I get a great magazine called Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, full of great metalsmithing projects and beautiful things to make. And it drives me crazy, because I never have all of the stuff necessary to even practice making anything. And I really, really want to. So slowly but surely, I've been picking up stuff as I can afford it - a hammer here, bezel wire there, dapping punches, some decent files...and the piece de resistance...a piece of silver sheet! When it came in the mail, I just about cried. A little, tiny piece of 20 gauge silver about 2 inches wide and three inches long and with the shipping, handling and customs fee, about $40! No practicing on that!
This past weekend, somebody in the store told me about a place nearby that sold copper sheet. It didn't take me long to find it and the poor fellow had to drag about 10 pieces of metal off the shelf to find and sell me about 3 pounds of scrap copper sheeting. But oh bliss! I can play to my heart's content and not worry about wasting silver until I know what I'm doing.
Now my problem is that it took square wire to get that braid, the only square wire I have is argentium and I ain't gonna use it to pound into copper for practice. I've got a roll of steel round wire and if I can figure out how to twist it together in a braid....now I have to play with my drill.
Perhaps I should have called this post "Metalsmithing on a Budget." I could have probably put my kid through college with all the money I have invested in tools and findings at this point and I don't want to spend any more until I have a little proficiency, so necessity has to be the mother of invention for anything else. But stay tuned - this is just the beginning!