Charles Lewton-Brain


Articles and Videos by Charles Lewton-Brain:

Molding Alternatives for Jewelers

Jewelers need to make molds of objects and parts frequently. Usually wax is poured into the molds and the results used for casting. There are all sorts of vulcanized rubber molds, silicone molds and others which are intended for specific…

Tips for Working With Drill Bits

Tips for working with drill bits In previous columns, I’ve explored the everyday activity of drilling, touching on drilling boards using hard waxes to hold multiple parts while soldering as well as a method of moving a misplaced drill hole…

Australian Ingenuity

Tool modifications from the land down under I just returned from Australia, where I shared foldforming and keum-boo lessons at a few schools. While I was in the country, I visited several jeweler’s workshops in Brisbane, Sydney, and the Gold…

Process Oriented Metal Education

Art school is in some ways a difficult place to learn to be a metalsmith. Traditionally, it took industry from three to seven years of concentrated time to educate a goldsmith. This is because, as Jamie Bennett puts it, metals…

Patination for Small Scale Studio Use

In recent years there has been an increased interest in patination and metal coloring. This may be seen as a response to the use of nonprecious metals in jewelry. A trend towards objectmaking in North America has produced relatively large…

The Art of Doublée Making

Historically, a wide range of techniques has been used to clad or coat silver or base metals with gold. These processes are based on efforts to balance three factors: cost, physical properties and appearance. Rolled gold or gold-filled stock is…

Tips for Modifying Vises

A good vise is a vital piece of equipment for any goldsmith because it can act as a third hand, securely holding onto a piece while the goldsmith uses both free hands to work on it. Given their usefulness, it’s…

Making Wooden Raising Stakes

This article offers a few tips on making your own wooden raising stakes instead of buying rather expensive metal ones. Aside from that it is so easy to make. When the Touchstone School of the Arts opened in western Pennsylvania in…

Tips and Tricks for Scoring Metal

Scoring metal is incredibly important for custom jewelry construction. It enables you to reduce the number of parts in a catch or a hollow piece, which increases strength and cuts fabrication time. The term “scoring” refers to creating a groove…

Thai Chaser Tool Tricks

I was recently in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand, where I spent a month visiting silversmiths and chasers to document their work. The city is teeming with chasers, and there are whole temples covered in metalwork. The chasers…

Hints on Making Tubing

This article is an extract from the book ‘Hinges and Hinge-Based Catches for Jewelers and Goldsmiths’ Not all sizes and wall thicknesses of tube come seamless from a factory or refiner. Especially when working in gold it is not cost…

Jewellery Career Options

One of the most interesting things about the jewellery/metals field is that there are so many career options, so many contexts that one can choose to work in. There are even ways of becoming wealthy if that is important in one’s goals. There are some broad categories of career choice.

Jewellery Repair

Repairing jewellery is an extremely tricky job. Work often pretends to be something else, metal is not what it is labelled, or sold as and the customer’s memory fades with time, so that jewellery is often given to the repair person as something different thas it’s real condition or materials. What follows is a list of questions…

Craftsmanship Improvement Method

This is a method to reduce technical problems which one repeatedly experienes. We all find during the learning process that there are times when the same problem presents itself over and over again. Sometimes when beginning one overworks pieces to death in attempts to effect repairs, getting ever deeper into a mess by trying to fix the mistakes, rather…

Small Bench Tools Descriptions

This selected list describes a number of small, easily made tools which can improve efficiency, speed and ease of working at the bench. While by no means a complete listing of the tools one has at one’s bench or of vernacular goldsmiths tools it demonstrates examples of the kind of thinking required for ease of working at the bench. Remember, speed and efficiency give one more creative time. Each tool represents a useful production aid and involves skills applicable to other areas of metalworking in it’s making and discussion.

Jeweler’s Shop Machines

About Anvils, Buffing Machines, Casting Machines, Drill Press Machines, Flexible Shafts, Hydraulic Press Machines, Rolling Mills and more…

How to Make Prong Notching Pliers

These pliers notch round prongs easily to a given depth and replace a bur for the job. They are made to suit a specific size prong and one makes similar pliers for different prong shapes, but all based on this idea. One obtains a pair of chain nose pliers either new or from a flea market and converts them into prong notching pliers.

Homemade Engravers Ball

There are several methods of obtaining the smooth rotation of a piece of metal necessary for engraving on it. Many North West Coast American Indians use a hard leather pad and hand control to do it. One can install various chucking devices onto a heavy base as well. A standard machined engravers ball can cost $500 and more. This version costs less than $30.00.

The Kinds of Hammers

Hammers are an essential part of silversmithing and goldsmithing. While one can buy hammers ready made one can also do a lot with home-made versions and adaptations. Ordinary hammer heads may be reshaped providing they have not been cast. Reshaping.

Notes on Files for Jewelry Making

When one gets a new file one traditionally dips it in alcohol and sets fire to it to burn off any grease (this could be dangerous-use great care). Get the longest files you are comfortable with as the long stroke is very efficient. 20 cm or longer needle files from…

CAD/CAM Systems for Metals and Jewelry

If you are involved with computers you know how rapidly things are changing, prices are sinking and capabilities increasing. Computer use in increasing in the jewelry field and at some point, probably sooner than you think you will see computers used in ordinary jewelry stores to manufacture jewelry and its components. The following comments are intended to introduce some of the issues concerning this coming change.

Bench Trick Guiding Principles

What is a bench trick? A shortcut? A faster way of doing something? A better method? A tool used for one purpose converted to another? A tool or technique that saves time, effort, thinking and work? Bench tricks are keys to understanding Process, signifiers that someone has understood the process occurring and they are therefore useful to understanding the nature of metal and metalworking. Think process and look for patterns.

Jewelry Rendering Tools and Projects

These pages contain a list of recommended tools to jewelry rendering, as well as a series of projects that I have used in classes. You could construct your own ‘self-study’ course using them.

Working Posture for Craftsmen

Many craftspeople have posture and body position problems. Ramazzini, the founder of occupational medicine and author of a groundbreaking book on diseases of workers published in 1713 writes rather cruelly (and the man was a great humanitarian in his time) about the effects of working posture and position in regard to cobblers and tailors.

Organize Your Workspace

How you set up your shop, your working procedures and workspace can affect your safety, comfort, stress level and efficiency of making. If your shop is well planned you will be more efficient. The more efficient you are, the faster you work and the more creative time you will have available to you. It pays to spend some time on organization. The more you think about, and plan your workspace and what you do in it the easier life as a craftsperson will be for you.

Dealing with Fire Scale

Fire scale or fire stain is a reddish purple toned ‘bloom’ or ‘stain’ that appears on silver/copper alloys such as sterling silver when they are heated in the presence of oxygen. It even occurs in gold alloys with high copper contents. As it generally appears in the form of blotchy patches following abrasive polishing it is seen as a blemish which destroys the clear reflectivity of finished silver surfaces.

Basic Metalworking Tools for Beginners

Making jewelry is sometimes seen as a difficult or an expensive proposition. In reality a basic metal working shop can be set up quite inexpensively. Cutting (separating materials), soldered construction and finishing are the three main things that jewellers do and what follows is a list of basic tools for doing these things. One should be able to set up a basic shop for less than a hundred dollars.

Different Types of Knuckle Hinges

While this one may seem a little odd at first glance the idea has merit. Linda Chow suggests that a wire inserted through a hole is a type of hinge which by implication makes an normal jump ring inserted into a hole a kind of hinge. There are several instances of wires placed through tubes as a mobile component in goldsmithing. One example is the use of a ‘figure 8’ safety catch which is often used on box catches. The wire ‘8’ has a small knob ball on the end and snaps over a balled up wire to make the safety device function. It is normally used on the side of a box catch.

Basic Hinge Making Technique

It is important to pick tubing with an appropriate wall thickness and material strength for the requirements of the piece. Sterling will need thicker material than 14k gold. Nickel white gold is the hardest material goldsmiths generally work with. The hole for the hinge pin must also be appropriate for the material used for the hinge pin.

