Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Artist PlayDate: Take a Tour, Learn a New Skill and Enter a Fabulous Giveaway from an Amazing Artist, The Silver Lake Studio!

Have you ever visited The Silver Lake Studio? Well, if you have then you just sat up a little straighter and moved a little closer to your computer to see what is coming and if you haven't, I know you will be stopping over for a visit as soon as you finish reading!

Sherry, creator of The Silver Lake Studio, is a talented metalsmith who creates many one-of-a-kind items. This woman, who always has a kind word to share and is filled with good humor, makes gorgeous pieces of jewelry. When you visit her shop, you will find yourself marveling at her talent for creating such eye-catching, unique pieces.

Today, this fabulous artist takes us on a tour of her studio, and teaches us how to make an unforgettable pendant in her "So, you want to be a metalsmith..." tutorial which is followed by an awesome Giveaway!

So, You Want To Be A Metalsmith…

This is a lofty goal and one that requires great commitment. Why, you ask? Well, there are a number of tools you will need, in addition to raw materials. This is not an inexpensive hobby; it is a commitment to a career.

I began making jewelry a very long time ago. I started with beads but I have laminate floors, and was always spilling the beads. When they’d hit the floor, they’d bounce everywhere. I was constantly sweeping up beads! So I switched gears and discovered my true passion. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t do something jewelry related.

There are self-taught metalsmiths out there, so I know it can be done….especially now with all the online tutorials available. However, I chose to take hands-on classes, and it was definitely the right choice for me. First, I had to get over my fear of the torch. Fire just frightens me which is a good thing because I now have a very healthy respect for the torch and tank, and the potential dangers.

If you start out taking classes, most facilities will be well-equipped with a wide range of tools and equipment. This is nice for a new student because you can spread out your tool purchases over time. Yet, this means, you will be limited on what you can do at home.

Following is a list of some basic supplies you can get started with. All are available at

Jewelers Saw
4/0 Laser Gold saw blades
Assorted Sandpapers
Round nose pliers
Flat nose pliers
20 gauge sterling silver 1” x 6”
Silver Solder…hard, medium & easy
Yellow flux
Old crock pot & copper tongs
Pickle (acid to mix with water and heat in the crock pot)
A dremel tool with attachments
Polishing compounds
A small butane torch (also available from Williams Sonoma)

Now, I’ll show you around my studio. And, I want you to know, it’s never this organized in real life!

This is a standard jeweler’s bench. It’s about countertop height and you sit low so your work is at eye level. On the bench is a ceramic tile with a firebrick on it, topped by a charcoal block. This is where I do soldering. You’ll also notice my first torch, a portable unit that works with regular butane that you can find at Walgreens.

You’ll notice that the bench is right up next to a window. In the window is a box fan. When soldering, I open the window and turn on the fan. This helps to pull the fumes out; I also wear a mask.

Also on the bench is my jeweler’s saw, saw blades and a chunk of wax to lubricate the blade before you saw. (I get a manicure every 2 weeks and I get to dip my hands in hot wax. After the wax cools, I peel it off and bring it home!!)

On this worktable is, from the left, a ring mandrel, disc cutter, dapping set and rolling mill. Behind those is a pickle pot. There is also a Dremel tool, tumbler and a metal cutter.

And, Hubby made me this handy hammer rack! (here’s a side note…he has spent the last 3 days gutting my walk-in closet, painting it and customizing it for me. It is awesome, and so is he.)

For safety, there is a paper mask, a respirator and safety glasses. While working, you’ll stir up a lot of dust, sanding particles and sawdust from drilling holes in metal, so I wear a mask. And on more than one occasion, I have sent a piece of metal flying through the air. (And, I usually never find it.) So I also wear safety glasses!

I keep my buffing/polishing machine in the garage. While using various compounds to buff and polish your work, this machine causes a mess, and you certainly do not want to breathe in that stuff, or have it all over your room.

Now, I’ll make a small pendant for Natasha to give away here. This photo shows the components needed to make the pendant.

First, I cut a small square of sterling sheet, and filed and sanded the edges smooth. I also made a small heart and a handmade bail. I melted a few small pieces of hard solder on the back of the bail and positioned it on the back of the square, added flux and soldered it down. I then melted some medium solder on the back of the heart, added some flux and soldered it on the front of the pendant. I quenched the piece in water and lowered it into the pickle pot. The acid removes any excess flux and other gunk. I left it in the acid for about 20 minutes. Afterward, I just buffed and polished it. Be cause it is a small piece, I was able to make it using only the little butane torch! I have serious fun playing with fire!! Here are photos of the soldering process, the last one showing the piece after soldering.

And, here is the finished pendant. It’s about ¾”tall, and ½”wide. It would be nice for someone who enjoys classic, understated pieces or the perfect gift for a young lady’s graduation.

What I have shown you here is the reason whyhand crafted jewelry is a little more expensive than stuff you see in the mall. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into producing a one of a kind jewelry piece.

But in the end, I think it’s worth it. I attend advanced metal fabrication classes at the Craft Guild of Dallas. I hope you can find something like it in your area.

Thank you so much, and don’t forget to enter the contest. I could be sending this pendant and chain to you!

I am convo friendly so feel free to ask any questions.


