The summer of 2000 I had my first office job. Just out of my freshman year of college I thought I needed to join the real workforce. And upon enlisting I immediately regretted it. All I took away from that summer were hours in the copy room, data entry and the fear of making blind calls. The only good that came with the job were the people.
Near the end of the summer, when my unease sitting at a desk all day had become apparent, the accountant came back from a lunch with one of the organization’s board members and said, “Claire. I think I’ve found a place you would love. It’s a stained glass studio and it’s a mess.” And it was a mess. A beautiful mess. The board member owned the stained glass studio and kindly hired me the following year. The next summer I spent each day snipping lead, cutting glass and soldering everything together. And when the summer ended I returned to business school.
Even though stained glass wasn’t my calling, working with those tools each day was something I loved. Since then I’ve dreamed of making jewelry in the same fashion, but have never really pursued it. And then a few weeks ago I grabbed some metal and my motley assortment of tools, and then tried to make some jewelry. For some reason I think I should just know how to do everything right away with no background, no education, no experience. Ten minutes later, with a messy pile of metal scrap next to me, I was grumbling to Regan about how horrible I am at everything (failure tends to escalate rapidly in my world). My dream of making jewelry would have ended right there, in tears, if I hadn’t married such a smart man. While I was grumbling, he was looking up jewelry making and metalsmithing classes for me.
Today was my first day at Introduction to Metalsmithing at the Indianapolis Arts Center. Over the next four weeks I’ll learn to cut, heat, solder, pound and have patience as our teacher navigates us through each important step of metalsmithing. And I think I’m going to like it. In three short hours I had a tour of the studio, orientation on how to use torches, and how to join and solder jewelry. I even managed to come out with two sterling silver rings.
These two rings are made from gauge 14 and 16 silver wire that is joined, soldered and then hammered on a ring mandrel to size 5.5. They are hammered so that the surface is faceted, not smooth. I’m a big fan of the texture and am enjoying wearing them stacked on either side of my wedding band.
Even though our teacher has promised we’ll walk out wearing something new next week, I’m just trying to focus on what else I can learn, not what more I can create. At least not yet. When I get ahead of myself it always ends badly.