a life creative
I’m back in Santa Fiora and last week I taught a 5-day one-to-one beginners jewellery workshop.
It was wonderful having Flavia in the studio, she was such an enthusiastic student. A florist by profession, she juxtaposes flowers in her spare time with iron, welding and creating incredible sculptures. She had looking at extending into “softer on the body” creative techniques, such as wood turning, and making jewellery from non-ferrous metals.
With head and hands full of creative buzz, the workshop tailored for her covered the technical and alchemical side of working with brass, copper and silver. Enough to get her started on her own.
After preliminary safety procedures, we got on with the various types of metals and solders, the temperature required for each, annealing and pickling.
Using what she had learnt, she then measured and sawed a strip of copper, soldered it and handforged with a ballpein hammer and created her first ring.
The next project was a tapered convex ring in brass. Now brass has a completely different personality to sweetheart copper, and when soldering brass it can be tricky if you have as thick a gauge piece as we had and use a solder that flows at a lower temperature (the solder will start to pock the metal).
After two attempts with a recalcitrant ring, Flavia filed back the joint and we called it a day. Sometimes the gods of solder are napping.
(By the way, on crappy soldering days in the studio we play Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat or Senora. It’s impossible to swear at your solder when either of those two are playing).
Yay! The brass ring soldered first go! Now it was a matter of forming it using a stake to create a convex shape. This is the shining result:
After she cleaned and polished the ring, Flavia cut two equal disks of copper, and as she was keen on the beautiful oxides that copper produces under flame, she skipped the pickle and domed them, cleaning just where she needed to solder. After soldering the domes together, she cut two holes in the opposing poles of the “bead” and then sealed the metal with Protectaclear to retain the oxide.
In the afternoon yesterday, Flavia also made her design for etching directly onto the metal. This morning it went into the etching bath for two hours to obtain a good, deep bite. After cleaning the metal strip, Flavia then soldered the brocelet and formed it on the mandrel and the added the convex form by forging it over the stake.
After that, she added a patina and then polished the raised areas to create a contrasting effect. Later, we coated the bracelet inside and out in Protectaclear.
Forming rivets and creating jumprings for cold connecting. The project was to create two necklaces, one in brass, one in copper, drilling the correct sized holes to accommodate the rivets.
The rivets on the copper necklace proved challenging. Those little nails always seem like they’d be an easy alternative. But they’re fiddly to the point of madness at times, and I’m afraid I’m yet to find a song for that.
In the end, we called it a day, to be picked up again the following morning…
Rivets for breakfast!
A good night’s sleep and coming back to a project makes so much difference. Flavia finished the necklace…and the result:
The rest of the day was revising the technical and alchemical aspects, formulas for measuring rings sizes for convex rings, photographing and just admiring the amazing work. And then we were done…Well done, Flavia!
I hold workshops from 1 day to 1 week long, in both art and jewellery. If you think you’d like to participate in a one-on-one workshop tailored just to you, or if you’d like to come with a friends, drop me a line here on the blog, or on here the website and I’ll get in touch and see what we can cook up together.
Writer | Artist
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