Last week I attended an MKBloggers workshop and talk at The Goldsmithy in the quaint market town of Stony Stratford. Tucked away from the main shopping street down a cobbled alleyway, you wouldn’t even know that this incredible place is there.
As soon as I stepped into the workshop, I was greeted by flames, tools and a warm welcome. With my background in fine art and sculpture, I felt at home and a little pang for my blissful years back in the Middlesex University workshop.
Before the day I was expecting to have created a simple piece of jewellery from beads, premolded charms and a chain but instead I came away with much more.
First of all I learnt what the REAL difference is between a jewellery making and goldsmiths – it’s a big difference by the way and something I had never really given a thought. Goldsmiths deal with the molding and shaping of materials and have the skills to create some truly bespoke and long wearing items. Goldsmithing is a lot more physical and requires a great deal of training to become a master. And this is something the Goldsmithy team has in bucket loads.
They’re a family run business by father-son duo Glen and Paul Chapman. Glen’s experience was honed from his earlier years training at Cartier and he is now passing the skills down the family line to his son, Paul, who is three years into his 5 year apprenticeship, but already exudes talent and is clearly passionate about what they do.
After an introduction from Glen about the history of the business, we got to work on the jewellery.
We watched Paul melt down metal, shape the metal into a band and we were even lucky enough to help him grind, buff and polish the ring all within a mater of hours. To say he made it look easy would probably do his skills a disservice, but being able to make a stunning piece of jewellery in a morning was truly impressive to me.
The workshop has all of the right tools to help you create jewellery. We helped Paul to shape the metal using some form of “bending machine” (I can’t remember the correct term) which took a lot of muscle power.
Once you have the basic shape of the ring, it needs to be finished to a high standard for a client.
I had a go at adding a hammered style to one of the rings as well as grinding down the sides to improve the smoothness.
Once the lines and grooves had been hand smoothed and filed, we were then shown how the ring is polished in the machine to give a shiny finish.
This type of service is actually offered as a workshop for people to come in and make their own jewellery. Couples can come in and create their own bespoke wedding rings as well for a personal touch. This isn’t something I’d considered but I will be now!
And during all of our (Paul’s) hard work, we were treated to a delicious brunch from Cameron’s Kitchen, also in Stony Stratford, The quiche and sweet potato gratins topped with avocado and feta were my favourite.
And to top the day off, we also went home with some goodies from Peel Juice Bar, Hello Stationary, Pasha Turkish Bar & Grill, Beauty Box by Alyson, Revolucion De Cuba, Cameron’s Kitchen, Giraffe World Kitchen, Beeswax Wraps, Popaball, Rocky Road Treats and Maaya – thanks very much guys!
This was definitely one of the better ways I’ve spent a Saturday morning. Special thanks to Sophie at Sophie’s Suitcase and Brand Mission for organising the event. And of course, Paul and Glen for imparting their knowledge.