Side-steps and topaz

I did write a review of 2017 but it was at 3am on New Year’s Day and perhaps not at my full faculties so I removed it. I suppose it was a weird and wonderful year. Married my best friend and discovered a new passion, the former not just the highlight of the year but of my life alongside the Arrival of the Chimp, the latter a much needed vitamin injection that, just like I’d hoped, has triggered my creativity again. Stones still fall out but each piece is a little better than the last and I suppose the beauty of learning as you go along is that you discover all the little ways of correcting mistakes and the more you make, the more creative all those ways are. I love it. Not ready to out-do Tiffany’s just yet, but really chuffed with where it’s all going.

Perhaps this new passion and my love for making things with my hands, as well as wordsmithing, is not particularly surprising given I come from a family that on both sides is jam packed with artists, sculptors, poets, authors, painters and every variety of creative folk you could imagine – our cupboards are full of table cloths sown and embroidered by my grandmothers, knitted jumpers, hats, gloves and socks, crocheted bed spreads… Not to mention my parents’ houses that have countless wooden furniture made by generations gone. Well, my stepdad – a brilliant carpenter – is still around, but it seems handicraft and workmanship is increasingly a thing of the past and therefore it feels even more precious to me. My brother D also seems to, like me, have it in his blood, and his latest passion is making hunting knives complete with the leather sheaths that are anything but plain. He is quite simply nothing short of amazing. But yes, it’s very much in our DNA.

So I’m making use of the late afternoons from when I get home around 3.30pm to around 6pm. On the one hand the process drives me insane – you cannot rush it – yet at the same time the process is what I love the most. You cannot side-step annealing the metal when you have worked it too much and it’s too hard to manipulate without softening it again. You cannot take a short cut through letting soldered pieces soak in the acid. Sure, you could do all this like most do – mass production and from moulds, everything automated down to stone setting – but that’s not what I want. Every single piece is handmade from scratch and therefore, even if I am making five silver rings all the same size and same thickness wire and all with the same type of stone, no two pieces are identical. And I love that. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure, but it’s definitely mine.

Tonight I’m finishing off two rings and will – if there is enough time – saw, file and anneal the silver for another four pendants, I have a couple of ideas I’m keen to try out. Soldering the delicate bezel cups to the pendant itself is a painstaking process as the cups will melt quite literally a fraction of a second after the solder does, but I am loving the results and the two rose quartz pendants I made yesterday morning I think look really nice. I think against tanned skin (as opposed to someone as pasty pale as I am right now in the middle of winter) they will look amazing. The pendant with the orange topaz however, I think will look its best against skin even paler than mine.

Still have some vouchers for the precious metal and stone supplier that B got me for Christmas but will use up the stash I already have, which should be enough for another ten rings (if I waste NOTHING!) and probably also another ten pendants.

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