Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Jewelry School Adventures - Simple Rings

I've embarked on a grand adventure: attending classes at Jewelry Studies International. This new teaching studio in Austin offers two Jewelry Arts Diplomas designed exclusively around Argentium silver. The relatively new alloy adds a small percentage of germanium to the silver and copper mix, changing how absolutely everything works. No more fire scale, very slow tarnishing, and the ability to fuse as well as solder open up lots of possibilities for this new material.

first fused rings in Argentium sterling
This week I am taking the first course, which is devoted to rings and bands. The class meets from 8:30 to 5:30 for five days in a row, which is plenty of time to learn a wide range of techniques useful for rings.  On the first day we learned about fundamentals of Argentium silver, then formed and soldered our first ring from square wire. Then we cut multiple circles of round wire, fused each ring, and then fused stacks of rings, and learned about finishing.

fused Argentium sterling rings
On the second day, we learned to fuse three lengths of wire together, and then we twisted the wire and fused it into a ring. Tricky details of getting the twist even and matching the pattern exactly took lots of effort. Then we began the wide, patterned band. We learned to calculate length of sheet, hammer texture, lay out a pattern that would repeat, form granules, and fuse wire onto the sheet. On the third day, we formed and fused the ring, hid the seam with more hammering, fused the final wires over the seam, and did the finishing. We also began a sixth ring which is mid-process, that I'll show you later.

Ancient Bronze Bracelets, with ancient bronze, 22K gold, granulation and diamonds
by Ronda Coryell
Ronda Coryell is the instructor. She is a Master Jeweler and Saul Bell Award winner, known for her gold (and now Argentium) granulation, and also author of a series of video courses on Argentium. These bronze bracelets of hers were in my Book of Attractions, so when I saw them on her business card, I knew I'd come to the right school. I've definitely taken a dive into the world of "fine" jewelry -- fun, extremely educational, and exhausting. We'll see how many of the long series of classes I can squeeze into my schedule.