Working with Jewelry Hinges Made Easy

Sometimes working with jewelry hinges can be too taxing. And not knowing how will make your work even harder. Here’s a how-to on working with jewelry hinges.

Important Principles of Casting Safety

Here’s something to aim for: a well laid-out, orderly workshop, well-lit by multiple non glare light sources, well-maintained equipment, electrically and fire safe, with low dust and few procedures involving solvents, with excellent local ventilation at the appropriate work.

Frequently Used Wax Tools

Dental probes and knives make good wax tools. Your local dentist or dental hygienist or school for the same can supply you with used tools for free. If they don’t.

Investment Procedure for Lost Wax Casting

Clean, fresh investment, water and investment at room temperature, de-ionized or distilled water or water that has been sitting overnight. Follow the proportions suggested by the investment manufacturer. Usually 40cc of water to 100 grams of investment is good. Use a dust filter mask and gloves. Time yourself. Remember: ‘Well begun is half done’.

How to Make a Chasing or Forming Tool

We are assuming you are using W1 water hardening square stock drill rod, W1 tool steel. Many suppliers will sell W1 tool steel. It is often called drill rod (In England ‘silver steel’). It should be square for less work in tool making, but round drill rod can be filed or forged to square. You should not use key stock, which some hardware suppliers will try and sell to you: it cannot be hardened as described below.

Basic Principles for Tools and Equipment

Saving some dollars on equipment can be really helpful to a shop’s bottom line. Often tools and equipment from other industries prove useful, and are sometimes cheaper than regular tool suppliers. I think this behavior used to be called ‘scrounging’.

Cardboard Disc Sander Tool

A cardboard disc sander is a very useful tool. One uses the side or large flap of a fairly rigid corrugated cardboard box. Make sure it has not been bent or creased to damage its rigidity. Make sure one side is smooth.

Suggested Tools from Karl Fischer

Ask for a catalog with an English supplement. Order by surface if a heavy order as shipping from Germany is very expensive by air. For best speed send them a money order in Deutsch marks with your order and open an account with them as the normal procedure is first send your order, they send you a pro-forma invoice, you send them the money in German Marks and then they finally ship it to you.

Polishing and Finishing Aids

For polishing it is recommended to use primarily bristle brushes for most of the removal work and to follow up with a buff where necessary. Feel free to use a lot of compound, it is the compound that does the work, not the buff. Old polishers would have dozens of shaped and turned wooden, leather and even paper shapes and wheels to go on the spindle for different problems.

Stakes and Swages Shaping Tools

Stakes are objects used for shaping metal over, on and into. Hammers or mallets are used to form the metal over the shape of the stake. Stakes can be made of various materials. A wooden stump can be considered a kind of a stake. Usually in the West most stakes are steel.

Modifying Tools as Dapping Tools

Dapping tools are punches with a ball shaped end. As they are used to dome metal discs and making halves of beads they are sometimes called doming punches. They are usually used with a dapping block, a square or rectangular block of steel or wood which has perfect hemispherical indentations in different sizes.

Flexible Shaft Tricks

A good selection of burs may be had from your dentist. Dentists often throw out burrs which still have a reasonable life left in them for a jeweller. The same goes for the probes and other tools. Some dentists are nervous about giving tools away.

Basic Chasing Tools

As well as being used for chasing they may also be used as punches to make textures. A stamp or texturing punch can be struck onto an annealed blank tool to get a negative impressions of its end. Each texturing tool can then produce its own negative. These blanks in turn are then hardened and tempered. It is wise to always wear goggles when using punches of any kind.

Wire Drawing Hints

The trick to drawing wire by hand is to grasp the tapered end that sticks out the front of the drawplate with the pliers in such a way that there are some 5 mm of play; of movement back and forth to the drawplate. Push the draw tongs up to the plate so that when you start to draw there is a little movement before the wire begins to go through the plate.

Tubing Cutting Method

A jeweller and goldsmith has to cut tubing fairly regularly. My favorite methods include: cutting only on the upstroke using a jewelers sawblade; using a separating disc; rolling the tube with high pressure under an X-acto knife or sharp blade, then snapping the tube-this works pretty well as long as you have good leverage.

Soldering Hints and Tricks

Medical hemostats and forceps make good clips for wire solder. Soldering clips for soldering work may be made from cotter pins, coat hanger wire, piano wire, steel strapping or old clock springs. These may be used to hold parts together.

Goldsmithing: Pitch Options

Pitch is used all over the world by goldsmiths and silversmiths to hold metal in place while working it with hammers, punches or chisels. It should be hard enough to fill the requirements of the chasing work done on it. Most chasers will therefore have several hardnesses available, a soft one for deep forming, a medium for regular work and a hard for planishing on. In the old days chasers would even have summer and winter formulations.

Hinge Pin Installation Options

It is, however, usually best to bevel the openings of a tube slightly to give the rivet a better purchase in use. A beveled tube end produces a good flush rivet.

Scoring and Bending

Scoring and bending is one of the most important ways of constructing jewellery. Scoring is a method of obtaining very sharply defined bends in metal sheets. The angle of the bend is determined mainly by the amount of material removed from the groove. It allows rapid and accurate work to specific angles.

How to Make Earring Posts by Hand

Yes you can make your own earring posts. It is generally more cost effective to buy them, but making them is not a problem and there are times that it is useful to know how.

All About Jump Rings

Jump rings may be made most easily by using a small hand drill with various sizes of mandrel. Take a broken burr, old needle file handles or a piece of drill rod and make a slit near the end. (I would use a separating disc to do this). Or one may drill a hole through the rod. Then it may be set into a hand drill or a flex shaft handpiece.

How to Step-Roll Wire

One requires a taper on the end of the wire to grip it with when placed through a drawplate for drawing. One may obtain this taper in several ways.

Making Your Own Tubing

Not all sizes and wall thicknesses of tube come seamless from a factory or refiner. Especially when working in gold it is not cost effective or timely to order in a specific tube size, material, or wall thickness. There are many times when you need a piece of tubing, you don’t have it, and you can’t wait a day or so to order it in or run across town and buy it. In general, it is possible to make the length of tubing you require.

Hinges with Bearings

A bearing is essentially tube sections which are attached to the metal being hinged into which the hinge itself is installed. The use of bearings offers us a couple of things. First of all, it offers us a way of increasing the structural strength of our hinge unit.

All About Hidden Hinges

Hidden hinges are sometimes used on bracelets and jewelry pieces. I saw one on a Vietnamese bracelet once and have seen several on Diamonds International pieces. The place they pop up most frequently is in kitchen cabinets and doors on smooth surfaces like one sees on jet planes and sometimes on the sides of ships-hatches of various kinds. Look at these models because they are usually built to last and to be very sturdy. Kitchen cabinet hinges are a particularly fruitful resource.

Basic Tubing Catch Fabrication

First one chooses an appropriate metal for the various parts, that is a metal with appropriate structural for it’s thickness and stress in use. In this catch there is little stress in use and therefore one can use even as soft metal as sterling for the components. In 14k gold one could.

Cufflink Hinge Pins

Cuff-links can work well as a plain three-part hinge. There are some basics to the construction of cuff-links. The cuff-link consists of three parts: the front decorative part you see in use.

Cast Hinges for Jewelers and Goldsmiths

Cast hinges are a very important part of much production jewelry work, partly because hinge assembly on such pieces is reduced to inserting the hinge pin and so provides a very fast linkage system ideal for cast objects. We are primarily speaking here of lost wax investment casting. If you look at any trade magazines you will find many examples of cast hinges in the advertisements.

Production Project Proposal

This is an example of a production project proposal involving the reproduction of two historically important buttons. This shows how the project is described in terms that allow the client to see what is involved in manufacturing. It is a sample of a description that allows the client a sense of the scope of the job.

