Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year, New Directions, New Skills

Tacoma Metal Arts CenterBesides being a month for inventory and bookkeeping, January has become a month for learning. I kicked off the new year with a intensive metalsmithing weekend at Tacoma Metal Arts Center in Tacoma. Three full days of sawing, filing, stamping, hammering, texturing, bezel setting stones, making rings, chain fabrication and lots of soldering. What fun! I hope to have time in the next several months to create some new designs incorporating what I learned.

Amy Reeves, the owner and our instructor is a tool junkie and we had quite the array of hand and power tools to experiment on. The Center is a cozy spot, well laid out with separate stations for each type of work.

Day one had us sawing and filing. The class was small so there was plenty of individual instruction.  I was not too bad at this. Slow and steady, a gentle grip and patience were key. I selected a leaf pattern and got down to business. I was so focused I did not take too many pictures of the work in process. I also began a cuff bracelet that went through many changes as the weekend wore on. My goals were to try and incorporate as many techniques as possible, rather than work on a specific design or outcome. Below is what I had at the end of day 1.

Day two was focused on rings and bezel setting a stone, new techniques to me. I had no idea how much work goes into such a ring!  For fun I chose to work with a small beach stone I had brought along. We each had our own jewelers bench to work on. I just may have to get me one of these. I was also lucky that many of the tools I needed were stored just behind me within easy reach. Love the pull out for hammers!

At the end of day two I had a ring, bezel and my stone. Because my stone was not symmetrical I marked it with a piece of tape so I knew the top and which direction it went into the bezel.

Day three we needed to finish up all of our projects. First up was finishing the ring and setting the stone. My word that took a lot of polishing! So many little wheels and compounds. Here are my finished projects. I do not usually wear rings so I was surprised how comfortable it is. The copper leaf pendant has a small brass nest filled with 3 sterling eggs. I may add some patina to the leaf.

The bracelet has a story. The lower portion represents the edge of the ocean, the brass wire is the edge of the water. The indented wave is the mark left on the sand by water as the tide goes out. The texture on the top is the beach and then I added a beach pebble. The setting for the pebble needs to be redone as I have an idea for a better way to do it so the prongs are even. And the I need to soften the edges as they are a bit sharp.

Check out the TMAC website for a list of their classes. There are classes for all skill levels, one day, multi-day. I will definitely be taking more. They also sell a variety of tools and supplies. You can see examples of the work of other students on their Facebook page. Below are some pictures of the other students work from my class.



Julene Koyen said...

This is awesome Ann! Look forward to seeing your creations!!

robin said...

This looks like fun! I love that you used beach stones.... carry on!

Ann said...

Thank you Julie. I am excited to do some new things.

Ann said...

Thanks Robin. I have a few small flat stones I collected on the beach near my home and I thought they would present more of a challenge since they are not flat backed like a traditional cabochon stone. I was glad I made that choice. I really like the way the ring turned out.