With Christmas fast approaching, Alexa Suess, a silversmith with Orenda, a fine jewelry shop in Greenport, has been holding periodic workshops to teach the attendees the ins and outs of jewelry making.
On December 11, four students — a mother and daughter hailing from Manorville, local photographer Estefany Molina, and this reporter — attended a workshop Suess held at the North Fork Art Collective on Front Street in the village.
All groaned when Suess broke the bad news: We’d have to do math. Luckily, figuring out a ring size is fairly simple, even if it did require multiplying by pi, the mathematical constant that caused so much angst in high school.
Suess, whose Common Ground Adornments line is available at Orenda, says the best advice for wannabe silversmiths is to err on the side of making a ring too small because it is much easier to make a ring bigger than it is to try to make it smaller.
The most difficult process comes after cutting the silver. The two ends must be filed flat before the material is bent and joined together like a closing drawbridge. Then one applies flux — a cleaning agent that removes oxidation — before the two ends are soldered together. It is also important to “quench” the pieces in a water bath between steps involving extreme heat to avoid burns.
One needn’t have prior experience nor materials to attend her introductory workshops, and the piece of silver participants receive to make a set of stacking rings is enough to make multiple, separate pieces. This reporter left the three-hour workshop, which cost $96, with five handmade silver rings to give as gifts.
For more information about Suess and workshops, visit her website at commongroundadornments.com.