I am wearing the ring I made. This time last week, a silver jewellery workshop wasn’t even on my radar! It’s not you’re everyday activity, for starters you need a lot of specialist tools and knowledge, but as a tourist for the day I cannot recommend silver-smithing more. How many other days out result in a such a unique memento? Just be warned, it’s highly addictive!
A friend asked if I wanted to go to a jewellery workshop, I didn’t have anything planned so I thought why not!? We turned up to Nova Art lab on Tha Pae Road just before 10 am, and wondered at the beautiful pieces in the showroom. The workshop is upstairs, where Nugoon, a smiley man and silversmith for over 30 years, welcomed us. He would be our tutor for the day and we his only students.
We started by choosing to make a ring or a pendant, and sketching out the design. Nugoon then selected the silver, and gave us our first tasks. We both opted for rings, I was thinking earrings but I couldn’t decide on a design! Oh indecision! Note to self – for future workshops think about what you want to make in advance of turning up!
Nugoon taught us each step; heating the silver with a blowtorch and cooling it in water to make it pliable. I had to then stretch the silver to the desired diameter on a hand powered, rack. It was a bit like a giant play-doh factory, but where the silver was pulled rather than pushed through. I worked out the length in order for the correct diameter and marked where to cut. I then filed the ends so they were flat and bent the ring until the two ends met.
Next I applied flux and soldered the join – I thought this would be the hardest part, but actually it required no effort other than heat. Then the ring had to be made perfectly round, by hitting with a wooden mallet. The filing afterwards was the most labour-intensive part, and if not done correctly would make a weak and ugly join. Once filed twice, the ring is then dipped to remove all flux, then scrubbed clean and finally polished. The end result is pretty and pretty impressive!
Nova Art labs run workshops everyday from 10:00 – 16:00. One day workshop is 1750 baht, excluding silver used, which is charged at something like 30 baht per gram. My ring, being so thin, cost 35 just baht in silver! Learning a new craft and going home with a unique piece of jewellery – I can’t think of a better day out!