When I tell people that I am a goldsmith or a jewellery designer I tend to get the same response every time: “Really? That is so cool? You make things out of silver and gold? That sounds like so much fun! I wish I could do that.”
And though most times I agree that I have a pretty sweet job and most days I am happy doing what I like, there is the odd time when I want to just put down my torch and call it quits!
One of my favourite horror stories to share is the tale of Earrings for Van Gogh. (I tell it so often that I’ve even given it a title. haha)
During my second year at George Brown College I decided for a project that I would make a pair of earrings that were made out of sterling silver sheet and charcoal casting, and had bezel set malachite stones.
With only a day left to finish the earrings I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be in terms of completing the project. The castings had turned out perfectly. The bezels were made and soldered (for you non-jewellery readers, it sounds like ‘sottered’) to the back plates. The stones were set and all components of the pieces were polished. All I needed to do was solder posts to the backs of the castings and then rivet the casting onto the rest of the finished earring.
Much easier said then done!
The posts on one earring would not solder! I did everything to try to get them to stick to the casting. I had my instructor try to solder them on. My friend Shannon and I tried to use two torches at the same time to heat the metal more evenly. No luck. I got new wire and burred holes into the metal for the wire to sit in but nothing seemed to work! I began to panic. I had never handed in a project late let alone incomplete!
That night I took the earrings home with me. I figured I could at least rivet the one cooperative earring together. Success. (And now, a public apology to my neighbours and sister housemate: I’m so sorry for the hammering. And the crying. Hope I didn’t keep you up all night.)
The next day, I had a few hours before the project was due that I could use to try to complete the other earring. I began to calm down. It would be fine.
So I arrived at school with a positive attitude, ready to tackle the uncooperative earring. My hopes of finishing the project faded as the minutes passed by. With an hour left till the project was due, I broke down and cried. I was such a failure! Why was it not working! Finally, time was up and my instructor came around to pick up our finished projects. Reluctantly I packaged up my earrings in their plastic baggy. I wrote my name on the baggy and placed a note inside that simply said “Earrings for van Gogh“.
Sometimes when things don’t go as planned, you just have to find the humour in the situation and as most of my family and friends know, I love a good joke. 😉
~ Sarah Ana
P.S. After getting my earrings back I was given the chance to try to solder them and re-submit them. Wouldn’t you know I soldered those dang posts on the first go!