I have said, that I am not that different from when I was 9. I loved dogs, jewelry, climbing trees, the ocean & a really good book. I am exactly the same, in those respects. I can remember obsessing about jewelry even back then. Whenever we went into an antique store I would go straight to the jewelry cabinets. My dad had a little rotating display case, in his pharmacy, filled with earrings & I would stand there, endlessly, daydreaming about which pair would best suit me. My favorite present, on my birthday or for Christmas was always the ring my mom slipped into my stocking or the bracelet my cousin gave me. So, a couple of years ago when I began designing jewelry for my idea of a shop, I felt it was a natural progression. But, now, this jewelry class I am taking is what I really wanted all along. It is exactly what I wanted, and I didn't even know it.
* learning to make silver links for a chain *
I love everything about it. The readying the kiln, all the different tools ( which there seems to be a different one for every single task), the very particular, labor-intensive & focused work.
* the kiln, torch & soldering block*
Learning how pieces are made, from scratch, has given me a whole new appreciation of handmade. The time & intricacy involved. The patience it takes to make even the smallest thing & how you can work for 3 hours and at the end, you have made a bezel or a band.
* 2 silver bands that will eventually have bezels soldered on and stones set*
For example; making the two bands, above ( and one not shown) took me three hours. If I was an expert or more experienced, I am sure it would have taken me half the time. But, I thought I would share a little bit of the process because I think it is so cool & maybe you will too! :)
1. You start with silver wire which you take over to the vise and clamp in to be straightened. Once you have it straight, you make a loop at the end to hook it onto a tool that looks like a funny egg beater. That is the twisting tool and you extend away from the machine to begin rotating the handle, twisting the wire into a taut twist like you see above. But, you have to do that one or two more times to make it even tighter and harder.
2. You begin the process of bending it into a circular shape, starting it with your pliers and then using a ring sizing mandrel to find the size you want. You mark the metal with a sharpie, where you want to make your cut, cut it and then file down the ends.
3. Then the hardest part, for me, begins. You have to align the end pieces perfectly, so no light shines through & they have to lay flat when you put them on the soldering block. This requires a lot of working the metal ends back and forth to create tension, then adjusting again & again til you are happy with the alignment and flatness. All of this is to assure that the solder adheres correctly to fill in the seam where you cut.
4. You then lay a piece of solder on your soldering block ( cut from a larger piece of solder) and lay the seam of the ring right on it. You have to make sure the seam is touching the solder evenly. Then you put a drop of liquid flux on the seam and fire up your torch.
5. You heat the ring all the way around and then gently go at the seam & solder. You have to watch very carefully ( magnifying reading glasses help with all of this immensely) so you don't overheat the metal and watch for the solder to fill in the seam.
6. If it is done correctly, you can then put the ring in "the pickle" ( a mild acid solution that cleans the ring) and get ready to move on to making the rest of the ring. I had to redo two of the rings, which involved cutting the seam with a jewelers saw & beginning the filing & soldering process again.
Still with me? :) I love every single thing about it. Which makes me incredibly happy. It is also teaching me patience. I don't think that is my strong suit but, I am trying to let the work teach me to be more so.
It's funny how you can take to something so quickly. Feeling like it comes naturally to you, as if it had been there all along, waiting for you to take notice.
This is what is occupying a lot of my thoughts these days. Trying to retain all of the new information coming at me & daydreaming about what it holds in store for me, as I learn this craft.
Thank you for letting me share this with you & I hope you have a wonderful weekend, my friends.
I will see you back here on monday. Until then, be well.