A beautiful piece of workmanship
A beautiful piece of workmanship
Class, again was unusually busy.
Diane bought me 2 torches from Home Bargains, more reliable than the ones that are from B&Q, I might add.
I advised Karen that she could decrease her Seahorse on the photocopier at the YM reception, Karen came back from reception to tell me that funnily enough (I wasn’t surprised) they couldn’t do it. So I said I would go and have a word. I asked if I could have a go, it was to no avail, bloody computers!
Tonight, again was unexpectedly busy for a first night in Jan.
Ian has done some stunning work at home on his spoons. Totally unexpected. The last thing I thought I would see was the level of workmanship that Ian had managed to manipulate into those spoons. Stunning!
Diane is hopefully going to make a ladies pen for her self, I really hope she does take that task on, because I know it will challenge her and I. Diane will give it 100%
Tonight was not the best start to a new year and a new class & my head was up my arse! I’ve got to be honest I’d washed my bus pass in the washer hours earlier, £50 down the swanie & 20 days till I get another pass!
The torches Diane & I had bougt at B&Q were not behaving, another £38 down the swanie! My solder was’nt running on two first timers wedding rings. All in all a poor start to a term. ;(
Diane has gotten in touch with the guy that distributes these torches, he is saying that they are ancient stock, its in his court now.
Hello, class is starting again tommorrow I’m expecting it to be a tad busy with previous students. Silver bought, new torches purchased. Prep is ongoing, yet to do – make up emery sticks.
I will say that it makes me proud & its a privelege to work & teach everybody that attends my class weather its for a term or been coming back year after year.
It is with great thanks I give to Frank Kirkman, for his help in class & Matthew Whilley for my handouts.
It is also appreciated all the work each and every student gives to me and the class & those who assist me in class.
I’m endevouring to update this blog on a twice weekly basis, it is not going to be biased towards anybody or any one excercise, it is going to be a broad insight into the general feeling of the atmosphere that Frank & I try to generate to enable succesfull learning, if anybody has any issues, please dont hesitate to point them out & I will try to resolve them, in the interests off the class.
Before we start, a big thank you is in order, to Frank Kirkman for all the help and assistance he gives me each & every night. Giving assistance to the students in the class & the advice he gives to me. Thank you Frank for all the tools and equipment you have constructed for me. Matthew Willey, for all the help assistance & effort you put into my classes, handouts & paperwork. I could not manage it without you, cheers guys. 🙂
I qualified as a jeweller, silversmith and goldsmith in 1993 and subsequently qualified as a teacher of jewellery making in 1995. I have run jewellery making courses each year since then. Currently I run two classes at the St. Anne’s YMCA (Telephone 01253 724117) on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. In ten week terms with half term included, at a price of £65.
With the assistance of my good friend and colleague Frank Kirkman, the classes are very successful and a great many students have learned how to design and make their own items of jewellery. I love teaching, it brings me solace, it’s relaxing, fulfilling, rewarding and can be inspirational, especially when a student creates something spectacular.
The class tends to be of a very relaxed atmosphere, and there is always something going on at all times. If you can’t make it one night, come the next. You are not tied to a particular night. I.e. If you can’t make it on a Tue, come on the Thurs instead.
This is a practical course designed to widen and develop your range of practical skills that you use in your daily life and channel them towards design and production of Jewellery for personal use or as gifts for family and friends.
I will teach you how to make Wedding/Thumb rings, Earrings, Bracelets, Bangles. Key rings, etc. to your own design. Then as an advanced syllabus you may learn how to make a Single Collet Tube, four Claw Pendant Setting, and simple Pierced Brooch with Fittings, Simple Twist Wire Pendant/Brooch Cabochon Set, and Simple Link for Link Bracelet (Repetition, Chain Making), Silversmithing i.e. Spoon or a Pill Box.
You will soon be able to polish silver to an excellent standard as well as to set stones and you will be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve. Most of the projects that we undertake involve the use of silver which you will be required to buy either from myself or a dealer whose catalogues I can show you. Alternatively, you may prefer to source your own supplies using the internet.
