The Beginner’s Corner is your introduction to jewelry techniques and terms. Get the basics on everything from equipment to proper working posture.
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.
Available in a wide variety of formulas, epoxy resins are used in jewelry making as adhesives, as coatings, and for casting. This reference article outlines the safety requirements for mixing and working with epoxy resins and introduces how to use adhesive and coating epoxy resins to include images and found objects in your work. The three featured projects demonstrate how to capture images in open and closed bezels as well as how to make a three-dimensional collage by layering resin in a deep reservoir..
The links in this 16-in. (40.6cm) necklace are forged so they become flat and work-hardened. The pearl in the featured necklace is held in place merely by the tension between the wire loops in the pendant. Four styles of links define the spare and simple line of this necklace. Even the shape of the hook-and-eye clasp echoes the rhythm of the overall design.
This Metalsmith’s Guide to Los Angeles can be useful to metalsmiths who are new to the Los Angeles area or to people who have been living here and developed an interest in the metalsmithing world. The information is based on…
You start to turn and there it is again. You go to stand up from your chair and it happens again. It’s that nagging pain in your neck or lower back. After several years on the bench, jewelers often develop chronic neck or back injuries.
The word synclastic describes a form in which the dominant curves both move in the same direction. When the two dominant axes curve in opposite directions the result is known as an anticlastic form. A bowl is a synclastic form and a saddle is an anticlastic form.
This article is one of a series of articles from Metalsmith Magazine “Art and Technics” talking about techniques in craftsmanship and design. For this 1989 Spring issue, Tim McCreight talks about experience and how and what it teaches you to hone your…
We use the term “zero-sum game” fairly often, but I suspect most people don’t stop and think about the meaning of it. A zero-sum game is a game in which one party can only gain what the other party loses….
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.
Over the years, bad habits creep into our work procedures. Periodical review of our techniques is needed to assure us that these “bad habits” are not allowed to continue to effect the quality of our work. In this article, we will continue our Back to Basics Series with an article on Filing.
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.
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.
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.
In working on jewelry there are many tasks that seem simple – you just do it and don’t think about techniques. Milling is a prime example. You stick a bur in your flex-shaft, step on the pedal, and away you…
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.
Many jewelers see polishing as a mundane task. However, it is one of the most important operations in the process of repairing or making jewelry. The final appearance of the jewelry to a large extent, will determine the acceptability of…
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.
In this article, we will continue our Back to Basics Series with an article on Sawing techniques.
Bench Jewelers often use different methods to accomplish the same work. I believe the end results are what is important, not the method used to get there. In jewelry work the ends often justifies the means. This is not more evident than in bead setting. I know jewelers who cut the seat with round, bud, cone, setting, heart, or bearing burs. Then they cut the excess metal away with flat, knife, or onglette gravers, or they use heart, wheel, round, or knife edge burs. Some even use needle files or saw blades.
This article lists the following useful bench tools for jewelers including contact information where they can be purchased or ordered. Grobet USA LED Bench Lamp Suitable for use at the bench or on the sales floor, the Grobet USA LED Bench…
Take a look around you. Chances are there is a flex-shaft or a dust collector you’ve neglected because you’ve been too busy making jewelry. As you put your heart and soul into your work, don’t forget to take a little time to give some TLC to your bench tools and equipment. Follow this simple maintenance schedule suggested by the bench gurus at Stuller Inc. to keep your favorite tools shipshape..
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.
What if you could sit down at your computer, spend a little time manipulating the mouse, keyboard or electronic pencil and create a piece of jewelry; then send that electronic creation to a small, desktop machine which would carve your…
This project is for beginners that wish to become silversmiths, part time or full time. Keep in mind that there are many ways to do this faster with the use of mechanical tools, but you are doing this project to learn how to use your frame saw and how to solder… ()
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…
Below are steps for an easy way to create equal divisions in setting stones that jewelers need to know. Dividing something into equal parts is something jewelers do all the time. For example, you may have to set stones equally…
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.
A ring fits well when it is no longer felt on the finger. If in the course of time the size of the finger changes or if the ring is to be fitted for another wearer, a sizing of the ring is necessary. The first step is to determine the finger size, which is done with a ring sizer, a set of about 30 steel rings in graduated sizes.
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.
Research has long suggested that the majority of leads generated by trade shows never receive follow-up by company representatives. If you’re among those exhibitors without any formalized plan or process in place for following up with leads after the show,…
After you learn to apply enamels by sifting, wet packing, brushing on crackle and firing the base coats, you are ready for some of the simple techniques that require only a feel for color. You can design a piece by repeating one technique or learning to combine techniques. If you are enameling samples of the technique on 3″ round or square 18 ga copper, one coat of crackle on the back is adequate. My beginners’ course ended with Doris Hall’s paisley design, which combined many techniques, and a simple cloisonn piece on a 1″ disc of fine silver.
