Print

Member Spotlight

NatalieHillSL

“I live in La Salle, Michigan, am a retired civil engineer, I race sailboats large and small on Lake Erie, listen to jazz/classical music, collect sterling silver sailing and Michigan travel charms/charm bracelets, rockhound in the U.P. & work really hard to keep Lake Erie out of my house when it rises.

Becoming a silversmith was a life-long ambition for me, ever since childhood I was impressed with the ability to create beautiful and valuable things in precious metals and stones. When reading in the local newspaper that silversmithing classes had begun in a nearby art store, I jumped at the opportunity to learn, despite my age. I took classes at that location for nearly two years, learning something entirely new nearly every week, including an introduction to lapidary (another life-long learning goal). I went on to join the Toledo Gem and Rockhound Club where, in their full lapidary shop and metalsmithing studio setting, I honed my skills to become a TGRC instructor of cabochon gemstone cutting. At home, I have nearly complete metalsmithing and lapidary studios of my own.

I have been doing it nearly 16 years. First, I studied under Jiro J. Masuda’s kind, patient and most incisive instruction for nearly two years, learning everything I could from him before he went on to teach at Detroit Country Day School. Among other classes to expand my metalsmithing and lapidary techniques repertoire, I’ve also studied at the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts, Toledo Gem and Rockhound Club and Armstrong Tool Company.

My favorite techniques are fabrication and soldering – as a former civil engineer, I have a need for order and pattern that is sensible, structural, without frills. Construction of jewelry is not unlike construction of infrastructure, it must be planned, orderly and produced in definite stages.

The best class I’ve ever taken was learning blacksmithing from Jiro Masuda at his home blacksmith shop to fabricate & forge my own chasing & repousse tool set. Hammering & beating metal into my desired forms is so, so satisfying.

I cut all of my cabochon gemstones for optimal bezel setting. My own favorite piece is a self-cut teardrop cab from rough translucent aquamarine with schiller iridescence, set into a simple solid-backed sterling bezel pendant I fabricated myself. I then strung it onto an 18”, six loop/single strand Viking Knit necklace I also made, from 24ga sterling wire.

I sell at a few local shows (infrequently in these times) in Monroe County and in Toledo but I’m in the initial stages of acquiring my own website from which to sell my jewelry & hundreds of self-cut cabochon gemstones. I am also available for private cabochon cutting lessons.”

Natalie has been a member of MSG for ten years.