Silver Jewellery making classes - courtesy Abu Dhabi Week magazine

Discussion in 'Places & Events in Abu Dhabi' started by Nijasav, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Nijasav

    Nijasav IL Hall of Fame

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    The last time that we attempted to solder metal or use an anvil was during metalwork class in secondary school many moons ago, but luckily for us no prior experience is necessary to attend Don Sankey’s silver jewellery making workshop.

    Don begins the lesson with a health and safety briefing before showing us examples of work produced by other newbies, including a stunning starfish pendant, a broken-heart ring, Torc bracelet and jigsaw piece pendant. We’re impressed and keen to come up with our own creations.

    Everybody gets their own toolbox, apron and small strip of silver suitable for ring making. For our first task we wrap a thin piece of binding wire around our finger and fasten the two ends closed, this wire ‘ring’ is then popped onto a ring gauge to determine our finger size and therefore the length of silver required.


    Don demonstrates how to cut the silver strip to size. We flatten the strip by beating it with a small leather mallet. Next we secure the metal in place using an anvil and trim the excess silver off using a piercing saw. Cutting silver requires concentration, but it’s surprisingly simple to do because the silver is so malleable. After that we lightly file the edges.

    Next Don draws a diagram of the rectangular silver strip and sketches different designs to make the material look more interesting. We put pen to paper and come up with a few ideas before deciding a wave shaped edge looks good. Don moves around the group giving feedback and offering advice. He shows us how to cut a wave pattern into the flat silver edges with a piercing saw using the same method as before.

    After that our teacher demonstrates how to bend the silver into a round ring shape using pliers and then beat it into a perfect circle. We watch and imitate his movements. Next we place our new ring onto a firebrick to be soldered; the solder is applied using a gas-powered crème brulee torch and the solder material is a thin strip of silver. A few seconds later and the joint is invisible, ta-da – we have a ring!


    We admire our finished piece. We rushed things in today’s ‘Abu Dhabi Week crash-course’ lesson so our ring has a few kinks but personally we think this adds to its charm. We can tell our colleagues are more than a little jealous when we show off our shiny new ring back at the office.
    Catriona Doherty

    Five minutes with Don

    What type of workshops do you do?
    I’m a freelance silver jewellery and design and technology (DT) teacher. I travel around schools in Abu Dhabi running a number of creative workshops for children and adults and I also do classes at The Club Abu Dhabi.

    Why did you start running these classes?
    Jewellery making is my passion. I taught for 25 years and after having spent all those years in the classroom, I’m now trying to push the adult vocational agenda in schools in the UAE. In the UK you can attend your local school or college to learn anything from pottery to car maintenance, it would be great if schools here offered the same opportunities. Classes like mine enable parents to engage in the community aspect of the school.
    Also I believe that children’s creativity can get stifled in the cycle of education, DT students have so much paperwork and coursework to do that they often don’t get to make a lot, which is what kids enjoy most about DT. My classes are hands-on creative activities to inspire thinking with the hands.

    Do you do children’s parties?
    I’ve been asked that a lot lately –
    at the moment I don’t but I’ll consider any requests!


    What? Silver jewellery making class
    Where? Various locations throughout Abu Dhabi
    Cost: AED 85 per hour

    Contact: 050 784 0509 or email:

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