Basic Jewelry Construction and Soldering Principles

A short review of construction and soldering principles would be a good idea at this point. They’re fairly basic. Principles of soldering (or what most of the world terms ‘brazing’ but jewelers call ‘soldering’) include: make sure that all joins are recently scraped, cleaned, sanded, or otherwise bared; that you can’t see light through a join; that you use tons of flux.

Methods for Applying Patination Solutions

Extremely clean metal surfaces give better results. See the article on Cleaning metal Surfaces for more information on cleaning.

Patination Sources from the Internet

Here are some patination sources on the internet.
Remember that all patinas are toxic and irritant and should not be worn next to skin unprotected.

Patination by Copper and Copper Alloy Fuming

Patination is a technique which has become popular for some kinds of fashion jewellery in recent years. Usually a patina requires the application of a toxic chemical mixture or the conversion of the metal surface to a salt of it’s metal. For most patinations then good ventilation and a knowledge of chemistry is necessary. There are however a number of old patination techniques which are based on a simple.

Using Liver of Sulfur

This is a mixture of potassium sulfides which has traditionally been used to darken or ‘antique’ silver and bronzes. This is usually called ‘oxidizing’ the surface though it has nothing to do with oxygen, what is really happening is that sulfur is reacting with the surface to produce the grays and blacks. So if you call it ‘oxidizing’ as most jewelers do just remember that is untrue. Most people who make jewellery are quite familiar with its use.

Granulation Method

Note that while there are many ‘secret’ recipes and granulation was ‘lost’ this was as far as I can tell a result of gentleman scholars and acadamics in the late 19th and early 20th century who were too snobbish and ethnocentric to realize that much of the world still does granulation, that peasants across Europe.

Small Scale Double Making Procedures

Double is a German word of french origin meaning rolled gold or gold fill material. I use it for the gold-fill material described here to differentiate it from the commercially produced sheet. Hand made double has different qualities than the manufactured metal. It is far less perfect, its finished size is limited by one’s workshop facilities and counting hours it costs more per square centimeter.

Reticulation Technique and Procedure

Reticulation produces lovely textured surfaces that appear very ‘natural’ and can be controlled to produce specific patterns with practice. Used extensively by craft and art jewelers in the 1960’s and early 70’s in North America it lost fashionability in the 80’s. It provides textured sheet metal that can be used as a component part of an object.

Depletion Gilding Notes

This is an academic paper, not a technical ‘how to’ guide. Many of the procedures described are unsafe in practice.

Keum-Boo Technique

This Korean technique for applying 24k gold to silver is in fact widely used in various cultures; Japanese, Chinese and in the west historically primarily to adhere gold to iron, steel and copper. I found few historical mentions in the west of application of gold to silver using the same methods used in Asia, though there are plenty of Roman and Greek artifacts which upon reexamination in recent years seem to have been gilded in this manner.

Cupric Nitrate Patination of Metals

This patination solution gives you a range of greens, olives, browns, black, turquoise and yellow-greens on many metals because it is a surface finish. It is quite adhesive and controllable. You do however need adequate ventilation.

Process of Cleaning Metal Surfaces

For all metal coloring and electroplating a clean metal surface is essential. The cleaning process must remove mineral oils, organic oils and greases as well as traces of chemicals on the surface. It must remove oxidation which might interfere with the metal coloration or plating adhesion and it should possible activate or roughen the metal surface to better receive the treatment.

Brief Notes on Shakudo

As with most Japanese metal coloring methods the techniques are metallurgically based rather than solution oriented; in the West we tend to use a myriad of coloring solutions and limited number of alloys; in Japan there are a limited number of coloring solutions and innumerable metal alloys which react differently in the same solution.

A Method of Steel Patination

As part of a large scale patination project in which I patinated a steel roof surface 24 by 48 feet on both sides I performed some 40 experiments to find out how to patinate the steel which was a requirement for structural reasons. In doing so I also experimented with paint.

How to Do Paper Die Embossing

The annealed metal is placed in a sandwich between soft ‘pusher’ paper and a hard paper which will serve as a monoprint paper die to emboss the metal sheet. The metal maybe pre-polished which leaves any areas that were cut out in the paper polished and tie surrounding areas matt and slightly textured by the paper.

Pinback Placement Hints

It is customary to place the joint at the right of the back of the pin and the catch on the left for right handed users who…

Optical Effects in Gemstones

This list introduces some of the terms used in discussing optical effects in gemstones.

Make Your Own Polariscope

Polariscopes are a very useful, simple and inexpensive to make piece of gemological equipment. They are used to tell glass from gem materials synthetic spinel from all other materials, singly refractive from doubly refractive, crystaline from cryptocrystaline material, doublets and triplets from other gems.

Specific Gravity of Gemstones

Archimedes is said to have discovered that when a body is placed in water the volume of water displaced is equal to the volume of the body and that when the body is placed in water that it undergoes an apparent loss of weight. This loss of weight is equal to the weight of the water displaced. When a gem is weighed in air and then weighed in water the loss of weight is equal to.

Gemstone Fluorescence

Fluorescence is the emission of visible light from a substance under the stimulation of radiation of a shorter wavelength. It may be stimulated by (visible) light but most useful are blue light, short wave ultra-violet (UV) light, long wave UV and x-rays. Daylight contains some ultraviolet light and some artificial light sources (i.e. photoflood lamps) put out a considerable amount of UV light. An example of the effects of such light is blue fluorescing diamonds. Diamonds which fluoresce blue in UV light may have a yellow tint to them in UV free white light which is cancelled by the blue fluorescence in (daylight) conditions.

Minerals and Crystals Systems

A Mineral may be defined as a homogenous substance produced by the processes of inorganic nature having a chemical composition and physical properties which are constant within narrow limits. Its structure is crystalline. It is composed of the same substance throughout. Except for impurities it has the same chemical formula for all specimens of the mineral. Its atoms usually have a definite and ordered crystal structure. What makes a mineral.

Gem Microscope Considerations

This short paper discusses some of the things to think about when considering obtaining a microscope to use for gemology. There is some emphasis on inexpensive options. In putting together my own modest gemmology lab I did a lot of comparison shopping and adapting of various equipment to keep my costs down.

Definitions of Physical Properties of Gemstones

A perfect crystal is bounded by plane faces which meet at angles specific for each kind of material (angle analysis can identify minerals). A crystal may be cleaved in directions related to the external form or to a possible crystal form for the mineral. Sometimes two distinct minerals can have the same chemical composition with their differing properties being due to their different crystal structure. Crystal structure affects mineral properties.

Basic Optical Principles for Gemology

The optical characteristics and properties of gemstones often provide the fastest and best methods of identification. A certain amount of theory is necessary as optical principles determine cutting methods, gemstone attributes and the function of gem testing instruments.

Lighting for Jewelry and Small Object Photography

The kind of lights and lighting that I recommend for our drop shadow system are photofloods (type B). You can buy these bulbs at many photo stores but you should shop around: prices vary from 2 dollars to 10 dollars per bulb. They are a pretty standard item in photo stores that sell to professionals. Tell the camera store staff you will be using tungsten film.

The Origins of Fold Forming

In 1979 and 80 I went to study at the Fachhochschule für Gestaltung in Pforzheim West Germany at the suggestion of my teacher Christian Gaudernak, who had studied there in the early 80’s. Mistakenly believing that everyone spoke English I went to the school and was told to come back when I spoke German. Six hard weeks spent on the bare floor of an apartment.

Basic Bead Setting Techniques

First the stone’s diameter is measured at the pavillion and a dent is made in the metal for the pilot drill (about 1mm diameter). Then the metal is drilled through. The metal is drilled again until the hole is about 3/4 the size of the stone’s diameter. Lubricate the drill bit. As long as there is a 0.3 mm seat left there is enough to set with.

