Michelle came back to wax carving after a hiatus from jewelry-making. She had a specific idea in mind for what she wanted to make, so we set up a private lesson for her to achieve her design. We laughed, we chatted, and she finished this impressive square statement ring in wax. Michelle has made jewelry before, and it was so fun to talk about tools, tricks and tips for getting the best results for her special project.
Give us a little background on yourself- was this your first jewelry class?
”Since 2007 I have taken formal classes at community colleges, the Otis Art Institute and Farrin - O'Connor jewelry studio. I started making jewelry in 2007 beginning with earrings, necklaces and bracelets using wire-wrapping and metalsmithing techniques. So this was a return to jewelry classes for me.”
What inspired you to take this wax carving workshop?
”During a second semester class in jewelry making at El Camino college I had a unit (2 weeks) devoted to the art of lost-wax casting. I was so intrigued by the class and what seemed to be an ancient process taught through the ages for jewelry artisans. Even though I learned the process of wax casting from beginning to end, I did not master the art of crafting refined pieces so there wouldn't be bumps and scratches in the final outcome. I really wanted to master sculpting the wax model but realize that will take practice.
What inspired me to take the wax carving class was an Instagram post from San Francisco jeweler Colleen Mauer. She posted a pic from her learning session at your studio while creating a wax model for a ring. I've been wanting to create a ring for myself. It is difficult to find rings that fit my short stubby fingers, so I have to make my own or have them custom made.
After checking out Sharon’s website, I saw that she teaches classes on an independent basis. Although I haven't been on the bench for some time the muscle memory is still there and I thought I'd give it a try and take the class. I'm so glad that I did.”
What was your favorite skill that you learned in this workshop?
“Learning how to notice crooked edges, surfaces and how to smooth down with specific grits of sandpaper and files. Learning about little things like how to use the purple wax that Sharon showed me and the Kate Wolf tools to smooth out indentations. Learning the tricks at the end to smooth out surfaces and get a sleek finish. The emphasis placed on using files and sandpaper to smooth out surfaces rather than relying on different drill bits and the flex shaft. Using the manual caliper to measure size.”
Making this wax carving class into a private lesson meant that Michelle had lots of time to develop her specific design and vision. In most wax carving workshops, students all work on roughly the same project - a pendant that they then work a design into. But in a private jewelry lesson, students can work on their own ideas directly, and really let their creativity flow.