Text and photos by Michael Schedin ’20
Glancing up as I quickly race down the Hop’s Lower Jewett Corridor to the music lesson I’m already a few minutes late for, I count the studios I pass. Signs with bracelets and necklaces inviting me to make jewelry; a large expanse of carefully crafted carpentry; students sitting with flowing fabrics being transformed into crafts; a room full of clay, including finished pottery pieces. It’s amazing that students can be so creative with so many different mediums, I think as I rush past. If only I had learned how to do that in high school.
A not-so-busy Saturday finds me walking through the basement of the Hop. The hallway empty, a few students stand around inside the Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio. I walk in and am instantly greeted with a smile, a “Hello,” and a “What would you like to make.”
What would I like to make? I don’t wear jewelry, never mind knowing anything about it and what I would want to make. After I’m shown a wall of examples, the word “bracelet” finally stumbles out of my mouth, which instantly prompts a whole other slew of questions about style, design, material and so forth. Luckily, I have the help of Connor Pollock, a ’17 working in the studio, and we decide to forge a nice copper bracelet.
Now, when I say I know nothing about what we are about to undertake, I mean nothing. I know a bracelet is something that goes around your wrist and that copper is what pennies are (supposed to be) made of. But Connor quickly takes me through a whole new experience.
If you’ve ever seen something like “Man at Arms” on YouTube, where they forge different pop culture items, that’s essentially what I do, just on a bit smaller scale. After selecting our material, Connor has me bang it with a hammer until it’s in a more usable shape. Then we set it up and get ready for the fun part. After securing it, Connor gets out the blowtorch. We heat the metal up so that it twists like butter, and start twisting it into shape. After a few sets of twist, he hands me the torch. ME! WITH A BLOWTORCH! I hadn’t stepped foot in here until about half an hour ago, and here I am holding a hot flame to a piece of metal. No injuries, no rekindling of memories from the East Wheelock fire this fall; Connor shows me how to properly use it and I feel a nice sense of power.
After torching the metal, I start banging it so it more resembles a bracelet. Then we polish that bad boy up so I can see my face in its reflection. I trust this particular task to Connor because that polishing wheel spins really fast and I’d rather not have an accident my first day. But I can guarantee you that, some week coming up, I will totally be trying my hand at it. Finally, I bang the smooth rod into the shape of a bracelet, give it a final polish and some oxidization to emphasize the design. Done.
A little less than two hours and a little over $5, I have a snazzy-looking bracelet that I’m really proud of. A few hours earlier, I had never thought of myself as a maker, but now I can’t wait to go back and try something else. Plus, now that I think about it, I have the perfect Christmas/Hanukkah/Valentine’s Day/birthday/anniversary/you-name-it gift, and one that’s enjoyable for me to make.
My experience in the jewelry studio was nothing but positive. Thanks to Connor and a few others, I learned a lot and was able to make something good enough to give my mother, and I’ve become inspired to make more. If you’ve ever wondered if you might enjoy checking out one of the workshops (wood or ceramics) in the Hop basement, I highly recommend trying it. This experience was exactly what I needed to open me up to trying more things I’ve considered but never got around to in high school.
(Your work can also be featured on their Facebook page! Expect to see this bracelet up there soon!)
I’m a ’20 from New Hampshire who loves physics, Rubik’s cubes and music. I grew up in music. Listening to, playing and writing music. Nothing is more powerful to me than a musical masterpiece. Being an Arts Ambassador allows me to explore all the Hop offers both in music and other performing arts, and I couldn’t be more excited to be able to experience every amazing artist that comes to Hanover.