Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A chilly weekend in Chinchilla

A few weeks ago I spent a weekend in Chinchilla, where the weather was chilly but the reception was not. I was teaching a beginner's jewellery class to an enthusiastic group- Chinchilla's future Silversmithing Club. At least I certainly hope they will be: I am pretty enthusiastic about beginners myself, remembering how fascinated I was by every process twelve or so years ago, and at the least sign of interest will bombard people with tool lists, reference websites, and my contact details... 

But starting a regional club is such a great way to do it- there are so many big fat expensive steel tools to buy if you're a jeweller, and if you can spread the cost over ten people, well so much the better!

Here is a very small selection of clever things they whipped up in two days flat...

(I had to include that last image of the cleverest prodigies of all... much as I swear I only teach students 16-ish and older, younger ones keep sneaking in. These two were 8-ish and 11-ish years old, and did all their own sawing and soldering. Although I must admit, their mum Amanda deserves most of the teaching credit- beginner student one day, tutor the next.)

Chinchilla is about 3 hours west of Brisbane. I find the older I get, the more I love a big driving holiday, and the more I love a small town. Mark joined me for the trip, and we did an extra week of driving around, staying in pubs and motels, and eating chicken parmies in RSLs. 

You meet some colourful characters on a trip like this. Our favourites were "Dr Walker and The Shadow", two locals at the pub in Roma one lunchtime. Dr Walker was a talker who kept us entertained for an hour or so; The Shadow in mirrored sunglasses and black cowboy hat merely nodded when introduced, and kept his silence until we made to leave. Then he motioned to Mark to come closer, leaned in and muttered huskily: "I'm The Shadow". Quite. 

Everywhere we go, we wonder, 'could we live here?' My prerequisites are, as always, good coffee and an antique shop. Although sometimes the lack of these basic amenities lead me to dream of the business opportunities available in establishing such essential services. 

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