Place: The Den Toronto
Address: 1960 Davenport Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6N 1C2, (647) 479-7336
About 7 years ago I designed my wedding necklace and matching bracelet. It was just simple with Swarovski crystal, but all I could mange was a design as I have no jewelry making skills. I asked a co-worker to make it for me with my design sketches prepared for her and it turned out lovely and sparkly. A little over a year later my mom passed away unexpectedly and I ask my dad if we could not bury my mom with her wedding rings as I would like them for myself. (When I learned the back story of the rings I loved them even more. My dad managed to purchase them from Birks a prestigious jeweler that is still around today in Canada and he even chose white gold as the metal back in the 70’s when plain gold was still very popular as white gold didn’t become popular until the 90’s. I even found the tried and true coloured Birks box that the rings came in when I was going through my mom’s stuff after she passed. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the rings, but I decided to repurpose them but not destroy them in any way. I took the rings and brought all the pieces and sketches I needed for my design and took them to the goldsmith / jeweler we have been going to for many years. He made my idea comes to life and now I have a beautiful Lariat necklace that reminds me of my mom and her rings actually fit my fingers perfectly also. We both have very small hands and fingers it seems)
Having a couple weeks of vacation off from work and me not being one to relax even when I should be I wanted to learn a craft or take a workshop. In the Junction (Weston-Pellam Park) area of Toronto I stumbled upon a band making workshop. The requirements for this class was just a keen interest in jewelry fabrication (which I have), good eye-sight (debatable as I wear glasses 100% of the time) and some hand-eye-foot co-ordination (I got that is spades). This workshop was geared towards the hobbyist and the beginner goldsmith so I signed up as I still have aspiration of being a jewelry maker one day.
Upon arrival we can choose the strip of sterling silver we want to make our ring out of and pay for upgrades with different designs and thickness if desired. It can be either hammered textured or non-texture or if you upgrade to a textured surface. The basics we learned in the workshop was: engraving, basic fold A to B fabrication, proper hand tool usage, basic terms associated with goldsmithing, measuring, sawing piece to desired ring size, using a torch to soften the metal and solder the seam shut, forming into ring shape, filing and cleanup of the ring descending grits of emery paper, basic surface texturing using a polished hammer (optional), polishing using the lathe, application of a matte or oxidized finish and a technique called pickling.
The instructors and everyone was so nice and friendly and we learned a little about how they got into the business. In three and a half hour I have a lovely piece of handmade jewelry. The next time I make something like this I will take into consideration how much pressure to apply when engraving the inside of the ring and also not to polish the engraved portion of the rings. This sounds very simple to not do, but when the polishing machine gets moving it is very easy over polish and loose the engraving. I only have the faintest impression of my initials showing now. Handcrafted jewellery (pendants earrings etc.) was also sold on site for some of the in house goldsmiths.
I had an amazing time learning something new and if I had known there was such a workshop and place available, I would have been in here with Mr. C. making and doing the prep work on a pair of custom rings for our wedding. With the many classes offered I will be visiting them again and learning another skill. I have been thing of taking a jewelry course or going back to school and delving into jewelry making for almost 5 years now, as I know my passion is in the arts as I am very handy. I tend to pick up these tasks and skills so very easily and my instructors always comment on my aptitude for it. My problem is I can’t settle on that one artsy thing I love. This was a great way to give me a small feel for what goes on and I welcomed the little peak. I also have to thank my dad for all those times he needed an assistant to help work on the car with him, and I got to hold a blow torch or use my tiny fingers to help him put the springs into the engine mount in. All these little things sure came in handy I gather.