Saturday, March 9, 2013

How It All Started

I am using this post to launch my new blog.  This blog will be dedicated to topics on jewelry design.

As a member of the Etsy team, Aspiring Metalsmiths, I am writing this post about how I started as a metal smith.  So here is my story...

I have always loved artistic, creative projects.  Since I was very young I have experimented with many processes such as sewing, painting, and needlework.  I like learning a technique then figuring out how to "do my own thing" with it.

Like many people I began stringing beads to design jewelry.  My sister-in-law is an avid beader and she taught me how to string and finish off beading projects.  I began exploring the variety of beads that were available and soon realized I could create my own fashion accessories.  Before long I had created many more projects than I could wear.  My hair stylist graciously offered to let me sell my designs in her salon.  I was surprised to find that my designs were quite popular with her clients.

My friend told me about Etsy and suggested I open a shop there.  My first Etsy shop was Beads 'N Bangles By Kim and opened in 2007.  As my work changed, I wanted a business name that better reflected my designs.  In 2010 I changed my name to Kimberly Bell Designs and opened my current Etsy shop.

I started taking classes to expand my knowledge and skill.  I was intrigued by wire wrapping projects and took a class.  I wanted to learn more about working with metals.

My First Wire Wrapping Project


I took my first soldering class in 2007 from Kim St. Jean.  She called it "Kitchen Table Soldering" and we used a Benzomatic torch from Home Depot.  We made earrings with triple soldered hoops.  That was it!  I was hooked!

Later on, at home, I started creating more projects using my new soldering skills.  

Chandelier Earrings

Just soldering little rings wasn't enough for me.  I wanted to work on bigger projects.  

Some of the projects I made in early silver classes.
In 2008, Kim's studio began offering classes by a silver smith who lived in Charlotte and also taught at William Holland Lapidary School.  I signed up for classes as often as possible.  After the first class, I knew that my little torch wasn't going to be hot enough, so I purchased a real torch and Acetylene tank.  That was only the beginning of the equipment purchases!  LOL

 We progressed from simple soldering to bezels, prong settings, hinge connections, and clasp construction among other things.
Various stone setting techniques we learned

A Hinged Bracelet with Hidden Box Clasp

I am always looking to expand my knowledge and 
bring more distinction and refinement to my work.  I, also, love learning new processes.

Red Salsa Bracelet - Torch Fired Enamels

Recently I have taken classes in fold forming and torch fired enamels from Kim St. Jean.  I am currently exploring the many possibilities with these techniques.  

I hope to keep learning new techniques and improve my skills as a jewelry artisan.

This post is part of the Aspiring Metalsmith Etsy Team Blog Roll.  Please check out the blog posts of our members.

Marcus Berkner Jewelry
Valerie @ LilyEmme Jewelry
All Wired Up Jewelry Designs
Kalicat Jewelry Designs
Kim Bell
Beatriz Fortes