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Silversmithing

sunny 50 °F

I have always had an interest in jewelry and the process and design of jewelry. I myself do not wear any other than cufflinks and a wedding band, but for some reason women's rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings have always interested me. I have long admired the ability for 1 or 2 small pieces on someone to completely change the look and even the attitude of the person wearing it. With all of that said, I have been interested in learning about the process and what it would take to design my own pieces. I was fortunate enough to be able to do that this week with Moe and Riley. We were looking for coffee in Cusco and walked by a small shop that had a sign that read " escuela de joyeria" , a jewelry school. Of course that sounded like an opportunity for me to finally pursue something I have been so interested in. I know it's random and a little different, but everyone that knows me is already aware of my being in touch with my sensitive side, so it was between flower design or jewelry class.......
We began at 9 am with our teacher, Esteban, we immediately began creating our one of a kind pieces, we all chose rings, as they seemed the easiest and everything else would take 2 days. Our instructor spoke zero English, which didn't prove to be as difficult as we first feared. We all speak enough Spanish to get the basics, and silversmithing has a lot of technical terms we wouldn't have understood anyways. We learned by watching, copying, and experimenting. Our first process was to decide what general type of ring we wanted to make, calculate the amount of copper we would need to add to our "puro Plato", pure silver, to make either .925 or .95 silver, we chose the purer silver as the girls wanted their rings to be shiny, and I wanted to Matte finish mine. After adding the copper to the pure silver we turned on the torches, fired up the metal with a little Borax until it melted together and became a ball of molten metal. The girls loved the fact that they got to control their own flame and create the metal, they said that was one of their favorite parts.
After creating the basic material we then put each piece through a hand operated press about 5 times until it was a certain thickness. We then refired, washed, and repeated. After the rings were approximately the right length we began to sand and polish and then formed into the shape of a ring. We had already taken measurements for the right size so we knew the exact length to cut our pieces and then slowly pound out the ring until it was the exact size and a perfect circle. We then used the torches again to mold the sides and make a perfect circle without any signs of once being a long piece of unfinished silver. A cool point in the project, because your work is starting to take form.
After much, sanding, cleaning, firing, re-sanding, cleaning and filing my ring was close to being done. The girls chose a different look and had to each use a small handheld electric tool that etched into the silver leaving a really neat finish, almost like crumpled tin foil. I chose to have a slightly arched ring with a cut around the circumference in the middle, the cut is finely polished and shiny and the majority of the ring is finished in a matte. After that we polished, washed and buffed the rings. They all turned out amazing, the look professional, only better because WE made them.
The experience was great and the girls and i had an amazing time, both solitarily and as a family. We all said that we felt accomplished and were proud of ourselves upon finishing the project. It exceeded my expectations and really motivated me to pursue my interest in designing jewelry. Dont be surprised if you get a one of a kind piece in the future for a Birthday or X-mas present? Maybe one of the many things I come back with is passion for designing jewelry? Could that be my new profession? Interesting if not strange as a choice for my future career.

Ryan

Posted by ryanober1 13:51 Archived in Peru Tagged ryan

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Ryan, I think you found your second act! Hugs to all of the Ober's!!! We miss you and have loved loved loved keeping up with you and your many adventures! Continued traveling mercies! Ash & Bri & the Dallas girls

by ashleythamesbro

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