Ergonomics is the safe and effective relationship between a worker and the work environment. For the bench jeweler who spends hours working with a bench pin, it is important to make it work efficiently and effectively for you. There are many modifications you can make to ensure this. People prefer different bench pins, namely a flat piercing pin vs. an angled working pin. Some modifications can be used with either type, while others work better with a specific style of bench pin.
Full eBook.48 Pages: Jewelry and metalsmithing are hard work, and also very rewarding. There is great pleasure in creating with one’s hands, in the process of taking raw materials and creating something. It’s also fun to get dirty, and to bang really loud on a piece of metal. It’s wonderful to have someone say, “Gosh, I love your earrings,” and being able to respond, “Thanks, I made them.” So whatever brought you here, and whatever motivates you to stay, welcome, and let’s get to work! This book is a resource for you when you work on your own. The book is written as though you will be setting up your own workshop at home, so I discuss safety concerns, what type of tools to use, and how to set up your own area. Good luck and have a great time!
Every bench jeweler has experienced the frustration of trying to sand and polish a nearly inaccessible area on a piece of jewelry. The goldsmith who can detail these small corners and crevices can bring his or her work up to the level of fine jewelry. Anything that gives the work a cleaner, more attractive look translates into greater sales in the showcase.
This article lists the basic tools found in a standard Western Goldsmith’s toolbox.
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..
Shaping a bezel on stakes is a process of forming the metal by stretching. First the metal is bent with pliers to fit the gem, forming a shape smaller than the stone while following its contour. The gauge of the sheet metal chosen is slightly thicker than the final result. As the process unfolds, the metal is plannished (hammered) on small stakes, causing the metal to conform to the stake as it stretches. If the gemstone and the shape of the stake are the same, a very accurate bezel can be made with a minimum of time. The advantages of this technique become obvious to the craftsperson that uses creatively shaped stones or gems that do not conform to the bezel mandrels on hand.
Do you know why that piece of jewelry that goes around your arm is called a bracelet? Or why a hair clasp is called a barrette? And how about brooch – that’s a strange name to call an ornament fastened to your clothing. I make jewelry and normally all I think about is designs and colors. But one day my mind strayed further, piquing my curiosity as to why a bracelet is called a bracelet.
Making a simple or basic link chain to display your pendant designs is a great way to add further value to your work, and it can be a fairly easy process. When I make my own chain, I like to…
In the course of my 30 years in the jewelry industry, I can recall many instances of damaged equipment and potentially dangerous situations caused by how the handpiece is connected to the flexshaft. Here are a few observations that can make your equipment last longer and prevent possible injury.
The flexible shaft machine, commonly called a “flexshaft,” is a combination of a motor, handpiece and the flexible shaft that connects the two. The machine is usually operated by a foot pedal. Because jewelers often use more than one handpiece during the workday, the procedure of connecting a handpiece to the flexible shaft is a common operation, but is often done incorrectly.
Although ultrasonic cleaners are great for removing gunk on jewelry, they do a poor job when it comes to removing tarnish…and that’s where ionic cleaners come into play. They use a small electrical current to clean metal, quickly whisking away any…
In this project, I will demonstrate a clever method of making equally sized beads. These beads can be used for granulation or decoration, or they can be soldered inside rings to keep the rings from turning while worn.
Sawing is an essential skill for a bench jeweler. This article will show you a technique that will increase your sawing speed and accuracy when you need to make sharp corner cuts and reduce your likelihood of breaking delicate saw blades.
First, be sure to observe all sawing basics.
The soldering process, used extensively in all aspects of jewelry manufacturing and repair, joins two or more pieces of metal together and when done properly, will result in a virtually undetectable seam. A better understanding of the soldering process can help you decide how to approach a particular soldering project.
This page provides an international ring sizes chart you can view and/or download to be your guide in making or even just to refer to customer’s ring sizes. Click to view a bigger image:
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.
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.
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…
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.
Jeremy Pavlow shares his common jewelry making bench tips by taking advantage of other tools and materials not normally used for jewelry making. Here are some very useful tips he uses around the shop every day. Not Just For Oral Hygiene…
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.
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.
Carat, karat, caret, and carrot are all pronounced the same, but each has a different meaning. Carat and karat, of course, have very specific meanings in jewelry. Misusing either word can be an embarrassing, if not an expensive, mistake. Spelling carats or karats as carets or carrots will make you look foolish and unprofessional.
I want to take what I have written in my previous articles and start tying it into jewelry welding applications. In this article, I am going to use the welding of a very simple 18K yellow gold ring shank to…
Liver of sulfur, a stinky jewelry studio standby, can be used to create beautiful patinas on Silver, Silver Precious Metal Clay or Art Clay.
This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1983 Fall), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers and answers provided by Linda Weiss-Edwards herself. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, I wanted to write to ask if you knew where I…
This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1983 Summer), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers and answers provided by Linda herself. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, You are doing a great service by persevering the study of health…
This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1984 Spring), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers about using sumac and the effects of gas ozone. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, I frequently enhance my metal objects with wood. I am…
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.
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.