Drumroll, please.....and NOW our Giveaway!!

Isn't this pendant GORGEOUS?? And it's incredibly special because it was made specifically for you, the Thursday Sweet Treat reader! So I suggest you run over and take a peek at her fabulous work. To enter:

1. Please visit TheSilverLakeStudio and then in the comments section of this post tell me what item you love most.

2. Be sure to leave your name and email address so that I can contact the winner! The winner will be drawn at random. This giveaway begins February 25th and ends at midnight on March 1st. The winner will be announced on March 2nd!

Thank you, Sherry for this incredible tour, tutorial and giveaway! You are an inspiration. Keep creating and sharing!!


Melaina25 said...

Three Hearts Sterling Silver Pendant is my favorite! I love the shapes of the cut out hearts.

I can be contacted through my blog :)

Spatula said...

Thank you for telling us about your work and studio! I love the pendant - it looks so holdable. And I love looking at other artists' working spaces. Metal workers' tools are so interesting-looking :-D

I am undecided about which piece I liked best in the Etsy shop, because I liked so many. The top contenders are the Big Bang bracelet and the disk earrings.

KittsKrafts said...

Besides the give-a-way pendant I love the fused glass pendant--
I also like the Three Hearts pendant a lot. What a lot of hard work to make one! Great job!
You can contact me through my blog also--

TheClayMuse said...

Oh SilverLakeStudio I adore the sop! My absolute favorite has to be the pink topaz ring! If only I had the cash.. I would buy it this very second!
I can be contacted through my blog or email slightlycrackedcomic (at)

Thank you so much Natasha for bringing this wonderful shop to our attention (and for being so wonderful yourself!)

Natasha said...

Thank YOU to all of you for sharing your favs... love all the pieces mentioned in TheSilverLakeStudio's shop...although like Spatula have a hard time deciding! Thanks for all your love and support of this blog and the SilverLake!

Julia said...

Thanks for sharing your studio and what is involved with making your pieces.

I absolutely love the 3 hearts and sterling cuff bracelet.


Ceridwen said...

I'm drooling over the Big Bang Bangle - wow! And as an aspiring metalworking person, I loved this peek into a studio - thanks!

I can be reached via my blog at or

kathydkeith said...

I'm excited about your tutorial and your contest! I hope it brings you lots of Etsy traffic.

It IS a great little studio you have, Sherry!

I'm not posting favorites right now, but just HAD to comment.

your friend and Etsy bud, Kathy

Canadian Rockies Art - Nathalie Girard said...

Beautiful work and wonderful tutorial! I'm a self-taught metalsmith and still learning (we never cease to learn!)...

Love your shop, and I think the Sterling Silver Money Clip with leaf really rocks! Excellent design!

You can contact me at:

Good luck everybody!

HouseThatCrowBuilt said...

The Pansy Cuff Bracelet is my absolute fave! I know you had to put so much time and effort into that piece of art. I just love how feminine it is.

My email address is wendy.andy(@!)

Marilyn said...

I love this one:

It is gorgeous!

I noticed you said the first one to answer the question correctly wins. What was the question? LOL I think I'm missing something..

Anyways you can reach me on my etsy shop at or my email marilyn.huynh[at]

Thank you so much for the contest and the wonderful article.


Jenni said...

I love the lips.. I am all about lips...

Jenni - Australia..
I can be contacted on my blog or

lifeartdesigns said...

This is a great studio tour! I Love Sherry's work. I can't help myself, I have three that I just love in her shop and can't split them up!
This one: because it reminds me of driftwood on the beach. And this one: I think because I like the geometric shapes. And this one: Because I love fused glass and it reminds me of beach glass.
Great article!
Oh, and I also love the piece that is featured in the article! Do I have to pick just one???

Felicia Kramer said...

Although I don't wear a lot of jewelry, and what I do wear is pretty simple, that doesn't stop me from loving it and buying it!
I love the giveaway heart first, then the "Simple Sterling Silver Heart Pendant." I enjoyed the step-through of Silver Lake's process - very interesting, and makes you appreciate the art so much more. Thank you.

Rowena said...

Lo-ove the pink topaz ring. Love.

Great tutorial. I still want to learn silversmithing, but I can see it's going to have to be something that waits until the kids are at least in High School (10/11 years. It's a good thing I've got a full plate for those years.) I will have patience. Until then, I can watch how other people do it and dream.

Lorrie Veasey said...

Fabulous Etsy Store--hard to pick a favorite and now that I see all the work that goes into each piece I am even more in love with them all. Industrial Tubular Steampunk Pendant has to have one of my favorite names tho!!
And I lerves the pick me please. :)

jodi said...

Thank you Sherry for giving us a peek at your studio. I'm always curious about other people's work spaces.

I love the modern sterling silver heart and spiral pendant. Beautiful, simple, and elegent.

bootsonsunday said...

I love the work of James Avery and your work reminds me of his. Beautiful and unique. I love the Three Hearts best. It is the hint of love and the mystery of it.


Rose Works Jewelry said...

I LOVE the big bang sterling silver cuff :)

Thanks so much for the tour around your work shop and the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

My faves: make time for art necklace, modern heart with spiral, cascade earrings, bar earrings, and three hearts pendant. The abstract leaf is really creative too!