Metalsmithing & Being a Beginner Again

The three bracelets, a twsity silver ring and a brass triangle pendant I made this summer.

Last month I took a jewelry making class and it was the highlight of my summer. Hammering, annealing and soldering metal was a rewarding way to spend a few Saturday mornings! I learned a lot from the class and was reminded of what it’s like to be a total beginner at something.

It’s frustrating to not be good at something yet. To be able to picture the things you want to make but not be able to make them because the gap between what you know is good and what you can do is so large. There’s nothing that will make you better at that thing you want to learn except time and practice. Lots of practice. We often take for granted how long it took us to get good at the things we do regularly.

Being a beginner also means seeing things get just a little bit easier each time you try them. That’s the exciting part of learning something new. Our class projects included making three bracelets. I felt like a clueless monkey trying to shape the first one even after seeing the instructor demonstrate it. (Seriously, how did she make the mallet do that!?) My first attempt was a comical imitation of her actions at best and it took me ages to get that piece of copper to be bracelet shaped. But by the third bracelet, I finally felt like I knew what I was doing and finished it in a faction of the time I’d spent on the first. Progress!

I loved working with metal and I’m already plotting how to fit more metalsmithing studio time into my schedule this year. If you have a chance to try out metalsmithing (or some other craft that’s more you’re style) go for it! You won’t regret being a beginner for a while again.

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