I thought it was about time I wrote a blog to take any mystery out of what a ring lesson actually involves. I appreciate it can be a bit daunting to anyone who has no previous experience so no idea what to expect.
There are a few different options for the lessons, which can be found here but the processes you use will be the same throughout. If you are unsure of anything, I am always at the end of an email ready to answer your questions, and my mantra is no question is a stupid question.
When you book your lesson we agree on a convenient date, and I will send you a little information on what to expect, what to wear, and where to come. Lessons are usually held on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays but other days can be arranged.
My private studio workshop, where you will make your silver ring.
Although you probably won't get dirty I always recommend not wearing your best clothes. And open shoes are a no no too, you will be working with heat and tools so best keep those toes covered up. Finally, if you have long hair, you will need to tie it up. I suggest bringing a notepad and pen for you to take notes, however most people prefer to take photographs. If, after you leave, you would like notes of the processes you have learnt, I am happy to email those to you.
On the day you will learn how to make a silver ring from scratch, gaining a basic understanding of silversmithing tools and processes.
These processes including piercing (sawing/cutting), texturing, annealing (heating), forming, soldering, filing and polishing. Don’t worry if this sounds daunting, I demonstrate every step and ensure you are comfortable before working through it on your own and I can guarantee you will be able to manage all steps by the end of the session. However, if there are any steps you would prefer not to do, just let me know and I can do them for you. The lesson is informal with the pace being directed by you - we go as fast or as slow as you feel comfortable with.
You will use the following tools - and it doesn't matter if you've never held a tool before in your life, you will be confident with each tool by the end of the session.
Piercing saw - a small saw used to cut metal with
File – to file rough edges – wet and dry sandpaper is used after files to ensure completely smooth
Hammer - different hammers create different textures
Solder – the glue. Needs to be heated to a certain temperature to melt, and the metal needs to be the same temperature in order for it to stick to the surfaces
Flux – This helps to de-oxidise and de-grease the surface, which helps the solder to flow
Small Handheld Torch - these have a small flame and are used to heat the metal up to a temperature high enough for the solder to flow and stick
Pickle – acid, helps to remove any oxidisation created by the flames and return the surface back to its original state. I hasten to add that even though the pickle is a very diluted acid, so not harmful to touch, I do this bit so you do not have to go near it.
Pumice – Gets all the pickle off. Sheet of water, flows off, means fully clean.
Mandrel – Tool used to shape the ring into a perfect circle
Mallet – hammer used to shape the ring on the mandrel, raw hide or nylon as doesn’t mark the metal like a metal hammer does
At the end of the session your ring gets polished (if that is your chosen finish), a final clean up then its ready for you to wear! You also get a little black bag containing a ring box, a special anti-tarnish cleaning cloth for silver, and a how to care for your silver card.
And finally, and most importantly, here is some feedback from people who have had a private ring lesson.
"I love my ring, and wear it all the time. "
"For me, the lesson was absolutely perfect. I found you extremely easy to talk to. You explained each process really well, and it was easy to ask you questions."
"The communication before the session was excellent, we got to visit the workshop prior to the day and knew exactly what to expect."
"The pace and level was perfect for us both, time was taken to explain exactly what to do and had some great demonstrations."
"We felt very supported and encouraged to answer questions, everything was explained perfectly to our needs."
"We had a great time, as once we were shown how to do it, Suzanne allowed us make them independently (although she was there to support and help out when needed) - which we really liked."