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Beginner Projects

Being new to this forum, I wasn’t sure exactly how to reply so
I’m trying several different things…

So far, I have enjoyed so much the things I’ve encountered here.
I love all of the which is so pertinent to me and
what I do.

Is anyone willing to make a suggestion of a project for

I’d love to see any input!!!

Susan E. in Big D

     Is anyone willing to make a suggestion of a project for

How beginner? You could cut silver, (copper, brass) into squares
and using quarter inch fencing material, hammer a pattern into
the squares. (Don’t use your good hammer for this.) Now, drill
holes in two of the four corners and connect with large-ish jump
rings (or spring rings). You can add premade chain between the
squares, hang squares, circles or triangles down from the main
chain. Squiggle wire and flatten it, drill a hole in one end and
hang those down from the main chain.

You’ve now covered, cutting, filing, sanding, texturing,
drilling, bending and forming.

Please, anybody else want to jump in?

kathi parker

Various books have excellent projects. I would suggest Alan
Revere’s video series with (in the early videos) beginner


Aloha Susan, Dallas or Denver? No matter,when I used to teach, I
used two, of many books.Try “The Jewelers Craft” by Jaime
Peliissier or "Practical Jewelry Making"by
Loosli/Merz/Schaffner.Allen Reveres book "Professional
Goldsmithing"is excellent, as is “The Design and Creation of
Jewelry” by Robert Von Neumann. It really depends on what you
want to start with, torch or hand tools.Hand tools is the way I
started(sawing and filing),and then copper and brass w/ Ticks
solder(5 legged table) then,the twisted curb chain and silver
solder ETC>It is up to you how to progress and that is the
point.Challenge the student in progressive ways.Crawl,walk, run
and most of all, Enjoy!!

Christian Grunewald
Precision Modelmaking

Hi, Susan. I am just a beginner myself. However, I have done
tumbling years ago now. That is very simple work. You simply
use a strong adhesive and glue caps on tumbled stones, or glue
stones to various findings, bolo ties, etc. Matter-of-fact, I
designed my own tumbler under a workbench, with padded pipes and
large gear ration, and used a motor from a broken washing machine
to power it. I ran two banks of pipes, but just using rubber
belts, the second band slipped, so I had the one bank of pipes,
one pipe was a bit bent, so that was even better. I used pillow
blocks at ends for small pulleys, and one very large wheel I
bought special. I figured out the gear ratio mathematically,
from notes of desired speed I had then. Glass jars, they
eventually break! So I wound them in electricians tape. Some
tough plastic jugs work alot better. These simple table hobby
tumblers are much more efficient. With washing machine motor, my
electric bill really went up, as it runs day and night for as
much as a few weeks. You run them from coarse to ever finer
grits. There are books on it. Some add walnut shells, etc. to
get a better polish. I do want to do more serious work, as my
father did. He and my mother started out with lessons from the
YWCA in Philadelphia, and both did beautiful work. My mother
went more into metal work. My father won first prize for a
jewerly box he made at an Engineers’ Hobby show in Philadelphia
in 1938. My sister has that box. I have another box he made.
He lined it with precious wood, and his own combination of oil
essences. I have his books, and equipment, and it would be
ashame if I didn’t do something with it. Silver soldering, you
start out with high temperature melting points, and work ever
lower with each additional soldering, usually, especially if the
soldering is close together. That way you don’t melt your
previous work. I have done soldering with stainglass, and you
do everything pretty much all at once, so I use the same solder
throughout there. You might consider an evening adult course at
a local high school, or community college to get a start. I took
a stain glass class some years ago, and two of us were working
well ahead of the instruction. Just once you get the hang of it,
and you experiment on the side some too. But I am often better
learning on my own anyway. So, I wish you good luck in your new
interest. Laura Voigt

One of my projects is called the Achitecture Bracelet. Looking
around your room, or your house, or your street, pierce out
objects that you see around you. Connect them together with a
flexible cold connection. One person did the eight chairs in
their dining room. Another did their car, sectioned into pieces.
When the bracelet moved, it looked like the car was on a bumpy
road. Another did Superbowl Sunday, a TV, bowl of popcorn, beer
bottle, their cat and the TV remote! It was really funny.

Another one is a sketchbook project. Pierce out a design and
cold connect it a book. You will need to solder little washers to
attach their book, but this project makes their sketchbook really
special. The repetitive soldering makes for good practice.

Karen Christians
416 Main St.
Woburn, MA 01801


Current Artwork:

Is anyone willing to make a suggestion of a project for

Susan, since soldering is out at this point, what about etched,
forged and manipulated pieces? Bracelets can be bought in blanks,
and are uni-sex (omni-sex?). These could be stamped, hammer
finished, chased, repoussed, pierced, etched (copper/brass with
ferric chloride is pretty safe). If etched, the depressions can
be inlaid with enamel or resin. Wire can be twisted (better if
soldered, but hey, they’ll get the idea), or twisted and hammered
or rolled. Wire can also be formed into chain links which don’t
require soldering, such as “idiot’s delight”. Hope this gives
you a few ideas to get you started. K.P.