Basic Gypsy or Flush Mount Setting

First the stone’s diameter is measured at the pavillion and a dent is made in metal for the pilot drill (about 1mm diameter). Then the metal is drilled The metal is drilled again until the hole is about 3/4 the size of the diameter. Lubricate the drill bit. As long as there is a 0.3 mm seat left there enough to set with. It is an easy mistake not to take out enough metal, 3/4 of diameter of the stone is probably a bigger final drill bit than you think. Hold it top of the stone to see how much stone sticks out on each side of the bit.

Tube Setting Method

Tube setting is a simple method of setting that can take as little as five minutes or less per setting given a specified stone size and a suitable tube to fit the stone. The setting is visually clean, has a professional look to it and can be done with a minimum of tools. Note that setting is usually done on jewellery that is finished. Setting is then the last step in the process of making the piece.

Engraved Bezel with Vertical Walls

Stonesetting has been a part of goldsmithing for as long as people have worked in precious metals. Perhaps the oldest and most used setting has been the bezel. The simplest form of the bezel is a ring of metal fitting the circumference of the enclosed cabachon or tapered material soldered onto a base plate. The stone fitted inside, and the metal is pushed, burnished or hammered towards the stone.

Book Review – Designing Jewelry

Boy these people are really good at what they do. I’d love to watch them drawing sometime. Like their previous work ‘The Art of Jewelry Design’ this book belongs in your collection if you are interesting in drawing jewelry and need some basic design principles and information, especially about commercial conventions in design. It is without any doubt the best illustrated reference available for methods of rendering commercial jewelry and particularly gemstones. The designs are really heavy on the gemstones and the authors truly know their subject. This book also has what seems like more rendered metal surfaces and chains than the previous volume. It is really unsurpassed for its examples of rendered gemstones and stones in settings. Designing suggestions and conventions are discussed in the text.

Book Review – The Art of Jewelry Design

Do you like sumptuous drawings and colored renderings of gemstones and fine jewelry? Interested in basic design principles for commercial jewelry making? Want to impress customers and colleagues with your jewelry rendering skills? This book could be right for you. As a serious goldsmith who does counter drawing or wants to improve their rendering (and possibly design) skills you should add this one to your collection. It is an excellent reference for professional jewelry drawing skills. A recommended pick for the professional crowd. If you want to learn to render gemstones in a traditional manner this book is it.

Jewelry and Metals Bibliography

A selected bibliography list for the jeweler – Metal working, Casting, Plating, Enamelling ,Gem Cutting, Setting, Engraving and Etching, Other Techniques, Jewelry Repairs and A Selected Bibliography for Materials Science for Goldsmiths – Over 100 listings.

Getting the Most Out of Trade Shows

MJSA’s Mary Walek asked me to do a session called “Shop the Show” in New York. When I first read the description of the presentation I had to give I had to think hard. Don’t we all know how to shop already? And at a trade show too, where we know why we are there.

Resume Preparation for Gallery Presentation

The first questions to ask yourself when preparing a resume are: For whom is it intended? What do I want it to represent? Applying for a zoo keepers job you might put down your experience carrying llamas across the Andes but you would probably leave it out when apply for a position as a hair stylist. For galleries you should have information they will be interested in: previous exhibitions; articles on your work and so on that serve to establish you as a serious artist/craftsperson in their eyes.

North American Sources for Equipment, Materials, etc.

This page offers a list of some useful North American Sources for Equipment, Materials, information, etc that would be very helpful for your reference. Bonny Doon Enterprises, 250 Tassett Court, Santa Cruz, CA, 95060, 1-800-995-9962: the best hydraulic press system around…

Confidential Disclosure Form

This form may be used if you have an idea for a product and wish to approach a manufacturer. It is a very good protection against a company stealing your idea.
I met a sled designer at a party in Montreal once, we discussed this subject, he had paid thousands in legal fees to have this form designed. He sent me a copy and gave me persmission to share the form.

PR Marketing Tools to Have

The point is to survive and prosper as an artist or craftsperson. This means that one has to deal with the basics of running a small business, independent contracting, contracts and marketing. It is the marketing that feeds one as no amount of wonderful art work will pay the rent and purchase materials unless it has a market. This does not mean one panders to taste-on the contrary one is as true to oneself and one’s art as possible and only has to find the correct audience for it that will pay to allow one to do what one wants.

Depth of Field in Photography

Depth of field refers to the amount of the object that is in focus (the depth that is in focus). When you look through the camera’s viewfinder on a close – up shot you may notice that part of the object is in focus and part is not. You can change the focus using the lens so that the front, middle or back zone of the object is in focus. You will, however, not normally be able to see the entire object in focus at the same time throughout the viewfinder.

Photography Considerations

Three – dimensional objects will be well served by the methods described before, such as overhead diffuse lighting, fill card and mirror use. For flat things (like prints) use copy set – ups which primarily consist of extremely even light on the object and the camera centered properly on the work. Shiny things will need tents. We did, however, ask a number of craftspeople and artists whether there were any special considerations they felt were associated with different media. The following is derived from their comments.

Tips on Working with 35mm Slides

A note on slide developing: you want your slides to be developed for the best quality possi¬ble. If you want to impress your local photo shop, you go in and you ask “do you do dip and dunk E-6 photo processing?” Dip and dunk means that it’s not touched by human hands or rollers or anything, and it’s supposed to be a much better quality of developing.

Reflective Objects Photography

Reflective surfaces are a special case. I remember seeing an Art in America magazine once, and on the cover was a picture of some really famous sculptor’s work in a Washington, DC gallery. It was a large, bulbous, bronze casting. It was highly polished, and what was really funny was that there on the cover of Art in America magazine was a picture of the sculpture.

Jewelry Photography Film Types

The film that I’m going to recommend, and that I use myself, is 64 ISO Tungsten Ecktachrome film. It only comes in 36 – shot rolls. It is used with photoflood bulbs. Even though it says 64 ISO on the box, in actual practice you set the ISO on the camera to 50 (check the instructions that come with the film). You can happily use Tungsten Fujichrome film.

Small Objects Photography Check Lists

These are some check lists to use when preparing to phtograph objects.

Photography Setup Options

The use of ‘Plexiglas L’s’ is an extremely effective small scale lighting system. You take white, translucent Plexiglas, and you make squares approximately two feet (60 cm) on each side. Then you make two L – shaped constructions by gluing the edges together.

Basic Setup for Jewelry Photography

A vertical copy stand is sometimes used for shooting prints, drawings, jewelry and other fairly flat objects. A copy stand is designed so that one has vertical movement of the camera while it faces down. There are usually fixed lights at 45 degree angles to the shooting surface. The vertical column that the camera is mounted on keeps the plane of the film parallel to the shooting surface which gives good results for.

Holding Objects for Photography

If an object will sit by itself on the shooting surface this is not a problem but often it needs to be propped up in some way. Even objects that will sit well on a flat surface sometimes need tilting slightly towards the camera by placing something under their rear side. Holding objects in place for the photograph is usually fairly easy and fast just by placing a.

Considerations in Image Creation in Photography

Now we’re going to start talking about taking the picture – actually getting closer to taking the image. There’s a couple of things that we need to think about. One of them is the size of the object in proportion to the image area (remember any cropping action your camera will inflict on the image seen through the viewfinder and also that you will lose some of the edge area under the slide mount). It should be just right, no too big and.

Photographic Equipment for Jewelry and Small Objects

We are assuming you have a 35 mm camera. You will need a ‘single lens reflex’ (SLR) camera with a ‘through the lens’ metering system (TTL). This type of camera allows you to see through the viewfinder what will be recorded on the film. It also allows you take reflected light meter readings from your object through the camera lens. My favorite is a.

Jewelery Workshop Ventilation

Ventilation means removing noxious materials, dusts and fumes from where you can breathe them in. It is about taking away the chance for you to breathe in chemicals and particles that can damage your lungs. Ever seen people riding around with an oxygen tank next to them and tubes in their noses? That is only one of the kinds of trouble you can get into from breathing in toxic stuff. A good friend of mine died recently from pulmonary fibrosis, definitely due to his exposures to coal dust and chemical fumes in working his materials.

