Erica here, blog editor and internet/social liaison here at Halstead. Our president, Hilary Scott, announced in January that we would be launching a new in-house teaching studio for employee training so the entire staff can gain basic jewelry making skills. Since then studio construction was completed and our classes are off to a great start! The entire staff has already completed three classes with 5 more coming up in the months ahead. Here are my impressions of what we learned.
Our first class was using copper and brass cuff blanks. Many of us had never experimented with metals let alone worked in a fully stocked studio before. We were all very excited and a little timid about hammering away, but once that passed we were having a great time! I really liked the chasing and the 9-face texture hammers but I was surprised at how very little control I had using either of them. Hopefully with practice I’ll become more accurate. So for my first time creating textures I found myself pulled toward using the dimple pliers, especially after pounding away at the copper cuff first and wanting to calmly attempt something fairly decent with the brass one. Forming the cuff was quite embarrassing. I believe I was the only one who formed my cuff inside out! Hilary came to the rescue and had it (and me) straightened out in no time. Then came patina… by the way did I mention the smell yet? When the doors opened and class was in session what an unexpected surprise it was when the aroma of rotten eggs hit me. Ah…Liver of Sulpher, a fairly disgusting necessity when oxidizing. Thank goodness you actually get used to it and by the time class was over I didn’t even notice it anymore. The first class was a great success and the ONLY thing I hated about it was that it ended!
We waited a tortuous three weeks until class 2 finally started. We had just received our new enameling product line and it was a great opportunity to test them out. We had all of the colors that we sell at our disposal and Hilary had stocked copper blanks, tweezers, water and torches at every station. She showed us how to sift the colors onto the blanks and carefully lift it onto the tripod before torching them. I carefully watched her torch and then the fun began and it was my turn! I loved it. Enameling is loads of fun and the colors are so vibrant! I went in during lunch and practiced trying to enamel multiple colors onto1 blank but failed miserably so I can’t wait to take the class that teaches you how to do detailed work!
Sawing and riveting was my favorite class so far. I loved the precision of it. The tiny details you can make with a saw are amazing and cold connecting is a simple, easy way to bring the layered pieces together. We cut shapes (I made a large heart) into copper blanks then placed a brass blank behind it and used rivets to hold them together. I went back into the studio during my lunch break and attempted to create a more detailed piece with a small heart and the word “mom” below it. The heart was easy but I kept wiping off the sharpie pattern (I think that was due to the cut lube) that I had used for “mom” so it ended up freehand style. I still need to file it, connect it with rivets and attach it to a necklace but I am happy with my second piece and I just love sawing!
Our next class is wirework techniques where we’ll learn how to make Bollywood style earrings. Can’t wait! After that Hilary’s off to SNAG and the Bead & Button Show so unfortunately our classes will be on hold for a couple months during that time, but I can always peek in at the studio when I’m missing it and practice what I’ve learned during lunch breaks, right?
- Wirework Techniques
- Soldering Basics
- Hand Stamping Charms
- Enameling Techniques
- Metalworking Flowers
Halstead, is one of North America’s leading distributors of jewelry supplies. The firm is celebrating their 41st anniversary this year. Halstead specializes in wholesale findings, chain, tools and metals for jewelry artists.