and although I miss Jewelry Design tremendously, I have discovered that I have different areas of interest, but I also have learned that I further see myself working in the jewelry industry.
While in Jewelry Design the least amount of classes I took in a semester was 10 and my most was 12, so the idea of having an internship during that time is unimaginable. In Production Management I am eligible for an internship my senior year, so until then I am focusing on school and side projects. Even so, I am a very busy bee and time management is my ultimate strength in life. I was involved with the FIT women’s tennis team for two years, I am a student designer for the Style Shop, I was involved in the FIT Skyliners Acapella group for two semesters, I am involved with the production management club, I am a Resident Assistant and mentor, I am a Student Ambassador and I still have time for side projects that make me happy. In all honesty it sounds like a lot and that it would be hard to maintain extracurriculars, but that is the beauty of time management and calendars! Furthermore, when faced with a homework assignment it is always my priority to get it done right away in order to enjoy my free time with these extracurriculars, which make me less stressed.
Since starting FIT I have learned so much about myself and my future, but I think the most influential thing I learned was that everyone has different styles and techniques and each one is unique to who they are. Each project, assignment, and talk with a teacher is something that we shouldn’t take for granted because in those moments we learn about ourselves and about what we like in our major. If you don’t take that seriously, then how will you ever know if you are learning and ultimately how will you know where you see yourself going in life?
To learn more about the Jewelry Design major click here!