Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Basic equipment

Hello, This is my first time here and I am a very beginning beginner
and I would like to know what some of you more experienced people
out there would consider basic equipment that I would need to start
setting my own jewelry? Also I would be interested in taking
classes but have yet to find any school in Illinois with a course of
study. Thanks Marjorie

Where in Illinois are you and what kind of school are you looking
for? Here are some of the non-credit places that teach jewelry:

Evanston Art Center Lillstreet Art Center
(has a website) in Chicago Hinsdale Center for the Arts 630.887.0203
Portage Park Center for the Arts 773.205.2600 Fine Line Center for
the Creative Arts in St. Charles TLD Design in Westmont

Colleges that teach jewelry/metalsmithing:

University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne
Northern Illinois University
Northeastern Illinois University
Loyola University
one on the south side of Chicago whose name escapes me
Columbia College
School of the Art Institute, Chicago
College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn

Fellow Illinoisians – where else?

Elaine Luther Chicago area, Illinois, USA Metalsmith, Certified PMC
Instructor Studio 925; established 1992

    basic equipment that I would need to start 

Marjorie, I find that buying books before starting to get tools is a
great way to go. Also I have to mention that I have yet to stop
buying tools and many others have mentioned the never ending quest
for tools. My first book was Tim MCreight’s “The Complete Metalsmith”
(Davis Publications Inc.) Having paid 14.95USD for this book, it has a
great range of techniques and the tools needed to accomplish them. The
book is split into chapters:
Materials,Surfaces,Shaping,Joining,Casting,Stones,Mechanisms,Tools. I
constantly go back to this book as a refference and I wouldn’t trade
it for any other.

Have fun!
Jon in Montreal

    Fellow Illinoisians -- where else? Elaine Luther Chicago area,
Illinois, USA Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor Studio 925;
established 1992 

Hello Elaine;

I’m going to assume you left this one out by mistake, since it’s
certainly one of the top 3 (in my opinion, the best) metals programs
in the country. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, my alma
mater. The list of graduates and faculty of SIU reads like a
who’s-who in metalsmithing.

David L. Huffman


I was only including the Chicago area. I did think of SIU, I’m
aware of the blacksmithing program, though I honestly didn’t know
they had metalsmithing. Thanks for the info.

Another Chicago area place I forgot – Suburban Fine Art Center,
Highland Park, IL

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992


I don’t know what you plan to make (or set) but would agree that
taking a few classes is the best way to go. Otherwise, you will have
to correct a lot of self-taught mistakes and change a lot of bad
habits. Not that self-taught is bad…just takes a lot longer on

When you take the classes, you should receive a ‘required tools
list’ that the instructor wants you to have for the course projects.
My students normally have to purchase about $35 to $40 in basic tools
such as saw, blades, files, pliers, etc. On the other hand…if you
can’t find a class close by and have to learn yourself, check out the
Rio catalog which has several ‘kits’ for the beginner. Pick the one
you think you can work with and go for it. On the other hand, take a
look at what the kits contain, decide on the items you want and check
local flea markets, or discount tool houses such as Harbor Freight to
save some $. Good tools are important but starting out in a new
hobby can be expensive and sometimes its smart to go the cheap route
till you know what you really want to be when you grow up!

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2

You might try GemCity College in Quincy. They have full jewelry and
watch/clock making courses. SIUE ( Edwardsville il) also offers
jewelry courses in their fine arts metal smith course.

“BASIC EQUIPMENT”…:>) LOL ! I am still buying my basic tool set,
which is in excess of over $4,000 in burs…three motors (Foredom
Micro-Motor) and thats a total of $2,200.00 not too mention the
ruddy pliers cost of $300.00, other metal clamps of various uses
$500.00, bench of $400.00+, files & gravers oy vay!! non-stop of this
item alone over $500.00+ and how about the incidentals of pumice
wheels by the “gross load”, ergonomic chair of over $350.00, did I
say that I have another less used bench at home also? 1 more motor
and 2 lights, polishing machine and sonic cleaner and a steam gadget
for an additional $2,000, what about my digital camera of another
$1500.00 inc. extras. I just lost count past $13,000… in… the…
basic…equipment… list…:>) oh good grief, two computers, too
boot! ad infinitum!..“Gerry, the Cyber-Setter!”

    I was only including the Chicago area.  I did think of SIU,
I'm aware of the blacksmithing program, though I honestly didn't
know they had metalsmithing. 

Hi Elaine;

Yep, headed up by Richard Mawdsley, 2nd president of S.N.A.G. with
work in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. I’d list a few of
their graduates, but I’m not exactly sure, I think Eleanor Moty and
Mary Lee Hu. I’m certain of Darryl Meier, Tom Joyce, Phil Baldwin
(of Shining Wave Metals), etc. By the way, I don’t think you
mentioned it, but there is a metals program at College of DuPage just
outside Chicago, not far from the Fox River area, I think.

David L. Huffman

    $1500.00 inc. extras. I just lost count past $13,000.. 

I was trained by a guy that swore that all one really needed, was a
torch, a file and a saw. I watched him drive screws with a hammer
once. He would give us his old burs when his were worn out. I didn’t
think much of these ideas, but I did learn a lot from him. He really
freaked when he discovered that one of his mechanics had built a
platinum screwdriver to use on watches for lack of a real

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler

I think Eleanor Moty and Mary Lee Hu. 

Eleanor Moty did her graduate work at Tyler School of Art, under
Stanley Lechtzin,. Undergraduate at University of Illinois at Urbana
under robert Von Neumann

Mary Lee Hu did her undergraduate work at Cranbrook under Richard
Thomas, graduate work at SIU under Brent Kington

By the way, for those wishing to research the backgrounds of various
teachers in metals, there is a rather unique resource available on
the web.

The Academic metals directory is a database started by Lori Kraus,
then a graduate student at Tyler. Subsequent grad students and the
faculty there have continued to work on the database, and it’s now
and extensive listing of various metals teachers and their teaching
affiliations, as well as the various schools where metals have been

Explore it at:

You can also, if you like, take a bit of time and explore the web
site of the Tyler metals program, which is well represented on the
site there. Follow the links from the academic metals directory.

Peter Rowe
(BS (Art Ed) Univ. Wisc. Madison, '74, MFA, Tyler, 88)