Apprentice Blog

Follow Ella Sadler-Andrews on her journey to becoming a Silver Smith. Read about the new techniques she’s learning each week.

Apprentice Blog number four : I finished the ring before it finished me.

January 25, 2012
By
Apprentice Blog number four : I finished the ring before it finished me.

  My pre-Christmas blog update. Better late than never! From the apprentice, Ella.   I finished the ring; the ring that nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. After my last blog it took me one more session of hard labour to get it to a decent standard. I first had to solder it shut. We used easy solder as to avoid opening up the solder holding together the two strips. This process went relatively smoothly (in comparison to the first lot of soldering!). Janet and I weren’t initially sure that the join was strong enough as you could clearly still see the join. Fortunately it was, but it meant that I was going to have a tough time trying to make the solder line disappear. I was so happy just to have soldered it shut with minimal trouble that the mess I had made in the process didn’t bother me. I wasn’t fussed that the soldering was obvious. Now however, I couldn’t settle for that. It’s quite interesting to see how my standards have changed now that I am more skilled and have seen what I can do (this will all make sense in my next blog).       Next came the laborious job of filing and polishing. I worked for a while on the closing seal to see if I could erase the join. I managed to file away a very small amount but my soldering was poor quality and with any more filing, the join would’ve become weak and the silver very thin. In all honesty, by this time I wanted to finish this project ASAP. I’d just had enough of the grief it had given me! If you remember, I accidentally made a nick in the ring. Turns out I couldn’t completely get rid of...

Read more »

Apprentice Blog number three : Learning to be patient.

December 7, 2011
By
Apprentice Blog number three : Learning to be patient.

  Ella here. For the past few weeks (since my last update) I have been working solidly on my first ring. I didn’t choose the simplest piece to start my ring making off with. The design itself is simple; the creating, not so. It involves two strips of 1mm sheet silver cut to 7.5mm wide, soldered next to each other so that ultimately, the ring is 1cm wide in total. Why not use one piece of 1cm thick silver I hear you ask? Many times I asked myself that question when battling with the soldering issues I had…however the idea behind this design was so that there is a clear definition (a sort of ‘valley’ shape) between the two pieces. So I started off with a 1cm wide, 7cm long piece of silver. My first task was to saw exactly down the middle of this to create my two 5mm wide pieces. I managed this relatively well…with only a few wonky patches! Now came the tricky bit. In order to solder the two bits back together (plus the ‘valley’ design feature), they have to fit together perfectly with no gaps or the solder won’t bind the two bits together. I decided to fit together the two sides that hadn’t just cut down the middle of (which would technically have fit together perfectly, but hey I like to test myself…). One of these sides I was using had been machine cut, and the other cut by Janet. The machine side, sorry to say Janet, was far straighter making my life very difficult. Trying to file away at one side so it fits perfectly to the other side is easier said than done. You spend ten minutes labouring away at one section only to find you’ve filed too much away and...

Read more »

Apprentice Blog : Weeks 3 and 4

November 15, 2011
By
Apprentice Blog : Weeks 3 and 4

Written by Ella Sadler-Andrews Since my last update I’ve moved pretty far with my learning.  In my third session, we focused on soldering.  Soldering is the skill of using various solders as an aid in ‘sticking’ one piece of metal to another.  There are varying percentages of silver in solder.  Hard solder has the highest amount of silver in it, making its melting point very close to that of sterling silver. Whereas easy solder has the least amount of silver in it, making it melt well before silver.  The purpose of these different solders is say, for example, if you were soldering a ring together and then you needed to solder something onto that ring, and would therefore avoid the initial solder from melting and thus the ring becoming undone, you would use a hard solder. You would then use an easier solder to solder what you needed onto the ring, which would require less heat, and therefore not melting the hard solder holding the ring together.  If you only require one thing to be soldered, you use, as a general rule, hard solder. (My soldered ‘e’ and pre soldered curls onto copper.) My first design piece that I described last blog requires of me to solder the silver curls onto a copper background.  To practice for this, I soldered a silver ‘e’ onto the copper heart I sawed out last time. Choosing the right size piece of solder and then attempting to cut it out of the solder strip is a skill in itself.  If you use a bigger piece than necessary, then the excess solder splodges everywhere it isn’t needed and makes a right mess! Once I managed to cut a small enough piece, I had to borax (that funny flux substance again) the copper, silver wire...

Read more »

Apprentice blog : The first two weeks.

November 8, 2011
By
Apprentice blog : The first two weeks.

By Ella Sadler-Andrews I’ve finally started the practical side to my jewellery apprenticeship. Considering we initially came up with this plan in May (rough guess, can’t actually remember exactly…) it’s been a looong time coming. But hell, it’s been worth the wait! We’ve had two sessions so far, starting with some pretty basic stuff. My coach/teacher/boss has been Janet. I chose not to go to University for many reasons, one being I was fed up of conventional education and teaching. Janet knows this so I can tell she’s making a super effort not to bore me or have a ‘regular’ teaching style. I’m pretty impatient, especially when it comes to watching demonstrations. I’d rather just get on with it and freestyle…Janet keeps the instructions to a minimal, and practical to the max. (I would say) I’m a quick learner, I pick things up easily. I understand however, that some things within working with metals that I can’t just ad lib. For instance, soldering and fusing. That blumming blow torch is lethal. If Janet hadn’t have given me instruction with that weapon then I can safely say, I’d have no eyebrows left. So as Julie Andrews would say… ‘Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start’. I’ve started working with copper to begin with. Firstly, I got to mark out a rectangle of copper which I then went on to saw out. I was never one for woodwork at school, but with this more delicate sawing, I only managed to break one blade! I eventually got to the stage of sawing out a (very) small star and a (very) small heart. Copper’s edges are sharp. So sharp, I even cut my finger lightly on my own piece.  To avoid this and to also make an article...

Read more »

First blog for the first apprentice!

July 6, 2011
By
First blog for the first apprentice!

Well hello, my name is Ella Sadler-Andrews and I am the Lancaster Jewellery Maker’s first ever apprentice! I’ve been meaning to introduce myself for quite sometime now, but as I will explain in this first post, my life isn’t quite so straight forward. Firstly, I would like to thank the women behind The Jewellery Maker for giving me this opportunity to learn a new trade and to write about something new and exciting. I’m going to be using this blog almost as a diary. The art of jewellery making is a whole new world to me. I’m going to be learning all sorts of new skills, and at the same time, writing about it. I enjoy writing, I enjoy learning; what could be better than blogging my experiences? I think it’s important I share a bit about me so I don’t seem such a stranger… I am nineteen years old, currently sharing my time between the family house in Lancaster and a shared house in Zichem, Belgium. Why Belgium? I’m a full-time cyclist. I race road bikes for a living. It’s a strange life and not a lot of people fully understand how it works. Although my cycling team is British, the racing in Belgium is far better and more frequent than back in the UK. Hence my residence out here. Being a cyclist involves a lot of training, resting and well, coffee drinking. To put it simply, I have a lot of free time. I currently write a blog for my team and one for a cycling website. I don’t go to University, I have no want to go to Uni. I love to learn, but I had fourteen years of school. I’ve grown out of a ‘typical’ education. I prefer  to learn in new and exciting ways....

Read more »

s2Member®