Jewellery making

 

Apart from reading a book a week, learning more about knitting and completing a wardrobe for my son Gus, I have been attending evening classes. I usually manage to dedicate one night a week to learning something new. This year Nick and I decided to attend a course together as we had really enjoyed doll making as a pair – somewhat to my surprise. We both found the concept of learning something new, and meeting people, and sharing an interest rather a compelling combination.

So earlier this year I listed a range of courses that appealed to me – including printing, basket making, millinery and yoga – and emailed Nick. I arranged them in order of preference but said I would be up for any of the above. I added ballet too, knowing full well I had zero chance of getting Nick into a tutu.

He came back very quickly, choosing jewellery making. I was a bit surprised as, other than cuff links, he never wears jewellery. But I think using tools and the idea of making presents appealed to him. Unlike me he had done a bit of metal work as a school student and had enjoyed it.

In case you are interested here are the details of the course we are currently undertaking at Morley. This is one of my favourite venues as it convenient for us, has good facilities and generally they employ high quality tutors. Our teacher – Paul Wells in no exception. As well as teaching at Morley he is employed by Central St Martins and he makes, repairs and sells jewellery too.

The group is beginners and intermediate students. Paul divided the group and Nick and I were put with two other beginners. We have worked together all term, supporting and encouraging each other. And making sure we remembered the instructions. This approach is brilliant compared to the highly individual approach of many teachers, where it takes you all term to get to know the others (“excuse me, can I borrow your pencil sharpener?). Jo, Jeanette, Nick and I have worked as a team and it’s been great.

As beginners we are obliged, this term, to create three items with just a little bit of room for personalisation. The first ring is a wide band, with a hammered finish. This ring is first made in brass to learn the techniques, and then in silver. The second project is a nice square pendant that has a textured surface. Finally we make a ring with a stone set in it.

First terms projects Jewellery making
Two rings and a pendant

We spent two weeks making the brass ring and we very pleased with our efforts. Then we moved on to creating exactly the same thing in silver, which took roughly half the time.

Four Brass rings
My hammered silver band ring (still needs polishing)

I can’t explain why this course is such fun – I think the process of making something with precious (as well as base) metals is very exciting.

  • Magical transformation
  • Basic materials are relatively inexpensive
  • Made to fit exactly
  • Opportunities to design and personalise
  • Interesting tools, heat and chemicals
  • Detailed work and concentration
  • Something nice and unique to take away and wear or give to friends and family

Once the rings are polished we will move on to the pendants. We bought the materials already so when we make the final project (a ring with a stone)Nick will be using malachite and I have a ruby! I will share our progress later in the term.

Have you ever done jewellery making or metal work?

20 Responses

  1. These look wonderful! I find the very idea of jewellery making to be very daunting for some reason. I’ve never been much for jewellery though: apart from spells of wearing ear rings [not for some years] I only really bother with necklaces, and even then often leave the same one on for weeks or months at a time. Even my wedding ring is now on a chain round my neck as my hands are gettig gnarly with arthritis.
    I’m very intrigued to see what you two come up with next- working together as a couple is lovely isn’t it?

    • Like you Nick doesn’t wear the stuff. But actually I would have thought your steam punking might call for intriguing brooches or hat pins, fob watches and other metallic decoration. Our teacher is an old punk (or is it a goth?) and keeps producing items with coffins, bats and other weird stuff to show us.

  2. So glad you enjoying the course. Jewellery is so good there with any of the teachers. After my first pair of earrings I managed to muck up my next piece and thought what am I doing this for! That was 20 years ago….
    jillbelldesigns.co.uk

    • You are an inspiration Jill and it was meeting you that made me realise I could do this. I still wear your Gecko necklace frequently.

  3. Looks like you are doing very well, particularly if this is your first ever go at metalwork! I like your teachers idea of putting folks into groups, and if I find myself teaching a larger class some day I shall certainly remember that.

