Thursday, January 27, 2011

My first metalsmithing class

I had my first Jewellery and Metalsmithing class last night. I loved it! Each class we'll be learning techniques by practicing them and then making a product of some kind. Last night we made a pendant by cutting a shape out of copper sheet and then filing and polishing it. I didn't finish cutting mine and most people were still filing theirs so we'll all have some more work to do later.

We cut the copper sheet using a jeweller's saw which turned out to be a little tricky. The blade part is like a toothed, square wire that you put into the frame in such a way that the saw stays under tension. The instructor said that we would break blades and that this was ok, which is good because I think I broke more than everyone else. I ended up doing something like saw, saw, saw, saw, snap. Saw, saw, snap. Saw, snap. Saw, saw, saw, saw, snap. It got a little frustrating, and worse - the more frustrated I'd get, the more blades I would break! It's like a metaphor for life or something.

A couple of times early on I think I managed to twist the blade while putting it into the frame which created pressure points that would then snap. Also, I would get impatient and try to turn the saw or piece too quickly and the blade would snap. I'm pretty sure I was so behind everyone else in finishing my piece because I broke so many blades. Then again, I got the most practice putting blades in the saw, so that's ok, right? :)

By the end of the class I managed to not snap the blade a couple of times so I think I'm now more aware of what I was doing to break all those blades. I hope. We'll see next week whether I've really learned my lesson.

It turns out that I'm not all that good at following the lines while using the saw. Just trying it reminded me of learning to sew for the first time, where we tried to follow lines on paper with our sewing machines. I couldn't follow those lines perfectly that first time, either, but now I can sew curves and straight lines and crazy seams. I figure that if I get some practice with the jeweller's saw I'll be able to follow all kinds of design lines that I couldn't do last night.

I can hardly wait for the next class. In addition to finishing up our pendants, we're going to make metal earrings from scratch by making the earwires and the dropped piece by rolling a design onto a sheet of metal and making a dome out of it. In a few weeks we'll be working with sterling silver, too.

I love this course already. Learning these techniques opens up a so many design possibilities and I'm just itching to really try them out. Getting all of the equipment isn't exactly trivial even though I don't need to get the same equipment as is in the studio. If I really love these techniques and come up with my own designs and materials, maybe I can pay to use the studio. I think I heard that she has other classes also so it might be possible for me to learn even more. This is so exciting!!!!

Of course I'm getting ahead of myself; I need to get through this course and see how I feel when it's done. At least it's off to a fabulous start!

1 comment:

sloth003 said...

I’m glad you posted this. I have been dying to know how much fun it was... I can’t wait to see pics of finished products. :)