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My first experience with silversmithing

My first experience silversmithing was at Studio Perak. They have a few locations around Ubud, so the classes were not across the street from our hotel like I had hoped – oh well. I arrived at the workshop location and went upstairs to the classroom area.

Here is what my workspace looked like.

There were four other people in the class already, so I guess I must have been a few minutes late because they were starting on their projects already.

The instructor, whos name I never did get, asked me if I wanted to make a ring or a pendant, then he gave me some paper and told me to draw in 2-D what I wanted to make. I at least knew that I wanted to make a ring, but I had NO clue what the heck type of design I wanted. I thought they might have some ideas for us, but they just had a bowl with samples for us to get inspired from.

Now, I consider myself to be a creative person, why else would I be taking a jewelry making class, but faced with some blank paper and a bowl of “ideas”, I had no freaking clue what I wanted my ring to look like! I thought maybe there would be some stones, too, so we could learn how to set a gem, but I still had no good ideas – with or without stones.
As a side note, I later found out that there were gems/cabs for us to buy that the instructor showed to everyone at the beginning of class – guess I was later that I thought!

Anyhow, I was frustrated and a bit intimidated by the instructor to be quite honest because he just kept telling me to draw what I wanted to make. In his defence, he was helping the entire group on his own, and was kept pretty busy with all of the questions.

I finally decided that I would make a star – it’s a symbol that has a lot of significance for me – so I attempted to draw what I wanted. You can kind of see my pathetic sketches in the photo below.

After some discussion I think he understood what I wanted and he told me the next steps. I had to cut out the points to make up the star shape, and the round piece to make up the outside circle. I made the outside circle using the ring sizer tool, then the instructor came over and did the actual soldering – well, he held the fire but I pumped the gas. Here’s what the foot pump looked like.

Let me tell you, I found that a wee stressful because I kept pumping too hard, or too fast, or not fast enough LOL. Anyhow, I did that, then the next step was to roll the little pieces to make up the star so they were even and smooth. Well, at some point I lost one and rather than cutting more, I decided I’d be more organic with my thoughts and just start building something new for my design. Here are my would be star pieces ready to be fired up.

I laid out the pieces in different variations and what resulted was something that looked like a spoke in a wheel.The instructor fired those together, but I wasn’t thrilled with the design yet, so I decided it needed some little round balls for decoration. I had to cut little pieces of silver from the scrap bowl and he fired them into little balls. it was neat because the little scrap pieces were placed in this charred piece of wood where they turned into balls when melted. You can see the spoke off to the side too in the photo below.

Here is the ring once I placed the little silver balls on and he soldered them on for me.

There were a few more steps than what I captured with photos, like picking out the right thickness for the ring, sizing that piece, stamping it with my initials, then polishing the ring and making it SUPER shiny when it was all ready. I really enjoyed the polishing machine because it made such an amazing difference to how the ring looked.

By then end of the day I felt a lot better about my experience, and the instructor did seem to lighten up a bit as well. I’m pretty proud of what I did, but I really wanted to step up my newfound skills and try something more challenging, like setting a stone in a ring. So even though the day ended well, I set out looking for a different class where I might possibly learn different skills. Through the wonder that is Google and Trip Advisor, I found the amazing Chez Monique...

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