Solder Like A Lady with Hilary Halstead Scott
I first met the Halsteads at a jewelry making industry party in Tucson several years ago, and right away, I was smitten. Before we were introduced, they were described to me as the “amazing family” that founded and own the well-respected Halstead jewelry-making supply company. Within minutes after meeting them, I could see why! Amazing and respected are definitely the appropriate words to describe this warm, friendly family.
In the years since, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Hilary Halstead Scott, who is now President of her family’s company. Hilary supports jewelry artists with the generous Halstead Grant, which includes $7,500 cash, $1,000 in jewelry making supplies, and more for the winning up-and-coming jewelry artist, plus prizes for finalists. Under Hilary’s leadership, Halstead Inc. built a jewelry-making workshop in their offices for employees to learn soldering and other metalsmithing techniques using Halstead tools and supplies. That kind of dedication to knowledge of one’s product and hands-on experience leads to excellent customer service and a company I feel I can trust.
Hilary is also a personal supporter and collector of artisan jewelry, often sharing photos and giving a shout-out to designers of the jewelry she’s wearing on social media. For all of these reasons (and more below), Hilary is our next “inductee” into the #SolderLikeALady hall of fame. Let’s get to know her.
#SolderLikeALady with Hilary Halstead Scott, President of Halstead Inc.
Tammy: Tell us how you got started in the wonderful world of jewelry making.
Hilary: I grew up in the industry, so I call myself a jewelry BRAT. I used to do beading and glue pearls when I was really little. I started going to jewelry trade shows and working the booth at about age 7. I worked at Halstead doing all kinds of jobs through my entire childhood and then came back to the business about 15 years ago. My parents retired, and now I get to run the show. One of the first things I did was build an in-house jewelry studio where we put all our employees through jewelry making and metalsmithing classes each year. I love being surrounded by creative people and beautiful work in my career. It keeps me inspired every day.
Watch how Hilary solders like a lady, above!
T: What would you say to students wanting to learn jewelry making today?
H: Be fearless! I see a lot of students shy away from intimidating tools at first, until they pick them up and give it a try. Most usually remark that it is way more fun and less scary than they expected. So, don’t put it off. Adding tools and additional skills to your jewelry making will open up creative possibilities that you only dreamed of. You will be liberated and energized. Get started today. Hammer stuff. Melt things. Just get your hands on tools and get comfortable with them before you even try to make something.
T: I know it’s hard to pick just one, but what’s your favorite jewelry-making technique?
H: I love sawing. I think it is amazing what you can do with metal piercing. I love playing with negative space and layering.
T: Were you afraid of using a torch when you first started? If so, how did you overcome your fear of the torch? If not, why do you think you weren’t?
H: Yes, I was nervous. And if I go a long time between jewelry-making projects, I still get tense when I get back into the studio. I got to help my dad in his woodworking shop as a kid, so I had some experience with tools. But the torch is still a little intimidating. For me it was less about the danger of injury than the fear that I would screw up so badly. I let go of expectations and now I just have fun with it.
T: What’s a favorite jewelry-making tip you’ve learned?
H: I’ve learned with a lot of great teachers. An early lesson with Joe Silvera really stuck with me. He encouraged all of us to just make mistakes with no expectation of perfection. Just get your hands on metal, experiment, and see what you can do. If you have to throw some pieces in the trash for awhile, who cares? You will learn and you will fall in love with the materials and tools. Just be patient and let yourself practice.
T: Do you have an “I’ll never do that again!” story?
H: I watched a lady repeatedly come within a quarter inch of setting her long hair on fire in a class once. It was the longest 60 minutes of my life. Luckily, she never actually ignited, but I am a real stickler for tying my hair back and making sure that others do the same. Don’t set your hair on fire, folks. Words to live by. —HHS
If you’re inspired to fall in love with jewelry-making, to “get your hands on metal, experiment, and see what you can do,” we’ve found some top-rated products (below) to help you do just that, successfully! And be sure to share your work on your favorite social media and tag yourself #solderlikealady to join our happy little troupe of badass jewelry-making ladies! Meet some of them and learn more about what it means to #solderlikealady here.
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