A Walk Down Silver Memory Lane

I was thinking back about my journey in silversmithing and went looking for photos of early work. I was very surprised that my first silver jewelry piece was thirteen years ago. I thought it had only been about 5 years.

That was one of my Monet beads. At that time I decided that silver wasn’t for me. It didn’t come as easily as the glass did and I didn’t really have time to take on the amount of hours necessary to get up to speed because I had to keep selling beads.

I tried a few more pieces and then hung up my metal tools for a while. Five years later I visited my friend Chris in Wisconsin to help her with a class at the Bead & Button Show. After the show she gave me some pointers and when I got home I picked up the Little Torch again. This time I went a little crazy and tried to set into silver everything I could find in the studio.

I was having a lot of fun but I felt that something was missing. Mainly, it was my skill that was missing but, I kept at it and tried a few more.

Pretty ragged lookin, but that is how you get better.

This was the little area when I played with metal back then:
You really don’t need a big space to get it done, and it suited me just fine. Since that time I’ve upgraded the studio, a lot. As in, we built on another addition, and I got an official jewelry bench. I still use a lot of the same tools with which I started. The original plan for the new studio space was to be for additional torch stations, my jewelry bench, and maybe some woodworking equipment.

Guess where my jewelry bench ultimately ended up?

Right back in my old glass studio. I love how I can rotate my chair to access soldering and polishing equipment however I do feel a little boxed in. I’ve been brainstorming how I can feng shui it but the room dimensions are posing a challenge so I’m trying to get used to it. (you can click on these last two pictures to see a larger view).

I’ve since gotten rid of all of my glass and most of my glass tools and transformed the former torch station into a lapidary lab.

I’ll continue this little walk down silver memory lane in my next post, and show you how my work has gotten to where I am now and a little bit about where I want to go with it.

Why do I love my studio assistant?

Because she is AWWWWESOME. And side note…I feel funny putting a title on what Penny does. She’s really my peer but helps me out in the studio one day a week. Although, her one day is probably how long it would take me to do what she does as well as she does.

Anyway, the latest studio project was today. I found some great glass jars on my most recent trip to IKEA and thought they would be perfect for frit. Boy was I ever right! Those little jars and the magic touch of Penny took this:

(which, by the way, I thought was pretty nifty when I first thought of using the IKEA picture shelves as support for my frit stash) and turned it into this:

Did you hear the angels sing? One of them was Penny as she said she pick up 40 more jars from IKEA for me since there is more to be reshelved.  Did I mention that Penny rocks? She even relabeled all of the jars for easy identification and made me a rainbow. Who can say that about their assistants?

Now, don’t go thinking, “what is so great about that?” because she does so much more. It’s kind of like when the Sugah Daddy has the kids alone for the weekend…he does all the stuff I usually do but does it much better and the house looks much cleaner then when I have them alone for the weekend. I don’t get it. Something about everything Penny touches just sparkles.

Plus, since she is an experienced lampworker as well, she helps me with production work when I need it and I just sent her home with bundles of glass to convert into encased stringer and tesserae for my new micro-mosiac work.  Yay Penny! It is going to be an awesome and productive year!

You can see some of Penny’s work online in the Beads of Courage Artist gallery. She is also the president of the Arizona Society of Glass Beadmakers and rocks that too.