The Faces Behind Our Workshops
We love answering customer questions here at Corzo & Wood. As a lot of our returning customers know, we love hearing and learning about everyone’s stories; getting to know the people that come into our shop on a personal level. That also absolutely applies to our students.
It just so happens that some of the questions we always get about our workshops are: who are our students? Why do they choose to come to workshops? What is the process in a workshop, and how does it turn into the final product?
So, we decided to start a blog series. Focusing on lovely people that come and get creative at Corzo & Wood, and what they make along the way.
Introducing … Angela!
Angela is a lover of the arts, which is reflected in her passion for wildlife photography. A wife and a mother of three boys and is now retired. So, looking for some girlie time for herself was the next step!
Following her retirement, Angela came across an article in a magazine about someone’s experience volunteering for the National Trust. It talked about how enjoyable it was, and how rewarding it was to be working in the community. So after a long career in the workplace and a member of the National Trust herself (for 28 years) volunteering is the perfect fit. Claydon House itself, sparked her interest. Angela would be volunteering in a house which has been in the same family for over 400 years!
Angela has now been a volunteer at Claydon House for four years. Her role is as a room guide however, she is also on the flower arranging team at both Claydon and Canons Ashby near Towcester. Another of Angela’s many talents… flower arranging was not something she had ever done before, but after going on course the rest is history!
She was looking for more opportunities to explore creative options. So, making silver jewellery with us seemed like a perfect challenge.
When we met Angela
We first met Angela at an event held at Claydon House! A beautiful setting for an event. Angela said she was drawn to the jewellery I (Sarah) had worn that night. This happens to be one of my personal favourite pieces of jewellery. After our initial introduction, we found ourselves chatting about what was happening in our shop; which is just a stone’s throw from where we were standing. We discussed how a few minutes picking fresh leaves from the stunning Claydon Gardens (with permission, of course!); can turn into a piece of solid and unique silver jewellery.
It’s like modern-day alchemy, folks!
After our discussion, Angela decided to take the plunge. She booked onto a two-day workshop and as a result started on her jewellery making path.
Angela … The Makers Journey
The first port of call was for Angela had to figure out what she wanted to make.
She said that as she doesn’t have pierced ears. So it was never going to be a pair of earrings! However she really wanted to create a leaf-based piece to go with a dress she had already bought.
A real statement piece was required…so, we got to work!
We wandered through the gardens. Angela found a couple of hazel leaves and a new growth fig leaf to start work on. I think at this stage; we were just excited to start the process and little did we know what showstopping pieces they would consequently end up being. (A real labour of love, too!)
Next, we explored the magical, in other words the alchemical, if you will; properties of the modern jewellery-making method called PMC or, Precious Metal Clay. PMC is really versatile; so Angela started the process by layering her chosen leaves with the PMC paste. Building it up layer by layer to get the perfect weight and ultimately the desired look of the piece.
Angela decided on having one gorgeous silver fig leaf design along with a double pendant made up of two hazel leaves.
After that she added a bale; (the technical term for the loop that the chain of a necklace or choker goes through!). She placed her design into the kiln. To essentially burn away the organic leaf material, leaving only the perfect silver pendants behind.
The decision of what type of chain to wear them on was an easy one; a beautiful statement piece needed a statement choker; to above all show off the design and allow it to sit at the height Angela wanted!
And after this experience? What did Angela do next?
She came right back to continue learning, by doing a full day silversmithing and recreating a piece of gold-tone costume jewellery in silver.
The goal was to take this favourite piece Angela already owned and put a different spin on it.
Angela decided to mix metals this time, to add some light and shade to the piece. We were able to do this by using brass which when coated looks very much like gold; as a result it’s a great way to achieve the look at only a fraction of the cost.
After cutting out the desired shape out of silver – using our ‘smithing saw; Angela then filed down the shape and took to the challenge of soldering. This proved a little tricky to start with and we all had to hold our nerve…there were a lot of copper, brass and silver balls needed to embellish the pendant and therefore a lot of balls to solder into place!
As a result, another beautiful piece was created and designed by Angela. Violeta and I are very impressed with how Angela explores designs with us and her attention to detail has made her very proficient in her making skills. This talented lady has become a great jewellery designer and has been a great student and not to mention a joy to work with. (Even when I singe my fingers helping her. Angela makes sure not to do that!)
So, you may be thinking, what were Angela’s feelings about all this and what did she ultimately learn from us?
- Angela learned how to size and design her own pieces
- Explored the hazards of silversmithing – sawing, the three methods of soldering, filing, polishing
- How to use PMC and all it’s great qualities
- Unique design experience by using Claydon Garden leaves and firing them away in the kiln
- Sizing and forming her own neck wire
- Learning from Violeta and I, with our combined experience, how to problem solve to create your ultimate jewellery piece
Not bad for two days work!
I asked Angela what she enjoyed about her jewellery making days and she said she liked; “getting personalised pieces that no one else owns, you walk into a jewellery shop these days and it’s all the same…manufactured en mass.”
She also expressed that she really enjoyed the process of jewellery making, finishing one part and then moving onto the next stage; “each step explained and demonstrated by Violeta or Sarah and by the end of the day a gorgeous, finished piece.”.
The only thing left to say is…what will Angela do next? Whatever she chooses to do, she will do it with great style, humour and skill.
We cannot wait to see her next project.