Winter Days: Silversmithing Class

In August, I signed up on a whim for a class at a local arts centre – 10 Wednesday evenings learning how to work with silver.

Annoyingly, I lost about five of those Wednesdays to work, illness or sheer bloody exhaustion. The autumn drew in and it got dark and I found it harder and harder to leave the house once I’d got home.

The other five were great fun. I got to: use a saw, use a blowtorch, hit bits of silver with a hammer, solder bits of silver to other bits of solder, use a polishing machine, use a pendant drill. The tutor was great: he showed us how to use things and then let us get on with them, and encouraged us strongly to come up with our own designs. This is pretty much exactly how I learn and work, so I thought it was great.

I made a ring, a bangle and a sort of torc (the last I need to polish up). I was reasonably pleased with all of them – largely on the level of ‘I made a thing!’; they were not perfect by any means, but still, making a thing is pleasing enough in itself. I would need quite a lot of practice to get good, that’s the trouble, and one evening a week – often an evening that doesn’t actually happen – isn’t enough. And of course one’s restricted in terms of tools: I have neither the money nor the space for my own workshop, and can do very little without one.

I enjoyed such of the course as I was able to get to, but I think that at the moment I need to stick to things I can do on the dining table. In the end, perhaps the most useful lesson I learned was how much I can reasonably expect of myself on a work evening.

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