My Jewelry Journey Got Off to a Rocky Start (cue music ... to Rocky)

My Jewelry Journey Got Off to a Rocky Start (cue music ... to Rocky)

the bench

Revisiting March 2020


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Let's see what was going on when I first started ...

Downtown, Toronto, Ontario, Canada - Harbourfront, in Artscape Daniels Launchpad, Jewellery Studio

I had cycled through all the jewelry/jewellery-making courses at schools throughout the City and just joined a membership of makers and rented a locker when covid hit. The Launchpad allows artists to set up and book space any day of the week. It has dedicated studio spaces for textiles, woodworking, electronics and digital fabrication. It was an amazing set up because they have some expensive equipment I didn't have access to at home. In particular; a sophisticated torch system. If you read today's Instagram post (the one on the grid with the red leaf and some tools on a ...

... there we go - this one), you'll know I was intimidated by my kiln and the little torch.

Joining Daniel's membership allowed me to split my work between fabricated metalwork which I wanted to do in their studio and enamelling and metal clay projects that I wanted to do mostly at home since they didn't have a kiln for enamelling or firing metal clays.

There was some tool overlap and I often had to 'little-old-lady'who' cart a buggy of equipment back and forth from the studio to home a couple of days a week on public transport. Once I got packing up at the end of the day down to a fine art, it became more and more doable. I was bringing snacks and taking regular breaks just outside the studio at tables designed for meal breaks and I had even almost mastered their coffee card system. I think they still owe me for a couple because I put the card in backwards and maybe pushed some wrong buttons. I figured out who to ask for help. Things were happening. I was on a roll.

Artscape Daniels Launchpad photo studio

I'd attended this one eye-opening course on how to use and book their photo studio to photograph my work, tiny as it is, and met a few other jewellers who also attended whom I'm now friends with on INSTAGRAM ... where I'm known as @gardenbre. I know. What was I even doing there?

I was working on a few projects, back then, one of which was Sandra McEwen's lotus pendant that I purchased supplies and instructions for from her Etsy store. I am still a member of her vimeo course channel ... I was making this one particular project of hers my very own ... you know how creatives are - right. I'd redrawn her lotus in hopes she wouldn't be upset and was trying to figure out how to best cut and fuse the pure silver sheet shapes provided in her kit, using cloisonné wire to draw with ... and using that fancy torch system at Daniels in the Hot Room where I'd had to do a one-on-one workshop with a studio master to learn how to properly use the equipment.

lotus drawing and pure silver

... here are some hand-sawn pieces of that pure silver sheet I'd cut, stored in a plastic case, shown off against my barely-used black OCA apron waiting for next steps ... (not shown are some inadvertant mistakes I melted ... made while waiting to take the aforementioned torch course. I needed to learn to fuse the frame to the base before beginning enamel work. Nobody seemed to actually know how to do this but advised it would be good for me to learn equipment use anyways. Enamelling wasn't something covered here (yet). But back to when I'd also somehow managed to find out about and sign up to take the enamelling course with the actual Sandra McEwen. It was set to take place in June, 2020, at Casa Artistica École D'Arts in Levy, Quebec. Murielle Teasdale had set things up. I'd found a place to stay and purchased some beautiful powders from Japan. I could not believe my good fortune - ONE of finding out Sandra was coming to Canada and TWO that there was actually space available for me. I really need to write a post about how I discovered all of this because that was as much of a coincidence as this next sentence I'm about to write below.

Levis is where Gary was born. I know - crazy - right. It was like a 'sign'.

I was so very excited. It's not like Levis is a huge metropolis like Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal or anything - though it is linked by a ferry that goes across the St. Lawrence River to Old Quebec City.

Meanwhile, I brought some other fired precious metal clay charms, I'd finally gathered the courage to make and fire in my kiln at home, so I could use Daniels fordham rotary power tool. There were holes to be punched and polished and jump rings to be formed, inserted and soldered.

I have a full-fledged fordham system at home but truth be told - it is still in the box. I felt it would be good to practice under supervision before setting it up on my own. Many a time, a supervisor walked by my bench and suggested I put my mask on or my protective eye goggles. It takes awhile to acquire excellent safety habits, if you are me. I get so lost in all the work at the beginning but I was so grateful for these reminders to establish good practice from the get-go.

I haven't yet mentioned that I impuslively joined a FaceBook jewellery group in January 2020 have I. It was formed as a charm-making challenge between a dozen or so ambitious jewellers set to take place over 2-month time frame. Our work was due to be send out to one another by mid-March. About half of us were right on target and the other half of us asked for and were granted a 2-week reprieve on Valentines Day which meant everyone was given until the end of March. Lockdown officially began on 23 March 2020. I was part of the lowly hearts club clan.

Things got dicey. I bet you want to know if we all made that deadline. Stay tuned.


a few other works-in-progress at this time

It was all happening around the time I was also basically having a lot of fun fiddling with a lot of mixed media and playing with many zany ideas.



UGH lockdown ... the studios closed! A lot of my tools were carelessly abandoned in my downtown locker. Back then, I didn't think it would be long before everything was back to normal.

I'll finish the saga of the charm challenge next week. If I get a chance, I'll also talk about the wild coincidence of how I found out that Sandra was coming to town. I know I talk about Canada like it's some rural nowhere land ... but I do so fondly. I think most Canadians kind of want to keep this place secret and to ourselves.  Don't shoot the messenger.

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