Secondary Events - Adventures of An Aspiring Silversmith

Secondary Events

by laurie jane kern on July 13, 2011

While at Haystack, two interesting things happened..

The First –
I found myself talking (a lot) to several of the blacksmithing students.  Eventually we got around to our background, day jobs, and why we were at Haystack. It was all very interesting to meet people from such different backgrounds.  It was during two different conversations, I mentioned learning to make Chasing & Repousse tools and how I like to modify hammers since many of the older styles are no longer being made. In both cases they said since I like to bang with a hammer, I liked making my C&R tools, and I liked to modify hammers in general; I should take some blacksmithing classes and learn to make my own hammers – or at least how to take a commercially made hammer and re-forge it.
This was very a cool idea!

The Second –
For the student silent auction, which was a fund raising event for the school, I brought something I had made to put into the auction. I did this so I would not feel pressured to finish anything during class. Did I bring a metal object? No, I brought a scarf I had woven.   I figured and I was correct that most of the other items in the auction were those made in the various classes and that bringing something else just might spark some interest. Boy, was I correct, as a small bidding war started over the scarf.  The closing bid was over $50 and a few of my new friends were surprised to know that I had made it – and I was shocked to find out that they were bidding on it too.   This made me realize that hey, was was a decent weaver!

I had stopped weaving and was even considering selling my 3 looms (a folding rigid heddle, a two shaft table top, and a 27″ wide, folding 4-shaft floor loom) because I had a warping disaster on my larger loom three years ago and felt that I “could not get it”.  Back then, after dropping and totally tangling a silk warp, I figured I needed to take some classes [As usually I am mostly self taught] and was signed up for class but during this time, I found out I needed shoulder surgery. That put the kibosh on weaving until I was better. I cancelled the class and stopped weaving several months before the surgery. I even sold off some of the smaller tools I had bought. The loom was put in the back of the closet and I have not touched it since.  I wove the pink tweed scarf on the folding rigid heddle loom since it is easy to warp by self and over several evenings, I wove the scarf a few weeks before I left for Haystack.  A

The Result –
I decided to look into learning some blacksmithing and to finally take that weaving class I put off 3 years ago.

When I got home, I looked at the UCSD Craft Center schedule and there is an Intro Weaving class starting in 2 weeks and I am now currently enrolled.

I also looked at the Vista Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum because they teach blacksmithing there AND they have a weaving group too.  I decided that I would go down over the 3-day weekend and check it out.

I left for the weaving barn at the Vista Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum around 11:30 on Saturday, and it only took me 40 minutes to get there.The office was temporarily closed but I found some one to ask where the weaving and the blacksmithing were.

I went off to the blacksmithing area first.

The Blacksmithing 1 class was in process and there were about 12 students there making a triangular trivet. Everyone was very willing to talk to me and explain what they were working on. One of the two women I saw introduced me to the teacher.  I told them about how I was hanging with some of the blacksmiths at Haystack and that I wanted to learn the basics so I could then make my own hammers. The teachers eyebrows went up at that and said that he had several students that did make tools and hammers but these topics were a part of the Blacksmith 2 class. It was also mentioned that you must take the Intro to Blacksmithing before you can take Blacksmithing 1 which is also the prerequisite to Blacksmithing 2. I then inquired about if I did all of that, can you come in and use a forging space to make your own stuff if you don’t have your own forge. He said yes, when the classes were going on, if there was free space and at other times that could be arranged.  I also thought I might be able to hook up with someone who did have a forge and work with them to make some hammers, as a result of taking the classes.

It being a 90+ day, the forge area was warm but not unbearable. I figured that maybe I would not sign up for the Blacksmithing course until the fall when it would be cooler.

I then walked over to the Weaving barn.

There were two ladies in there, one was threading a reed (which is a front to back warping process) and the other woman was just doing some sweeping. I introduced myself, told them that I was interested in weaving again as I have not done much in 3 years, and that I had stopped because of the shoulder surgery and not really understanding how to warp my 4-shaft loom. They mentioned the Thursday morning weaving classes and I said I had a day job and could not come then. Millie, the woman not warping the loom, then said that she would be willing to teach me on Saturdays – and that they were hoping and trying to get more people in the barn on Saturdays. This got me excited so I told her which loom I had and she walked me over to it’s sister – yes it was the exact same loom.  We then walked around the barn looking at the other looms and she explained to me some of the differences between them, which was some thing I did not know.

It was explained to me that I could not bring in my loom and leave it there because of insurance. But they will teach me to weave on any loom I wanted and I can use the donated materials too; but that if you use the donated materials they want to then sell that piece in the Museum shop but every-once and a while, you can keep a piece.  I thought this was completely fair considering it would cost me nothing but a museum membership to learn and use the equipment – and if I am there weaving, I would be like a docent talking to people who visit.

Millie is leaving on vacation in a week or two but I said I would be back at the end of August – ready to start.  I will still take the class at the UCSD Craft center because it will give me the basics.

I then walked back to the Museum shop and joined for $40.

laurie jane kern

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Suzanne July 15, 2011 at 7:19 am

I love it when life takes you places you don’t expect to go. Well done!

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