Monday, 25 February 2008

Well that solves that problem!

For over 20 years, Jenny and I have done a bit of silversmithing. We've made lots of jewellery, and also things like candle holders, wine goblets, fruit bowls, and so on. We did most of the work at weekend workshops which we attended twice a year, and that was just perfect. We'd come home hyped up from the weekend, and that would keep us going for 3 or 4 months, continuing to design and make stuff in our workshop here at home. Then, just as we were losing momentum, another course would loom, and we'd have to start thinking about a new set of designs, then buy in the materials we'd need, and so on, so we never really stopped producing stuff.

About 5 years ago the guy running the courses retired, which I thought was most unreasonable of him. I guess when we first started going, in the early 80's, he must have been in his early to mid-60's, so to be fair, 5 years ago he'd be well past 75, so I suppose we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But that left us with a big problem. Without the regular impetus provided by the workshops, we did less and less. And as we practised less, so we started to make more mistakes, and to find them harder to recover from. The downward spiral of getting it wrong and being unable to fix it is depressing and self-reinforcing, and we've hardly done any silversmithing for some years. And I got into trouble you can just guess where, because I decided I preferred carving wood and stone to soldering silver.....need I say more?

Anyhow, this weekend we went on our first workshop with a new guy, on the Worcester/Hereford border, and what a pleasure it was! Both he and his wife are quite delightful, he's an excellent teacher, the classes are small, and the workshop reasonably well-equipped. Ian and Sue Buckley run Bringsty Arts Studio and the courses are the first weekend of the month apart from January, I think.

Jenny made this magnificent bangle for me, despite starting to feel quite poorly yesterday, and I'm completely delighted with it. I was over-ambitious and tried to make 2 rings and a brooch, but didn't manage to finish any of them. However, we achieved the main objectives, in that a) we've found someone we can keep going back to every 6 months and b) we're really fired up about silversmithing and jewellery making, so hopefully we'll recover those lost skills and start making some more nice stuff.

I'm glad to say Jenny is now almost completely recovered, and I survived the drive home, despite not having my co-driver there to take over once we hit the A14.

And the icing on this particular cake was that we stayed in a wonderful pub, called the Talbot, in Knightwick, which is really close to Ian and Sue.

This 15th 14th Century pub is completely wonderful and we enjoyed excellent food and a comfy room both nights. Friday night we both had delicious oxtail stew, and on Saturday I had a most excellent Hereford sirloin steak and Jenny had really good mutton. Terrific!

This is the Talbot last summer. More info on their site.


A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Another wonderful weekend by the sound of it Rob, and what a gorgeous piece of jewellry Jenny made for you.
Hereford/Worcester is lovely - years ago we used to go to Ledbury regularly, a delightful old town. And the beef is famous! Margot x.

Rob Clack said...

Thanks Margot. Yes, a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. I do love that part of the world, and further north, up to Staffordshire, too, having lived for a few years in and around Birmingham.

I gaze at the eStanglian skies, but miss the lumpy bits they have in the ground (hills) further west.

ArcticFox said...

Fabulous - it's great to read such glowing and positive blogging..... in direct contrast to my usual Victor Meldrewesque attemtps.

I feel vicariously validated that there is some good and creativity in the world.


Rob Clack said...

Hi Victor! It's bright and sunny here. Hope it is in HD3, too.

So checking the date of the Talbot, I discovered a) I'd got it wrong and b) there's a link to photos of the pub when it was flooded last summer. I did know it'd been flooded, but hadn't spotted the photos, so I've added to my post.

GeraniumCat said...

What a wonderful bangle. My dad was a silversmith, as well as cutting his own stones, and, though he's not here anymore, I still have the rings and pendants he made for me (though not, sadly, the blue glass bottle stopper ring - his first ever - that he made me when I was 6). It hadn't really occurred to me that people might take up silversmithing as a pastime, so I was intrigued to see your post and look forward to reading more about it.

Rob Clack said...

I wonder if I can get that ring I started finished in time for J to wear it this evening? Better get my skates on!

jenny said...

oh! How lovely!! I wanted to major in jewelry making in college, but my financial backers wouldn't approve it. Always loved silver and would like to take classes one day. Do you sell any of your pieces? That's a lovely bangle J made.

DJ Kirkby said...

That bangle is stunning! Erm...Rob...does that pub have water right up to it's door?

Rob Clack said...

We used to sell our stuff, Jenny, but somehow it was so much less fun trying to turn it into a business than just making whatever we wanted when we felt like it. These days we don't even bother hallmarking most that we make, though we will send the bangle for marking. Yes, I think it's stunning, too.

Sorry, DJK, I wasn't clear. Amazing how often you think it's obvious until you revisit the text and realise you've left something critical out.

Last summer in July, the Talbot was flooded 3 times by the river that runs 50 metres away. At its deepest, the water reached the ground floor windowsills. There are photos on their website and I just lifted one from there.

Fortunately it has all been cleared up and the damage restored, so had no impact on our stay whatever.