Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

What I Did With The 13-year-olds

Well, thanks everyone who wrote in with suggestions last month. I
found many ideas and warnings were very useful and overall you were
very supportive. I needed it!

I went to Queenstown, one of New Zealand’s wonderful tourist
resorts (bungy, kayaking, ‘funyakking’, paraponting (sp?) etc in
summer, snow fields in winter) to set up a table in a gallery there
which is one of my NZ retail outlets for my jewellery and eyewear.
I called it Street Jewellery (like John Grisham’s latest book?),
and believed I was providing ordinary people with a chance to have
a go at making a bit of jewellery. Sure enough heaps of locals
booked in, and tourists wandering past got curious and eventually
sat down to make a ring in an hour for $40.

I did 7 6hr days from noon to 6pm. Many booked for more than 1
hour, and I often had 3 or 4 going at once. 22 tourists and locals
made rings and other jewellery, plus one morning 33 school kids
went away with a silver ring on their sweet-sticky fingers.

What’d the locals and the touristi do? The plain silver band was a
favourite. They hammered ‘designs’ onto it when flat and within the
first hour we’d soldered it and rounded it up and filed and emeried
it to the generally approved satin finish! Some used the
leather-strip-on-a-wooden-stick tripoli polish. And most came out
the right size (whew).

A lot liked their silver rings with gold blobs on them, which were
easy enough using little melted bits of 22k soldered onto a
flattened part of the band, or set stones in gold bezels, a whole
lot tougher. These took them about 3 hours. I charged a bit extra
for the gold.

It was pretty tough to achieve what I’d set out to do with the 13
year-old and 14 year-old classes - a silver ring each - but we did
it. I’d asked for a couple of senior (17yo) students as TAs but I
learned in the first minute they were not available. So I battled
on. Like I do.

They all measured their chosen finger with a bit of iron binding
wire, and I sawed each a piece of stg sil 1.2mm x 7mm. They went
at their piece with a hammer and punch or 4" nail and many made (I
was pleased to see) some pretty cool design ideas on their silver

I got them to weild the mallet, and with me on the
ring-mandrel-in-the-wooden-swage-block together we banged up the
ring ready for soldering. Ok so some of the joins were a little
wonky, but hey, it was 50 minutes into the hour!

I lined up a halfdozen at a time and stick soldered them up (great
shouts of joy at the quench in water noise), and then the students
went and rounded them up with mallet and mandrel. The teacher was
a help at this. They went away peering down at their newly adorned
hands! many thanking me on the way out.

The I looked up and saw the next class waiting there!

But that class was a little better as they’d experienced the world
for one more year than the previous class, so with them I even had
time at the end to mix up a bit of pickle. It was interesting to
see how each approached the design stage. The one design stage of
doing something to the silver strip. Quite a few did a texture with
my criss-cross punch, or just with any old punch. A lot drew lines
with repeated dots - one did this with quite heavy hits and chose
the dimpled under side as the top - and others went minimalistic
with the ‘star’ punch and simply did 3 stars around the ring.

Was it minimalism or just lack of ideas? I still don’t know.

B r i a n � A d a m J e w e l l e r y E y e w e a r �
@Brian_Adam1 ph/fx +64 9 817 6816 NEW ZEALAND