CNM Bench Jewelry Program Review

The new year is a time for resolutions, for new challenges and new starts. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and learning new things is a time-honored tradition. And it’s the path chosen by Walker Martin when he enrolled in CNM’s Bench Jewelry program.

Walker’s Story

Working with Native artists who create beautiful handcrafted pieces of jewelry gave Walker Martin insight into traditional art forms from his culture that he’d only observed from the outside. Enrolling in CNM’s Bench Jewelry program gave him the vocabulary to ask better questions about the techniques and skills used by the artists he interviews. As a filmmaker and photographer, that newfound information is a valuable addition to his own skill set.

Walker’s own background was not in jewelry making. His chosen art form came through a camera lens. Yet seeing up close the detailed work that went into a handcrafted piece made him curious. To satisfy that curiosity and expand his artistic talents, the CNM program seemed like an excellent fit.

About the CNM Bench Jewelry Program

CNM’s program was the brainchild of instructor Harley McDaniel, who wanted to offer students practical, hands-on classes on the craft of making jewelry. Through CNM Ingenuity, the enterprise arm of the college, and the FUSE Makerspace, students are given the equipment and a place to practice the techniques taught by the classes.

Those classes, Walker says, are perfect for beginners and offer a solid foundation for acquiring the skills to craft fine jewelry. Thanks to the tools and equipment offered by the program, he says the classes are comprehensive and hands-on. Teachers focus on the students and guide them through the various projects they’re given.

There’s also time in-class to discuss ideas and techniques so each student leaves with an understanding of what they need and how to hone the skills they’ve been taught. Walker also notes that concept design is a huge part of the curriculum. Each class emphasizes that aspect to the students. He’s found that the work makes him “think on his feet” and has “shown him a part of his culture he’d never seen before.”

The T.Skies Internship

There are two jewelry and two bench working classes in the program. Students can test out of Jewelry I if they come already having some of the skills taught in the classes. Grants are available through CNM. Turquoise Skies is interested in offering an internship that counts for school credit through our artist co-op. This opportunity will allow students to work with artists who can give them input and ideas. At the T.Skies Co-Op, they will find a place to learn and hone their artistic skills while enrolled in the program. As for Walker, he’s looking forward to making jewelry that reflects his own tastes with the skills he’s gained through the CNM Bench Jewelry Program.

For more information about the T.Skies x CNM internship, please email