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Posts Tagged ‘revere academy of jewelry arts’

I have to admit, both Captain Sexypants and I were a little freaked out by going to Revere. We weren’t sure what to expect, thought maybe a ton of people would have a lot of experience and we’d be the class dunces… there was a lot of anxiety in the way. This is why we got up to the Bay Area and ultimately went camping with like, only half of the stuff that we needed which is totally unlike either of us. We’re great planners and organizers. You might call me a little OCD on that one. Cap is actually less mental but even better at logistics, so between the two of us, you can just imagine… We have All The Things. But this time, the anxiety about the class made us wing it a little.

That wasn’t actually a bad thing as we both discovered. Kind of freeing to shrug and just handle it.

But I digress. Before the woods, there was class.

Filed

We were taking Fabrication 1, which is pretty much the most basic course you can take at Revere. You learn to saw metal, file, work with precision. You learn about the basic tools on a jeweler’s bench. Fortunately for us, they teach this class like nobody in it knows a darn thing (even though quite a few of our fellow students actually had a bit of bench experience). The premise being, well, even if you know this stuff already you don’t know it their way and you might have gaps. So they just start at A and work to Z. Very thorough. I liked it.

I lost my fear fairly quickly. Or rather, I was terrified the whole time, but I just did the stuff anyway and by the time class was over, it was all gone.

I learned some things. Like, when you buy saw blades for your jeweler’s saw, it’s good to buy them by the gross. I snapped 18 on my first project.

Clamped

I discovered that tools are neat! Clamps are cool. I discovered that I am not, actually, automatically an idiot when a tool is put in my hand and if that tool is sharp, or hot, or dangerous, I’m actually quite able to handle it, thanks very much. A solder torch or grinding wheel does not have to turn me into a wilting violet. I didn’t know this before we started, actually, and had some doubts.

Competence is awesome.

Before and After

I learned how to take a flat piece of metal and work it to a state of mirrored perfection. Bend it, shape it, cut it, file it, heat it, connect it… to make some of my own tools and adapt others. THe class is taught in a logical progression – skillsets building on skillsets, projects progressing in an order that draws on everything you did the day before. By the end of the class, you have put it all together and you are able to make stuff. 3 days to learn a handful of the basics. A lifetime to master them.

This was a super fast moving class and we didn’t have the time to actually finish our projects. Some folks did, of course, but it wasn’t the focus of the class. The earrings above will never be all the way cut out, though I’d like to finish them. They remind me of tiny in-progress Death Stars. I’m actually planning to ding them up a bit, add a crazy patina and wear them as is. Yes, I’m a geek.

Brass - my first solder attempts

I was the most terrified of soldering. But amazingly, I found it to be really easy. Precise, painstaking and to be approached with the proper safety considerations of course, but not hard. The torch didn’t explode. It was okay. I didn’t set the lab on fire (an actual worry.)

Sterling silver ring

And then? The world opened up.

in progress

A huge shiny world that exists beyond beading, beyond metal clay.

Okay this is gonna sound weird, maybe, but, metalsmithing made me feel connected. It made me feel tied to something far older than myself. These skills and techniques have evolved and innovations are always forthcoming, yes, but people have been working metal and smithing it for about as long as we’ve had fire.

Captain working

There’s such a body of work to draw upon, and such a vast collective unconscious tied to this craft… well tapping into that pool is pretty humbling and profound and joyful.

14k gold ring

When I was sitting at that bench, applying tools to metal, or fire, or whatever, I felt like I had come home. My whole body was resonating with one word.

YES.

I am so unbelievably grateful for the 3 days I spent at Revere and I am SO excited about going back in the spring for more classes, when their Open Study sessions open back up. Because I want more of that world expanding, ancient skill tapping, expert instruction.

Oh so tired

Next time, though, I think we’ll work on getting more sleep. That kind of intensive brainfill is exhausting!

How did we feel when it was all over? Aside from all that joy of learning and the exuberant squee over all the cool stuff we can do now?

Smug. We were maybe a little smug. We drove up in our duct taped car, without half the stuff we needed, survived a massive skunking (another story entirely) on Day Two, got ourselves to the class on time via a sort of unfamiliar BART system (it’s not actually unfamiliar, but I hadn’t ridden it in years and the Cap’n hadn’t EVER, so…) and darn if we can’t make rings and cut metal now.

Wicked

yes, I’d say smug for sure.