Basic Safety Principles for Jewelers

Aim for: a well laid-out, orderly workshop, well-lit by multiple non glare light sources, well-maintained equipment, electrically and fire safe, with low dust and few procedures involving solvents, with excellent local ventilation at the appropriate work stations (such as investing or melting areas), the use of work clothing, which is cleaned frequently, lots of personal safety equipment.

Metals Safety Information

Goldsmiths work with metals. Our bodies react to metals, their dusts, salts and oxides. The metals that jewelers come in contact with include gold, copper, silver, zinc, iron, steel, platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, titanium, niobium, aluminum and ones that we should consider not having around any more at all in the workshop: nickel, lead, mercury, chromium, selenium, cadmium, arsenic, antimony.

Chemical Inventory and Profiles

If you know what the chemicals are that you use and what their dangers are you will be less likely to hurt yourself with them. In your “Right to Know” binder your should have a list of the chemicals in your workshop (a chemical inventory), MSDS sheets and chemical profile sheets which tell you important information about the chemical. A chemical profile sheet is theoretically easier to read than a standard MSDS sheet. There are several places on the internet where chemical profiles are available.

Studio Safety Evaluation

Just as a professional would do, it may be a good idea to conduct a walk-through of your shop. The kind of things you would look for and comment on include…

Safety Procedure Evaluation

When looking at your shop and workspace and considering safety issues it is important to evaluate the procedures you use in terms of safety. This lets you get a handle on what you have to watch out for. If you do this and then make changes to correct unsafe practices or hazards you have then your workspace will have become that much safer for you, your family and visitors.

Basic Chemical Storage Principles

There are a number of basic principles in storing chemicals. Know what your chemicals are, what their hazards are, their.

Rules for Tools

While it is clearly impossible to give a set of rules for each tool and procedure that goldsmiths use, this section gives some examples of the kinds of rules that may be helpful to review when using powered equipment. hand tools and processes have been left out, primarily because their dangers tend to be of the “don’t put your hands in the way of things that might snap or slip” kind. Many specific hints associated with hand tools can be found in the procedures section.

Grinding Wheel Safety Rules

Besides the safety instructions that you get from a tool manufacturer in the tool manual it may be necessary for you to write your own sets of rules up to keep you out of trouble. This is especially important with employees. What follows is an example of thinking about what can go wrong with a tool. The tool used as an example is a mounted grinder. You can do the same sort of rule compilation with all the tools in your shop. See the “General Safety Rules for Tools” article as a starting point, then each tool will have certain idiosyncrasies which need to be noted. Think of it as “What advice would I give to someone to keep them out ot trouble on this machine?”.

Gas Handling Guidelines

Jewelers work with compressed gases of all kinds, in torch systems, kilns, casting machines, abrasive blasters, laser welding machines needing argon and more. Many of these gases are flammable and an explosion hazard, acetylene, propane and hydrogen are examples. Oxygen is often used with these gases. Oxygen is a potent fire risk if it comes in contact with oils, greases or flammable materials, even fingerprint grease left in a fitting has caused a fire before.

Electroplating Safety Precautions

The “General Safety Rules for Tools” article applies here too, as with all power tools. Read the instruction manuals and directions most carefully. Plating and stripping solutions usually contain cyanides, bases or acids which, if mixed together, are used improperly or carelessly or come in contact with a cyanide plating solution can release hydrogen cyanide gas, which was used by the Nazis in the gas chambers and is still used in gas executions in the United States.

Jewelry Workshop Safety Report

This talk briefly reviews issues of studio safety and discusses ways of recognizing risks in the studio and reducing hazard by substitution of materials or processes. The premise is that any reduction in risk improves the safety conditions of the goldsmith and artist. This approach to safety is practiced officially in European countries but is fairly new to North America. This paper today can only touch on things, be a skim, a snapshot. It is in fact a work in progress. The subject is a gigantic one, it feels rather like climbing a mountain where when you crest what appears to be the top of the rise there is yet another peak in front of one. This paper therefore skips and minimizes many important details. The book we are working on will address things in more depth.

Book Review – The New Jewelry

Well, this is a book I have to have in my collection. I recommend it for yours. As a contemporary metal artist myself the book (and its earlier edition in 1985) is a vital resource for me, a place to see friend’s work, to moan about my own lack of inclusion and to compliment the erudite writing and strong opinions voiced. A number of the photographic images are new ones and it is intriguing to see how various people’s work has evolved and changed since the first edition.

Book Review – One of a Kind

If you like art jewelry, innovative work, future jewelry directions and opening up new markets for the jewelry industry you need this book.
It is a very solid contribution to the developing world of art jewelry. (Capitalist types look well, the making of new markets and profit.

Book Review – Gem Care

This slim paperback book is a real addition to the book collections of the working jeweler, the jewelry shop owner, the gemologist and interestingly also to your customer, the general public. Wow! It is a compilation of straightforward information on how to take care of gems and jewelry and covers most of the stones in general trade use. At 32 pages it is modest indeed (as too is the price: $ 9.95) but every page is well laid out, visually interesting, concise, accurate, easy to read and find information and best of all has lovely rich color photographs.

Book Review – Collecting Rhinestone & Colored Stone Jewelry

This book by Maryanne Dolan is in its third edition and is clearly a required text for those interested in buying, selling and evaluating rhinestone jewelry. The Rhinestone Jewelry market has grown over the past few years as anyone who goes into antique shops knows. What you might not be aware of is that many of those.

Dermatitis and the Jeweler

Dermatitis is a group of skin conditions that may often be contracted by exposure to chemicals and metals. These may include scaling, splitting, eczema and so on. Dermatitis is a real hazard for jewelers. Metal workers suffer high rates of skin disorders.

Modes of Working with Jewelry

This short paper offers a set of names to describe how the jewellery metals field is made up in terms of the way practitioners approach their medium. There is no great truth to the way this has been done; it is just to have tools to discuss the subject with.

Basic Fire Safety for Jewelers

Have a fire plan; ask your fire department for advice. Keep the appropriate extinguishers around and in good shape. Get ABC all-purpose extinguishers. Get the manufacturers manual and read all the instructions carefully at least three times. Review your fire safety now and then. Make sure you know how to use an extinguisher properly, sweeping back and forth at the base of the fire from 6-10 feet away. Realize that your extinguisher will only work for 15-20 seconds, so have more than one around. Mount them near exits. Dry chemical extinguishers of the stored pressure kind need to be.

Patinating Brass Alloys Using Contact Plating

This procedure should be undertaken with appropriate precautions; goggles, gloves, protective clothing, adequate ventilation. Recently I have been presented with the problems of repairing or changing the color of Indian made polished brass objects, usually to brown or grey tones. In one case the object was a Shiva which was about three feet high and across.

Structuring for Efficiency in the Studio

Being more organized, and planning how you use your time will mean that you will spend less time on some jobs and you will therefore have this time available. I tell my students that they need to plan their time and work fast, smoothly and efficiently not for its own sake, but to have more creative time available. This greater efficiency also translates into more income from your working day.

Gloves and the Jeweler

Gloves are used to prevent skin contact with a hazard, whether physical (like a razor edge on a piece of metal), or chemical (such as an alkaline solution like you get when mixing casting investment). Use the correct type of gloves for the chemical you are using. Not all gloves hold up to the same things so consult a chart to see which ones are suitable to which chemicals.

The Teachers’ Role

I believe the teacher’s role is as a guide, an instigator, a devils advocate as well as instructor. A teacher should provoke the student to constant re-examination of their work, guide the student to objectivity and clarity in conceptualization and decision making in their work and to learning how one may apply this approach during the creative process and in terms of ones developmental direction. Teaching is about opening and offering paths to the student.

Jewellers’ Objective Attitude Towards Designing

It is sometimes useful to have criticism of one’s work in order to develop it. While studying as an apprentice or an art school student if one is lucky one learns the most from such criticism, preferably put in a positive manner. However when one is on one’s own after this experience or has been self taught there is usually no honest criticism of one’s work available. One therefore most of the time has to rely on one’s own judgement. It is difficult however to objectively deal with one’s own work. This short paper will attempt to offer ways of developing an objective attitude to one’s work.