Susan, Recently Brian Adams from New Zealand took his shop to the
streets, and projects were completed at each location. should get you to his web site.
He is particularly clever, and a very nice person. Teresa

How about a cuff bracelet or a simple band ring? You could play
with texturing the metal in a variety of ways (hammering,
stamping,etc.) and/or sawing patterns into it. Both projects
deal with simple forming, texturing (and in the case of the ring,
soldering)… If you are beyond that, try bezel setting some
round cabs. I would stick with base metals or silver, though, if
you’re just playing.

It’s also fun to make simple chains out of variations on jump


Shari VanderWerf
Vanguard Studio

Howdy Christian, definitely Dallas.

   Try "The Jewelers Craft" by Jaime Peliissier or "Practical
Jewelry Making"by Loosli/Merz/Schaffner.Allen Reveres book
"Professional Goldsmithing"is excellent, 

Haven’t heard of these, I’ll have to go out and look. as is “The
Design and Creation of Jewelry” by Robert Von Neumann. I love
this one!

We’re about 9 weeks into the school year. Their first project
was a pierced medallion. We must have gone through 2 gross of
sawblades. I taught them some simple wire rings, and earrings,
and they went crazy with that. Our next project was a textured
cuff bracelet. I had them do texture samples, and they had fun
with that. Our next project is to make a chain, incorporating
in textured pieces. They seem to have some good ideas so far.
I want to get them into really crafting the work well. Only a
few seem to see the fine details of this. The rest are just
happy to get the piece cut out, let alone well finished.

I want them to do a pierced band ring soon, but am still waiting
on permission to use the blasted torch. Meanwhile they’ll be
sawing and filing, filing and sawing…(sounds like a catchy

Thanks for your reply!

Susan E. in DALLAS

What about teaching cold connections? In the intro class we
took, our first project was sawed and pierced earrings. We
learned how to saw, pierce designs out of the inside of the
design, file, sand and finish with a high polish. Our second
project was a brooch in which we learned how to texture metal
and make rivets. The design of the brooch was based on food.
Each person’s design had multiple layers, lots of textures and
was put together with rivets which were either invisible or an
integral part of the design.

Will a soldering iron do as well as a torch?, and what is the
secret to a good green patina? I have JAX brand…but wasnt
happy with the results lynn (novice in metalsmithing)

I will be taking beginning metalsmithing classes soon, can you
please tell me what you use after cutting out a piece of
sheet(copper), and drill it for an earwire , what is normally
used to buff and polish…what are the steps after that? I am
just trying some stuff at home…I have Tim McCreight’s book, and
am trying to experiment a little before classes. Is ball and
peen the best for a hammered look? thanks l.r.h.

Susan, Aluminum can be hammered without annealing. It comes in
both sheet and wire (clothesline.) Findings and pieces can be
attached with rivets. Students could be sawing, filing, sanding,
buffing and forging, all without a torch. Of course, it won’t
have the same heft and feel of silver or copper. Oophs, almost
forgot, it can be had in colors and prints if you want to pay
more than clothesline prices.

Marilyn Smith

Dear Susan E. in Dallas, Have your people “rivet & roll”. Weaving
thin strips, rolling them and riveting catches on. Hammer the
edges gently to fan the ends out. I saw these techniques in a
book “Textile Textures in Metal” (?). It also showed how to knit
and crochet wire. Great fun and no soldering… Hope this helps
hold off the meanies… Linda B.

Hi, Lynn!

A soldering iron is only good if the solder melts at a
relatively low temperature (like 600 degrees) and the area being
soldered is small (like circuit board work or soldering two wires
together.) The reason is twofold, the first being that a
soldering iron only attains low temperatures, the second being
that the metals being soldered also need to be hot for the solder
to run and adhere. A soldering iron only transmits heat by direct
contact, so it’s ability to heat metal over an area of any size
is negligible. Also, the heat needed to melt hard solder is
around 1400 degrees. When I started out doing silver and copper
work, I first did penance working with a cheap propane-air torch
of the kind sold to amateur plumbers at Home Depot. Made me
nuts. These torches don’t crank enough heat to bring the piece
to soldering temperature in a timely manner. Also, those torches
have the quaint feature of causing the torch flame to flare or
fizzle as you tip the torch to put heat on the piece. My
recommendation is to shop for a new or used Prestolite torch. I
got mine new for slightly over $100, with an additional $75 for
a full tank of acetylene.

I said all that to say this: if you HAVE to, get a cheap propane
torch from the hardware store, but understand that your
frustrations will be due more to bad tools than to bad technique.
If you can swing it, be kind to yourself and get an acetylene/air
torch like the Prestolite.

Regarding good green patinas on copper, good is in the eye of
the beholder. . You can get spray-ons in craft stores that give
a uniform, green patina to copper. I think patinas are more
natural and interesting if they are irregular in hue, intensity
and distribution. . You can get a nice blue/green patina by
rubbing your finished piece with a paste of salt and water and
then suspending it in a closed container with ammonia in the
bottom overnight. The ammonia fumes do the trick. You can also
take a medium like sawdust, tobacco, or dry leaves, moistening
it (but not saturating it- you need air in the stuff) with
vinegar and ammonia, and burying your piece in it for a few hours
or overnight. The copper will come out mottled with blues,
greens, and sometimes reds.

Dos Manos Jewelry