    I have been doing metalwork on and off since I was a young teen, and have been enameling for about thirty years. I actually specialised in metalwork and enameling when I got my degree, and do custom work and teaching part time on occasion. I find it very challenging and yet satisfying to make artifacts come from the realm of ideas to the realm of actual things, and, of course, love that I can make jewelry for myself and for others that is exactly what is desired

    • Indigotiger – I love your jewellery, especially the enamelling. While I love silver it is the stunningly bright and detailed colours that are available for enamelling. I hope to learn more about that one day. I also love what you have written here and would love to know more. Thank you for your kind comment.

  4. That looks like a great course, and what fun to learn something new together. I love Morley, every course I’ve done there has been well-taught and very inspirational. Looking forward to seeing more.

  5. I’m obsessed with jewellry and these projects remind me of lovely LisaEMoss work…thanks to her I have hopes that all my orphan earrings and broken pieces will become fabulous new things. Love to you both

  6. Jenny Lark

    My husband and I both took a silversmithing course together in Canada years ago. Everybody else was working on their jewellery projects and we didn’t really want to make jewellery so we made simple silver napkin rings. It took all term to batter out 4 rings but we still love them and they are very individual. Being quite competitive I always claim mine are the best but quite honestly after over 40 years we don’t know who made what.

    • Ha ha ha – Jenny that is a very funny story. Napkin rings – I used to have one at school but I don’t think I have used one since then. But actually making them must have been an interesting project. It is quite hard work physically – my thumb got bruised just from gripping the ring while I was hammering (I didn’t actually hit it).

  7. Those rings look lovely! I took a jewelry making course about 20 years ago and was so disappointed; it was too “fiddley” for me and gave up half way through. There was next to no structure so as a novice I was left to figure out so much on my own. A lot of other students had more experience and could do a lot more. We weren’t told much about buying supplies before the course so was surprised and annoyed to learn that you need a license to buy supplies like silver – at least that’s what I was told when I went to the supply store downtown. Looks like your course is set up well with good structure to learn basic skills and putting the beginners together.

    • I can’t believe you need a licence to buy silver where you are! I wonder why. There is so much to learning that is about the teacher and the style of class, isn’t there. It is so easy to crush enthusiasm and bore the student. Our teacher is thankfully quite excellent.

  8. This looks like a wonderful course, I’d love to do something similar.

    What I really want to know is how you find the time for all that you do Kate, you amaze me with all that you accomplish.

  9. Until I read this post I had zero interest in making jewellery but wow, I’d love to do that course. It sounds well thought out for all levels and even novices will create a unique piece, I’m fond of hammered silver which may be more forgiving for a beginner.

    I’m a procrastinator and am thinking of doing set segments a day on different projects rather than impulsive bursts or working obsessively on one to the exclusion of all else. I need a new a model, how do you manage to keep your plates spinning?

    • To be honest for years I have attended an evening class just to get out of the house and do something with interesting people. The course content is slightly less important. When the kids were young I arranged child care for a Tuesday night so I could go to a yoga class. When I got the centre I was upset to hear that the class was already full. They offered me furniture restoration instead. I had nil interest in this area, but I actually enjoyed it a lot. Especially stripping paint off, cleaning up old wood and then making new upholstery cushions. I filled the house with cheap but newly spruced up chairs and it was wonderful. Sometimes in life the unexpected turns out to be more rewarding than something longed for and planned.

  10. What a wonderful project to undertake together! I can imagine you mastering jewellery in double quick time and producing original and arty pieces. Looking forward to following another creative direction!

  11. I love taking classes, I used to live in London and frequented CityLit in Holborn taking all kinds of classes. My only regret is not trying the stand up comedy course for reasons of cowardice! I haven’t done a course just for the sake of it for a while now. Note to self: must pick up an adult-ed brochure next time I’m at the library. Your ring is beautiful.

  12. It’s so fun to find a new and interesting hobby. I’m glad that you’ve found the magic in this course. Can’t wait to see your next projects!

  13. What a wonderful thing to do together – and the results are impressive. I really envy you having access to Morley – I have to look out for weekend courses that appeal and beg space to stay with my daughter!

  14. You are such an adventurer! Always trying and learning something new keeps us young, don’t you think? I’ve never done jewelry making, but have a dear friend who is an accomplished and well-known silversmith and her pieces, jewelry, teapots, etc are simply phenomenal! Keep on keeping on. 😀

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