Ever since I took the classes with Susan Lenart Kazmer and Jane Wynn, I have been inspired to get back into metal work. I was Jonsing for a Jeweler’s bench but my workspace is small and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. So I took scrap lumber, made made a work surface, and bolted it to the top of an old desk. I even attached a pegboard and shelf. Finally, my bench pin is in the right position for sawing. Here is a picture of the new old bench and a piece in progress.
I have boxes of old family photographs that bring back memories every time I look at them. But the women in my family preserved the family history with different materials. They sewed, knitted, crocheted, tatted, and quilted.
In my living room an afghan my maternal grandmother Emma crocheted is draped over a chair. Over another chair is a patchwork quilt my paternal grandmother Mattia pieced together from her bag of fabric scraps collected over the years. My mother Rosemary, who is still living, was a marvelous seamstress and I treasure her Singer Slant-O-Matic from the early ’60’s. Clothes she made for me still hang in my closet, and I have scads of towels and aprons she embroidered.
My mother-in-law Vicky, who died earlier this month, was also an accomplished seamstress. She made beautiful jackets for a few lucky women in the family (including me) from vintage velvet, lace, and her stash of fabric scraps. I wear mine on special occasions. I was fortunate to have inherited her sewing machine. I will remember her every time I use it.
Here are some pictures.
I wanted to make a meaningful Christmas present for a younger family member. My mother had given me my Grandmother’s silver plate and said that it would be OK if I made jewelry out of it. I took two teaspoons and heated them until they were cherry red with my lamp working torch. After letting them cool, I clamped them into a vise and sawed off the handles with my jeweler’s saw. I filed off the rough edges and drilled holes in both ends of each handle. I shaped the pieces with a rubber covered mallet and a form made to hammer out dents in cars. Then I threw the handles in the pickle pot to clean off most of the fire scale. Next, I used a wire brush attachment in my drill to clean off the rest of the dirt and shine them up. I filed around the rough edges of the holes I’d drilled and went over the handles with steel wool before polishing them with muslin buffing wheel and rouge.
I assembled the pieces with jump rings I’d made previously, and a lobster clasp. When I don’t solder jump rings, I like to make them oval shaped with the cut on the side because they are stronger and less likely to pull apart which is important for a bracelet. I was going to put a lamp-worked bead dangle on the front with a wrapped loop. I ended up using the dangle you see in the picture-an odd earring belonging to my mother.
I have a full set of my Grandmother’s silver plate and a ton of ideas for using it to make jewelry. What about a ring or bracelet for my maternal girl cousins? That’s a thought. It would be a good way to share the silver plate with the family.
Yesterday, my Mother was telling me about the wonderful Christmas dinners my Grandmother cooked years ago. I imagine they enjoyed more than one with the spoons I used on this bracelet. I never knew my Grandmother. The picture of her below must have been taken when she was 16 or so, which would make it circa 1900.
Emma Peterson Montgomery