The man I live with and adore is very supportive of my jewelry making. Not so much because I create beautiful pieces of handmade art and not because he's pleased that I have a creative outlet for my design skills. He likes it because the craft of jewelry making involves tools.
Back in the mid-seventies when I got my degree in graphic design our tools included X-Acto knife with No. 11 Blade and Rapidograph pens. One of the delights of getting to know Colburn was discovering that he had a love for the same tools from his days of working as a draftsman. In fact, we have both saved our old tools and now we love going to Asel Art Supply in Dallas and Fort Worth and drooling over the new products.
Now the designer's tools include Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Talk about expensive tools! The sad part is that there's no tactile, hands-on pleasure from working at a keyboard.
Before I met Colburn I had never really known a Certified Tool Fanatic. Nor had I ever made a Saturday afternoon trip to Harbor Freight (cheap tools) or drooled over the Otto Frei website (expensive tools). This is a new world for me but a familiar place to Colburn. As it turns out he has three of every kind of tool a person could need, even a jewelry designer.
One day he asked if I'd rather work at a watchmaker's table instead of my plastic table from Office Depot. Sure, I thought, but why do you ask? Because he has one in the utility room, that's why. Lots of small drawers and a canvas pull-out shelf to catch any small bits before they fall to the floor. Someday we’ll clear a path and pull it out of storage. It will be a strange experience for me because it’s much taller than a regular table or desk.
When I started making my own jewelry five years ago, I was quite content to use my inexpensive round nose pliers, flush cutters and bail makers. Nothing expensive or elaborate. In other words, I stayed in a nice, safe place making pleasant but predictable jewelry for myself.
And then a month ago I took a workshop at BeadFest Texas and learned how to fuse fine silver. Just holding that piece of 16 gauge round fine silver transported me to a whole new place. It was as silvery white as the full moon and had a silky soft hard feel to it. Fusing silver means learning how to handle a butane torch, a Delrin hammer, an asbestos pad and hardening the silver with a Delrin hammer on steel block and/or mandrel.
I see another trip to Harbor Freight and a delivery from Otto Frei in the near future.