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Why silversmithing at Chez Monique is the best

I really enjoyed making a shiny new ring from nothing but silver pieces, but I wanted to see if I could learn something new from a different style of instruction. I consulted the ever so smart Google, and found Chez Monique VERY highly rated on Trip Advisor. The price for a class was a couple of dollars more that what I paid for my first class, but it included more silver – up to 10 grams – which was double what the other class offered. So, I signed up and decided that this time I was going to make a ring with a stone set in it.

I arrived at Chez Monique and proceed through something like an alley to arrive in the instructor’s back yard. I had read online that classes were held at the family home, so I was prepared to see the chickens and roosters. LOL

rooster

When I got to the workshop area and the instructor spotted me, he quickly made his way over to me and introduced himself as being Wayan. He gave me a hug and asked if I wanted a cold or hot beverage, water, coffee, etc. He was so kind, and it immediately made me feel at home. There were a few other people finishing up projects, and the vibe was so warm and inviting. Wayan has a team to help, and the two other guys (I forget their names, so sorry!!) are amazing and talented, and will do anything they can to help you with your project.

Wayan brought me a water and showed me where I could sit, and asked if I knew what I wanted to make. I found out that he didn’t have any gems/cabs on hand, but if I brought some with me next time, he could definitely teach me how to set them. Since I had no stones to set, I thought I might try something different, but again, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make. Well, no problem! Wayan brought me about 6 binders of various ideas!! I poured over them and got super excited about so many ideas! I decided that I wanted to make some earrings like I had seen in a store in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I found a few photos that had elements of what I liked, and Wayan gave me paper and pencils to sketch some ideas.

I drew what I could, then consulted with Wayan and his team, showing them the photos of what I liked. I wanted to make a delicate little bird in a cage, and this would involve making two of the exact same design. I cut out the paper with my little bird drawing, and we glued it to two sheets of silver so everything could get cut the same, at the same time. Here is what it looked like to cut a tiny bird from two sheets thick of silver.

Once the bird was cut and the edges sanded a bit, I was taught how to use stamping tools to emboss the wings and feather details. Here’s what the bird looked like once I added the details.

To make the cage outside, I wanted to do a double strand of twisted wire, so Wayan softened up the wire.

The wire was folded in half and wrapped around a nail so I could twist it. Once my two pieces were ready, I had help attaching them to the perch bottom.

I wasn’t comfortable using fire and melting things, so I left it to the professionals. 🙂

Here are my original sketches, and the almost finished earrings.

They suggested I try a patina – I think that’s what it’s called – anyhow, it made the crevices darker and created an awesome contrast! At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but that’s another wonderful thing about Wayan and his team – there are no mistakes, everything can be fixed! It helps make the atmosphere of the classes more relaxed and carefree, allowing for more fun and creativity!

I think it’s also worth mentioning that nothing beats working outside in the fresh air. I never felt hot or uncomfortable, and I think it was much more inspiring being outdoors rather than in a stuffy studio inside. 🙂

And here is the finished product after the patina and polishing! They gave me a lovely little organza bag to take them home in as well.

The day was so wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to go back – so I did –  two more times! I made a pendant and another ring.

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