Another beautifully lost dreamer with an incurable case of wanderlust.

Silversmithing with Thomas Frank


I have always been attracted to jewellery and have always dreamed of designing and making my own. I’ve been meaning to book myself into a workshop for years now, but it had never really worked out…. until recently. I was on google and happened to find myself on the Hammer & Hand website. I noticed that there was a jeweller, named Thomas Frank, who
offers different jewellery making workshops in Byron Bay. Perfect!

I booked myself in for a 6 hour private workshop. Here’s how it went…

 

Before the workshop

Silver & tools were provided, but because I wanted to make a gemstone ring, I needed to source my own Cabochon. A Cabochon is shaped like a semi-circle. They’re smooth on top and really fantastic to use in a basic bezel setting. I’ve been really drawn to Turquoise recently, so I spoke to a man I know and managed to get my hands on a beautiful Tibetan turquoise stone.

 

The Hammer & Hand

The workshop is held at the Hammer & Hand Jewellery & Metal Collective on the Byron Industrial Estate. It’s a real workshop with all the tools you need, plus, dust and other artist’s stuff laying around! There’s nothing pretty or flash about it, which made me love it even more; It felt raw and exciting. There’s a small retail space downstairs that acts as an exhibit for the 10 collective members and includes sculptures and many different styles of jewellery.

 

My experience

It was so fascinating creating a ring from one little piece of flat silver. I really enjoyed going through every little detail from the very beginning of the jewellery making process to the very end. I learned how to accurately measure the silver, to ensure the band fitted correctly and to make sure that the bezel would hold the gemstone perfectly. I learned how to saw (which I wasn’t great at to begin with, but I’m happy to say that I got better the more I tried!) and how to shape, solder, file and polish. I loved the soldering part & now understand which solder wire to use at each stage of making the ring. I was actually quite surprised with how many steps are involved in the making of the ring; you need to make sure that you’ve filed and polished at many different points during the process to gain that incredible shiny finish at the end. I also learned the importance of making sure that there’s no fire scale showing up after the heating of the silver, and if there is, that you need to go back a step to get rid of it! Thomas was a wonderful tutor; he’s very passionate and knowledgeable, and he was very patient with me, going through each step in detail so I could understand and have confidence in what I was doing. If there was anything I was unsure or curious about, Thomas was able to explain in great depths what I wanted to know. I am so glad that I had the 1-2-1 time with Thomas as now I feel I have a good knowledge into the basics of silversmithing and a new found love for creating beautiful jewellery. I cannot wait to further my experience!

 

The finished product

My ring took just under 6 hours to make. My fingers had saw lines through them (I need to get better at that!) and ached from holding the jewellery so tight on the bench, but the finished product was well worth it! My ring was shiny, smooth and sturdy. The gemstone popped into my bezel perfectly and we used an agate polishing knife to finish off sealing the stone. I was absolutely delighted with my turquoise ring and cannot wait to get practicing and make more. It’s safe to say that I have a real admiration and appreciation for all artists who hand make jewellery. So much love and hard work has gone into whatever it is they’re making and, in my opinion, that makes the final product even more special. I’d definitely recommend this workshop for both locals and backpackers who wish to make their very own unique piece of jewellery to remind them of their time in Byron Bay.

 

A little bit about Thomas

Thomas is artisan jeweller based in Byron Bay. He specialises in handcrafted one-of-a-kind pieces and limited edition collections. He centers his work around raw, masculine designs and enjoys working with white metals. Thomas’ pieces are a reflection of his rebellious personality, lifestyle and personal journey. Each item is created with his heart, passion and strive for perfection. After many years as a vagabond on the road, living in Africa, Europe and Singapore Thomas returned in 2015 to his favourite place in the world, Byron Bay, to do what he does best – create exceptional jewellery and indulge in surf, nature & the arty vibe Byron is famous for. Thomas’ portfolio includes studying with a Master Jeweller in Florence, teaching Metalsmithing at the Jewellery Design & Management International School Singapore and since 2016, running several workshops at Hammer & Hand Metal and Jewellery Collective.

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