Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My first...

I thought I'd do a series of blogging of some of my metalsmithing firsts. The idea was to do this in chronological order, however, I can't find some of the *very first* things I ever made (dating back to my junior year of high school) and I don't feel like spending ages digging for them.

When they show up, they'll be blogged on, fear not!

Some background: I took my first smithing class my junior year of high school. I learned all of the basics - piercing, soldering, bezel-setting (very badly), casting, etc. My senior year I took another class. I continued the trend in college and took 3 classes there - honing my skills and picking up some new ones. I have ONE item of jewelry I made in high school (senior year, I believe) that I wear all of the time and love. The rest of it is kind of embarassing. College was more successful.

To start off, these are the faceted stones I set. They were preceded by a prong-set irregular slice of agate. When the urge hits me, I'll teach myself to bezel-set faceted stones, but at the time I was itching to learn prong-settings!

This was in my 3rd metalsmithing class in college (except we just called it jewelry). I bought the largest faceted stones I could afford to make it a little easier on myself. My best guess is that the round is 8mm and I think the oval is 10x13?

Blue topaz with handmade chain -
One thing I'm incredibly grateful to my college jewelry prof for is learning chain-making. In fact, my very first project in college (long lost, I'm sure) was a handmade chain. It took me some 13 hours. We made unique links, often with 5 or so soldering points per link. The chains were interesting and unique...and taught us some mad crazy soldering skillz.

You can't see the backside of the stone, but the tip of the stone actually sits on your skin. The setting is exactly what you see there - a round wire frame with 4 prongs holding the stone. That's about as simple as it gets. Let's just say jewelry prof was not too pleased with me when she realized I "cheated."

Smokey Quartz -

For the second prong setting, now that I knew I could prong set, I actually did a basket setting. I remember this whole pendant being amazingly difficult (though some parts just sort of happened like magic and surprised me). I'm still quite proud of myself that I DID it and to the standards I'd set for myself. *Everything* is soldered. Everywhere you see metal touching. I've been picky about that from day one...I always risked ruining the inner workings of my clasps so that the tiny ring attaching them would be soldered. I know how hard I am on my jewelry, and I hate the thought of leaving anything open!

Stay tuned for another "firsts" post next week!


Kate said...

Those are both gorgeous but the handmade chain is exquisite. :D

jessi sawyer said...

Thanks, Kate! I'm sure I'll make one again at some point.