Case Study: Silversmithing

I often get to work with people at their desktops or laptops, but this week I had the rare pleasure of something rather different; a look at the silversmithing activities that were causing Katie shoulder discomfort in particular.

She had put a lot of thought into her workbench set-up, as you can see, and she explained about working levels she’d been taught to use in her training.

Our most interesting discussions arose over hammering and sawing. how much force did Katie need, both to hold a small hammer and to bring it down on the surface she was hammering? How much of herself did she need to use and how much could she leave to the weight of the hammer itself? The same questions arose over sawing while keeping the plate she was sawing at steady, while gradually turning it to alter the shape at the same time. How much force for each..? In short, how little force altogether could Katie get away with? Were her neck and the tops of her shoulders necessary for hammering and sawing, and if not, could she leave them out of those actions entirely (bit of a cliff-hanger, this, isn't it?!)?

These are the kinds of questions that can often lead to light-bulb moments for an Alexander student. There’s really no substitute for being present, as a teacher, while she performs the activities she wants help with. This is why I offer lessons in situ and I’m happy to travel to people’s places of work to look with them at how they’re doing what they’re doing.

Do you have any activity that causes niggling discomfort and which you think you could be doing with less effort? If you'd like some help, please do get in touch; I’d be delighted to hear from you.

So many tempting (and some rather dangerous) things to fiddle with...