Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Most Special Gift

Torch fired, but un-polished silver clay scrap

Lots of things to do today to get ready for a class, but I wanted to share one wonderful thing that I learned at the conference. 

When you teach a class, you hope to impart some of your knowledge and experience to your students.  The goal is that you leave them with information that they'll find useful in their own jewelry making processes.  Sometimes during that exchange a teacher is lucky enough to learn something new or innovative from the student.

While student teaching a Level One class with Mary Ann Devos in Indianapolis, one of her students shared a tip that was worth the price of admission right then and there.  Unfortunately I no longer remember her name.  My memory runs through the sands of time, and valuable information is sifted through my synapses like a play day at the beach.  If you read this dear student, I apologize and beg you to leave a comment so I can credit you in the future.

We're always looking for ways to save every tiny bit of the precious gold or silver clay we use to make our masterpieces. I've told the story about how CeCe Wire has every student wipe their hands on a baby wipe to retrieve the clay that clings to their hands, collects every stray piece of sandpaper and ancient emery boards to send to a refiner that takes dirty scrap. I've always said that I neither have the space for storage nor the energy to save all that gilded ephemera for the few cents it might garner. This brilliant student takes saving fine slip from fingers, tools and work surfaces one step further.

She wipes things down with a baby wipe or piece of toilet paper and then torch fires it to reclaim the silver content.  It can be saved to refine down the line, used to cast with or best of all - melted into little balls and other interesting shapes to be added as design elements to unfinished pieces. Brilliant.  I'm sure that other folks have thought outside the box to discover this wonderful way of in-house refining, but it just never occurred to me.  Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.


Elaine said...

What a great idea! Thanks for sharing that Lora,


Lora ~ said...

Very happy to be able to pass it on. I was tickled to learn of it myself.