Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Mr CA and I went on a fab silversmithing workshop ran by the local college at a local venue The Textile Workshop.  Yes, you read that right, Mr CA came with me!  It's his first time to one of my craft classes but it's something he's fancied giving a go for a while and we have talked about it in the past.  I found this class on the Textile Workshop's website and as it was £38 per person for a 2-day course (excluding materials) there was no way I was passing it up!

It was a great class, the tutor - Lisa Pearson - was brilliant and we both enjoyed it.  Mr CA will be my beautiful assistant, demonstrating the various stages we went through to make these rings.  (I made these rings, Mr CA made a masculine one for himself).

We started with 2mm silver wire which we bent around a ring mandrel and hammered with a rawhide mallet to get it to the correct size and a perfect circle.

As there was an overlap, we used a piercing saw (like a hacksaw) on a bench peg to saw the join between the overlaps to make our ring bases.

This is what you come out with after that stage:

Then comes the fun bit - soldering!  The join is painted with flux which is a liquid that helps the solder to run.  A tiny pallion of hard solder was added to the join and then you use a blowtorch to melt the solder into the join.

It is quenched in cold water, then placed into pickle - an acid-based liquid heated to 60 degrees centigrade - to burn off the fire scale.  It's then rinsed in cold water.  Then it was time to file to get the joins lovely and perfect.

It was about this time that I became so engrossed in what I was doing that I forgot to take many more photos!  At this stage you could hammer the ring with a ball pein (round) or cross pein (wide and short) hammer to create a texture.  I did that on 2 of my rings.  I forgot to say at the start, we were making a set of 5 stacking rings, though I quickly discovered my fingers are too stumpy for 5 rings, so I made a set of 2 stacking rings to be worn with 1 spacer, and a single ring to be worn with 2 spacers.

I cut out these shapes from 0.8mm silver metal sheet using the piercing saw we used to cut the rings.  It was quite tricky and fiddly but I didn't cut myself.  I hammered some dots on one of the flowers (that's what they're supposed to be!) and for a tail of the bunny using a centre punch which is a spike you hit with a hammer.  There's a lot of hammering in silversmithing!

I shaped the flower using this.  This is a doming block and the doming punches to use with it.  I put the flowers into the concave slots, then hammered the punch on top to create the curves.  I made a couple of silver balls by just heating a small piece of silver, then soldered these into the rings.  The ring tops were then soldered onto the bases using easy solder, pickled and rinsed.

The penultimate step is to clean up the rings using needle files and them emery paper of various grades until the rings are as perfect as you can get them.  As you can see in the above photo, the soldering process leaves them white.  We put them into a barrel polisher and they came out all sparkly!

Here are the spacer rings with the bunny, can you see the light glinting off the spacer rings?

I had a bit of time left, so I used a piece of copper to cut some circles using a circle punch, then domed them in the doming block.  I drilled top and bottom, except for one which was just drilled at the bottom.  I plan to do some enamelling on them and turn them into a pendent.

I also used some more 2mm wire to make necklace connectors.  I spiralled them using pliers which was really difficult as the wire was so thick.  I then ran them through the rolling mill which flattens them.  I have plans for these, hopefully I'll show you before too long.  I also pierced out the heart, though I didn't have much time for finishing it properly.  I think I'll texture it, then I can use it in a piece.

Well that was a long post!  It was a brilliant class and I WILL be doing more silversmithing!  I'm on the waiting list for an evening class, but I also intend to do some at home... watch this space (but not too soon, you know how it takes me an age to get to anything!).  This class was also responsible for pulling me out of a depressive episode which just shows the power of craft!


Sharon - creativity and family said...

They are amazing, what a fantastic opportunity and far better than that is the therapeutic effect it had for you. Craft really is just amazing in the way it can lift us. Take care xx

Rachel said...

In particular, the power of learning a new skill and seeing things change and develop before your very eyes!

Sandra :) said...

Your apprentice/hubby is quite handsome -- at least - his hands are! ;) Silversmithing would be a mega fun class to take - it sounds like you had a great time, and your rings are sweet :) Where's hubby's piece de resistance?

Second Chance Tan said...

These are wicked, and how cool that Mr CA came along with you too. looking forward to seeing you showing these lovelies off at a guild meeting soon xxx

Jane Galley said...

What a great class, and great you were able to go with hubby

margaret said...

you both certainly got a lot out of this class, not surprised to see a bunny on one of your rings!

Chris of UK City Crafter said...

Sounds as if you had a brilliant couple of days, your rings are great.so nice to learn new skills.

Anonymous said...

that looks like great fun! always lovely to learn a new craft

pennydog said...

These are amazing, so glad I saw these in real life. Enamelling on copper looks awesome, I can't wait to see it. I bought a kiln to do it once and never did get round to doing very much.

Jo Ferguson said...

I've always wanted to try metalwork. All those tools and torches fascinate me. Thanks for sharing the process. Love the rings, especially the bunny.

Sarah in Stitches said...

Oh, that sounds so interesting! I'd love to try a class like this. Love the pieces you made! :D

Janice / Dancing with Sunflowers said...

Well done! That looks like a great course, and especially so that your husband came along too. I imagine he wouldn't want to do many of the more girly crafts you do! :) Your rings are great! And just £38 for two days! Wow!

Have you ever used silver clay? That's something I would quite like to have a go at.

Jorie said...

Great job! I learned to use a soldering iron in 3rd grade and haven't touched one since.

Janine said...

I was fascinated to read about your course in such detail. It sounds and your rings have turned out beautifully. I'll look forward to discovering your plans for the necklace clasps. I was amazed to learn you can actually squash silver flat like that.