Bachelor of Fine Arts

A two-year BFA program in contemporary jewellery and jewellery design

The two-year BFA program offers a comprehensive grounding in contemporary jewellery and body ornament to those without prior experience or possession of jewellery-making skills in a relatively short time.

The course begins with traditional techniques and skills in the construction and design of jewellery, and then introduces the students to new technologies, creative use of resources, and material expression for originality in design.

The program is divided into six 14-week modules that provide, through a challenging but organic full-immersion process, a balanced combination of practice and theoretical principles.

In the vein of Alchimia’s philosophy, the program nurtures an approach to learning that merges the theoretical, the pragmatic, and the experiential in order to develop confidence, skill, creativity, and imagination. It is tailored to each student individually, with teachers providing personal coaching, and builds on a variety of different professional experiences, including carefully selected study trips both locally and abroad.

These two years may function as a self-contained program for those interested in achieving high-level results in the short term, and/or prepare for admission to a master’s program in jewelry design.

The main areas of study are as follows:

BFA First Year

History of Art
These courses give a broad overview of Art History with a particular focus on European art and costume. Knowledge of these subjects is essential for working as a designer and jeweller. The lessons will enable students to develop critical and descriptive language for the history of design. It also provides the opportunity to question both academic and personal understandings of objects, subjects and environments, by visiting museums, exhibitions and other historical sites.

The first year of the Bachelor focuses on Ancient, Christian and Renaissance art, of which many examples can be found in the city of Florence. Lessons provide also a theme-based approach that will encourage students to think creatively and address questions in relation to contemporary art.

The Creative Process
These courses are the first steps in the generation, development and communication of creative ideas through a variety of visual phenomena, styles of presentation and artistic production. The search for inspiration to develop individual projects and the transfer of concept from one medium to another will lead to the acquisition and application of knowledge presented in a substantial portfolio of work at the end of the year. The lessons introduce students to methodological approaches employed in the critical analysis of the production, representation and consumption of design and material culture, encouraging a historically conscious approach to comprehending design and material culture over the past century.

Goldsmith and Jewellery Lab Basic
These courses are the basis of jewellery making and will teach the essential techniques for working with metal. Proficiency in practical skills is gained through repetition and familiarisation with a process, material or technique, requiring substantial time and commitment in the workshop and studio. Students are provided with the means to employ fundamental technical knowledge and workshop skills in jewellery construction, learn to work safely and appropriately with specialized machinery and equipment, and begin to understand the properties and qualities of materials and finishes.

Gemology
Gemmology for jewellers gives an introduction into the world of stones used in jewellery. Students will learn about the characteristics of precious and semiprecious stones, their origin, market and symbolic value, the history of stone cutting, and the possible contemporary use in jewellery production. Particular focus is put on the ethical question regarding the use and the mining of precious stones.

Technology
This section is a theoretical and practical course of metallurgy. Students will gain a basic notion of the physical and chemical behaviour of metallic elements commonly used in jewellery, their intermetallic compounds, and their alloys. The course gives necessary and comprehensive descriptions of chemistry-related issues for studio metalsmiths and offers instruction in physics of material usage that is both rigorous and practical. It also provides the necessary understanding of mathematical formulas used to investigate the materials associated with the practice of jewellery.

Jewellery Design
Freehand drawing and watercolour rendering for jewellery are at the core of this unit, encouraging a high level of independence and creativity as well as an involvement in various student lead activities and personal development projects. It provides students with the opportunity to investigate and develop skills in specific aspects of drawing to successfully communicate design ideas and concepts. Students will explore the use of various media, techniques and processes to provide a thorough understanding the use of drawing as a means of visual communication.

History of jewellery
History of Jewellery from antiquity to the beginning of 20th century is explored in this course. It looks at the historical factors that have influenced and shaped contemporary design practice and how the knowledge of design history informs the theoretical approaches and stylistic decisions of today’s designers. Its aim is to help designers/ makers develop an appreciation of the context within contemporary work formed. The course also aims to develop a critical vocabulary for students through visual and textual critical analysis.

3D Prototyping
Hand fabricated, 3 dimensional prototypes are at the core of this course. Building prototypes and using different materials and techniques helps to visualise and translate ideas into physical 3dimensional representations. As well as exploring various materials, forms, and their properties students will develop skills in creating and using 3D models which are useful at various stages of a design process.