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…
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…
We use a method for cutting down firescale when using a Presto-Lite Torch along with an acetylene B tank. The torch tips are engineered to take in so much gas through the gas orifice and so much air through the air inlet ventura so they burn to their max.
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.
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.
The holiday season can be rough on jewelers. The long hours spent toiling at the bench trying to fulfill last minute orders can take a toll on the body. To help get through this tough season, it’s important to make time…
Our castings can be flawless, our assembly precise, and our settings secure — but let any surface go a bit rough, a little uneven and wobbly, and the jewelry is judged to be inferior. Ironically, even the ultimate finish begins to deteriorate as soon as a piece of jewelry leaves the showroom. But to attract a willing buyer at a fair price, a piece needs be in top form when it enters the showroom. The tools, tips, and techniques presented in this article can help manufacturers avoid the harsh criticism that can result when a less-than-perfect finish clouds the public view.
In photoetching a photo transparency defines the area of a metal plate to be etched. The transparency is the control unit, the program, that prescribes which parts of the light-sensitive resist will chemically harden, polymerize, to become impervious to attack…
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.
Do not get caught in the dark – make certain your shop is well lit. In the jewelry shop, two types of lighting are used. 1. Ambient or General Lighting. 2. Task Lighting. It is best to have a combination of the two in your shop. It is best to have a combination of the two in your shop..
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.
This article provides and describes the useful tips for selecting the correct saw blade by Alan Revere including some important things to consider for blade selection. Sawing is a fast and easy way to cut and separate a piece of metal…
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.
OK. You have just brought home your first acetylene tank and are ready to attach your new acetylene/air torch. This is the day you have dreamed of — soldering at home, in your workshop — yet there is that nagging doubt in the back of your head. You have heard horror stories of tanks, fires and explosions. Oh, why did you think you would ever be able to have a full jewelry studio at home? The instruction manual is full of hard core information that seems geared toward experienced welders — you do not even know how to put the thing together, and even if you do figure it out, you fear you will blow up your home and the entire neighborhood.
In the jewelry world the term cold connections usually describes mechanical joining techniques that are used to fasten together parts that cannot be soldered. In many cases, cold connections fall into a “layer-this-onto-that” approach. Cold connections are more than a roster of techniques – they can trigger new ways to think about design. By combining function, engineering, and aesthetics, cold connections lead us to fresh ideas. The pendant described here has only four parts but it uses three kinds of cold connections.
This paper describes a simple process of forming jump rings. These jump rings were formed from 16 guage sterling silver wire. The links will be 1/2 inches in diameter and will be used to create a pottery shard link concho belt..
n this installment we present a mold cutting technique called a spiral cut, which is designed to facilitate the successful release of a cage-like wax model from a mold.
When I ran a trade shop, time was money, and I often found myself sizing 50 to 60 rings in a day. When you’re doing that kind of volume, being able to quickly size up rings can make a big…
Here are some very helpful stone setting tips provided by Gerald Lewy to help and guide you when working on gemstones. When securing stones, please use a soft metal pusher. I suggest a copper or brass pusher. This will prevent…
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.
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..
The purpose of precious metal testing is to determine, first, whether a given sample is precious or base, and, second, to determine what proportion of an alloy is precious. Sophisticated equipment is used in a precious metal laboratory to determine content and purity values with great precision, but our attention here is given to methods a working goldsmith can use in the studio to determine metal content to a practical degree of accuracy..
When you’ve made the decision to learn hand engraving, you have basically 3 options: Spend little or no money but lots and lots of time. You can get by spending very little on one book (Meeks) and the most basic hand tools. Hammer ‘ chisel or hand pushed burins were all that was available for the past couple of hundred years, and some astonishing work was done with them and is still being done by that method..
I have always thought that if no other lesson had begun to seep through peoples’ inertia and greed, that at least a sense of the fragility of the earth and an obligation to ecologic diversity had begun to be routine….
We asked a number of top jewelers to tell us their best practices, techniques, and tips for creating satin, brushed, and hammered finishes as well as patinas on jewelry. Take notes – you’ll want to test these popular finishing touches…
In today’s internet driven market place you need to have a website whether you are a small “Mom & Pop” trade shop or you have employees and multiple locations. Many jewelry stores have already joined the 21st century and have…
There are a few scientific methods for precisely determining karat gold purity, some destructive (fire assay) and others nondestructive (X-ray florescence). Both methods require costly equipment, special procedures and a well-lit and ventilated area. A simpler method for determining gold purity in jewelry is the touchstone testing process, an age-old technique that is relatively nondestructive to jewelry and offers quick results.
This article, “Transparency Making for Photoetching”, is the first of two parts written by Allan Liu and Carol Webb. Check out the second part of this article series “Photoetching for the Studio Jeweler.” Photoetching is a radical departure from the traditional…
Bench jewelers hate to throw out used tools. By training and by nature we try to conserve the materials we use. An unfortunate side effect is that old burs and dull files tend to collect on our benches. All is not lost, however. There is life in those tools yet. A Sneaky Goldsmith Trick with chemicals in your workshop can get them sharp and useful again..
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.