There is no necessity for you to purchase your own tools as I am able to provide all equipment that you will need. However, if you wish to buy your own, then many current students have obtained suitable tools from markets or car boot sales. Some more specialised tools may be obtained from one or more of the catalogues that are available for perusal on each course.
It is important to note, however, that the price of silver or other metals fluctuates (often on an hourly or daily basis)* and that you will need to purchase enough silver/metal for your jewellery pieces either from me or from another source. I have an account with a national bullion dealer and also carry a small stock of silver adequate to supply all course beginners at the rate at which it was originally purchased. All silver is weighed on digital equipment and cost calculations completed in your presence.
On the following page you will find essential information with regards to the health and safety of both you and the people working nearby.
PLEASE NOTE ~ HEALTH & SAFETY
All Silversmithing requires the use of tools that can cut or burn without due care and attention.
You will saw silver, squeeze and form it, solder using a gas powered flame, insert it into an acid bath, dry and repeat several of these operations prior to final polishing.
Silver dust from sawing or filing; flame damage or burning; lemel (hot debris from soldering); use of acid for cleaning and the high powered polisher can all cause damage to you or your clothes. It is for this reason that I strongly advise you to wear an apron or over shirt.
For the purposes of this course enough tools will be available for your use without the need for you to purchase your own toolkit. However, should you decide to do so, Frank and I or other established course members will be able to advise you accordingly.
Please take care in general:
Ensure that any long hair is tied up or back; that any loose clothing is secure and loose jewellery removed. For example it would be very unwise to wear a necklace while bending over the polishing wheel.
Please take extra care when using a gas torch:
Most of the gas torches that you will use have an automatic lighting system. All you have to do is to turn on/off the gas supply and press a button.
You must use a heatproof block between your piece and the table surface.
Do not wave the lit torch about – concentrate on what you are doing – keep the flame targeted at the piece being soldered.
Remember that the torch and heatproof block will remain very hot for quite a long period after the flame has been extinguished. NEVER ever pick up a gas torch by its nozzle.
Please take further extra care when using the acid bath:
At the acid table are two bowls labelled ACID and WATER. The acid bath is usually heated so that the acid works more effectively. When placing your piece into the acid bath, do so slowly and carefully to ensure there is no spitting or splashing. I will advise you on the length of time your piece needs to remain in the acid bath.
You MUST use the copper tongs to remove your piece from the ACID and then place it into the WATER. NEVER ever use your fingers.
After a moment or two, your piece may be safely taken out of the water and dried on the towel provided before work on it can continue.
Some of the tools and terms you will use include:
BENCH PEG This is the principal aid in making Jewellery or Silversmithing.
BURNISHING A method of putting an extra decorative finish to a cabochon set piece or “rubbing over” metal.
DRAW PLATE & TONGS A piece of solid steel or perhaps brass with exact and decreasing sizes of holes through which silver wire is gripped with tongs and pulled in order to decrease its thickness.
EMERY BLOCK Does almost the same as emery sticks, but can get in to small cracks and crannies, easier to use, and lasts longer.
EMERY STICKS Are for preparing work for polishing, removing all the scratches, file marks, shallow fire stain etc., there are two types flat & ring and come in several gradients from rough to smooth.
EYE LOUPE A small (10 X) magnifier used to see in greater detail your piece of work.
FILES Removes, amongst other things, solder marks, files down metal to any given thickness, and basically cleans up your work.
FIRESCALE This is caused when the metal is overheated and the thickness depends on the temperature that is inadvertently reached; this can only be removed by file and emery or with water of Ayr stone (a form of slate) with a little water.
GAS TORCH A small blowtorch with a “pencil” flame suitable for intricate solders
HEATPROOF BLOCK A block or pad, sometimes with holes in to soak up the heat used in soldering. It prevents damage to the table beneath.
MALLET This to shape metal, mainly on a triblet, but also on an anvil/hotplate. Hide mallets are softer for more delicate hammering.
NEEDLE FILES Very narrow files, resembling a needle, to do much finer, smaller work, in much more awkward places.
