Second Jewellery Course: The Results!

I completed my second course in silversmithing and jewellery in London, through the fantastic courses at Vannetta Seecharran’s School of Jewellery Design. The first course was a great introduction, laying the foundation for tougher projects. This one was a master course in stone setting over five weeks. I learned how to make a bezel and how to make a tube setting. The first bezel took me nearly three weeks, but the second took me only two and a half hours last night.

The tube setting was my favourite. Despite the fact it is a bit fiddly, it was far easier for me to grasp than the bezel at first. I finally got over my nerves with regard to the mechanised polisher, too…giving the two other rings a professional shine.

I hope to take more classes and use the beautiful new studio space.

Look at that bezel. So much work!

Look at that bezel. So much work!

This little mofo took me three weeks to set in my silversmithing course! It’s pretty now, but not without its imperfections. This is what I love about making jewellery with my own hands; I have a whole new appreciation of how much work goes into the pieces I wear. Even more reason to buy them ethically whenever possible.

Next one will be easier.

No Longer A Beginner

I’ve fashioned two silver rings, two pairs of earrings, a copper keyring, and ended the beginning silver class on a high note. This is the silver bracelet I made over the last two weeks.

Finished bracelet.

Finished bracelet.

I made the whole thing: pierced the jump rings, soldered them with a blow torch, textured the band. Caught my fingertip painfully under the hammer while I flattened the clasp. Built the very beginnings of callouses from filing edges on my hands. Miraculously managed not to burn myself even once on the hot metal.

This beginning silver class was the best thing I could have done for my sanity, given the backdrop of my MA. I’m planning to write more about it soon, but in a sentence: It’s frustrating. I’ve never worked so hard for so little. I sit for hours without moving, puzzling over predicate logic and ellipsis. No movement. No progress. No fun.

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First-order predicate logic, from Wikipedia. Note the annoyingness.

My body is aching from sitting around concentrating in vain on annoying things. It’s difficult; as far as I know at the end of this course I will be one of the best-educated women in the history of my family. I have this massive opportunity to learn, and the incredible luxury to be a full-time student. I’m coachable;tell me how to be better and I will do it. I have always loved school.

I just can’t love this MA.

Today I have to go to a meeting with the staff of our department and represent those on the MA programme. The words used by those I’ve spoken to in the last few weeks match my own feelings with creepy accuracy. We don’t know how to work harder, much less smarter…and everything that we thought we wanted from an academic career or had the hubris to believe we were good at is cast in a distinctly mediocre light. For someone who has defined myself as an aspiring academic, and a decent one at that…it’s hard to keep my footing on the rapidly shifting ground. It’s hard to know who I am, exactly, and what defines me.

Textured, solid silver

Textured, solid silver

When I finished my bracelet last night, the instructor told me I am a natural.

It couldn’t have come at a better time, to help me redefine who I am and what I’m good at. A natural. Not a B- student. No admonition that my intuitions are wrong, but proof positive that they can be right in the physical objects I can wear on my body. A moment each week to focus on the metal and forget my MA.

First chain maille earrings.

First chain maille earrings.

A minor obsession with handmade jewellery is gathering steam, and I’m trying my hand at chain maille. Leaning on my new callouses, which aren’t truly hard enough yet. I’m budgeting for tools and metal to work at home. I’m no longer a beginner.

The intermediate silver course begins on March 6, and I can’t wait.

With special thanks to Linda and Vannetta, at the School of Jewellery Design in Islington. 

Made With My Own Hands

My next metalworking project is finished! Yesterday I made my fit ring, through scribing and soldering silver. I also made a smaller pinky ring, but that one is not quite ready. Learning to be a maker is great!