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I Got an A at the Nottingham Jewellery School

3 May 17 words: Georgianna Scurfield

Or I would have, if they were giving out grades. I did make an awesome ring though...

Upstairs at The Focus Gallery

The Focus Gallery on Derby Road has been a staple place for me to wonder round, gawp at all the beautiful artwork and worry about knocking stuff off the shelves for years. It is Nottingham’s longest running gallery. Yep. It’s been around since 1971; the year that Britain was desperately wanting to be part of the European Economic Community and Sean Connery returned to our screens in Diamonds are Forever. 46 years on and how the times have changed...

The Nottingham Jewellery School is launched.

They’ve converted their basement into a beautifully light and airy workshop, with loads of stations to perch at and get making. With multiple soldering stations, a hand kiln and a warm acid bath, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing you can’t make there. And to guide you through all the equipment, tools and things that could possible hurt if you used them wrong, are local Nottingham jewellery makers.

Alys Power doing her thang

Carrington-based Alys Power who specialises in silversmithing was the artist who guided me through my ring making journey. I should note, I’m not a crafty soul. I am a Instagram dreamer, a pinterest pinner and the sort of person who always has ‘get crafty’ on their New Year's resolutions. You know, right at the bottom of the list, so it’s easy to ignore or forget about. But I came out of the workshop with a hammered silver ring that I’d made all by myself. And I bloody love it.

Alys was the perfect tutor, she gave me all the direction I needed in cool, calm and chilled-out demos and then let me get on with making it. She trusts that you have the vision to make what you want, how you want it, and she just ensures that you get there. She’s like a YouTube tutorial without the frustrating intro and dodgy cuts.

I got to measure, cut and solder my chosen silver strip. I cleaned it in a slow cooker full of acid and then I got to hit it over and over again with a hammer. After a cheeky little polish with some wire wool, because I fancied the matt finished look over the proper shiny option, my almost perfect silver hammered ring was born.

Started with a silver strip

I loved the vibe of the workshop; conversation flowed easily, from new bakeries popping up in town to our favourite cobs, and then to amicable silences when everyone was absorbed in creating their masterpieces. Every person taking part in my workshop was a complete beginner, but Alys told me that once I’m a pro, it’ll still be useful to learn new skills and perfect my craft. I’m thinking of doing another ring workshop, and because I already know the basics, Alys will give me a ‘project recipe’ which I can get on with and she’ll be there to answer questions along the way.

It isn’t just rings you can make at The Nottingham Jewellery School, neither is it just jewellery. You can learn how to cast wax, carve leather, make ceramic buttons and even enamel copper.

Anyway, I don’t get why you’re still sat here reading this. Screenshot that pendant you’ve been wanting to make, trek up Derby Road, and get one of them lovely ladies to help you tick ‘get crafty’ off your list.

In the workshop

My finished ring


The Nottingham Jewellery School is held at Focus Gallery on Wednesday mornings from 10am, and Wednesday evenings from 6.30pm. The courses run for six weeks. £140 for block booking. One day workshops are also available.

The Nottingham Jewellery School website

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