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Fabrication or assembling


#1

This may not develop as smoothly as a discussion as I hope for, but
it is something I recently presented to some attending the same
gathering as I did.

We have long has the unanswered question, if parts of the whole are
purchased formed, and then put together, is it fabricated or
assembled. There are strong positions on both sides. This was before
Cad/Cam, and that created an even stronger fabricated or assembled
question.

I recently spent time with Metal Artists whose own output may range
from jewelry to public sculptures. One talented young man, uses a
laser cutter to cut out hundreds of same shapes, and then may spend
days welding them into form. Is this truly fabricated, or assembled?

I can see the same elitism I have seen here for over 15 years, I am
also a member there for about the same time, and some are on Orchid
as well. Is there a true answer? What really defines the skills,
total fabrication, or utilization of available tools?

I have seen the disdain cast upon persons using wax to create, metal
clay also has been stigmatized, as have beaders. So where is reality
and acceptance.

My personal preference is towards organic, rather than precisely
geometric. For this I was labeled as “Not a Silversmith.” Hurt at
that time, but now, I take it from whence it came. I love to melt
metal and allow it to find its own shapes, and then make them work
together, embracing stones not necessarily calibrated.

I realize that this can be a very emotional issue, and probably,
without resolution. Bless those Artists,

Hugs,
Terrie
Teresa Masters


#2

Personally, I think you pays your money and you takes your choice. I
don’t believe it matters which term you use.

RC


#3
We have long has the unanswered question, if parts of the whole
are purchased formed, and then put together, is it fabricated or
assembled. There are strong positions on both sides. This was
before Cad/Cam, and that created an even stronger fabricated or
assembled question. 

We can take a lesson from silversmiths. In silversmithing one can
stamp his work as hand-wrought or hand-fabricated.

Hand-wrought means that each and every piece is made by hand and the
only time when electricity was used is for polishing and drilling
holes.

Hand-fabricated means that some of the parts were either cast, or
stamped, or made by spinning.

It is an important distinction, because to raise parts to precise
dimensions is exponentially more difficult than produce the same
parts by spinning. So we definitely have the model and the precedent
to follow.

The counter argument is that creativity is more important and method
of construction designations take away from artistic value of a
piece.

My answer to such arguments is that it is apples and oranges. If
artistic value is there to begin with, nothing can diminish it.
Method of construction designations are the same idea as metal
purity stamps. Whether something is made of bronze or 24k gold,
artistic content is the same, but we do indicate by stamping if we
use more valuable metal.

So we can treat method of construction designations in the same
manner. Hand-wrough would be an equivalent of 24k gold stamp and down
from there.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#4

Thanks Terrie: As far as the definition of a jewelry artist goes, it
is now wide open. The definition of a metalsmith, a jeweler, a
goldsmith, or silversmith, is more standardized. It does not matter
how you handle your material in order to create a design. It matters
that you achieve the results that you seek. Even if your results do
not measure up to your original concept, you’ve still learned
something about yourself and about your materials. If you fabricate
components and then assemble them then it’s a multiple technique
creation, a beautiful definition.

Now, defining a designer is a bit different in my opinion. There are
people who have never designed anything. They take a class at a local
beadstore, buy some base metal components and beads, make some
"things" and “stuff” and now have the nerve to claim to be a jewelry
designer?? We call this stuff and these things -beadage-. A craft.
No, this is not sitting well with many of us after so many years of
learning, toil, creativity, and teaching. There is a distinction:
Crafts vs. Professional Designer… but your degree or piece of paper
from a university is not always indicative of your expertise either.
Stdy at Stratford-upon-Avon , or your local Community College and you
will still find that talent rules no matter where you go. Funny, if I
take a first-aid class I’d never call myself a nurse, correct? Enough
of an analogy to justify how NOT to call yourself a designer, or
jeweler, or metalsmith, and so on. Peace, Margie


#5
Is there a true answer? What really defines the skills, total
fabrication, or utilization of available tools? 

I have seen the disdain cast upon persons using wax to create, metal
clay also has been stigmatized, as have beaders. So where is reality
and acceptance.

Teresa, it’s just not that complicated. You’re just talking to the
wrong people, that’s all. I don’t want to try to categorize people,
as it’s not true, but it’s a little necessary to make the point,
too. People who learn jewelry in school, and somewhat from books,
too, can tend to be process oriented. And it’s a fact that there is a
school of thought that everything has to be handmade or it’s somehow
inherently inferior, and the snobbery that goes along with all that.
“I’m going to make something using fold-forming (shakudo, etching,
piercing)”. We are design oriented. “Here’s the design, what do we
need to do to make it a reality?” So we cast the casting work,
fabricate the fabrication and very often we’ll cast the casting and
then fabricate on top of it. We don’t care about any of the things
you ask, we don’t even think about it. It’s all about the finished
product, and we don’t fabricate something out of some strange sense
of purity, when we can just pop it out of a mold. As I believe it
was Richard said on the memo thread - maybe they’re not really a
business at all, but just hobbyists.


