Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Adventures in Jewellery Making Week One

The Course: Jewellery Making Mixed Levels

The Duration: 10 weeks (6-9 p.m.)

The Aim: To learn the basic skills of jewellery making including piercing, filing, soldering and polishing.


I arrive ridiculously early because rather unexpectedly, the college has a large sign denoting its existence and I do not spend an hour wandering around in circles trying to find the place! Luckily, there is a cafĂ©! At 5.45 p.m. I make my way to the room (I find it easily, which is another surprise!) The room has a large cupboard filled with painful looking tools and there are two long workbenches that seat ten people on each. I meet my teacher, Nuala Jamison ( who is an experienced jewellery maker working predominantly in acrylic and sterling silver and am asked to sit in the beginner’s section. 

I meekly make my way to the bench and wait quite nervously until other people arrive and are also asked to sit in the beginner’s section. Everyone is about the same age but they have varied work backgrounds and are eager to learn jewellery making techniques. Ten minutes after the start of the class the experienced people turn up and sit on the other table making their own projects. One day I hope to be on that table…!

Our first project is to make a ring out of copper with cut out shapes. We can design anything we like. Nuala takes us to the library where we sit for an hour browsing through art books and craft magazines. It is quite intimidating because everyone is obviously wondering what the hell they are going to draw! I am making a ring with little castles in it. I have always loved visiting historic buildings and have visited several very striking castles recently having just joined the National Trust including Corffe Castle in Dorset, which is incredibly atmospheric.

We use ring sizers and callipers to find the diameter of our finger in millimetres and then multiply that measurement by pi (3.14) to get the circumference. You then have to double the thickness in mm of the metal you are using and add this to your circumference so if the metal is 1mm thick you add 2mm to your total. The rest of the class is spent drawing out a rectangle of the correct length and planning our design onto it. We are advised to have a sketchbook to keep magazine cuttings, sketches and jewellery designs in. I am clearly going to spend a lot of time sketching in this book!

Next week I will start making my ring!!!

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