I have to admit, both Captain Sexypants and I were a little freaked out by going to Revere. We weren’t sure what to expect, thought maybe a ton of people would have a lot of experience and we’d be the class dunces… there was a lot of anxiety in the way. This is why we got up to the Bay Area and ultimately went camping with like, only half of the stuff that we needed which is totally unlike either of us. We’re great planners and organizers. You might call me a little OCD on that one. Cap is actually less mental but even better at logistics, so between the two of us, you can just imagine… We have All The Things. But this time, the anxiety about the class made us wing it a little.
That wasn’t actually a bad thing as we both discovered. Kind of freeing to shrug and just handle it.
But I digress. Before the woods, there was class.
We were taking Fabrication 1, which is pretty much the most basic course you can take at Revere. You learn to saw metal, file, work with precision. You learn about the basic tools on a jeweler’s bench. Fortunately for us, they teach this class like nobody in it knows a darn thing (even though quite a few of our fellow students actually had a bit of bench experience). The premise being, well, even if you know this stuff already you don’t know it their way and you might have gaps. So they just start at A and work to Z. Very thorough. I liked it.
I lost my fear fairly quickly. Or rather, I was terrified the whole time, but I just did the stuff anyway and by the time class was over, it was all gone.
I learned some things. Like, when you buy saw blades for your jeweler’s saw, it’s good to buy them by the gross. I snapped 18 on my first project.
I discovered that tools are neat! Clamps are cool. I discovered that I am not, actually, automatically an idiot when a tool is put in my hand and if that tool is sharp, or hot, or dangerous, I’m actually quite able to handle it, thanks very much. A solder torch or grinding wheel does not have to turn me into a wilting violet. I didn’t know this before we started, actually, and had some doubts.
Competence is awesome.
I learned how to take a flat piece of metal and work it to a state of mirrored perfection. Bend it, shape it, cut it, file it, heat it, connect it… to make some of my own tools and adapt others. THe class is taught in a logical progression – skillsets building on skillsets, projects progressing in an order that draws on everything you did the day before. By the end of the class, you have put it all together and you are able to make stuff. 3 days to learn a handful of the basics. A lifetime to master them.
This was a super fast moving class and we didn’t have the time to actually finish our projects. Some folks did, of course, but it wasn’t the focus of the class. The earrings above will never be all the way cut out, though I’d like to finish them. They remind me of tiny in-progress Death Stars. I’m actually planning to ding them up a bit, add a crazy patina and wear them as is. Yes, I’m a geek.
I was the most terrified of soldering. But amazingly, I found it to be really easy. Precise, painstaking and to be approached with the proper safety considerations of course, but not hard. The torch didn’t explode. It was okay. I didn’t set the lab on fire (an actual worry.)
And then? The world opened up.
A huge shiny world that exists beyond beading, beyond metal clay.
Okay this is gonna sound weird, maybe, but, metalsmithing made me feel connected. It made me feel tied to something far older than myself. These skills and techniques have evolved and innovations are always forthcoming, yes, but people have been working metal and smithing it for about as long as we’ve had fire.
There’s such a body of work to draw upon, and such a vast collective unconscious tied to this craft… well tapping into that pool is pretty humbling and profound and joyful.
When I was sitting at that bench, applying tools to metal, or fire, or whatever, I felt like I had come home. My whole body was resonating with one word.
I am so unbelievably grateful for the 3 days I spent at Revere and I am SO excited about going back in the spring for more classes, when their Open Study sessions open back up. Because I want more of that world expanding, ancient skill tapping, expert instruction.
Next time, though, I think we’ll work on getting more sleep. That kind of intensive brainfill is exhausting!
How did we feel when it was all over? Aside from all that joy of learning and the exuberant squee over all the cool stuff we can do now?
Smug. We were maybe a little smug. We drove up in our duct taped car, without half the stuff we needed, survived a massive skunking (another story entirely) on Day Two, got ourselves to the class on time via a sort of unfamiliar BART system (it’s not actually unfamiliar, but I hadn’t ridden it in years and the Cap’n hadn’t EVER, so…) and darn if we can’t make rings and cut metal now.
yes, I’d say smug for sure.