Cathy McCarthy (be patient, her site is being updated) makes delighful sterling silver jewellery with designs and imprinted patterns inspired by nature.
We arrived to find instructions and tools all set out neatly and Cathy explained their various uses.
Before long this 'order' became 'disorder' as we each got stuck into our own personal project.
We had the choice of tiny discs or squares, with hooks or posts.
I chose squares, and posts, and began the first job of 'annealing' them. This means heating the metal to relax or soften it so that it can be worked. For this process Cathy uses a micro- torch similar to those used for making creme brulee (yummy).
After each annealing the metal has to be 'pickled' in a weak acid solution to remove the discolouration. It is then ready to shape, stamp, or work in any other way. Working hardens the metal again so after each 'working' the process of annealing and pickling is repeated.
Those who chose discs used this fabulous doming block to curve them. The pieces are placed in the correct size recess and hammered with the corresponding size ball.
There was a (very expensive) toy available for us to use also... a rolling mill. This is used to roll your piece together with some texturing (paper, wire, whatever). I was amazed at how a paper leaf skeleton could imprint on the soft silver.
I stamped letters (very badly) into mine, and then textured them with a ball hammer.
Because the pieces were so tiny I was restricted to four letters... obviously not enough for me. I had great diffculty hitting just hard enough, and not so hard the edge of the stamp imprinted.
The stamps were very tiny and hard to line up, but I guess practice makes perfect... and these were my very first.
I then had to solder the posts onto the backs... easy peasy when solder and flux are together in one syringe.
The solder is melted with the micro-torch and then the piece goes into the pickling solution again. Once clean, and rinsed in water, the pieces are then put into a jewellery tumbler filled with water, a dash of detergent, and stainless steel shot. This polishes them to their final glory.
|Finding the silver among the shot|
Rough, but they're mine... and perhaps I should wear them the other way around?...mmmmmm.