One of the things I promised myself when I quit my job was that I would spend some time in actual classes with good teachers to learn some new techniques and perhaps unlearn some bad habits I may have picked up teaching myself new things on YouTube and other internet locations. While online tutorials and experimentation can be very valuable in the learning process, there’s nothing to beat basic hands-on instruction from someone who really knows his or her stuff and can help you troubleshoot the inevitable glitches that come up whenever you’re learning a new technique. (There’s also no substitute for learning about good safety practices from a pro – jewelry making involves using materials that can be hazardous, so learning how to use them and dispose of them safely really should be a priority.)
So right after I gave my notice, I called Gail Stouffer, owner and designer at Wired Designs Studio here in San Antonio, and signed up for four classes I’d been dying to take. (My employer, who learned that I’d done this, contacted Gail and paid for the first three classes as a going-away gift – I was floored!) I took the first one – Fold Forming – this past Thursday and oh my gosh, I am completely inspired! The essentials of the technique are not hard, and with practice the results can be quite stunning. (Check out this page for the work of Charles Lewton-Brain, who pioneered fold forming, or do a Google search for images – and prepare to be amazed.)
First, the metal is heated (annealed) so it’s nice and soft. I started with a circle of copper about an inch and a half across, and folded it in half. I pounded it flat between a bench block and an anvil, then used a hammer to texture and stretch the fold line.