This begins a new series of blog posts. Each week or so, a new student will be featured with parts of their story - why they fell in love with jewelry-making, what inspires them, and what they get out of each class.
This week, Alissa Bailey of ab positive jewelry is on deck! Little known fact - Alissa was my first jewelry assistant and worked her tail off producing a lot of the most essential pieces in my collection. She is also the primary model of a lot of my jewelry all over this website. So if you were thinking that she looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen her all over my lookbook.
How long have you been making jewelry, and how did you get started?
I’ve been metal smithing for about 5 years now.
While living in LA I was employed as a server and pursuing an acting career - I like to say that jewelry found me. Over the years acting had become more of an obligation rather than a passion, so I began to explore my interest in beading. I went to the nearest bead shop gathered all the pretty little things that I could afford, and the next day I came to work wearing my newly designed and handmade necklace. It was that night that I sold my first piece of jewelry. From that point forward I was selling to more and more co-workers which then trickled down to people that would be dining there, and so on. That was the true birth of my business. It was also the time that my identity as an actor was slowly fading into jeweler. When it came to deciding what the next career choice would be for me the answer was super clear - I wanted to learn to work in metal, and hopefully one day be my own boss with a full-fledged line of fine jewelry. I always tell people that I feel so lucky to be able to continue a career path that still allows me to be creative. Since acting lost its appeal for me, I will forever be extremely grateful that I found another creative outlet to pour my heart and soul into.
Why did you want to take the Intermediate Wax Carving Class?
I was recently asked to make my first engagement ring, and my clients decided to use this beautiful center stone. Creating a setting for this stone is out of my current wheelhouse, so I decided to take Sharon’s class so that I’d be able to fully fabricate the ring myself. I did this instead of finding someone else who could do it for me. I’m super excited that I now have one more skill to add to my ever growing arsenal of skills as a jeweler.
What is your favorite material to work with and why?
As of right now I’m a big fan of working in sheet metal. Specifically Argentium Silver Sheet. My work contains a lot of hand-sawed pieces. Silver sheet feels like you're sawing through butter, and then on top of that Argentium keeps the fire-scale* at bay!
Alissa took an intermediate wax carving class to advance some of her skills, but even if you have no experience, you can start with a Wax Carving Basics Workshop, or contact us to find out what class would be best to kick off your jewelry-making adventure.
*What is fire scale? Fire scale is something that happens during the soldering and heating process when working with sterling silver. It brings some of the copper that is present in sterling to the surface, and must be removed or it makes your silver surfaces splotchy-looking. It’s a tiny bit of a PITA, and a lot of jewelers have switched to a kind of silver called Argentium. This kind of silver doesn’t have this same problem.