Hello all. June 2013 I completed my course, a BA in Silversmithing and Jewellery at Truro College, Cornwall in the United Kingdom.
I have found the journey a mixed bag and have made many mistakes and discoveries along the way. I hope to share with you some of the experiences and introduce you to many of the techniques and people who have inspired me to get to this point. Also the run up to my final projects for new designers in London June 2013.
Please do get in touch and share any thoughts as it is my long term goal to provide information to help others, as well as myself, to further explore this timeless and very rewarding craft.
I have a great interest in Chasing and Repousse, making my own tools, also many stakes; Not to go into too much detail at this early time, you will see examples of tools I have made as well as modifications you can make to shop bought tools.
I want to see if sufficient interest can be generated with this blog, if so I will upgrade from the free to a payed for site to upload more images and video examples of work being made. Its up to you to keep in touch and tell your jewelery, or jewellery, and silversmithing friends to sign up and get involved.
stuartjewellery on Facebook will give you some pictures to see my work and decide if it is something that attracts your interests. Please look at the albums so you can filter out the general chat and look at my work.
I very much look forward to the future and to hear from anyone who is interested in silversmithing and jewellery making. I feel certain that this will be of as much benefit to me as to you, as we share ideas and look for solutions to the challenges we all face learning the way that best suits our own style.
I went into this direction with a strong desire to be a craftsperson, committed to spending the rest of my life constantly exploring the possibilities as my craft skills developed. At the end of my degree however, I realised too late, that design was not to be considered secondary.
I made the huge mistake of being blinkered towards the ability to make rather than design. To explain using a metaphor, I reasoned that design was something that was to be considered after you became proficient in basic making skills, developing naturally as your skills improve. If you think of a design as a completed book (as I did) then the making skills constituted the basic understanding of grammar, structure and plot to enable you to arrive at a successful outcome. The way we were encouraged to come up with designs without a clue how to make them was, frankly baffling to me. To continue the theme, it appeared to me to be as misguided as asking for a novel to be written by someone who is illiterate. No one would argue that someone who cannot read or write could potentially have a great story to tell, however, as my reasoning went, it was premature to start ‘writing’ without a firm understanding of the basics of structure and the art of the wordsmith.
In an educational setting I found that the emphasis was very much on the design side. I caution those with a desire to be good makers to seriously consider their options as, in my case, I was on the wrong path to reach my personal goals.
What the College was good at was picking winners in a commercial, or art world setting. My work was very poorly received and considered not good design or modern. The result of my not taking more notice of the commercial world has led me to make some avoidable errors that, if I had been better informed, I would not have made.
At the New Designers show in London at the end of my degree course I was faced with the uncomfortable truth that my desire to go my way and practice being a maker first made my work virtually invisible to the contemporary commercial and press world. I did say I had no desire to appeal to everyone, what was salty was that organisations that I had approached for feedback and representation, hardly, if not completely did not notice my work. I didn’t want everyone to not engage with it!!!!
I write this here in the about section to caution the person who may fall into a similar trap as me, don’t forget the importance of design if you wish this to be anything other than a hobby. I had absolutely no assistance or direction from tutors as to what constituted good design. With my ambition being firmly weighted towards making the inevitable happened, please don’t let it be you.
Beware of peers who will, no doubt, flatter your achievements, this is not the real world. If you are not fortunate to have tutors who love what they do and pride themselves in being facilitators, rather just treading water for a pension, trapped in a job that pays too much to leave. You really must study design more carefully.
Most of my work was ‘designed’ to help me further refine a skill, rather that being an end in itself. Painful experience teaches me that you may be ‘allowed’ to fail if you are not biased towards design.
Modern manufacturing makes small scale handmade objects difficult to market and sell without a reputation. If you think of a Rolex watch, people are willing to pay a small fortune for what is effectively a badge, the performance of the timepiece being comparable with much less costly brands. This is, what I consider to be, a good example of design and branding. As a package pretty much unstoppable, I have witnessed first hand the power of perception when it comes to a successful jewellery design. Make sure you don’t forget this most important cherry to top the cake as it were.
