When I was in public school my grade 8 class was the first one to allow girls to take Shop. Before that girls were limited to Home Economics, where I did a terrible job of making a handkerchief top. I loved Shop. I don’t remember all the projects but what I do remember is making my first piece of jewellery. I got to cut, shape and polish a small piece of sodalite that looked like lapis lazuli. And then I got to set it in a brass pendant to make my own necklace. It was a life changing moment.
Fast forward many years. I had experimented with a lot of jewellery making, mostly beading and a bit of polymer clay. Nothing that truly moved me. I was temporarily back in Kingston and noticed a tiny little ad in the back of the local paper advertising a silversmithing course. The Kingston Lapidary and Mineral Club was founded in 1962 and not only were they still going strong but they were now offering classes in lapidary – cutting, shaping and polishing rocks – and how to use those gorgeous rocks in jewellery.
To make a long story somewhat shorter, I took the silversmithing class. My very talented (and patient) instructors were Arne, Bob and Eileen. I learned an amazing amount there, including making my first band ring and my first bracelet that had about 30 solder joins (for those who don’t know, that’s a lot!).
I also later returned to be a teacher at the club. I taught one of the first wax carving for casting and cuttlebone casting classes. When I left the incredibly talented people who were in my class took over and became instructors themselves. I’m pleased (and a little jealous, lol) to see that they offer a wide array of classes now. Silversmithing, wire work, casting, repousse, resin, and more! They have a fantastic shop with amazing equipment and after you take a class you can rent shop time for a ridiculously low price per hour.
So if you live in or near Kingston and you’re interested in jewellery making (or geology) check out the club. They’ve just announced a whole list of new classes on their facebook page, so it’s a good time to do so.
Here’s the facebook page with the course announcements:
And here’s their website: http://www.mineralclub.ca/index.cfm?page=home