Dusts in the Jewelry Workshop

Dust is small particles of a material. There are dusts you can see in the air; these can be breathed in, and because the particles are fairly large, they end up in the upper portions of the lungs. Some can be cleared from the body by its natural mucus where it is bound up, and brought up into the esophagus. From there it is swallowed and so exposes the stomach tissue to whatever chemical was ingested. Jewelry polishers may have elevated rates of stomach cancer as a result of this. With dust in the air, however, it is the smaller, invisible particles that are the most dangerous, and these stay in your lungs.

Noise and its Effects

Noise is so common that we don’t tend to think of it in terms of exposure in the same way that we would, for example, with a chemical such as benzene. Yet the treatment of hearing damage is considered to be one of the growth industries as we.

Learning Metalsmithing Process

An art school is in some ways a difficult place to learn to be a metalsmith. Traditional systems of industry education took from 3 to 7 years of concentrated time to educate a goldsmith. This is because metals, as Jamie Bennett puts it, are a ‘process oriented media’. By this is meant there that there are often many more ways of working and manipulating the material than in other media.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, other RSIs and the Jeweler

Carpal tunnel syndrome is only one of many kinds of repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). RSI, CTD and ‘overuse syndrome’ are reasonably interchangeable in meaning. Carpal tunnel syndrome is, however, the most.

How Jewelers Approach Work Materials

This diagram shows how jewelers approach working in the field in terms of how they relate to the material. The approaches chosen will ‘filter’ the results available, that is that what kind of work you do is partly a reflection of the way you approach working with the material. Traditionally much jewelry has been ‘cut and bend’. This diagram allows you to examine how you approach working with metal and then perhaps gives you clues about where you might want to experiment so as to push yourself.

Safety Issues and Litigation

After writing my recent safety book something unexpected happened. I had a number of calls from lawyers about safety issues. These guys were suing jewelry store owners in different places in the US. The litigation was on behalf of the store’s goldsmiths, when working conditions, storage of chemicals and so on had injured them.

Sample Consignment Agreement Contract

The following is Consignment Agreement contract. It is intended for information purposes only although if you wish to use it that’s okay too.

Separating Work and Home

Often craftspeople start out making craft objects in their living space, a kitchen, a living room, and sometimes continue working in them even when they have grown to the point that they need a separate studio. It is not wise to share one’s living and family space with workshop space. Usually there are chemicals, tools, equipment, processes, sounds, materials, wastes, dusts and so on that are unhealthy to be exposed to that are produced in a work shop.

Studio Lighting Considerations

How you light your shop, illuminate your working area, experience the reflection from surfaces and the paint you choose for the walls all have an effect on your ability to work in your studio. Poor lighting can strain the eyes, contribute to accidents and make working uncomfortable..

Tweezers Tips and Tricks

Tweezers are a constant in a jeweler’s life, particularly in these safety conscious times. Tweezer use can help reduce your contact with nasty dermatitis causing chemicals. For example, when used for handling objects in solutions such as pickle, soap, and cleansers, tweezers limit potential damage to your skin.

Suggested Gem Setting Tools

This article lists the basic tools someone learning stonesetting might want to have around. One would of course add to this list..

Goldsmith Kit Basic Tools

This article lists the basic tools found in a standard Western Goldsmith’s toolbox.

Organize Your Bench

The next time you sit down at your bench, don’t think of it as just a bench. Think of it as the cockpit of a plane. That’s right, a plane. Sure, there are differences: Instead of dials, switches, and throttles, you have files, saws, and burnishers. But the same principle applies: Just like a pilot doesn’t want a crucial switch out of reach, you don’t want to have to move out of your way to get a tool. Your setup should be carefully designed to avoid problems and to make working easy and fast.

Tips for Creating Jump Rings

Jewelers use jump rings extensively as chain components, connectors, and linking devices for multiple construction problems. Here are a few tips and methods for creating jump rings.

Methods of Closing Jump Rings

In high volume production operations, many jump rings need to be closed one after another. For such fast paced operations, pliers simply won’t do. Factory workers need efficient tools for closing jump rings. One such tool consists of a ring that has a slot head on it for gripping and steadying a jump ring (see photo). To make it, you will need a.

Cutting Jump Rings

Once you’ve wound jump rings around a mandrel, what’s the best way to cut them apart? Some craftspeople use hand-held side cutters, but there is one problem with this method – it cuts only one side of the wire flush. Therefore, you have to cut the ring twice, which results in a small amount of waste and slightly varying ring diameters.

Steps on Making a Rolled Fold Heistad Cup

Rolled folds are folds which utilize the rolling mill and it’s unique properties of equal, directional pressure on the plastic metal. Many pleated folds work well as do a series of flattened T-folds of various types. This one demonstrates the fold-forming priniciple of This rolled fold is called a Heistad Cup.

Tips for Repairing Pearl Jewelry

When taking in a piece of pearl jewelry for repair, it may be necessary to remove the pearl to avoid damaging it. Since most pearls are held in place with glue, you can remove them by gently warming the jewelry piece. You want the part near the pearl to get warm and soften the glue. Most glues will soften with heat, allowing you to pull the pearl off the peg easily.

Steps on Making a Basic T-fold

This article describes the steps to making a basic T-fold, one of the main categories of fold-forming. Numerous variations are possible from this simple starting place.

Solder Flow Retardant Notes

While goldsmiths normally strive to have their solder flow easily, there are times you don’t want it to flow, such as spilling over a decorated surface, if it ‘freezes’ a mechanism, or if it threatens to open a gap in a seam soldered earlier in a construction. The best way of not melting earlier seams is.

Soft Hammers and Shaping Tools

Jewelers spend hours fixing damage that they themselves did to the metal. Soft hammers and shaping tools limit the injuries to the metal being worked, with the best quality of all (the least damage to metal while still shaping it) being paper mallets. Leather however remains tried and true as material for making mallets from.

The Ganoksin and Orchid Community Story

This talk was the part of a speech about the history of the Ganoksin Project Website and its growth. The presentation was given in March 2004 to the SNAG conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Polishing Tools and Tricks

The mantra of polishing jewelry is the shinier the better – and obtaining polishing perfection takes skill and practice. It also helps to have the right tools in your polishing arsenal. The following are some suggestions for tools and tricks you can use to obtain a better shine.

Soldering Parts Using Pourable Soldering Jig

There is a great way of doing very complex and repeated solderings in one go. This very important method uses casting and soldering investment is to set up multiple solderings at once. The idea is that you take clay (I prefer real clay, not plasticine – less oil and grease present to impede soldering) and make a ‘bed’ of it, a slab. Some people like to use a soft wax like ‘BonBell’ wax that covers small round cheeses instead of clay.

Practical Wax Modeling Techniques

To begin with I highly recommend this book of technical information and procedures for anyone wanting to learn wax modelling techniques (as always given patience and practice in carrying out the exercises). There is very little available in English on jewellery oriented professional wax working and this text contributes to the field. A good half of the currently available books are by Japanese authors (Wada for instance). This is interesting when one considers that Japan did not have a tradition of precious metals jewellery using gems until after the Americans (and later DeBeers) introduced the concepts after World War II.

Book Review – Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry

This book is an expert and concise introduction to the world of carving gem materials. You could actually do it if you studied the book carefully. It offers an insight into this world, tickles you with hints of new techniques and is a solid grounding in the thinking required for working these materials into carved shapes..

Art vs Craft

The Art versus Craft issue is a complex question and one that has bedeviled creators a great deal in the last fifty years or so. I once heard a gallery owner say that the difference between an art object and a craft object is $3000. The American Craft Council’s director Carmine Branagan says that the discussion is unimportant, that the craft/art debate is one of craftspeople talking to themselves, about issues that do not matter at all to the general public – they do not care about this particular debate. She holds that if we are educating the culture as makers then the real issue is getting the work and what it means out and before the public, especially through galleries, museums and publications, the validators in society.

