13 November 2020

Tathra jeweller offers Silversmithing for the Soul – online and in your own time

| Elka Wood
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Tathra-based silversmith Traci Chambers.

Tathra-based silversmith Traci Chambers has created an online jewellery course for beginners. Photo: Elka Wood.

When Tathra-based silversmith Traci Chambers first began running jewellery-making workshops back in 2007, one of her students commented that the process of making jewellery “is a good way to switch off”.

For Traci, the comment triggered an ‘ah-ha’ moment that led to naming her business Silversmithing for the Soul.

“I realised it’s actually about switching on and connecting to yourself,” she says. “When you’re in that creative place where time disappears, you’re tuning into something we don’t usually take the time to tune into.”

When the lease on her Bega studio was up for renewal in March, in the early stages of COVID-19 shutdown, Traci took the leap, closing it and taking time to create an online course for beginners.

“I really want to help as many people as possible find that sense of empowerment when you make something yourself,” she explains.

“Seeing the looks on my student’s faces when they have turned a piece of sheet metal into a finished piece of jewellery is priceless.”

Earrings made from recycled sterling silver and repurposed saucepan lids.

Some of Traci’s work: earrings made from recycled sterling silver and repurposed saucepan lids. Photo: Supplied.

Growing up in Beachport, South Australia, Traci mastered everything from fox shooting to lobster fishing and wants other women to be empowered in the physical world.

“So many women are put off by using the Dremel, which is a power tool, but a delicate one – the part you hold is no thicker than a texta,” she explains.

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After studying jewellery design at the University of South Australia straight after high school, Traci opened her own studio and began taking commissions for engagement rings and wedding rings.

“I still love making people rings,” she says. “It’s one of my favourite things to make, along with chains, which are time consuming but so satisfying. But lately I’ve been moving away from the linear design process we were taught at uni and I’m finding that ideas just come to me. It’s a more intuitive process.”

Ring made by Traci Chambers.

One of Traci’s recent creations. Photo: Supplied.

Drawing on 13 years’ of experience teaching jewellery making, Traci has created a course that incorporates small, achievable steps, explained in short videos and in written format, that students can do separately or all at once.

“We make three pieces of jewellery in the beginner course,” says Traci.

“Initially I thought my online students would need more support, but the first person to take the course just sent me pictures of her finished work and it’s mostly been like that. The course works in that it’s easy to follow and the students are proud of what they’ve achieved.”

Because the course is available to anyone, anywhere, Traci can no longer share her jewellery making tools. But she has provided a complete list of tools you’ll need, along with links to her suppliers.

“I’m also setting up a private Facebook group to serve as a community platform for my students so we can all ask questions, share pictures and give feedback,” she says.

There’s nothing quite like making your own jewellery, Traci adds.

“The very first workshop I ever gave was for my mum and a few of her friends,” she says. “I still bump into those women and they’re still wearing the pieces they made that day. They’re still so proud.”

For more information, follow Traci Chambers on Facebook and Instagram, and visit Silversmithing for the Soul.

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Let me slip in here and endorse what Traci is saying – silversmithing is good for the soul. And what would I know, you might fairly ask? I’m a wooden flute maker after all, not a jeweller. Ah, but it turns out that wooden flutes need keys, pins, tuning slides and rings, and the classical metal to make these from is silver. It’s strong, yet malleable (can be shaped). It’s a gorgeous metal to work – very forgiving, and easily brought to a high lustre. And not as expensive as you might think.

And how did I first learn to make rings and keys when I started out making flutes back in 1975? I took a few lessons from a jewellery-maker like Traci. And so even if you don’t want to make jewelry, but do want to craft small items out of metal, there’s your way in.

You can see an example of the silverware on one of my flutes at: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/irishflute.html

And no, I don’t know Traci. But I agree with her. Silversmithing is good for the soul! And why outsource all that fun to others when you can do it yourself!

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