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Beginners use of this forum

In 1984 I took over the family jewellery store from my father.
Although my father had been in the business for 47 years, he had
never learned more than the first basics of jewellery repair. My
background was Engineering. I began goldsmithing in an attempt to
make the business more profitable. I have purchased a number of books
and could not have gotten my start without them but most of them were
expensive and in my opinion not worth the money. I am extremely
reluctant to buy new books because of this. I live a half days
journey from nowhere and have nobody in the area to consult with.
I’ve tried talking with goldsmiths in the nearest city, Halifax, N.S.
but found them to be utterly unhelpful. I made a trip to one of my
largest suppliers in Toronto and visited their workshop. The general
manager led me around the facility and politely took my arm and led
me away each time I asked a worker a technical question. For me, the
greatest obstacles to becomming a goldsmith have been in the areas of
casting and wax carving. The casting book by Murray Bovin suggests a
casting temperature of from 1685 degrees to 1735 degrees for 10K
yellow gold. That advice, and a warning against “boiling” the gold
caused me misery for many years. It wasn’t until I bought “Miracle
Cast” and followed their instructions (cast at 1950 degrees.) that I
had consistent results. The books I have found for wax carving were
even worse. It’s like they couldn’t make a living from goldsmithing,
so they wrote a book. Bill Wismar’s comments about beginners using
this forum inspired this letter. I’ve been a goldsmith now for
fifteen years and I’m still learning every day. At everything I
haven’t done yet, I’m a beginner. I salute this forum. I hope it
never becomes a forum only for the experts.

Robert Hood

Robert , I have been part of this forum for a long time now and feel
as long as you have the additude you have now that learning is life
long then you will learn from this group of giving people. There has
never been anything like this in history…exchange of thoughts and
ideas from world wide so quickly. Stay Curious!
Ron Kreml

Unfortunately I did not clarify my statement to the best of my
ability. I do not spend much time on the net and usually rush my
typing. In no way am I disapproving of beginners question. That is
what this forum is all about. My general concern was that of people
using the internet instead of books. Historians are already concerned
that they will not have letters or other correspondence because of the
net. Usually when I need I can get it immediately from a
reference book, this helps in the middle of the night. Reference
books of any field are expensive because of the limited market and I
usually cringe when I buy one, but I am very grateful when they get me
out of a jam. I hope this clarifies my position on books, keep those
questions coming.

Bill Wismar

Dear Robert, It is unfortunate that the goldsmiths you encountered in
the past were so unwilling to share and exchange about
techniques or anything else. I must say that this is in direct
contrast to my experiences of the past 25 years, the first decade of
which were also entirely self-educated. All of the goldsmiths,
silversmiths (in the classical use of the terminology) metalsmiths,
and authors who are my colleagues from all over the globe are
entirely open and sharing and truly interested in the perpetuation of
our vocation. It seems to be a given understanding within the segment
of the community that I am involved with, that any development or
discovery through our own practice and application is pretty much
meaningless if not transmitted to others willingly and sincerely. Our
rich history goes back over 7000 years, and it certainly wouldn’t
have lasted and endured without such artistic collaboration and
exchange. This forum is a perfect, albeit recent, example of such.
Best of luck to you, as we are all still learning no matter how many
years of experience we have at the bench or the forge. Warmest

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist @Michael_Sturlin

Michael Sturlin Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA