Monday, January 17, 2011

How I spent my Saturday



I had a chance to study with a masterful, experienced silversmith of 30 years over the weekend, and once again entered my discomfort zone. Husband and wife Jerry and Fran Harr do a lot of the same local shows that I do, and we've struck up a friendship over the years. Their jewelry is exquisite - fine craftsmanship and materials combine to make unforgettable and unique pieces. I was thrilled when Jerry said he'd be willing to teach me what he knows about silversmithing, and jumped at the chance to grab an introductory one day session with he and Fran in their Northern California studio.

soldering001
Jerry solders prongs on "his" half of the pendant.

Humbled, excited, afraid, and energized, are a few of the emotions I'm feeling after our day together. I went from feeling very accomplished about a new bead design I've just created to feeling like a fish out of water, gasping for air. But I know that there's some wonderful things I can create if I spend the time to perfect my new skills.

hinge001
Jerry demonstrates how to make a hinge.

In the same day I was told I was too tentative, too shy with the tools, but on some things I was too aggressive. With swift moves he firmly formed metal around a mandrel, and with a few well placed blasts of the flame he fused pieces together with solder. He made everything look so easy, and when I took my turn in the chair to try it, I was humbled. I figured I'd have an advantage with my few metalsmithing skills, my knowledge of the flame and all, but it didn't get me very far. Sure, I could light the little propane/O2 super hot micro torch, and I did avoid burning things up, but soldering and using the Foredom tool seemed clumsy to me and I think I almost soldered my pick to my piece of silver.

But Jerry and Fran were both very generous with their knowledge and time and I learned a lot. There are a few key things I need to add to my modest metalsmithing bench, but they'll take me far. So, with much flourish, I present the finished project that we completed:



It's just a simple half round wire frame onto which we soldered some prongs, and inside floats one of my straight sided lentil beads. A generously sized simple bale lets this pendant slide on any chain, and the bead spins freely inside the cage. You can't even see the bead hole.

It was one long day, but we blasted through soldering, bezels, sawing, hinges, earring posts, polishing and buffing. Jerry and Fran were wonderful teachers, and I hope to schedule another class sometime after I can practice all of these things first. But first, I have to unwrap my new Rio Grande catalog...

10 comments:

Bobbie Pene said...

Wow what a gorgeous pendant! I think I will have to do a workshop in basic metalsmithing. I think it is so rewarding to say something was completely handmade by you :)

Karolen said...

Beautiful pendant Patty! Great design!

Deb said...

It sounds like a perfect day Patty. the results are stellar - simple yet elegant...my kind of favourite!!

I'm working on my metalsmithing skills, but by bit when I have the energy. We'll see how that goes.

Daniela Ellenberger said...

Wow, you made a beautiful pendant.
Daniela

mairedodd said...

this is beautiful... i am so glad you got to have the time with them... you will be thinking about this day for a long time... take notes, sketch drawings - and keep working at it... imagine how it will feel when you no longer have the sense of being a fish out of water!

TesoriTrovati said...

Ooh! That is so beautiful. I love that you worked to find a solution to showcase that beautiful bead. And here's to learning something new!
Enjoy the day!
Erin

Snowcatcher said...

Wow! If you hadn't shared the range of your emotions, I would have thought nothing but joy came out of and went into this. Stunning!

EB Bead and Metal Works said...

The necklace is fantastic! It sounds like you had a blast and that is the best part!

Patty said...

Thank you all. It was a wonderful day. Humbling, but loads of fun and very inspiring.

Pretty Things said...

Beautiful work!

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