Girlfriends, get ready! We’ve partnered with Kate Richbourg, the original #solderlikealady metalsmith, to celebrate girl power. We use sharp tools; we pound on metal; we play with fire! And whether we do it wearing a cool apron, well-loved jeans, or pearls, we’re not afraid to get dirty and we’re not afraid of soldering.
You might be thinking that tools, fire, and dirt don’t sound very ladylike. To our beloved grandmothers, that might be true. But like Kate, modern gals know there’s more than one way to act like a lady. Being a brilliant jewelry designer and making art with our hands is definitely an option. How’d this whole idea of soldering like a lady come about, anyway?
How #SolderLikeALady was Born
“So ‘solder like a lady’ came to light when I was filming a class over at the Interweave Studios. When I was a little girl, my Gran always used to say to me, ‘Katy, you need to act like a lady.’ Well, my Gran was every inch a lady, but ever since I was a little, I have always marched to my own tune and needed reminding from time to time,” Kate admits. “During the filming, I let out a couple of not so ‘ladylike’ phrases, and I could just hear my Gran in my head saying, ‘Katy, speak like a lady!’” (Anyone else getting teary? No? Just me? ‘kay.)
“I joked about how I don’t always act like the lady I was brought up to be,” Kate continues, “all the while wielding six different jewelry soldering torches and wearing my signature dresses and bright red lipstick.”
“Even though my Gran always wanted me, in her words, to ‘act like a lady,’ she also encouraged me to be true to myself,” Kate says, “She was a great role model. She worked hard her whole life and was strong, smart, and determined. Even though I would get in trouble if she heard me say it, she was definitely badass in the most ladylike way possible. That’s how I feel when I weld my torch or strike with my hammer. I can sling those tools with the best of them—AND do it with a bit of style, humor, and a great lipstick.”
What Does It Mean to Solder Like a Lady?
Yes, we can get our hands dirty, play with fire, and still be a lady. Being raised in the South and now a Southern lady through and through, I am well trained in the times and places that require lipstick. Here’s a hint: all of them! But we all know that soldering like a lady (or doing anything like a lady) means more than the perfect lipstick and a fierce attitude.
For Kate, soldering like a lady means empowering students to tackle their jewelry goals. It also means overcoming the fear that sometimes comes with using the tools and torches necessary for metal jewelry making. “Solder like a lady is really a rally cry for me,” Kate says. “Over my 25 years of teaching, I have seen a lot of women come into class with a level of discomfort around working with torches and tools. That discomfort, I think, can come from lack of exposure or experience working with tools at a young age or in their job life.”
“But after just a bit of instruction and guidance, all of a sudden the light clicks on and the successes start to happen. It’s like a boulder that rolls down a hill. The momentum keeps growing . . . ideas flow, and the ‘I can do this’ attitude kicks in,” Kate says.
Why Learn to Solder
“My great joy is to teach how tools and torches work, share knowledge and mastery of the medium so everyone can feel empowered to create and express an artistic vision through the universal language of creativity. Whether you are a home hobbyist or a professional jewelry designer, there is power in that torch and tools. Go forth proudly and yes, solder like a lady!”
For thousands of women, making jewelry isn’t just a hobby—it’s an accomplishment, an escape that provides much-needed “me” time away from the busy-ness of modern life, a source of self esteem and empowerment. It can also be a life-changing or life-saving career. Whether it’s a job in the traditional jewelry industry, selling handmade jewelry from a village a world away, or anything in between, jewelry can be a path to independence and security for fearless women all over the world.
Show Us How You #SolderLikeALady
Are you one of those fearless women? Do you thrive on badass metalsmithery? Then show us how you solder like a lady! Is it your sassy outfit, a great lipstick, some sweet safety glasses, or your favorite music that brings out your girl power in the studio? We want to see! Post your photos or videos on Instagram or Facebook and tag them with #solderlikealady. Join us in following Kate’s Gran’s lead to “be a badass in the most ladylike way possible.”
Got the lady behavior down but need to learn to solder? Check out Lexi Erickson’s video METALSMITH ESSENTIALS: HOW TO SOLDER JEWELRY. It’s available as an ONLINE WORKSHOP and can be accessed either individually or through INTERWEAVE’S WORKSHOP SUBSCRIPTION. Subscribers get dozens of jewelry-making and beading courses! (VOLUME 2 IS NOW ALSO AVAILABLE!)
Originally published March 17, 2017
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