Maria P.

passion to career


Custom tuition in the Titirangi Bush

This page documents in pictures what was studied, practiced and achieved in individual private tuition sessions under my tutoring at Bush Jewellery Studio.

In May 2013 Maria arrived with a strong desire to begin learning how to make jewellery. She started individual tuition with custom sessions here at Bush Jewellery Studio. It became a comprehensive study of jewellery-making skills and materials. Weekly or fortnightly sessions were scheduled and we paused/restarted them for any time spent away, or any other reason. This way no sessions were lost. Here I will try to show the range of work she achieved.

Maria also aimed to work from home and over the time she was here she built up a collection of tools and equipment for her home-based workbench.

During the early sessions, the basics, she proved to be a careful and accurate maker; repeating exercises to develop her skills. This page shows her progressing quite quickly to complex rings and multi-bezel necklaces both I think inspired by her own sources of historical jewellery.

Some Basic Instruction

Metal and processes. Fold-forming, forging, texturing.

Fold-formed leaf-shape, when thin sheet is strengthened and a 3D object is made simply by folding/forging/opening.

We get outside and take a core-sample of a thick pearl shell ...

... make a ring

... and a bezel for the pearlshell disc.

always a delight making a first big ring

Making sterling silver from scrap

Togging up to melt silver (over 850degC) and hammering the ingot, then rolling it into nice new sheet.

sterling silver sheet rolled out

making wire by pulling a thick strip through a drawplate, through a sequence of smaller holes til we get a selection of round wires

A multi bezel necklace

Making several bezels and attaching loops.

Stones (bought in) are set and the whole piece is connected up

ring with triple balls

First make your balls, melting measured pieces of sterling silver on charcoal til each rolls off and into a bucket of cold water.

Here's the ring after the bezel and ring shank is made, balls attached.

Now a stone is set into the bezel.

This was seen in a book and we wondered how that edge was done ...

I had an idea it was made from wax rod, squished to make the balls. Probably not, we thought.


Gemstone work was a natural progression. In fact she inspired me by the high polish she got with my simple lapidary equipment.

Drilling a hole in quartz and extracting the core ...

an 8mm plug of gemstone

Mounted on a dopping stick it can be spun and shaped to a cabochon dome.

Sand casting

Delft clay makes a fine casting 'sand' and a shape is pressed into it, plus air vents.

Brass melted and poured in

this was made to replicate a gemstone and to help force metal to become a housing for the gem.

here is the 'housing' getting a loop attached

and the inside is gold leafed.

Lapis lazuli cabochons

a lot of settings require loops attached

Lapis is cut and mounted on dopping sticks, spun with an electric drill to get a nice smooth dome top.

Like so.

a finished lapis necklace

A lapis ring is finished
an earlier unfinished ring project is now completed

A task

In mid-2015 I introduced a task: to design earrings which can be made quickly. I hoped she would see the benefit of designing out techniques that take time, using joins which reduce impact on materials, and to produce variations. To develop a range of simple, attractive and saleable jewellery.

She began with toolmaking: cast unique bronze stamps, brazed stainless bolts to them and pressed high-relief textures onto a variety of metal shapes. The shaped she cut with tool steel pancake dies. Anodised titanium and niobium became the colours and silver the contrast.

stamping a shape with a unique brass stamp

Cutting shapes with a pancake die

Heat-hardening steel

and quenching into oil

Sand-casting shapes in bronze and brass

Brazing steel bolts to each one

a variety of bronze shape-makers

Anodised niobium components made.

Another melt-up for fine silver sheet

the ingot poured into a mild steel mold

Task completed: Earring project

Earring project (2)

titanium works


Now Maria is a self-employed designer/maker, photographing and promoting her jewellery with growing success.

She says, "Setting up a home work shop was a joint family effort".

About Bush Jewellery Studio

I teach individuals in custom one-to-one sessions, and small classes by arrangement. The main benefit of one-to-one is accelerated and intensive learning. When you come here you'll see it's a functioning jewellery studio with teaching facilities added in. Outside the class modules we're both available for discussion, to talk about any other aspects of a small jewellery-making business. If you're interested in providing yourself with a kick-start, or boosting your practice with advanced bench tips and tricks, please call and arrange a visit to see the studio.

Brian Adam

silver and gold jeweller

Bush Jewellery Studio (est.1995)
Independent tuition, ancient, modern
low-tech, hand-tech, lateral,
all ages even post-grad

Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand

By the end of 2018 Maria graduated from her sessions at Bush Jewellery Studio. She was an agreeable part of our studio for quite a few years; we enjoyed her company as did our bench hands and other students. This page shows the enormous progress she has made.

Maria's media images (a selection)



Brian Adam - www.adam.co.nz/workshops/graduates/maria - Auckland, New Zealand