This weekend, much to my surprise, I experienced one of my favorite New Things yet. I signed up for a jewelry making class because it seemed like an interesting way to kill a Saturday morning. However, I did not expect to enjoy it so much. Paige Barbee, a local jewelry artisan, held a class on metal stamping jewelry in which we made a bracelet and necklace.
Everything we needed was set up for us when we arrived. Among the supplies set out were a practice metal plate, a letter punch set, a hammer, a steel bench block, pliers, alcohol wipes, and the brass we’d use to create the jewelry.
We started by practicing with the stamps. This was definitely necessary. It took me a few tries to really get the method down. My first few attempts were not only sideways, but the stamp kept bouncing around with every hit of the hammer. Paige mentioned that it helped to press the letter stamp into the metal plate, which netted much better results. It also took a few tries to hit the stamp so that the full letter appeared on the plate. If you hit the stamp at an angle, only part of the letter would appear. Practicing also made me realize I really needed to focus on what I was doing because I picked up the letter “T” instead of “L” twice.
I sent my best friend photos after the class; she is always very uplifting and encouraging. This was our exchange:
Jill: Whoa!!! Bad ass!!!!!! I thought it was going to be something with beads like a child could make!
Me: Well, that would be appropriate for my motor skill level. Look at the 4th row of letters on the practice plate. That is how I started out.
Jill: The practice ones look like they were done drunk.
Once I got the hang of the stamps, and did a practice run with the phrase I wanted on the bracelet, I taped the brass down and marked out the spacing of the letters.
I chose the phrase “Wild as a Mink,” which if you are a Tennessee fan, you know it is a line from the song Rocky Top. Rocky Top is played incessantly at UT sporting events and is the bane of everyone else in the SEC.
We also made necklaces using the same procedures. Because I had less room to work with I just used my initials, but others used their anniversary date or created gifts for their friends. I was really happy how they both turned out.
To make the letters dark, we used black sharpies to scribble over the letters and then wiped the excess ink away with the alcohol wipe. It really made the letters pop. Once the letters were finished, it was time to bend the bracelet into shape with a bracelet bending bar.
All that was left was to put the o-rings on a necklace, which Paige helped with.
As much as I enjoyed the class, I thought it would be a one time thing and I did not foresee myself making jewelry on my own. However, after writing this post, I am seriously considering buying some supplies to make gifts for my friends. If nothing else, I will definitely take more classes in the future.
At the end of class, Paige mentioned that it was her first time teaching. I was blown away because it was so well set up and her instructions were so clear. I hope she does more so she can continue to share her gift. (Hint hint Paige, have more awesome classes, please! I’ll bring friends next time.)