OVERHEATING This scorches the solder, from heating the metal too much. Silver may also deform when overheating.
PIERCING/SAW FRAME Similar to a fret saw, very manoeuvrable for fine, precision work.
PIN VICE A small wooden tool (usually) to hold small items firmly so that work can be undertaken using the spare hand.
PLIERS Round nose & ring nose/half round pliers used to shape metal, by way of using hands and pliers. Round nose for turning up small circular rings, half round for turning up rings.
RING GAUGES A set of circular rings, increasing in size and marked with universal sizes equating to the diameter of fingers.
RING STICK A tapered metallic gauge marked with concentric rings matching those of a ring gauge.
SAWBLADES Blades that fit into the saw frame, almost as fine as your hair, are used to saw the silver for very fine work, such as filigree.
SCALE & OXIDE This is removed by pickling in acid, by placing the hot metal into the pickle, or by placing cold metal into warm pickle.
TIN SNIPS Similar to heavyweight scissors for cutting sheet metal or wire
TRIBLETS or MANDRELS Tools to help shape metal sheet or wire; perfectly round, square, oval or triangular.
TWEEZERS As used in the home but here for holding pieces being soldered.
The Skill of Soldering, Soldering Problems and Solutions
SOLDER Is the substance that, fuses silver together.
TYPES OF SOLDER Grades of solder are; Extra-Hard, Hard, Medium and Easy. We use “extra hard” or “hard” (770°C) for the first joint, “medium” (730°C) for the second and finally “easy” (680°C).
SOLDERING “1” It comes in 3 different types depending on the temperature of its ‘melt-point’: EXTRA HARD, HARD, MEDIUM & EASY. Each one “runs” at a lower temperature than the last, ‘hard’ being the last to run, and ‘easy’ being the first, when heated with a gas torch. If you have a ring with 3 points of solder, you will use the ‘hard’ solder, melting at the greatest temperature first. At the second solder point you would use the ‘medium’ and finally at the last solder point, ‘easy’. These solders come in paste/cement form in an oversize hypodermic needle.
SOLDERING “2” Thicker metals heat up slower than thinner ones, so we must pre-heat the thicker metal first, then fetch the two to working heat for the joint to be made.
UNDER HEATING This can cause pin-hole development in the solder joints, because zinc oxides form in the solder when heated.
OVER HEATING This scorches the solder from heating the metal too much prior to the solder binding the joint.
FIRESCALE This is caused when the metal is overheated and the thickness depends on the extent of the excessive heat inadvertently reached. Firescale can only be removed by filing or use of emery paper or other abrasive action.
SURFACE SCALE Surface scale or oxide is removed by placing the workpiece into warm acid (pickle) for a few minutes.
When you wish to buy your own materials …
When you wish to buy your own materials … this is like asking someone,
“How long is a piece of string?”
Of which, of course there isn’t an accurate answer.
At an indefinite period of time after you have made a pair of earrings or wedding band or a number of other items on the scheduled syllabus you may decide that you really enjoy Silversmithing and Jewellery Making and wish to buy a few tools of your own. You may also have seen, in your mind’s eye or in a jeweller’s window, an item of jewellery that you wish to make by yourself but with the assistance of ourselves. As well as consisting of silver, this piece of jewellery may include a precious or semi-precious stone.
Specifically for this course we have managed to negotiate a 5% discount on all items in the Gemcraft Catalogue, whether from the paper version or online. Any such orders must be made through Mark and on the order form that follows this page. Further order forms, if required, may be obtained at any time. If you wish to purchase from Gemcraft by yourself or from any other supplier, then of course you will not benefit from this discount.
There are many other suppliers of tools and supplies for Jewellery Making and Silversmithing. Some suppliers specialise in one or more types of material.
Cousins http://www.cousinsuk.com 01708 757800
Specialise in Clock and watch making supplies, but also have a large choice of tools and jewellery findings.
Cooksons http://www.cooksongold.com 08451 001122
Specialise in precious metals, gold, silver etc, but also sell tools
Kernowcraft Supplies www.kernowcraft.com 01872 573888
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