Chris, seen digging through his box for the perfect tool, can’t break the smile tinkering brings. Photo by Jake Hibbitts

Community jewelry making class begins Feb. 4

Professor Randle Panfilio, who is as mild-tempered as he is laid-back, loves for his students to have a safe and playful environment to explore. In February, Panfilio will give community members another opportunity for their creative sides to flourish. His jewelry making class costs $70, but offers a lifetime of keepsakes to treasure.

Panfilio was a fourth-generation logger who had an epiphany. He found at a young age, that although logging was a reasonable and safe choice, it just wasn’t what he saw himself doing with his life. In his new incarnation, Panfilio broke into the art world and never looked back.

That was a long time ago. Panfilio, who graduated with a master’s in fine arts from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, now teaches art at Lassen Community College, inspiring his students to find themselves fully engulfed in wherever their passions lead.

The jewelry making class, which is two days a week from Feb. 4 to May 20, isn’t one based on grades, nor is it transferable, and that seems to offer his students the ability to learn the craft at their pace and into their own niche.

The first week of Panfilio’s class brings the introduction of various equipment and tools, but once newcomers feel comfortable using them, they’re respectfully set free. The class, which is held from 5 to 9 p.m., is almost a semester long and comes with a handful of assignments.

It’s not just young college students who attend his classes; all ages and abilities are welcome. His oldest student, who came from Doyle, was in her 80s, and his youngest was 14.

Panfilio wanted hesitant residents to know that no expertise is necessary in order to join the class. The space is provided by Lassen Community College and students aren’t obligated to stay the entire four hours; they can “come and go as they please,” said Panfilio.

If you’re still apprehensive, but curious, Panfilio pointed to the several couples who have attended his class together throughout the years. One such couple, Charlie and Rena, were in the classroom with Panfilio, busy at different equipment and happily in their own worlds.

Charlie, who has taken the class seven times, and his fellow classmates were delighted to show off their many pieces made right there in the classroom. The multitude of variations in their jewelry was captivating. From metal engravings, to set stones, wedding bands, ceramic beads and more, their work was akin to talent only seen from behind glass. Panfilio even mentioned past students who worked with award buckles from rodeos.

The toolboxes available in the classroom, Panfilio says, “are very basic, but you can do a lot with those basic tools.”

He further explained, “The things I make are only out of the toolboxes,” and explained his philosophy on the subject, saying, “The Egyptians had less and they made incredible stuff.”