Folding metal for objects & jewellery making with Christian Hall

This was my third time at Sturt summer school. The first was in 2012, Contemporary Weave with Liz Williamson (14-Jan-2012). The second, last year, was Basketry with Brooke Munro (15-Jan-2017).

It was the same lovely space at Frensham school in Mittagong. The general atmosphere was purposeful, happy and welcoming. The class was out of my comfort zone – a beginner, but I thought with some relevant experience from last year’s Welding Sculpture with Paul Hopmeier (22-Jan-2017) and working in wire during Steeling Beauty with Keith Lo Bue (23-Apr-2017). (Yes, I’m clearly a workshop fanatic).

So why am I back in Sydney writing up this experience, when I should still be in Mittagong giving the final polish to my work before the open-class walkaround that closes the week?

It’s going to take some time to think through many details, but I think fundamentally it was a bad match of my skills and ability to the major projects of the class. Although billed as suitable for all levels, I was the only beginner and it showed. There was clumsiness, mistakes, eyesight issues and lots of frustration. There was also learning, lots of camaraderie and support, and a good tutor. Combine all of these with a workroom which needs some tlc in arrangement and tools, and weather that hit 38° C yesterday with 40° C forecast today. Plus a particularly fraught afternoon yesterday. My final sample could have been finished in the time available today, but only with so much assistance from others that it would only theoretically be my work. So much less learning than ideal – and in that heat!

Class work 1

That’s not saying there was no learning or making. Above is my sample from the first day, made by folding a strip of copper, extensive hammering of selected areas, repeated annealing, and finally partially opening the fold. There were pretty results around the room, and some students returned to this technique repeatedly over the coming days. (those working much faster than me)

Sample day 2

On the second day we used hammering around a die to make a shallow dish, carefully sized to act as a lid to some brass tubing Christian supplied. The end result with two dishes/lids or one lid and one soldered base was intended as a tea caddy or similar.

The idea of precision and tight fits alarmed me, so I decided to experiment with using “too much” copper to see how the material behaved. Some beautiful folds, complemented by the roller embossing with leaves that Christian also demonstrated. On the left is the photo above is Christian’s sample. On the right is my response 🙂

The following two days, and what would have continued today, was my “major work” – hammered brass, scored, folded and soldered into a square tube, then soldered onto a base. Nothing fit to photograph due to a sorry (and for anyone else boring) tale of woe.

All is not doom and gloom. Since arriving home I’ve sourced and enrolled in a silver smithing course in February – three Saturday mornings at Sydney Community College. With the benefit of hindsight, just what I should have done before the Sturt class!

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