My First Piece of Metalsmithed Jewelry

This is the first post of mine in a new series I have joined aligned with the Etsymetal blog carnival. For additional posts regarding this topic and EM, please see the links below.

My First Piece of Metalsmithed Jewelry....

Let me first start off by telling you that no, I do not have a photograph of my first piece. I am not a sentimental person when it comes to my work and I long ago scrapped all of my first pieces as looking at them just did not feel good.

I originally signed up for a metalsmithing class at a local art center because I was working full time at Kaiser Permanente as a medical underwriter and going to school full time at night for a degree in Risk Management. I felt overwhelmed with work and realized that if I didn't have something of my own that I enjoyed I was going to burn out. I signed up for a set of ten metalsmithing classes and continued to take classes once a week as I finished the last two years of my degree.

The first project in the class was a basic Egyptian Spiral Bracelet. This is a fairly easy concept but we soldered closed all of the spirals. I quickly realized that I was not going to be one of those innately talented metalsmiths who just automatically picked things up and ran with them. I actually enjoy sharing this portion of the story as many people I talk with are surprised and I think it brings them a little inspiration.

I was a TERRIBLE metalsmith for a long time. Nothing came easily to me. When I picked up a saw, my lines were crooked, when I made spirals, they were uneven, when I soldered, I had lumps. I was probably one of the least talented people in the class and it was embarrassingly hard for me to continue. However, I realized one thing early on. Some people can pick up a guitar, take a few lessons, and begin. Some must learn step by step, note by note, string by string, how to play the guitar. In the end, the result will be the same, two people playing guitar. This is something I hung on to as I learned to metalsmith. There were many people in the class who just seemed to have the natural ability to pick up any tool and use it well. I had to spend grueling hours to hone and practice my skills until I achieved success.

If I were to go back and make an Egyptian Spiral Bracelet today I am sure that I would find success. However, one of the things I have realized about my abilities as a metalsmith and in general is to focus on what you are good at. If you have weaknesses in a particular craft look for ways to move around them or practice them until you achieve perfection. There are still a few areas in metalsmithing that I fall short in (no, I'm not going to tell what.) but..... I have learned other techniques to support the fact that I have weaknesses and I have chosen to move in directions that maximize my strengths and not my weaknesses.

So if you are thinking about learning to metalsmith and you are overwhelmed by how terribly difficult it looks..... stop looking at the mountain at begin focusing on the single next step. One step at a time is all it takes..... and sometimes...... the ability to not give up makes all the difference.

For others blog posts about first metalsmithed pieces, please follow the links below for additional inspiration:

1. Sara Westermark
2. Nina Gibson
3. Danielle Miller-Gilliam
4. Beth Cyr
5. duckduckGoose
6. Caitlyn Davey
7. Laura Crawford
8. Tamra Gentry
9. andes cruz -
10. Cynthia Del Giudice:
11. libby Rosas
12. Nina Dinoff
13. Clare Stoker
14. kerin rose
15.Quercus SIlver


Beth Cyr said...

Oh i wish i could see it! i'm sure its much better than you are letting on. my spirals are still uneven and solder is still sometimes lumpy! ha!

kerin rose said...

Delias... I wish to have seen your piece, but love that you shared this story!...such a great reminder that many times it is passion, desire, and commitment that truly is the key to mastery!

ps my spirals are uneven still too!...lets start a new style trend!