I had the opportunity to take one of Thomas Mann‘s workshop at the Mendocino Art Center this summer (after visiting his gallery and studio in New Orleans the month before!) and it was fantastic. Tom was a very generous teacher and shared with us all the different facets of his trade. We did various exercises – some basic, others thought provoking.
His book, Metal Artist Workbench, is an excellent resource for those who are interested, as well as experienced, in metalsmithing.
During this four-day class, we learned the mechanic of sawing and did a quick exercise (left). We learned and practiced soldering and did two skill-building exercises. The first was to solder a piece of six-gauge twisted copper wire seamlessly (right) – this was my second try and still was not done perfectly.
A more complicated project was Wire World – not only did we learn how to solder well, we did it in the most timely manner thus understanding how it was in the “real production world.”
We learned various cold connection techniques using rivets, machine screws, nuts, tubes, and “stitching” with wire.
After two and half days of demonstrations and exercises, Tom gathered a plethora of found beach debris and rocks down the nearby cliff and challenged the class to create a jewelry object utilizing the techniques learned using some of these found objects.
I picked a piece of broken shell that was etched by the ocean. While I was sawing it lengthwise, one of the halves cracked leading to a pair of asymmetrical earring using the shell pieces, sterling silver, brass screws and nuts, and base-metal findings.