#6
We can take a lesson from silversmiths. In silversmithing one can
stamp his work as hand-wrought or hand-fabricated. 
Hand-wrought means that each and every piece is made by hand and
the only time when electricity was used is for polishing and
drilling holes. 
Hand-fabricated means that some of the parts were either cast, or
stamped, or made by spinning. 

Both terms are the same in regards to the FTC’s Guides to the
Jewelry Trade there is no differentiation for the terms hand wrought
or hand fabricated

A7 23.3 Misuse of the Terms “hand-made,” “hand-polished,” etc. (a)
It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by implication,
that any industry product is handmade or hand-wrought unless the
entire shaping and forming of such product from raw materials and
its finishing and decoration were accomplished by hand labor and
manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to control and
vary the construction, shape, design, and finish of each part of
each individual product. Note to paragraph (a): As used herein, “raw
materials” include bulk sheet, strip, wire, and similar items that
have not been cut, shaped, or formed into jewelry parts, semifinished
parts, or blanks. (b) It is unfair or deceptive to represent,
directly or by implication, that any industry product is handforged,
hand-engraved, hand-finished, or hand-polished, or has been otherwise
hand-processed, unless the operation described was accomplished by
hand labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to
control and vary the type, amount, and effect of such operation on
each part of each individual product.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#7

Hi Theresa,

I went to a gallery in a neighboring town, who labeled beadwork as
"assemblage". The guy who welded shapes, I think that would be
fabrication because he cuts out his own shapes. I understand where
you’re coming from; I’ve always loved textured surfaces, natural
shapes, and splash casting, broom cast jewelry, (there’s someone who
does it with coffee beans), cuttlebone casting, you name it. What’s
interesting is that it’s low-tech, doesn’t take a lot of expensive
tools and it’s accessible. And the results are wonderfully organic
and spontaneous. I only wish that I had the ability to cast twigs,
etc. There exists, I believe, an attitude, with a college degree, of
superiority. I’ve got to confess a mild resentment when I perceive
that attitude, but it isn’t really worth getting upset about. All
kinds make up this world of ours. Metal clay is an exciting new way
of doing things, and it’s so textural that it attracts my interest.
I’ve been thinking of getting into it lately. Probably would have
already, if the kilns weren’t so darned expensive. Anyway, I think a
degree isn’t necessary to produce something beautiful. Also, I’ve
seen beadwork using all purchased components that is extroardinary!
Well, that’s enough rambling,

Keep on creatin’
Vicki K in SoCal


#8
Both terms are the same in regards to the FTC's Guides to the
Jewelry Trade there is no differentiation for the terms hand
wrought or hand fabricated 

May be it is. However this distinction exist and it is real. May be
some of the european silversmiths want to contribute on this subject.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#9

Jim,

Yes, the rules of definition are rather clear, as are the words of
Leonid Surpin. For some, rules are written for others. I am so used
to watching these issues surface on a regular basis, and the given
wrangling that follows, I was wondering if it had crossed platforms
to the large metal arena.

Watching Bruce Fink singlehandedly create a large sculpture, where a
regular foundry uses seven men to do the same job, I wondered if his
creation of a chain, pulley, hoist system. to assist him from firing
the metal, to positioning the flasks, and then pouring took away the
"hand made" legitimate label.

I know how fierce the argument about Cad/Cam has been at times, and
wonder how laser cutting repetitive patterns rather than hand
cutting fares.

Just trying to see how level the playing field really is.

Hugs and Thanks,
Terrie


#10

Leonid,

Hand-fabricated means that some of the parts were either cast, or
stamped, or made by spinning. 

Most silversmith of age will tell you that there is no legal
definition in the FTC manual for hand-fabricated so they don’t use
it. Handmade is defined and has been interpreted several times. It is
generally taken to mean that power (electric, pneumatic, or gravity)
can be used in conjunction with manual human power. Traditionally
this is interpreted as meaning the craftsperson can supply the power
to form the sheet and add power to guide the formation. Or, the
craftsperson can add power to form the sheet and use their own power
to guide the formation, hence spinning. Silversmith in this context
refers to the forming of metal sheet through three dimensions and
that the formed metal makes up the body of the item in question in
part or whole. Example, a chalice, this would refer to the base,
stem, and bowl. Decorations, finials, enamels, or similar aren’t
affected. Casting under this regime is not handmade, but the item
could include a cast finial and be called handmade. Stamping maybe.
Spinning, power filing, power sawing, yoder hammer w/o dies and
similar yes. This is how it is applied in silver work from an
industrial arts perspective. Over the years, in the universities this
perspective has been ignored, avoided, and in some cases disdained,
but in commercial sales the rules apply, just ask a high level
Cadillac executive from the 90’s.

