Most of my life I’ve been involved in creative hobbies of one kind or another: drawing, woodcarving, sculpture, ceramics, music – and these days, writing fiction, of course.
Jewellery making is another craft that I wanted to try. A handcrafted piece of jewellery is a small thing, but potent with meaning. All the more so if you make it yourself, or if someone you love makes it for you.
I now have the chance. A new art and craft space has opened up in Drysdale, offering classes and workshops, and one of the artisans is John McAleer, a master jeweller with nearly 40 years’ experience.
When I read on Facebook about the workshops that he was offering, I knew that I had to do this. I believe that, given the time and the funds, you should seize this kind of opportunity when it falls into your lap, not procrastinate and think ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if …’. You only live once, as they say.
The first workshop that I signed up for was making a silver ring. I turned up at John McAleer’s newly installed studio last Saturday curious and excited. Fortunately John is such an easygoing, approachable guy and immediately put me at ease. There were only three students in the workshop, so we had a lot of individual attention.
To cut a long story short, I started with this at 10 a.m.
By 5 p.m. I had turned it into this:
The intermediate stages included smelting and casting, rolling, cutting, soldering, filing, polishing, blacking and cleaning. Every step was thoroughly explained and demonstrated by John, then we got our turn. We were given the space to make our own mistakes, and I certainly took full advantage of that. Particularly when I dropped a hot silver ingot on the rubber gas line. Hopefully, I also learned from them!
Jewellery making is an absorbing activity, requiring both patience and focus on detail. It doesn’t have to be a solitary activity, however. It was very pleasant to chat with John and the other participants throughout the day.
I’m truly delighted with the results of the day’s work and I’m looking forward to the next workshop, in which I’ll learn other silversmithing techniques. In the meantime, I’ve sent myself an urgent memo to get to the optometrist and get my prescription updated.