Once a month as part of the Aspiring Metalsmiths team we take up the challenge to blog on a pre-ordained subject. It's fun and rakes around in things we sometimes forget. This week it is 'How we began' our metalsmithing journey.
My story can go back quite a long time to my teens, when a little, local craft store started selling sterling findings and unusual beads to make earrings with. It was a place I could take my pocket money (or left over lunch money) and create earrings I could actually wear, being allergic to the nickel in most costume (careful not to use the 'Junk' word) jewellery.
Sadly, all too soon I got serious about growing up and having a job and a family and no time to myself until two major life moves later I found myself wandering in the market town of Ulverston and chanced upon another stall selling sterling findings and beads. Unfortunately, although I proudly took many bad photographs of my achievements with these slim pickings, none have survived the multiple computer swaps, I do seem to be extremely hard on 'hardware'. I attempted to sell these pieces on Ebay to no avail. But while browsing there I discovered faceted gemstone beads! Oh, wonder of wonders, what a treasure trove to dangle before the eyes of a latent, button hoarding dragon! Of course I could not resist their lure and before long had built up a tidy hoard of sterling and fine silver wire and gemstone beads. I made jewellery for friends and family before advice from my favourite beads seller brought me at last to a place called Flickr and then to Etsy. I met so many wonderful (and patient) freinds both in the UK and further abroad who broadened my horizons, my knowledge and my skills. I watched as some of these most talented designers began to move from wire wrapping, on to smithed jewellery. By now I was creating some very intricate and delicate work and I swore I would never give up wire wrapping to go to the devil of smithed jewellery, no matter the lure!
To keep the devil at bay and find a more secure way of fastening some pieces I attempted to teach myself to solder jump rings ( only jump rings I told myself, hardly selling my soul!) but alas I could not get the knack and when the solder flowed by some miracle that must have been good wire wrapping vibes in disguise, I could never replicate the happy moment!
I bought copper wire and experimented with making some fused jewellery, never forgetting my roots, of course, I wrapped the copper in melted silver to make bangles, rings and earrings but never got the hang of soldering.
Finally in a fit of pique I enrolled in a local smithing class, just to learn to solder...and perhaps make rings, you can't properly make rings by wire wrapping (oh the lies I told myself).
Dear friends, I was hooked. I rushed home from my first class, impatient to wait until the following week and made my first stone set ring, a little rough around the edges but still wearable (and I do wear it very often). The rest, as they say, is history, and as if to prove a point that my soul is well and truly sold, lock stock and barrel, my latest piece uses ages old ammonite as its centre piece, making history, literally!
My Fellow Metalsmiths: