You may remember I am taking a jewelry class, my first one ever. We met for the second session on June 26. It’s being held at the Abington Art Center, about 10 minutes from my house.
The art center is located in a former home, Alverthorpe Manor, located on 27 acres that include a sculpture garden. The center hosts exhibits, music event, and a kids’ summer camp, among other things, as well as the studio school.
I head for the studio entrance in the wing to the right:
Today we worked on a new skill: sawing metal. We learned about the saw, how to put in blades, and how to maneuver to make the cuts.
My previous experience with sawing wood with a hand saw had alerted me to my tendencies: I push that saw hard, I bear down, I don’t make even strokes. All of this is counterproductive. All of it also happened with the jewelry saw. I need to work on developing a light easy touch. And not to get mad when it sticks or does not behave as I would like.
Well, I chose a piece of brass, having no idea what to do with it. I marked out a nose and a mouth. After breaking quite a few blades and with the instructor’s help, I ended up with this:
You maybe can see the beginnings of a face. All right. The saw and I have taken each other’s measure. Next time I will be better with it, I think.
Next thing, what to do with this guy? I’m not even thinking about what kind of jewelry it is supposed to be. I’m looking to figure out what tools I’d like to work with and see what ideas they give me.
The teacher gave me a couple of hammers. I used one to make the texture marks (originally the metal was smooth all over). After a lot of hammering, it looked like this, front and back:
I like hammering and adding texture and I like the look of either side of the piece. Next we talked about some eyes. I had an idea – could I take another kind of metal and make a couple of eyes? I asked, and the teacher brought out a set of chasing tools (look here for some examples).
You use these tools in this manner: set the pattern end on the metal you want to mark (which is in turn sitting on a steel block) and hammer sharply a few times. The metal will be impressed by whatever the pattern is. You can combine the forms to make elaborate images or designs, too.
The collection included many lines and shapes. For practice I combined a couple of selections to make eyes. Here you see the concave view, the direct way I made an image of an eye. I figured I could cut the eyes out in a square and solder them to the brass face.
Then the teacher showed me that I could also consider the other side, the convex image. This is called repousse.
All right. Now my mind feels full of possibilities for next week. And I had to laugh at myself – my desire to make collages is now showing up in metalwork.
I tried a couple of other things. Here is a piece of copper that had a hole punched out of it (there are tools to punch out circles in a variety of sizes) that I ran through the rolling mill. I also had a piece of copper that first had a pattern impressed on it (via the smooth rollers of the rolling mill and a pattern piece put through it) and then lines, from the grooved section of the rolling mill.
Lastly, the instructor gave me a piece of wire that I experimented with, hammering it with flat smooth hammers:
and then using the chisel-like hammer to make grooves and patterns:
I also practiced bending the wire into a variety of shapes, just seeing what I could come out with.
Though there was no finished product today, I came away with knowledge of some new tools and techniques that I could add to my work process. As you might think, if you don’t know what the tools are for a medium, or the techniques of using them, your options are limited, as are your ideas. You have to try things out before you can take the next steps of figuring out what you want to do. And you can’t get upset about the utter ineptitude of your efforts. Laughing and trying again is a better strategy!
I now feel I have some direction as to what kind of things I’d like to make and what techniques appeal to me. I’m going to make a list and think it over before the next class. The instructor is really good at offering options, guiding us, letting us explore, but not letting us get too far out there and becoming lost.
As you can see, I am enjoying the new experiences!