About

Charles Lewton-Brain

Articles by


Charles Lewton-Brain

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.…

Article
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.…

Article
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.…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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’.…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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,…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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,…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
Depletion Gilding Notes

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

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.…

Article
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.

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
Jeweler’s Shop Machines

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

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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 the early…

Article
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…

Article
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,…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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 problems,…

Article
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.

Article
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:…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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 surface…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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 are “process-oriented…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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..

Article
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…

Article
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 work mostly…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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…

Article
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.…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.

Article
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 no surprise that many jewelers keep…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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,…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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…

Article
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.