Homage to Lighting of the Torch

The pop of an acetylene torch in a metalworking studio makes an unmistakeable, scary sound.

During my weekly open studio date, I’d sometimes hit the striker more than five or six times before actually sparking fire. Ahhhh. The frustration, embarrassment and shame. 

Practice and persistence gradually improved my performance. My confidence grew and my performance improved again. Then nothing. 

With self-isolation in place world-wide, going to the studio where I practiced my metalwork was on hold. Suddenly I found myself a prisoner of my own making as “shelter-in-place” days stretched into weeks. Face-to-face with the fact that I possessed the possibility of metalwork in my very own studio, I set about creating progress. 

Nothing happened overnight. After a couple of weeks of purposeful studio practice in which I completed old projects and prepared for new ones, I impulsively enlisted the help of a fellow jeweler via FaceTime. 

Together we explored my stash of items needed to create a simple solder station on my wire work bench. This practical inventory showed me lacking only two items: solder and heat shields. I ordered them immediately.

My torch had lived beside the bench for more than two years. The lighting of the torch never happened previously because I was afraid to take the next step. Originally, metalwork classes introduced me to the torch, then guided my exploration of new techniques, yet I continued to procrastinate about firing my own torch.

Such a small detail became a BIG obstacle.

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

—Tony Robbins

Once I’d taken the first step of doing the inventory, I began to move forward daily, much like an Olympic athlete in training. The lighting of my torch on May 1 signified a literal and figurative step into the new skill milestone.

  • I decided to kick my fear to the curb. In this one way I will prevail, noticing the strength I feel as I assert my learner mind in ways that satisfy my creative ability.
  • I realized this is one of a series of steps I’ve taken to embrace my artistic self and emphasize each step I choose to take.
  • I re-organized my studio space, grouped efforts by type and designated one bench as the metalwork bench (as opposed to my beading area or my sewing table).
  • I expanded my maker energies and output by choice, as I prepared to work on pieces that fuel my joy.
  • I embraced my love for handmade metal chain when I indulged my choice to make it in the backroom studio of my home. 
  • In this initial effort, I soldered 21 links of chain, following the ceremonial lighting of the torch.

In retrospect, I realize the resistance of getting to the work is 90% of the challenge. Once I began the real movement towards the lighting of my torch, resistance seemed to melt away. All manner of other pieces of unrelated projects also gained momentum. This breakthrough is exhilarating. 

I can envision a time when I’ll mount my platform and, like an athlete who waves her gold medal, I’ll claim my hand-made sterling silver chair as my symbol of victory!

In what way will you use a symbol to light the path for your future self?

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