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!
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 http://www.riogrande.com/.
4/0 Laser Gold saw blades
Round nose pliers
Flat nose pliers
20 gauge sterling silver 1” x 6”
Silver Solder…hard, medium & easy
Old crock pot & copper tongs
Pickle (acid to mix with water and heat in the crock pot)
A dremel tool with attachments
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!!