I visited Florence in the beginning of May and stayed there for 2 fantastic weeks. The main reason was to attend a technical jewelry intensive course at Alchimia Contemporary Jewelry School. I found Alchimia through a blog of an ex-student of Alchimia while searching for short courses that would teach me to do my own metal jewelry.
I immediately got interested in Alchimia: contemporary jewelry taught in English in Florence, perfect! Can’t get any better than that! I work full-time and have limited vacation so I settled for a 2-week course.
The first day of the school the teacher introduced me to the tools I was going to use, and showed me my workbench. That was basically it! 15 minutes later I was sawing my first brass necklace. I practiced how to saw, flatten, solder, file and polish, a sheet of metal.
The teacher would give me explanations before I started and would then check how I did it and give directions along the way. She was very precise, instructive and yet gave me a lot of space to do everything myself.
Soldering is the most challenging one for me. I still have not got the feeling of the torch on how to heat up the metal evenly. And how nervous I was every time I needed to use the torch! But just for some days, after a while I got use to it. The flow of the gas/air was so soft and smooth. I felt really safe.
Apart from basic metal work, I also learnt how to use other materials to make contemporary jewelry, I learnt about Patina (a tarnish that forms on the surface of copper, bronze and similar metals produced by oxidation or other chemical processes) and Resin (organic compounds of many plants and used for the production of adhesive, glazing agents, varnishes).
I really liked working with Resin and it was actually pretty simple in comparison working with metal, nevertheless, it was not simple for me. I had to re-do it again and again. I think because it was a liquid.
Especially if you make a small design, like what I did with a ring and a brooch. I needed to measure and mix the liquids with colors and carefully poured it in a tiny template (I made my own template with baking paper). It took one night for the resin to get dry.
There were 5-7 students in my class. They were from South Africa, Italy, Australia, Spain and then me from Indonesia. Most of them had been working with jewelry so they were a bit advanced. I guess I was the most junior one. So the teachers were basically taught us in semi one-on-one basis, which was great. And I was lucky to be able to see what they were doing.
I love contemporary jewelry, wild ideas, so much possibility using different materials! I am talking about ANY materials you have in your mind : )
I found this jewelry school very open and professional. It was not like a school at all. For me as a beginner I did not feel intimidated. Instead, I felt like I was in a playground where I could learn as well as experiment. And I was thinking of the students that are studying (playing) for their degree there. How fun! Check out the students gallery here and the school here.
Thanks to Alchimia teachers Marzia Rossi and Danielle Boieri
Now I am back in New Delhi, India, my home for the last 3 years or so. I spent an interesting weekend last week and yesterday, finding some of the tools I need. I am now waiting for my used-workbench, Indian style :) to be delivered, to start creating my own contemporary jewelry.
But I can’t help that my mind is working very hard until today, to find reasons to come back to Alchimia!
I hope you enjoy reading this post. And of course if you have questions, drop a line in the comments below or email me : )