Friday, February 20, 2009

Adventures in Metalsmith

A few years back I decided to widen my horizons and learn new skills, so I registered at a local college (one that will remain nameless) for a metalsmith class. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best experience, so I figured metalsmithing just wasn’t for me. But something about playing with metal just kept calling to me and I kept thinking about it. Fast-forward to 2008 and I discovered The Devil’s Workshop What first drew my attention was the Wedding Band Workshop offered by Sarah Wan, owner of The Devil’s Workshop, teacher and metalsmith extraordinaire. I thought that was a fantastic idea and since my wedding was coming up, thought my husband and I could take the class together. What could be cooler then making your own wedding bands? Well, much to my dismay, he wanted nothing to do with it. So I started looking at the other workshops offered that I could take by myself. Since then I’ve taken Silversmith for Beginners, Silversmith Level 2, and Lost Wax Casting. All of which I loved every second of!! Silversmith Level 2 and Lost Wax Casting I took at the same time and just thought I’d show you some of the stuff I’m working on.

The first is a ring I made to look like tree bark; I carved it out of wax in the lost wax class and then cast it in sterling silver. I shocked myself with this one because it turned out exactly how I wanted it to!

This is a shot of another ring I made, pretty simple, but again, exactly how I wanted it, I wanted to build my confidence using the wax, so simple was fine with me. Turned out nice and smooth and shiny! Perfect.

This picture is a set of lily pads I made. Bracelet, pendant and cute little earrings. But I’m not gonna lie to you, it was a painful project. The actual work that went in to the lily pads wasn’t painful, but getting to that point was. I just could not think of what to sculpt. Call me crazy, I can build things, I can take flat pieces of metal and make them in to something pretty, but I just don’t have the mind to take a wad of wax and carve it down to something. I have a whole new appreciation for the carvers of the world. Either way, I came up with the lily pad set with the help of my lovely teacher Danielle Crampsie who helped me work through my frustration with amazing patience. I still have to properly polish it and add some oxidizer to it, and even though I struggled with it, I love the whole set.
The next 2 pieces I made in the silversmith classes. I couldn’t include all the items I made in these classes because I gave some of them away as gifts. I chose my 2 favorites to keep for myself.

In the beginner class I made an awesome cuff bracelet. My inspiration was river rocks. It was a lot of sawing, but I still enjoyed doing it.

In the Level 2 class I made an awesome pendant. Trees are usually my inspiration for everything and I made this one with a branch cut out. I took one flat disc, cut an image of a branch out, then domed it, and soldered it to another larger flat disc. I still have to polish it, and I’m gonna drop some oxidizer into the branch cut out, but I can’t wait to wear it!

So…lessons learned you ask? Well, for one thing, when you dome things, it makes them wider then you want, so if you’re gonna cut an image out before you dome it, make it skinnier then you would normally OR dome it first and then cut it out. Also soldering a domed disc on to a flat disc is awfully hard and something I’ll need to practice. Mama Wan had to save me on that one. If I ever make another River Rock cuff I’ll need to remember to be conscious of the space I leave between each circle I cut out, some of them are a little too close to each other and I’m worried about the overall strength of the cuff.
Classes are done now and I’ve slowly been collecting my own tools so I can start working on my own in my basement. Since I still have some polishing and stuff to do on some of the pieces I’ve booked some studio time back at The Devils Workshop so I can finish the pieces off, I’ll be sure to post the pictures of the finished products. Hope you enjoyed checking out my progress!


  1. Learning new techniques is so much fun and always so exciting! Looks like you are a natural, that cuff bracelet is amazing! and I love that simple band! Great job!

  2. Oh the lily pads came out beautiful and I love the cuff bracelet.

  3. that bracelet is great!
    mary jane

  4. Amazing work you do!! The bracelet is so cool!

  5. It's so great to see what you made in the lost wax class. I too hope to take that class soon!


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