I was constantly searching for feedback and some helpful hints on all aspects of making throughout my College three year course. On many occasions I felt completely lost and clueless as to where to go next. It is my sincere desire to help others who find themselves in a similar pickle. I was shocked and amazed that my experience of education mirrored my first swimming ‘lesson’. As a child my father was irritated at my reluctance to go into the water at a local swimming pool. As I watched others enjoying the water, I was a little scared and apprehensive to get in, my fathers patience wore out and he pushed me into the deep end. Fair to say I survived, what I didn’t do was thrive, College was a comparable experience for me that consisted of little more than survival, like not drowning, this doesn’t make you a competent swimmer when exposed to these learning ‘strategies’.
I hope to be of help to other lost individuals who find themselves daring to dream whilst other around them appear to be hell bent in putting obstacles in their path.
Thank you for reading this far and I hope we can share many learning experiences. Negative or positive personal experiences have little bearing in wanting to become a better person, internally or externally in metal, however one wishes to manifest it. Be better informed, set a plan and go for it.
To end succinctly; you may well think you are on your own, the beauty of the internet is that, rarely, if ever is that true. Welcome aboard.
All my very best wishes.
Stuart a.k.a. Stu Art ; )
Lovely work! I just took an amazing Chasing and Repousse course in Victoria, BC, Canada, taught by Nancy Megan Corwin from the USA – she is a wonderful teacher and she makes some of her own tools – just Google her to see her work – she is coming over to the UK to teach in the near future – hope you can meet her and share information! Keep up the great work 🙂
Thank you so much for your comments, I would have loved to attend that course, I bet it was a blast.
Nancy Megan Corwin very kindly responded to my request to answer a questionnaire for my College dissertation. Through Facebook she also ‘friended’ me and was kind enough to give some constructive criticism of my work, always more valuable as you have the benefit of, perhaps, something seen by others that you may have overlooked.
I was ready to go to her course run at a great College here in the U/K, West Deane. Alas, after the completion of my degree, and other non related ‘challenges’ I find myself in a bit of a cash-flow hole that prevents me from attending at this time.
I really like the way she uses press forms as a basis for repousse work, cutting down considerably on the time taken to make. Her book was invaluable to me. I only wish I discovered it at the same time as the Victoria Lansford instructional films as I feel sure it would have accelerated my learning.
I warmly welcome you aboard this blog and heartily encourage you to continue to comment as and when you see something that interests you, better still you may have something to share, please do 🙂
All my very best wishes.
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Very many thanks for sharing this site on your own. With luck, I hope people will start to request subjects they wish to be covered in future posts. It can be a bit of a dilemma as to what to cover next, a request would be most welcome. Best of luck with your journey into this wonderful craft.
wow, thanks for your transparency and for these wonderful words of encouragement! and i looooooove your work! i look forward to following you here. God bless!
Many thanks to you Donna, you are most definatley very welcome, please do keep in touch, your kindness is greatly appreciated.
As someone who simply googled silversmithing I appreciate your candor and will continue to explore in directions you have illuminated.
A very warm welcome aboard Scott, so very glad you can take something away from the blog.
If your voyage of discovery mirrors mine in any way you will find very little in the way practical examples, or instructions, both written and online.
Frustration seeing wonderful work without much idea of how to replicate the techniques to find my own style, lead to this blog being born.
I’m still hoping to find more input from others to make this a better springboard for people like you and I. Continuing to live in hopes that a master craftsperson will stumble across the blog, take pity and share some secrets. Also, people such as yourself with questions can prove to be a useful spur for me to continue to post. I’m sure you appreciate, it can be difficult to gage what people know, better still what they would like to know, please feel free to ask for clarification, or a direction you are interested in that may be something I could write about.
Very many thanks for your kind words, they are very welcome and encouraging, I’m always mindful, juggling a fine line between informative content and waffling. Though its true, you cant please all the people all of the time. I’m grateful to learn i’m pleasing some of the people some of the time 😉
A very happy Christmas to you and your family, good luck in the future of this fantastic craft.
Kindest regards and very best wishes.