Protecting Gems While Soldering

Repair jewelers are frequently called upon to solder close in to a set gemstone. Besides the normal dangers of heating a gem in these days of glass infills and other challenges it behooves a jeweler to keep a gemstone cool during soldering if at all possible. Remember Some ‘Old-time’ repair goldsmiths pride themselves on their speed using a mini-torch and they hold the set gem on a ring being sized in their fingers, going in very rapidly on the shank solder join with a pinpoint flame, so fast and hot that ‘if your fingers get hot you were too slow’. While this method works with the right mini-torch and has a certain macho charm it does not fit every circumstance – and may lead to singed fingers..

Turning Burrs Into Stonesetting Tools

Stonesetters frequently convert and and reuse tools intended for other purposes. Often when a tool is needed they will cast around the bench looking for raw material – and as every setter knows, used burrs abound. There are a number of tools that can be made from such defunct burrs. One of the most useful of such setters tools is a point burnisher.

Steps on Making a Chased Wedge T-fold

This article describes the steps to making a chased wedge T-fold. To begin with a loop is made from a rectangular piece of sheet metal. The loop is placed into the vise and the jaws clinched tight onto the loop. You can see the angle the loop is tilted to in the vise. Vary the angle to alter the results.

Safety Notes for Jewelers on Pitch, Chasing and Repousse

An ancient system of working metals, this procedure uses steel punches to manipulate the metal while it is fixed onto a pitch or tar-like material. There are traditional pine-resin pitches and modern petroleum-based ones. The petroleum-based pitches are considered potential dermatitis-causing materials, as well as some evidence of their being carcinogenic. At this point most jewelers pitches available through the main suppliers are petroleum-based, and thus, in my opinion, suspect. Besides, they do not work nearly as nicely as the pine pitches.

How to Modify Tools for Carving Wax

Casting is the most important method of commercial jewelry production. Even for small workshops, lost-wax casting is often the fastest method for creating a jewelry piece, especially if there is any complexity to it. However, one of the things that jewelers forget when carving wax models for lost-wax casting is just how different wax is from metal. They often use techniques and tools designed for working with metal for carving wax, even when it does not make sense to do so. By approaching wax as wax, not metal, jewelers can come up with new and faster ways of creating wax models for casting.

Patination Safety Considerations

Jewelers use so-called -oxidising- solutions to darken metals like silver, copper, brass, nickel silver, bronze and, with specialized mixtures, on gold. Metalsmiths patinate both large and small objects, as well as jewelry. We usually think of patinas as being green, but they come in many colors. There are also metal dyes which are very adhesive. Paints, epoxy resins and other materials are also used to darken recesses on work. Metal coloring solutions are often made up of chemicals in toxic concentrations, so all chemical-lab precautions need to be taken with them.

Steps on Making a T-Fold with Table Insert

This page describes the steps to using a table insert in a T-fold. A table insert is an object, or a composition of a group of objects, inserted into the table when it is made, and then trapped. Items to try include, washers, shapes of 16 gauge iron binding wire, screws, shaped metal pieces designed for the purpose etc.

Pitch Bowls and Alternatives for Jewelers

Chasing and repousse is carried out on various surfaces using steel punches to strike and manipulate sheet metal or cast objects. Flat pattern chasing or stamping sheet metal can be done on an anvil, or the bottom of an old iron which makes an excellent surface to strike on. Sometimes thin double-sided carpet tape works well to stick a piece of metal onto a flat surface for stamping or chasing like this. Most chasing and repousse however has more dimensional relief than flat chasing and is often done with the metal fixed onto pitch. Various pitch types and hardnesses are available from most tool suppliers.

Steps on Making a T-Fold Boat Fold

The boat fold branch of T-folds is an interesting avenue. It permits you to have a curving, concave table, and to produce shaped tables as well as other complex derivations. The basic boat is begun by making a wedge T-fold. After the first angle is made the loop is tipped inthe other direction and pinched again to produce the boat pillow form.

Enameling Safety Issues You Should Know About

Enameling involves the firing and melting of suitable glasses onto and into metals for decorative effects. It is done at fairly high temperatures, from 1200F (649C) to a high kiln temperature of 1700F (927C) or so.The primary dangers involve dusts, the particle size of the enamel used, the chemical constituents of the enamel (older enamels frequently contain lead and other toxic metal oxides and chemicals), the infrared radiation of the kiln and sundry opportunities to burn oneself. Enamelists in factories have even been killed by scalds from water when molten enamel was dumped into it.

Lapidary Work Safety Precautions

Goldsmiths sometimes do a little rough and ready lapidary work with emery and leather sticks or even polishing compounds on a hard buff. Some goldsmiths, however, are lapidaries as well as jewelers. Lapidary work involves the grinding of gem materials on a series of grinding wheels and belt sanders, usually wet, with water cycling in the system. Polishing compounds and pastes are made of various chemicals and abrasives.

Book Review – The New Clay

The New Clay is a serious and readable text offering polyform clays as a material for unique and production jewelry and object making. Polyform clays are PVC claylike materials which come in numerous colors, consistencies and working characteristics and are set hard by low temperature baking. Afterwards they can be drilled, sanded and painted. Excellent imitations of most opaque and translucent gem materials are possible. One might at first automatically dismiss plastic-based “Fimo” and similar polyform clay jewelry as “beginning hobbyist” or a kind of low level craft work. This well thought out book goes far to counter such a easy dismissal of the New Clays.

Hydraulic Press Safety Precautions

Goldsmiths began to use hydraulic presses in small shops in the 1940s in North America. Factories have used hydraulic presses for making blanking out parts and forming pieces for some time, and presses in the 150 to 200 ton range are not unusual in jewelry factories today. These need good machine guarding, maintenance and training for the operators. The smaller shop at the end of the 20th century tends to use slowly operated hydraulic presses in the 12 to 25 ton range for forming operations and some minor blanking, this last often carried out using R.T. or pancake cutting dies. It is the smaller presses I will discuss here…

Book Review – Fabergé and His Works

ver read an annotated bibliography? Its not normally thought of as exciting reading by non-researchers. But if you are interested in the works and life of Peter Karl Faberge this bibliography is worth trying. It lists citations of written documents in which Faberge or his works are mentioned. Each citation is accompanied by a more or less brief paragraph describing the gist of the article. Citations include advertisements, audiovisuals, journals, newspapers and more from before 1920 through 1992. They are arranged by decade so that the annotations become a chronological history of mentions of Faberge in writing – what artists today call documentation. The descriptive annotations are good, brief, livened by quotes from the article in question and the rare hint of a personal opinion – this document is about information and it is quite distilled. Interestingly 34% of the citations are from the 1980s. Faberge has obviously become more important fairly recently. There are 1772 entries in this book.

The Jewelers and Asbestos

Asbestos is a real problem for jewelers. When I was first a student in 1974, we had a bucket of loose asbestos fibers under the soldering bench; we would take a handful and moisten it with water to form a clay-like blob to hold things together for soldering. This would be unthinkable today.

Sand Casting Safety Notes

Sand casting is used extensively for large-scale casting, such as engine blocks, and the grates that one sees around trees in cities on sidewalks, and sand casting used to be the primary method of casting in the jewelry field, and still, in some places, it remains important for larger components and parts, such as one finds on vessels, so sand casting is used in the silversmithing industry still.

Gold of Africa: Jewellery and Ornaments from Ghana

Now this is a truly attractive book. One of those coffee table type books dripping with gorgeous National Geographic quality photos, or maybe Smithsonian quality – and all about metal and gold objects. Besides being a beautiful book full of superb color pictures it is crammed with accurate ethnological information about who did what, when and where. It is good enough to function as a textbook, in fact Id call it the definitive book on the subject, or at least the most interesting and entertaining one, combining good factual, scholarly writing with enough juicy photographs to satisfy anyone wanting to add something impressive to their library of jewelry books and related subjects.