BFA Second Year

Strategies for Creative Development
Workshops are given for the enhancement of creativity enabling students to undertake their studies in a more personalized and independent way. These lessons will begin the process of identifying a personal design direction through the selection and subsequent research of particular aspects of jewellery design and techniques. Students begin to conduct their own research with guidance from specialised staff and develop a professional attitude towards their work. Students are required to develop systems and methods to create “Student Learning Contracts”. These will enable them to clearly set out personal aims and outcomes, within the overall framework of the program, to enhance and individualise their learning experience. The aim is also to encourage a high level of independence and creativity of thought, as well as involvement in various student-led activities and personal development projects.

Reflective Analysis
These courses are designed to enable students to apply, consolidate and extend their learning in different contextual frameworks and situations, both within and beyond the field of jewellery design and making. It aims to enable students to identify and research a project that is the product of sustained and creative engagement using a range of research resources in the area of studio- practice and industrial production. The lessons will consolidate skills of project identification, research organisation and development, time management, written and visual analysis and the presentation of a critical discussion / thesis. These courses consolidate the development of skills required for autonomous learning.

Goldsmithing / Jewellery Lab Advanced
Advanced jewellery construction techniques such as hinges, closures and advanced stone setting are covered in this course. The students will continue the learning process in the technical making of jewellery, with the more advanced joining and finishing techniques. They will learn the basic notions of stone setting and explore traditional Florentine methods in jewellery making and related technology; these will prepare her/him to enter the world of metalworking as a competent and confident designer/maker with a rewarding career in the field of jewellery and related design.

History of Art
These courses give a broad overview of Art History with a particular focus on European art and costume. Knowledge of these subjects is essential for working as a designer and jeweller. The lessons will enable students to develop critical and descriptive language for the history of design. It also provides the opportunity to question both academic and personal understandings of objects, subjects and environments, by visiting museums, exhibitions and other historical sites. During the second year, students will explore more closely the art of modern and contemporary societies, ranging from Baroque to Postmodern. By the end of the Bachelor, students will have built critical skills to read and interpret works of art from a variety of periods and media and developed a personal topic of research.

Advanced Technology
Material technology, production processes and industrial development in metallurgy are the core of this course. The aim is to gain specific technical comprehension of specialized machinery used in jewellery making, not only for the traditional craft, but also in modern industrial fabrication. The course will cover the chemical and physical properties of new materials such as polyurethanes, resins, acrylics and celluloid as well as traditional materials such as paper, textile and wood used in contemporary jewellery design. Successfully linking traditional craft and contemporary production methods by merging the old and the new, the handmade and the machine made in a productive way is the goal of this course.

3D Modelling and Printing
In this course, students will be introduced to the techniques of design for digital fabrication through the translation of their designs into digital objects. Students will become familiar with the software necessary to produce constructions for 3D printing and how to effectively design their pieces in a way that will be compatible in a 3D printed format.

Contemporary Jewellery History
This course will address the kinds of objects and practices that are named by the term “contemporary jewellery”. It will explain and discuss, in a dialogue with the students, the development of the practice of contemporary jewellery around the world and expose the challenges and opportunities that the subject has faced in the past and what await in its present and future.

Independent Professional Practice
The entrepreneurial nature of the jewellery production requires students to fully exploit the notions of independence, self-reliance, self-management and innovative thinking. To develop these abilities, the independent professional practice workshops, with the advancement of negotiated projects are very important. Students are required to clearly set out personal aims and outcomes within the overall framework of their work. The final project/ evaluation for this course is the completion of their graduation body of work and thesis.

Professional Research
Students are encouraged to reach a high level of independence and creativity of thought, as well as involvement in various student-led activities and personal development projects. This course aims to provide students with the means to confidently explore, analyse and describe the processes of material research and experimentation. Students will evaluate the appropriate to the use of materials, processes and techniques in their design concepts. The course consists of hands-on material research, selection, testing and appropriate use of materials, processes and techniques in logical association with their individual design concepts.

Dissertation
The thesis must show the students’ notions and abilities through an articulated research on a chosen theme related to their individual design concept presented in the form of a “look-book”. It aims to demonstrate the student’s skills in making, theoretical analysis, and written explanation/analysis. Thesis work is mandatory for the completion of a degree. With the thesis the student will show how they successfully and coherently develop a design project in response to a chosen project brief. They will confidently analyse and describe the processes of design research, experimentation and development.

For the complete course catalog, contact the office at info@alchimia.it .

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