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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Jewelry for My Final for Jewelry Making Class

There is almost always something to learn everywhere.

People questioned why someone who's been making jewelry for 15 years would want to take a Jewelry Making class at the local community college.  Man, a ton of reasons.
  • I got to try techniques I hadn't tried before.
  • I got to test out machinery I'd never used before.
  • I met some amazing people who are nice and artistic and inspiring.
  • I learned many, many things that would be considered "tricks of the trade" where people do things just a bit different that you've been doing them and it's fun to learn new ways of doing things and little tips along the way.
We had our final today.  Next week's class is kind of a party day.  I'm sad to see the class come to an end and we aren't allowed to repeat the class.

But let me show you some of what I learned and/or did.

The first day we learned wire-wrapping.  I have to admit I find this necklace to be the most uninspiring piece of the bunch (that's my fault).  I was so uninspired I stopped the wire-wrapping and just added chain to finish it up.

It was really weird using not my tools, not my beads, not my focal.... mostly the "not my tools" part.  My three Lindstrom staples (cutters, chain nose, round nose) are like finger extensions I'm so used to them.  Anyway, there it is.

I made a second piece to atone for how I felt about the first piece.  Here is it.

Do you recognize some vintage Alex beads

We got two homework assignments the first day.  One was to make a piece of jewelry from found or alternative materials (non traditional jewelry making supplies).

I made a "kitchen" necklace from Home Depot tubing filled with cut up old recipes and spices, then I made a bracelet from washers from Home Depot, then I added a pair of earrings made from vintage Bingo game pieces.

The second assignment was to make several designs of our initials in 1.5" squares or circles and bring the designs in the next week.  At which point we learned the basics of saw pierce work.  I call this my super hero necklace.

I was having fun with saw piercing.  Although I'd done it in the past (but only like twice), I felt like I understood the process better now.  So I cut out this deer (inspired by a cave painting in Utah) and it sat around for awhile until we covered rolling mill and rivets.

The following week we learned about carving wax for casting.  Here's a ring I carved with some koi on it but ended up not casting it.

And here's the bronze ring I did cast... yes, it's super beefy.

I learned I don't really enjoy carving wax.  I also don't enjoy cleaning jewelry after it's been cast.  Shrug.

We made scarf pins...

And formed bracelets (that I attempted to be artistic with by fusing/soldering a bunch of copper and silver scraps to)...


Practiced soldering some more, this time with a plain silver band that I'd stamped a msg inside...

We formed torque necklaces.  I embellished mine with a copper do-dad and another Alex bead...

Practiced with the rolling mill to complete some cuff bracelets and a pair of earrings...


We moved on to bezel setting...


We played around with enamels...


During enamel time, I took advantage of the array of colors (particularly transparents since my own collection of transparents is sorely lacking) and made sample color charts.

For two of the sets I compared the transparents directly on copper with the same transparents over a white base...

We practiced with texturing and forming...

And the one thing I didn't even have an interest in trying, I ended up rather enjoying... repoussé...

I have one more round to go with my repoussé and chasing tools, then I have to decide how to turn this into a piece of jewelry.

And speaking of tools, we ended up making our own.

First I got this inexpensive set of pin punches from Harbor Freight...

Then I use a large grinder to shape the ends...

Then used the belt sander to remove the razor edge top and to slightly round the corners...

And last, I buffed each piece with tripoli...

Tada!  My own set of chasing tools!

Our finals were yesterday and next Monday is the last day of class.  I will miss everyone and working together to explore new techniques and ideas.

Oh, yesterday I did try the one thing I'd not done before... reticulation.  I had a very hard time seeing what was going on under the torch so had to do more of a "feel the force" kind of thing than actually seeing what I was doing.  Some of the pieces came out okay.  I'll add photos when I get my binder back from being graded.


  1. That class sounds like it would be a blast. So jealous. Wish my college would offer something like this.

  2. This sounds like what I have been looking for, I need to look in my area to see if classes like this are available ~ What fun! ;-D

  3. I really enjoyed your post. It lokks like you had fun. And I have to agree on one point. Cleaning up castings is never fun.