It’s the cusp of the new month, the month of May, signifying a number of things: the fullness of Spring (my favorite season), craft show season is well underway, the impending anniversary of my nascence (also known as my birthday, woo hoo!) and the end of semester for those in school. I am included in the latter, as I’ve been fortunate enough to take a few Small Metals Sculpture classes with an emphasis on jewelry at American River College in Sacramento. This semester I’ve been studying Fabrication and Casting, two different classes that marry well together in the creation of art jewelry.
Fabrication refers to the construction of a piece using various techniques to cut, join, shape or form the piece, including but not limited to cutting and sawing, joining with heat (soldering/brazing) or “cold connections” (rivets, adhesives, etc), bending and forging. Casting is the process of creating a form using molten metal, usually with a mold, which can be made from various materials including charcoal, sand, rubber and wax (ever heard of lost wax casting?). A piece that has been cast can be finished as is, or it can be a step in the overall process, fabrication methods being employed to create the finished piece. The benefit of taking both classes allows me to do just that.
I’m currently working on a piece that combines casting and fabrication techniques of riveting, brazing and stone setting. It’s a custom ring that has become a semester-long project, and I’m excited to see how it turns out. Other pieces I have created include pendants that combine glasswork pieces created last fall with recently designed metalwork. Check out tula in bloom on Instagram for works in progress as well as new pieces.
Most of the jewelry making skills I have are self-taught, and while I appreciate the freedom that affords (not limited by what I supposedly “can’t” do with materials), it’s also extremely beneficial to learn more efficient processes that also shorten the trial and error phase, because realistically I can’t do everything I want with certain materials (hello, Physics!). One of the many pearls of wisdom I received from instructor Monty Clark, a fine jewelry maker with over 40 years experience, is the idea of taking a longview — considering the steps required to create a piece and making sure the prior step aids, rather than hinders, the next step. These classes have also provided opportunity to learn new skills and techniques I may not have come upon on my own, expanding my knowledge base and providing new fertile fields for inspiration.
Have you had the opportunity to learn something new this season? If so, how have you applied it to your life? Feel free to respond in the comments below.
Want to learn more about jewelry making? Check out the following resources:
- The Complete Metalsmith, An Illustrated Handbook by Tim McCreight. A comprehensive reference tool that is a great resource for every would-be jewelry maker interested in metalwork.
- Art Jewelry Magazine. Not only does it have tips and step-by-step instructions for making featured pieces, it also showcases amazing artists and their innovative works.
- YouTube! It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say you can learn anything on YouTube.
- Classes in your local area. Community colleges and local art galleries and stores are wonderful (and affordable) resources to learn new skills.
Wishing you daily inspiration and the joy of discovery!
Find what makes you bloom.