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Captain Sexypants and I rolled back into Los Angeles last night, exhausted but happy after an intensive 3 day workshop in metal fabrication at Revere Academy in San Francisco. Our instructor, the awesome Karen Sprague, is a master metalsmith who has been teaching for over 20 years, and wow did we learn a TON of great stuff from her in the 3 days we were there. I also met Alan Revere, more’n a little fangirl squee going on there, let me tell you. Along the way we stopped for kittens, friends, great food, and some post-metal-smithing-pampering at a spa. And as if that weren’t enough, we got two days of camping in the gorgeous, autumn hued, Santa Cruz mountains and then a leisurely drive down the California coast, with a stop in my favorite little town, Cambria. By the time we got home, we were exhausted but so happy. Truly I am kind of in this euphoric daze of, “Wow I love my life!” this morning.

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Anytime you go out of town, it helps if you wind up staying with kittens.

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We got to stay with my friend Miss Kimberly, of Miss Kimberly’s Finishing And Sweetening Academy For Wayward Kittens, and right now she’s pretty full up. Gandalf, pictured above, was in pretty poor shape when Kimberly got him, but he seems to be really coming around.

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Here, Tommy (who is actually still kitten sized, believe me) is keeping two of the tinies warm while he sleeps.

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Each morning we’d head off to BART (the local train system) and head into the City for class. It started pretty early. We were seriously grateful for the drive thru Starbucks on the way to BART, and the Starbucks downstairs from our classroom. On the second day we found some truly epic local coffee around the corner. Whether by the Mermaid or something roasted a bit closer to home, we kept ourselves pretty well fueled.

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The weather in San Francisco was fairly amazing the entire time we were there. Balmy, warm, with comfortable temps even into the evenings. I’d packed a ton of stuff to layer but honestly didn’t really need it. I tell ya, if you’re going to visit San Francisco, you can do worse than during their glorious Indian Summer!

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Lotta crazy in San Francisco, though they’ve cleaned up the downtown/financial district a whole lot since my teen years (which is really the last time I spent any real time in San Francisco.)

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Sometimes it was really beautiful, even if it was a bit cracked.

I was grateful for the chance to revisit the City, bash around and explore a bit. The Bay Area has changed a lot since I’d lived there last, but a lot of it is the same. The bones are not any different. People are still people. My boots did more’n a little walking and exploring and I found my heart expanding maybe three sizes as I fell back in love with the town I left a long time ago. From little old men with sandwich boards to homeless men sleeping on the street, the crazy shouting kid on the corner and the women singing gospel on BART, I loved and blessed them all.

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So why did we go? Why did we spend ALL that money, close the store for two whole days (oooh the lost revenue), and take all that time to go to Revere (when there are perfectly good places to learn these things at home?) Well… I invested the time and money (a lot of money) into taking this particular class in this particular place because it’s simply the very best place you can go to learn. I did it because improving in this craft really matters to me and I don’t have time to waste.

While I enjoy the wire wrapping and metal clay aspects of my art and I enjoy the jewelry I have been making, there’s so much more. So many things I see in my head that I can’t execute. Things I want to make. Frankly, my work just isn’t good enough yet to make me happy. I’m not there yet. Still striving. So much to master. It’s a lifelong journey and I’d started to plateau. Frankly? I was bored and dissatisfied.

Adding some traditional metalsmithing to the mix excites me, not to mention the joy of learning to do something well. I guess I come from a long line of folks who get excited by tools – woodworkers, machinists, you name it. My dad has always worked with wood. Now he makes fiddles in his spare time and my grandpa, well there wasn’t much that he didn’t make with his hands. It may have taken me a few years to find my niche, but it’s oddly comforting that the family tradition actually does run true. It makes me feel closer to my roots, to pick up a metal saw or file and ring clamp. It connects me back to something I didn’t think I could claim as my own for so many years.

I took this class because I want more.

It is really, really, really okay to want more, by the way. It’s good to strive.

I tell you, I’ve never been so filled with fear, apprehension, worry, joy, and exhiliration as I was when I sat down at the bench and stared at this battered up bench pin. It was comforting to me to see the saw marks and drill holes, the file scuffs and wear. It meant I was in good company. I stopped being scared pretty darn fast.

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It is really good to set your feet on the path and know you are moving in the right direction.

Tomorrow, a bit more about the actual class itself.

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