From the Scrap Pile


Lately, I’ve been feeling discouraged because it seemed everything I tried to make would break at some point during the creative process. I’ve melted 3 bezels for a ring while learning to solder, and I broke a couple ring shanks while setting the stone. Things I made with silver clay (PMC) shrunk smaller than expected so they didn’t fit what they were intended for, and so the story goes…

It’s heartbreaking to ruin a piece, especially when it’s almost finished. Apparently, this is to be expected and every newbie metalsmith must lose a few pieces before they will master metalwork. So, while silver is expensive to make mistakes with, it can be reused or melted down, to create something entirely new. I comfort myself with this knowledge, as I watch my scrap pile grow!

I now have a small collection of ceramic pieces waiting to be set into silver. I have an “ideas” board for inspiration. I have finally amassed all the tools required to make the jewelry I want to design. Yet, I was feeling “stuck”. I’d arrange and rearrange all the little pieces and just wasn’t feeling up to putting them all together. Probably because I didn’t want to ruin yet another piece. (I’d invested so much money into this new venture, I was determined to keep trying!) I found a couple oddball pieces in my scrap pile and gave myself permission to play with these pieces, seeing as they’d already been used for something else I had intended to make and therefore weren’t as precious as brand new silver sheet. This allowed me to work without the pressure of having to make something amazing and I ended up feeling quite satisfied with the result.

As a life-long creative, imagining and making things has always been quite easy for me. Silverwork has humbled me. The learning curve is steep: what tools to use – and how to use them; what material works best for the design (even just coming up with a design!) – and where to source materials; the steps involved in making it (how to cut, file, and attach pieces); how to set a stone;  and how to finish a piece (sanding and polishing). Many of my ideas changed throughout the creative process, either because I changed my mind about the design, or I simply didn’t have the skills to do it!

One thing that has become abundantly clear to me is, mistakes will happen while learning something new, but this doesn’t mean failure! One must be willing to risk making mistakes in order to make something great!