Dan and Jan Niebauer have been teaching Precious Metals Jewelry Making for forty-two years. This art class offers students of all ability levels the chance to design custom jewelry using centuries-old methods. After an introductory presentation, students are encouraged to develop a completely original design. Some students even come to class with a precious stone in mind or a relic that they wish to incorporate in their artwork. “We spend a lot of time designing and making sure that the piece is attainable so that they are able to finish something” says Dan Niebauer. “There are so many directions that you can go in jewelry. Jan is a wax worker, a great designer in wax. I am a fabricator, so we kind of cover both bases really well.”
With a vast knowledge of art history, professional artistry and decades of teaching experience, the instructors lead engaging, informative class sessions, usually with several returning students. Jan Niebauer notes that returning students love working together and with new students. “People get ideas from each other. They like the camaraderie. They’re learning not just from us but from each other.” It is also very valuable for jewelry artists to have access to professional equipment. The Niebauers buy new equipment each year for the studio and have a full complement of hand tools, saws, torches, casting equipment, enameling kilns, lapidary tools and lathes.
Dan Niebauer and Jan Niebauer met at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania while pursuing art degrees. Both returned to Edinboro to earn their masters in jewelry design. After college, Jan spent twenty years teaching in the Erie School District as traveling elementary art teacher and later as a preschool teacher. Dan spent years teaching art to students of all ages. His resume includes tenure as the art teacher in the Fairview school district, the ceramic instructor at Erie County VoTech, and jewelry professor at Edinboro University. Now the Niebauers own and manage Ralph Miller Jewelers located on West 8th street in downtown Erie. The shop is an Erie favorite but has also won national recognition, including the award for America’s Best Jewelers from National Jewelers Magazine. The Niebauers are always creating and refining jewelry and they estimate that together they produce 250 to 300 new pieces a year. Ralph Millers prides itself on offering customized jewelry to their clients. Stop by the store to find your next masterpiece.
Precious Metals Jewelry Making takes place on Wednesdays in the Spring and Fall and runs for seven weeks. Sign up today for the class beginning on April 18th.