Artist Jeff Fulkerson

Filing Away at LIfe

Whenever you are making jewelry, there is filing involved.  You have to remove the unwanted material.  I don’t love filing, and I don’t hate it. It’s just a part of jewelry making.  Because I don’t love or hate it, I have tried to become very efficient at it so I can get on to other things that I really enjoy. As I was thinking about filing, I realized that it’s a really good metaphor for life.

Most people, if they’re honest have some situation in their life and/or job that they just have to do.  There are some things we have to do in life, and there’s no getting around them.  Our attitude toward those things while we are engaged in doing them will make all the difference in how we are feeling before, during and after the task.  And let’s face it; there are somethings (people?) that we just need to remove from our lives.

But back to filing.  There are a lot of different kinds of files, different shapes, cuts, lengths and materials.  I want to just talk about jewelry files for metal right now to narrow the field.  When I start filing rough shapes or have to take off a lot of material, I use a rough cut file, usually a #1 single cut file where the cuts go only one way.  What I mean by that is some files are double cut and they are extremely aggressive. In the courser cuts, they are mostly too aggressive for jewelry.  Think of what a hunk of cheese looks like after you grate it vs. after you slice it.  Sometimes life can rough us up pretty bad like the cheese grater and it takes work to repair the damage.

After using a course file, I start refining the scratches that I put in with the course file.  I use either a #2 or #4 jeweler’s file.  You can almost get a mirror finish if you are smooth, even, and consistent with your strokes.  If you’re too aggressive or impatient, you can slip and mess up your entire piece.  I think of times I’ve gotten impatient towards the end of a project and slipped and made more work for myself or out-right ruined the project altogether, just because I became impatient.

Finally, I use little needle files to get into those small, hard to reach places.  It requires a steady hand, a keen eye, and a light touch.  Human relationships are just like this.  When we take the time to really see a person, listen to them, exercise patience with them, the results can be outstanding.  When we don’t, well, I don’t have to tell you.

Lastly, buy the finest quality files you can afford.  Cheap, poorly made files will cause you more trouble and harm than good.  Once again, just like life, don’t skimp on the people and things you care about. Life’s too short. 

Artist Jeff Fulkerson

Bling on the

wine