When I was 26 I decided to leave the teaching job I loved and go back to school for a art. I already had one degree and had been working for a few years. It was something I had wanted to pursue but just hadn’t done yet. I had recently gotten married, we didn’t have kids yet and it was a good opportunity. I’ll admit I was one of the “older students” and yes, 26 is not considered old to most but when you’re in a class with 18-21 year olds you are considered old! I was married, not living on campus in some dingy apartment (already did that the first time around when I was 20!) and had just left a real job… I was definitly a minority among the other students in regards to this. It was fine with me, I was excited about the opportunity!
While studying for art, I took some awesome classes… printmkaking alone was one of my hardest classes. The techniques involved & the processes were something I had no idea about prior. Engraving, acid baths and woodcuts were words that became the norm! Although it was a tough class, I learned a lot!
The class I really wanted to take was Metalsmithing. It was a tough class to get into since it was so popular. It was also only offered one semester a year (if I recall correctly)…if you didn’t get in that semester you had to wait until the following year. I was lucky enough to get in my second year and I was really excited…. I was in!!!
It was a wonderful class, our professor was great because she didn’t cut us any slack. Part of the reason class size was limited was because of the lab; there were only a few workbenches and every student needed one. The lab had 4 workspaces for soldering with gas tanks on the wall & a torch at each space. It was a jewelers paradise with access to so many awesome tools! As you would expect, this room wasn’t open often during non-class hours! Not a surprise, if you didn’t know what you were doing it was a disaster waiting to happen, not to mention liability for the school! Our projects had general requirments, we were able to design what we wanted from there… 4 projects total for the semester.
It’s amazing how much is involved working with metal; how hard it is to saw copper, get a clean solder joint, put a metal rivet in then hammer it smooth and straight then sand to remove all sharp edges (burs)! When working with metal, the thought of making sure your project is right from the start is so important because it is so hard to correct a mistake! Once you’ve shaped or formed metal, it’s hard to physically re-shape it (withhout it looking somewhat distorted that is)! But as a metalsmith you certainly don’t want to scrap your metal! If I don’t get it right from the beginning I always reuse my metal for another project. I use every teeny, tiny piece!
Six years later, I’ve begun to work with metal again. It’s all coming back, not in the same amazing lab with equipment galore but that’s ok! Lately, I have been doing silver soldering, in college we mainly did copper & brass soldering due to it being a lower cost. Sterling holds its shape since it’s a study metal. The other reason I love it, is that sterling silver is comprised of 92.5% silver and the rest is copper…this means there’s no nickel in it (and since it has no nickel, it is considered hypoallergenic)- wondeful!! For jewelry making purposes it’s great! One of my latest projects was a heart pendant, it has 6 solder joints and goodness it was hard to make, took a ton of patience! It is on my etsy shop to see more photos. http://www.etsy.com/shop/SunshineOnWater?ref=pr_shop_more
Now on to more projects my friends!