Monday, January 18, 2016

01.18.16 Finally, Fabrication (part 1)

This post (and part 2 - which will follow next week) - are a bit out of order, and probably should have at the beginning of January - but I had other things to write are my posts about my fabrication classes.

I feel like I made a quantum leap the end of 2015 when I took four weeks of introductory fabrication classes at Creative Side.  While I really enjoyed the wax carving and precious metal clay classes, neither of those spoke to me like metalsmithing. I think I have found my jewelry making calling – at least for a while.

There is something truly fulfilling about taking raw materials, working with them, and seeing them take the shape of a finished piece.  I’ve sewn since I was in grade school, and always loved it when, after a few critical seams were sewn, the oddly shaped pieces of fabric started to look like a garment.  The very same thing is true of working with metal.

We started simple – the first week was spent primarily learning to use the tools of the trade.  Hammers, saws, files, torches and mandrels enabled us to take wire and two plain looking pieces of sheet silver and transform them into rings. 

One of the most important lessons I learned in that first week – and I think a large part of the reason I have taken to metalsmithing – is that you WILL make mistakes, and the metal will forgive you.  You can heat it to soften it (called annealing), hammer to harden it (forging), mangle it and reshape it.  For better or worse, this made me just a little bit fearless!

The second week, we started building on what we had learned before.  Working with a base metal (copper or brass – I chose copper) to make a pierced cuff bracelet.  Our instructor, Shalena, had given us a weekend homework assignment – spend some time coming up with a design – so that we could get to work when we arrived at the studio.

I sat down with my jewelry notebook, a pencil, a ruler and some ideas…and quickly realized why we had been encouraged to sit down and do this at home – it wasn’t so easy.

In doing the design you have to think about so many things – not only what you want to cut away, but how big your design will be, how much metal you need to leave in place – both for structural integrity and so your work doesn’t end up just looking like a big hole.

I wanted to do some type of monogram – but realized all three initials was too ambitious – so I settled on a single letter – “H” – for my last name.  I’m not much for wearing bracelets (they get in my way), but I am still pleased with the end result.
It was during the second half of the class – weeks 3 and 4, when we got to stone setting – that I knew I was hooked.  More about that in the next post.

Until next time.

1 comment:

  1. That looks like a lot of fun. You did a good job. The monogram you made was really creative and must of been challenging to make, due to the size of the metal. You probably had to be so precise. I wish I could do something like that!