Rose of Rose Wood Jewellery runs enjoyable silversmithing courses in the charming and cosy “Y Gweithdy Bach” or The Little Workshop, in Drefach Felindre, Carmarthenshire. Kate Dewmartin of CraftCourses went along for a morning’s silversmithing with friend and candle maker Angharad.
On arrival, Rose made us coffee and then we got straight into finger measurements and designs for our rings. Angharad and I are complete beginner to silversmithing, though I did have a small bead and safety pin jewellery business ("Terrapins") as a teenager. Angharad was keen to make a sterling silver ring for her daughter’s upcoming 18th birthday and I was intrigued by the oak leaf design as well as the celtic stamp, which would go nicely with my Welsh gold wedding ring.
After we had chosen and cut our silver strips, the first job was to heat up or “anneal” the metal to make it pliable for the design. Surprisingly it doesn’t need to stay hot, but is cooled instantly and then placed in a ‘pickle bath’ before we get to work.
Most of the designing and any stamping or engraving is done before the ring is bent into shape, so my first step was to choose a dried oak leaf and then place it into a paper sandwich before putting it firmly through the Rolling Mill. The leaf imprint was on!
We both added personal lettering on the inside our rings, taking care to keep the characters the right way up and in line. Rose has a lovely selection of stamps, including Celtic designs, stars and hearts.
After stamping we had to re-anneal and re-pickle before measuring again, cutting and bending into the ring shape, done using pliers and elbow grease. Once we’d got our lines matching up, we sawed through the metal and soldered the edges together, first preparing them with flux.
Once cooled and re-pickled, the rings were placed onto a mandril and we used a rawhide mallet to perfect the shape.
Next up was filing and sanding the edges and onto the final buff and polish!
This bit was brilliant as we saw our rings suddenly emerge looking very professional and dainty, as well as practical for us as busy Mums.
It was an absorbing and enjoyable morning and we both love the rings we made. Rose is a great tutor, very knowledgable and keen for us to experience each step of the process from design to finish.
The workshop is not far from beautiful Cenarth Falls and the River Teifi, where on warmer days I have sometimes had a dip!
It’s a peaceful place to work and learn and great to see such creativity burgeoning in these beautiful Welsh hills.