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  • Writer's pictureLisa

Adventures With Metal

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

Holding a shawl pin with pliers after soldering on bezel cups.
Making a Shawl Pin with Bezel Cups

Did you read my blog about scarf pins? When I wrote that I had gone as far as my meager metal-working skills would allow. I had a sad relationship with my jewelry saw, and abysmal encounters with soldering. Exciting ideas were banging around in my head, but no way to achieve them.

Wire and bezel cups on a board ready to solder
Preparing to Solder

Metalwerx is a metal arts school and studio in Waltham, MA. I've heard exceptional things about it for years. It's a fabulous community of artists, instructors, and students, with a multitude of classes. Time to take the plunge. A couple of months ago, in February, I started jewelry classes. I was thrilled and terrified at the same time.

Emily Glimp, the instructor, and Clinton, her teaching assistant were (and are) extremely knowledgeable, compassionate people. She breaks down every task into simple, precise steps, so easy to follow and understand. Clinton is there at your shoulder to help you through any difficulty. They are both truly wonderful teachers and artists.

In the first couple classes, Clinton ergonomically reintroduced me to my jewelry saw (body placement) so it wasn't such an arduous task. Emily taught us an almost fool proof way to solder.

The class was small, only eight students, from all different creative backgrounds. It was wonderful to make new friends, bounce ideas off of each other, and share our successes and failures.

Frustration was (and is) usually lurking just out of sight. “Frust” loves the torch. Whether annealing, or soldering on occasion you spend your time melting lovely projects into globs of metal. Be defeated and let “Frust” take over, or take a breath, and give it another go, or two or three. Emily and Clinton are usually close at hand to help you push through and succeed.

Jewelry 1 projects, silver and brass stacking rings, and an aventurine cabochon set in a bezel.    a wide silver ring with an av
Jewelry 1 Projects

So what did my classmates and I learn in Jewelry 1? It's was all about hand skills, with lots of sawing, filing, and sanding. We learned how to make stacking rings. That includes (short list) wrapping wire, annealing, soldering, a bezel cup, and and setting a stone. Then we made a wide silver ring with a larger hand-made bezel.

Initially I planned to stop at Jewelry 1, or at least wait a while before taking the next class. But decided to continue while all was fresh in my mind.

A box ring in the process of being made.
Jewelry 2 Box Ring in Process

In Jewelry 2 we are working on hollow form pieces. I'm not sure how I will apply that to my own work. Inspiration will hit me one day. All knowledge is good.

I am one of the slower students in class, and often feel like I'm bringing up the rear. Some of my projects end up a bit tortured, like the bezel on my wide silver ring. That's ok, it was my first bezel. Sawing is easier, but may never be my favorite activity. I've broken my right wrist twice, and it has issues. I still mangle and melt pieces, yet soldering and I are becoming friends. Who knows what's next.

Shawl pins set with stones.
My New Shawl Pins with Bezels and Baubles

And...if you're wondering where these classes are leading. No, I'm not going to become a jeweler. I have no desire to make anything beyond shawl pins and scarf rings. I just want to do the best I can.

A few years ago, when I started this adventure, I was told Metalwerx was a waste of money. I don't remember where that information came from, but, boy, were they wrong. I wasn't planning on taking the advice anyway.

Keep learning, you're never to old,


May 1, 2022

If you would like information on Metalwerx here is the link:

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