That's easy to answer: But of course you should!
A class like this one (taken with Susan Lenart Kazmer of ICE Resin) can open new windows, doors, worlds for you! I will never forget this class.
I went along for over 20 years, teaching myself catch-as-catch-can, before I decided to get some instruction. I'd purchased a copy of METALCRAFT DISCOVERY WORKSHOP by Linda and Opie O'Brien, long time favorites on the teaching circuit. In the back pages I noted that they only lived about an hour and a half from me, and that they taught privately in their home.
That was the start of yearly summer trips to their home on Lake Erie, to learn, to talk, to explore.
(Linda and Opie have retired from the teaching circuit now and are living their artistic dreams in the Berkshires. Glad I caught them before they went!)
If you have the opportunity to get to know a teacher on a personal level and be taught privately, it's a marvelous experience. Linda and Opie's home was a magical revelation in itself---full of amazing artwork and collections. The very pieces I remembered seeing in books and magazines, hung on the walls!
The camaraderie of an art retreat, however, where many teachers in various genres have gathered, is like an educational candy shop full of treats. The classes are intensified but you have the benefit of being with others who are learning, as well. The ideas bounce off the walls like projectiles! You will come home with your head spinning.
The experiences you have will last you a lifetime.
At the B'sue Boutiques Creative Group we were recently talking about taking classes and the idea of even enrolling in a college where metalsmithing (and everything that goes with it!) is taught in a systematic manner.
If you have the luxury of being able to do that, it would certainly give you an amazing foundation. I think possibly one of the best things you would learn is how to use tools properly and safely. You would learn ways to use the tools so that you would spare yourself from injury. You would also learn amazing technique.
There is one caution---and mind you, this is my opinion:
Sometimes when you are taught in this fashion, technique becomes EVERYTHING. When you train and train hard, according to technique, sometimes ideas have to be shelved for awhile. I've found that some folks who train this hard get so hung up on technique, that their work loses its soul.
I love the work of a self-taught artist, someone perhaps who has a little background or a vision and doesn't even know that what they want to do is difficult. They have an idea and want to fulfill it, so they scheme and experiment until it happens. Sometimes it falls in line quite naturally. Usually they try many things and find a niche.
At some point in the journey, however, you'll want some coaching. I did, and it benefited me very much.
It *is* expensive to take classes and to travel and stay in hotels while you take them, even if you have a room mate. Is there a viable alternative?
Yes! Nowadays, many teachers offer courses of study ON LINE, just like colleges do! Perhaps you have a book that you really enjoy, as I did Linda and Opie's. Look them up online and see if they have anything scheduled. Chances are great, since this is quite a trend anymore, that they do---or will.
You might also want to check out the Artisan Whimsy Ning Group Right now, there is a Metal Prong Challenge that you can participate in, and there is no charge as it is a group challenge. Actually the reveal is tomorrow, but that's okay---go on over and have a look. There is a tutorial on the website. Also, there are numerous blog posts and tutorials that you can take advantage of, and many You Tube videos that you can start and stop and start again....and those are free, too.
Many artists these days get tons of inspiration and new ideas from You Tube videos.
Here are mine:
Plot an educational course for yourself. Challenge yourself every day. Join some groups where you will be nurtured and encouraged to try new ideas. I truly hope you will join Artisan Whimsy and take advantage of all the free education and networking.
Soon there will be live classes in real time there, to take.
You are also warmly welcome to join us at B'sue Boutiques Creative Group so that you can network and learn from other artists, new as well as seasoned.
As you can see, there are numerous options. Pick what fits your lifestyle best----and get busy!