Once upon a time, on a sunny Tuesday about 6 months ago, I had a great new necklace design idea. This idea was so perfect in my mind’s eye, that I could see how the hammer marks would refract the light, and I could visualize the feel of how the metal would move and flow under my hammer. I knew with absolute certainty the speed and weight at which I should swing my hammer and the angle at which to hold the silver.
I was sadly mistaken.
The metal did not flow amiably under my hammer, but instead fractured and fought against me. My hammer marks didn’t refract the light in a beautiful shine, but rather were dull and lifeless. The lines of the metal didn’t flow in a clean sweep of gorgeous beauty, but were stilted and awkward. So much for perfection. After trying to force the project for about three hours, I gave in to the obvious. This was not the right design for this particular day and piece of silver. With reluctance, I shelved the necklace design, and turned the silver in to several bangle bracelets instead.
The bangles were very well received, and after thinking about it, I felt that I had a more perfect understanding of how silver flows and is shaped. Surely my misadventure was simply a fluke. I had learned anew how to shape silver according to it’s properties and my will, and this time would be so much better. I was nearly 85% positive. So about three months ago, I tried again.
I have been forging various kinds of metals for over 10 years now, and I have come to the realization that I still have ALOT to learn, but this time around, I was extremely frustrated. I knew this design would be truly beautiful, as well as being a stunning piece, and it would be a wonderful sculptural adornment. I sighed deeply as I turned the silver into several pendants and a series of bracelets.
About this time, and in an unrelated fashion, I managed to injure my wrist. As this wrist was the one I had broken several years ago, it is prone to re-injury, and as smithing is extremely hard upon one’s body, I reluctantly agreed to a period of convalescence. During this period of enforced rest, I started to entertain the notion that my perfect design wasn’t so perfect after all. I am only human, and am quite prone to mistakes, after all. So several weeks ago, after being cleared to return to work, I tried again.
It was my design that was the problem after all. Where I had visualized a convex curve, what was really wanted was an anticlastic concave curve. Truly an easy mistake to make. Really. And if anybody believes that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you….
As I live and learn, I will probably create more designs, but I hope that I have learned to be more flexible about creating those designs. I am one of those people that has little scraps of inspiration and quotations in unexpected places, and I have now placed “YOU ARE NOT PERFECT” on a label on my hammer. Just a friendly little reminder to myself, as I am awfully stubborn sometimes.