In 2018 my husband and I decided to travel through Asia. Which we happily did until the pandemic. I’d been making jewellery for some years by then and didn’t want to completely stop while we were traveling. I packed some hand tools, metal, and wax in my backpack and hoped I would figure it out along the way.
I quickly realized making pieces in metal was impossible (there’s only so much you can do until it’s time to solder!). So I focused all my energy on wax carving. I practiced the techniques I wasn’t very good at until I was good at them. I tried new techniques and just experimented a lot.
‘Is this going to work? Only way to find out is if I try it!’ was how I approached wax carving. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. If it didn’t work, I would try different ways until it did work! During those 2 years of practicing, experimenting, playing and just carving a lot, I fell in love with wax carving.
When traveling became impossible because of the pandemic, we moved to Vienna. During a lockdown, my husband suggested I make online jewellery classes. It seemed an impossible task, until I decided to focus only on wax carving. And here we are!
Now the official part: I trained at the school of jewellery in Dublin, where I also learned wax carving. After finishing my degree, I taught at the school for a year and I also taught a wax carving workshop at Lucy Walker Jewellery in Kuala Lumpur.
Oof that sounds pompous. I won’t argue with you about that! But I’ve realized there are a few reasons that I teach the way I do (call it my mission statement or brand values if you prefer). So I’ve decided to explain here why I teach the way I do.
One of the main reasons I love wax carving is that you can do it with only a few tools. Yes, there are a lot of specialized tools out there to make carving easier and quicker. But they’re not essential to enjoy wax carving.
I don’t know what tools you have. You might have all the tools, you might only have a few. I want the classes to be accessible to everyone that’s interested in learning. Without first having to invest in all these specialized tools. That’s why I keep the tools as basic as I can when I teach.
And if you do have the specialized tools, use them!
Continuing from my first point. Learn how to make your jewellery without all the specialized tools. Sure the way I teach is more time-consuming. But you’ll ALWAYS be able to make your jewellery. If you rely on all these special tools, what are you going to do when they’re not there?
What if there’s a power outage and you can’t use all your burrs? Wait until the power comes back? Of course not. You’re going to use your files and your saw to make your jewellery. Just like I taught you!
(Side story! This actually happened once during an in-person class. There was a power outage in the neighborhood. None of the tools that use electricity worked. People left angrily, demanding their money back. I stayed as did some of the others and we just used hand tools. The power came back after about an hour. It was a great class and I learned a lot about being resourceful.)
Am I against specialized tools? No, you should definitely use them. Just learn to make your pieces without them as well.
You might think traditional techniques are harder to learn. That’s not true. Yes, learning to file a perfect 90-degree corner is frustrating. But so was learning to pierce a straight line!
Don’t limit yourself. Practice and practice and practice those new techniques. When you finally master a new one, a whole new world of design possibilities opens up for you!
And just because you’re learning more traditional techniques, doesn’t mean you have to use them to make traditional pieces. I always try to add some fun into the pieces I make for the class. Have you seen my pineapple settings!