Learning my craft

I didn’t set out with the intention of making jewellery until I was in the middle of making my first piece.

It was a twisted copper and brass ring that I later gave to my sister, made in my secondary school metal work class. I don’t know why our teacher chose jewellery instead of the usual kitchen utensils but I seemed to have a flare for it, as I usually did when it came to creative tasks. In no time at all I was progressing on to silver wire. Something about the silver gripped me. Maybe it brought back childhood memories of polishing the old family silver collection; I could never wait for the tarnish to appear on my Dad’s old tankards, so I could make them shine again. Whatever it was, it never left me. During that school term I made 2 rings, that first one for my sister, and a second silver version for my Dad. The following term, we moved on to woodwork and my jewellery making career was put on hold.

After my GCSEs I took an Art and Design Course at College. It was a very general art practice course but I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the common room with its tomato cuppa soup, juke box, and smokers’ corner but even with the lure of a broadened social life and creative outlet, I itched to get out into the world after just one year. I got a job in a small double glazing company making the fake stained glass units that used to be a part of every conservatory. This was about as creative a job as I could find and it kept me busy. Around this time I found a night course for jewellery-making. Tuesday evenings became the highpoint of my week. I was the youngest person on the course by about 50 years. We learnt bits from each other as well as from the teacher. I learned basic soldering/braising and piercing and polishing skills. The jewellery bug had well and truly bitten. Every birthday or Christmas became an opportunity to request a new tool and no car-boot sale went by without a search for a much-needed second hand tool.
At age 18, still living at home and without a workbench, I used the top edge of a pine chest of drawers in my bedroom to make my creations in silver. When night school finished I carried on muddling through, teaching myself as best I could in my spare time. There were no YouTube videos, but books were available for beginners. My knowledge was limited but I carried on making presents for family members who seemed to be grateful enough.
Fast forward to a short cheffing career, a life-changing romance which resulted in one new husband, a move from the south of England to the northwest of Ireland, all topped off with two beautiful sprogs, I was now 24 and a stay-at-home Mum. I had an eye on establishing a self-employed career from home. I flipped a few artistic ideas around in my head, including greeting card-making and photography, but the magpie in me wanted the shiny stuff in my life.
I needed to upskill, big time. The search for learning was on. I had it all ahead of me …

4 Comments
  1. What a great journey Tiffany into the world of jewellery-making. You’ve come a long way in the intervening years, to your beautiful designs of today.

  2. Looking forward to the next installments, from then to now. Not many people get the opportunity to follow their dreams and have self belief. That in itself is inspiring.Keep believing.

    1. Thanks Maeve. Im very lucky to be able to to what I love and that never gets old. I think we should all strive to do even a bit of what we love.

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