Steps on Making a Plunkett Fold

One of the most intriguing, and fastest ways to make fold-forms are in the Rolled fold part of the system. Rolled folds use the special, even pressure of the rolling mill to work the metal. They are either a package folded up and put through the mill like a Heistad Cup or are set up so that one side of the fold has more layers than the other when it is put through the mill. These travel further than the side with less layers when rolled, and, restrained by them, the whole fold curves as a result. This page describes the steps to making a Plunkett fold. The Good fold is derived from a Plunkett fold. These kinds of folds work well when forged as well as in the mill.

Drilling Tips and Techniques

We all drill, all the time. We take drills and what they do for granted, but reviewing the obvious doesnt hurt — and there may be a nugget of new information that is brought to light.

Goldsmithing in the Future

This article is a set of predictions for what the jewelers bench and workshop will experience in technological change in the future.

Cool Hunting in the Jewelry World

One of my roles for the last few years has been that of an innovation awards judge for MJSA. This means I cruise the aisles of trade shows in New York, Tucson and Las Vegas, trying to spot new shifts and upcoming changes. This allows me a small identification as a cool hunter. This short article is about some of my finds.

Pickling Notes

Jewelers treat soldered objects with dilute acid solutions to remove oxides produced from heating and soldering as well as glassy flux residues. This process is called pickling. I believe the term comes from the chemical jewelers once used to do the job: Alum, such as is used traditionally for making pickles. Many jewelers today are not aware that they can use alum for this purpose. Here is what I think happened.

Jeweler’s Workday: Sitting and Looking at the Bench

In the Jewelers Bench Book, the MJSA/Ganoksin project published in spring 2008, there is an extensive look at what happens in the working space, where you sit and move as a goldsmith. Two of the areas addressed including sitting and looking at objects.

Fold Forming Tool List

These are some of the metal ‘ tools that you will find useful in fold-forming. Ear muffs or plugs and safety glasses.

105 Jewelers Bench Comments

In late 2006 I put together a survey on the Jewelers bench to which many Orchidians and others responded. There were a series of questions asked, and the answers were revealing, and contributed to my understanding of the jewelers bench and its functions, supporting my writing of the “The Jewelers Bench”, and MJSA/Orchid in Print book. In my teaching I will often ask students what they would tell a hypothetical friend, what is important to know, say about soldering and constructing a catch. What would you say that is important to keep your friend out of trouble and to ease their path? This then is the sense of the question addressed here about the jewelers bench.

Organize Bench Workflow with Trays

There are numerous mass production processes that bench jewelers can adapt and use to streamline their studio jewelry work. One of the organizational approaches used in factories is keeping parts in velvet-lined trays and moving them from one tray to the next as they progress through the manufacturing process. Keeping parts separated by manufacturing step helps workers to understand the process, exercise repeated quality control at every stage, and feel a rewarding sense of accomplishment as pieces progress.

Scoring and Bending Procedures

Silicon carbide separating discs are superb for scoring metal for bending, particularly when the metal sheet is less than 4 or 5 cm across. While I was originally taught to use discs for catch building which involves only straight lines I discovered that they are superb for curved line scoring. Advantages include no disturbance of a textured sheet metal front surface while gaining enormous changes in plane. This is how many of my own pieces are done.

Hammering and Forging Safety Guidelines

Goldsmiths and silversmiths use hammers frequently in their work, silversmiths especially. A regular trade goldsmith might use a bench hammer with a ring on a mandrel twenty or more times a day. Blacksmithing operations use coal fires, gas torches and kilns..

Methods to Effectively Bend Tubing

Jewelers need to bend tubing for various constructions, including neckpieces, earrings, catches, and cuff links. Normally, precious metal tubes are quite thin (between 0.3 and 0.5 mm) because of material cost. At these thicknesses, tubes are easy to kink or dent, thus ruining the bend and making tight bends problematic.

Book Review – Delightful Beaded Earring Designs

This small paperback book is written and illustrated by Jan Radford. At 8.95 it is an affordable introduction to ‘Indian’ style beaded earrings made with small glass beads. It has a somewhat dry, thin feel to it, but for someone interested in a straightforward text on the subject it should be useful. There is a clear introduction which recommends a careful reading of the book and an appreciation of the importance of the basic steps in small seed bead stringing. The text exhibits a good understanding of tools and materials. Step by step directions for making the earring foundations and short sections on supplies, adding thread and removing unwanted beads provide the technical instruction of the book, much of he rest being depictions of different possibilities for earring designs.

Creative Uses for Duct Tape at the Bench

Ask any bench jeweler the best way to secure a band-aid to his or her cut finger during a day of working at the bench, and duct tape is bound to enter into the equation. Most jewelers have used duct tape to bind cuts and secure various pieces of equipment in the shop. The following are some other creative uses for this super strong tape at the bench.

Steps on Making a Leaf or Ruffle

This fold is an example of forging on the open side, and introduces how to use hardness dams in foldforming. Dams are work hardened spots, lines, or patterns within the sheet. This form illustrates the way we can use hardness dams to direct the movement of metal under force.

The Different Kinds of Line-Folds

Line-folds offer a large area of exploration. In addition to the use of line-folds by themselves, it is valuable to understand them because the principles involved will show up again in many other folds. If we were making a family tree, line-folds would be near the top because they were found early in my foldforming research. Line-folds are important as a method of pleating and can be used in a series of scoring and bending to create three-dimensional forms. Forged line-folds are used in many foldforms, and frequently create shapes with strong similarities to organic forms. The following pages show a variety of examples of line-folds. As is true throughout this book, these have been chosen to illustrate the basic principles being discussed and to illustrate a few of the directions that have been explored so far. Many further investigations are possible using these basics as starting points. The most basic line-fold involves four steps.

How to Make a Riffle File

Every now and then when you are fabricating a piece or polishing a casting, a hole or hollow will pop up that needs to be filed and smoothed. You can usually get at it using a bur and abrasive tools in your flex-shaft. But when you just can’t reach the hole, an old-fashioned tool called a riffle file comes in handy. Featuring various bent and curved shapes, these files fit into odd internal surface profiles. They were used extensively in the past for working on carved and chased steel dies intended for stamping out jewelry and other metal shapes. Years ago you could find dozens of curves and shapes, but today the tools are difficult to come by, so your best bet is to make your own.

How to Make a Heistad Cup

Fold-forming is a hand-working technique applied to single sheets of metal to create surfaces and three-dimensional forms quickly without soldering. It relies on the metal’s plasticity and ductility to make hundreds of complex forms resembling chased, constructed, and soldered shapes. Using thin materials, you can create light, volumetric objects and surfaces. Radical changes in cross-section are possible in only three to five minutes using simple tools such as a hammer, mallet, anvil, vise, rolling mill, and your fingers.

Steps on Making a Basic Wedge T-fold

This page describes the steps to making a basic wedge T-fold

Book Review – Classic Earring Designs

This small paperback book is written and illustrated by Nola May. At $9.95 it is an affordable introduction to ‘Indian’ style beaded earrings made with small glass beads. If that sounds like a sentence I’ve written before it is because this small book is published by Eagle Publishing who put out ‘Delightful beaded Earring Designs’ by Jan Radford which I reviewed previously – and it is very similar in many ways to that book.

Jewelry Making Study Sheet

Jewelry making is a big job. That is that there is a lot to know and a lot to learn. When learning, particularly on your own, as many people do, it can be very useful to structure your learning experience. I tell students that it takes three times of doing the same object to begin to understand it, five times to start to be competent and 30 times, yes thats right, thirty times to be good at it.

Resists and Electroplating to Create Patterns

With the ever-higher cost of precious metals, many jewelers are increasingly working with non-precious metals such as stainless steel, titanium, and copper. As jewelers design with these materials, color and pattern development have become popular ways to dress up the surfaces of these pieces.,,,