Review. Silver Ring Making Day (led by Francesca Biggar), January 2010, WhiteHouse Arts, Cambridge
Thinking back to this particular Saturday over two years ago is this very moment giving me a fluttery happy feeling inside! I vividly recall calling J at the end of my day, arranging to meet at the Green Dragon and enthusing, possibly somewhat dementedly, about what an exciting time I’d had, what I’d learned and what I’d made. Warning: this is not going to be an objective review!
Following my aforementioned printmaking misadventure I stumbled across a local venue running a range of art courses. A large white building, passed many a time with no notion of all of the fun that could be had inside. Located opposite a towpath on the river Cam. I had been running past it, literally, for years. All of that was about to change. Something shiny had caught my eye – silver jewellery making.
With no room on the regular evening courses, I leapt at the chance to try my hand at a one-day workshop in ring making. This one day completely changed me. I was confronted with all sorts of very industrial tools – saws, hammers, blowtorches! My father might happily inform anyone who cared to listen how reluctant I had been to any of his approaches towards teaching me some practical skills with similar implements. But… when the end result meant getting to own and wear shiny silver hand made jewellery, it was a different story altogether.
The studio was big, light, airy and well stocked with a multitude of those mysterious tools. The group were friendly, tea and biscuits were at arms reach in the studio and the owner of the house, Caroline had kindly cooked soup which we enjoyed together at lunch time. The lovely tutor, Francesca, organized the day really well. She gave great instructions that even complete newcomers such as myself could take on board and managed to get round to help out with queries or wobbles.
There was a great sense of completion for everyone as we all managed to make at least one, if not two (!) rings. Mine were simple bands, one using square wire with a leaf texture and one hammered d shaped wire. Sizing was unpredictable to say the least. (I insisted on wearing the hammered one thereafter despite its gapingly large size and managed to lose it for several weeks in the interior of my parents car. Eventually my insistence about the price of silver and its sentimental value encouraged my brother to fish it out (thanks John!)). But - the main thing - they were discernibly rings, they were wearable, they were shiny and polished. They were the best thing since sliced bread as far as I was concerned.
There would be more silversmithing!
Hammer and Pickle ratings:
Value – 5/5 Hammers: The workshop was amazing value for the level of tuition and amount of equipment provided. Rings are a good starting point budget wise due to their size. The price of silver has rocketed up significantly in the last couple of years though and overall it is an expensive hobby (oops!).
Vibes - 5/5 Hammers: Lovely! Friendly, informal, focussed enough to ignore the tea and biscuits. Most of the time.
Pickle rating – 2/5 Pickles: Despite my enthusiasm, this wasn’t the easiest craft I’ve tried to master. That’s probably what I like about it – the challenge. I don’t clearly remember my pickles, but do remember needing Francesca’s help a good few times. And, on this day I did inflict my worst jeweller’s injury to date – I cut my hand with the piercing saw. Something to avoid. This really stung.