I wanted to share a basic guide for anyone who might be thinking of starting metalsmithing as their side-hustle. (Disclaimer - here I am giving my opinion from my personal journey as this is how I have experienced it myself, this is not necessarily the 'right way' or the easiest!) For anyone lucky enough to have figured out they want to do this straight from school, or who are in a position to study metalsmithing full-time then the route is going to be pretty different to the one I took.
Many of you may already be aware that making jewellery is something I do as something a bit more serious than a hobby (it could be described as a side-hustle) but separately from my day job and in fact started it initially as an escape from a stressful and demanding job. It is safe to say that making jewellery continues to be a therapeutic escape and a creative outlet for me even after doing it for around 8 years with varying degrees of seriousness. Many people I have spoken to think getting into making jewellery is too difficult and / or too expensive to take on as a hobby, this does not have to be the case at all. Read on for my top tips for getting started...
- Do some research, if you want to get into making jewellery there are so many different 'genres' aside from metalsmithing such as perspex, beading, wire wrapping, mixed media (ie crochet, embroidery or upcycled materials), metal clay, electroforming...to name a few! I have put some examples below from some designer makers who make beautiful examples of the different types. This post is more focused on metalsmithing as that is my area of experience.
(All photo credit from the above examples goes to the designer makers featured, click on each link to take you to the designer makers webpage)
- Whatever you decide you are interested in doing it is always worth going to have a chat with someone who has experience in that field, if you see someone local to you they will most likely have information on local classes or events. Anytime I have sought advice from craftsmen (and women) local to me they have always made time to see me and provided valuable advice. Just remember if you are taking time out of someone's working day be respectful and grateful!
- Look into an introductory lesson. I think this is a great way of testing the water to see if you actually want to do something before committing to lots of lessons. Sometimes the reality of something can be very different to what it actually entails. I started by doing a days crash course with Sarah Stafford which I absolutely loved, I came away from the day unable to stop staring at the ring I had made and itching to make more!
- Following the above lesson and coming away on a total high from creating this ring from a sheet of silver I then proceeded to kit myself out with all the essentials. I remember buying some tools from Jewels and Tools but ever since my first port of call is usually Cooksongold, mainly because their customer service is fantastic and they always have precisely what I want! Both sites have some great tool kits to get you started. This may have been a bit early to have buy all the equipment but I knew I had fallen in love with working with silver, some people prefer to wait until they have had more lessons and some people don't buy their own tools at all. Instead they just use what is provided at classes (see next piece of advice)...
- I found signing up to a regular evening class helped me develop and progress my skills far beyond what I could have done at home on my own, plus the social aspect of a class adds another fun dimension. I signed up for several terms at local jewellery workshop; Jonathan Swan. It's always worth checking your local jewellers and colleges to see if they run classes if there is nothing local to you some jewellers rent out benches and may be able to offer tuition so it is always worth investigating. Alternatively there are online classes such as Jewellery School Online, Learning With Experts and Creative Live .
- There are so many great books out there for people starting out making silver jewellery and I would highly recommend investing in a few to help you learn once you have your basic equipment. There are some great beginners books that take you through lessons that progress your skills as you go. My first book was a two step manual which is very old now but really helped with cracking some of the basics.
Just go for it!
... That is my main piece of advice! It is easy to get stuck in a rut of a stressful day job and think 'I wish I had the opportunity to do _____ when I finished school' but life is too short, if there is something you dream of doing the only thing that can hold you back is you!
I hope this post has been helpful to anyone thinking of starting up a side-hustle project whether it is making jewellery or something totally different. If you do think you would like to learn how to make jewellery and have questions I would love to be able to help and if you fancy a taster lesson get in touch and/ or see this post on the lessons I can offer here.