One’s only brother doesn’t get married every day you know! On the run up to Alex and Kate’s nuptials this Summer, I wanted to make a few things for the special day.
Regular readers will know that, earlier in the year, I had the chance to attend a silvermaking workshop run by 24Ct in Sheffield. I really enjoyed the experience and ever since have been keeping an eye out for other vouchers to attend more classes.
Fortunately, at the start of the Summer, an offer came up to learn some skills at a silver ring-making workshop. I jumped at the chance! Given the timing of the course, it made sense for me to make an accessory to wear for Alex and Kate’s wedding, especially as I would be wearing a silver dress for the event.
I assumed that ring making would be similar to the last workshop I attended, and that I would be working with polymer metal clay. I was surprised to learn that I would actually be working with sheet silver for this particular project. Once again, Andrew and Creusa were our tutors for the day, and explained everything really clearly.
We started by working out what size ring we were planning to make, and then translating that into the standard ring sizes (A-Z). I worked out that I would need an ‘M’, so Andrew did a calculation to work out how much silver I would need to make a ring of that size. He then cut the strip for me, and I used the tools to slowly bend the strip into a rough circle.
Andrew explained that the best way to do this was to begin by slightly curving each of the edges, and then gradually working around the strip until the ends met. This was done using a series of different jewellery pliers – the curved-headed ones were the most useful!
Once the ends were just about meeting, Andrew used some silver solder to fuse the two ends together. This had to be heated using a blowtorch, to ensure the solder really sealed the shape.
Then, we had to bash the ring into shape, using a little hammer on the ring sizing pole (I’m not sure that’s the technical name!), frequently rotating the ring so that both edges remained parallel. It was amazing how quickly it came together! We then began filing the edges so that we had a smooth, even circle.
At this point, the item was nearly finished! The rings just needed burnishing and polishing on the polishing machine, which didn’t take very long. It was important to keep the ring spinning on the polishers, so Andrew showed us how to loop the ring onto a cotton rag, and hold the rag tightly on both sides, so that we could be close enough to the polisher without injuring ourselves.
Finally, Andrew showed us how to use a machine which would make the ring slightly convex, so that the surface had a nice curve. It looked really professional!
As a finishing touch, Andrew gave us a few options of what we would like engraving on the rings. After umming and ahhing to the point where I nearly ended up with nothing, I went for a few simple, parallel, vertical lines.
In the space of a few hours, our group of 6 participants had all made a lovely, long-lasting piece of real silver jewellery, and I don’t think I was alone in being delighted with the results.
If anyone thinks that the workshop looks like fun, then you might want to give it a try yourself! You can check out details on 24Ct‘s website, and keep an eye on Groupon and Amazon Local for offers on their courses.
I really did wear it on the day, as you can see in the picture of my Dad and I below. I like to think the ring brought the newlyweds luck.