DAn Culver


#11
Over the years, in the universities this perspective has been
ignored, avoided, and in some cases disdained, but in commercial
sales the rules apply, just ask a high level Cadillac executive 

I view this whole, recurring topic as those who feel the need of
looking for a way to say, "I am so veddy, veddy much better than you
will ever be. "Anybody who truly ~knows~ about the jewelry of the
world knows better than to even think the thoughts.


#12

Both terms are the same in regards to the FTC’s Guides to the
Jewelry Trade there is no differentiation for the terms hand
wrought or hand fabricated

May be it is. However this distinction exist and it is real. May
be some of the european silversmiths want to contribute on this
subject. 

I think I understand and appreciate what you are trying to
differentiate it’s just there is not an official definition to
designate these two types of work. David Pye did a good job of
trying to codify the difference in his book “The Nature and Art of
Workmanship” If you have not read it you should. He speaks of the
Workmanship of Certainty and Workmanship of Risk. In the Workmanship
of Certainty the outcome is very little affected by the hand of the
humans involved as is typical of mass produced products. Then there
is the Workmanship of Risk where every move by the maker has the
risk of damaging the object by a misplaced hammer blow or slip of the
chisel or graver, so the quality of the final piece is directly
dependent on the skill and mastery of the maker. There is a
continuum that spans the two and few items are pure examples of of
the Workmanship of Risk while the vast majority of what we come in
contact with on a daily basis are fairly good examples of the
Workmanship of Certainty. Pye also discusses the distinctions of
regulated versus free or rough fabrication. Regulated work is done
to a great degree of precision with finely finished surfaces and free
work allows for rougher surfaces and less precision in fit and
finish. Neither type of process defines good workmanship though, a
roughly thrown raku vessel can be an exquisite piece of workmanship
and a super precise highly finished item can be just another
soulless piece of mass produced crap. Trying to define good work is
complex and cannot be defined only by the techniques and tools used
to make the item

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#13

In the simplest of terms for the words, both mean “made” but there is
normally the destinction for something being wrought as being
"shaped" as per forgework. Fabricated also means being put together
or assembled so there is a distinction between something that is
shaped by hand and something that is assembled by hand.
Caterham/Lotus cars are hand assembled but these days they are not
hand made as the cost is too great and they cannot make enough of
them by doing so. Morgan cars are hand made but they only make at
most 3 a week. the skills used prevent an increase in output. I hope
my analogy makes sense.

Nick Royall


#14

I whole heartedly agree with the Donivans. You don’t necessarily do a
"forged" piece, or a “fabricated” piece, or a “cast” piece. You do a
"piece" using whatever techniques are the best to use for that piece.

BK in BWA


#15
Neither type of process defines good workmanship though, a roughly
thrown raku vessel can be an exquisite piece of workmanship and a
super precise highly finished item can be just another soulless
piece of mass produced crap. Trying to define good work is complex 

I think that the main reason for this whole perennial thread is
jewelry classes and books, at least generically speaking. And it’s
real important to get away from it, to have any sensibility about
craftsmanship. When you go to school, there’s a 99% chance that the
instructor is going to say, “Today we’re going to do piercing”, or
raising, or all sorts of other things. Fabrication today, assembly
tomorrow. So, it’s easy to get compartmentalized - “That’s
engraving, that’s NOT engraving” comes to mind. Factis, I can do
lots of individual skills, and it all just blends together into an
amorphous whole. I just don’t sit there and think about whether it’s
actually piercing or merely sawing, I just grab the saw. You throw
in what can only be called ego and snobbery and it just becomes
ridiculous.

Sure, it’s important to understand how things are made, but I’d
suggest leaving the "I only want handmade/wrought/fabricated things"
to the patrons, and concentrate on building a viable business for
yourself, personally. In the end, what matters is the thing you hold
in your hand, and in the hard, cold light of reality, what it costs
and what you can sell it for. Cast the casting work, fabricate the
fabrication work, learn to know the difference, don’t be one
dimensional.

Jim’s book about Craftsmanship of certainty and risk sounds real
interesting (really). It matters not one iota to me when I sit down
at my bench to make something, though. I just make it. Unless there’s
some job classification that pays more for a fabricator and less to
an assembler, could someone explain to me why it matters even a
little bit in the real world? It sure sounds like prejudice to me.


#16

Now the real issue is from a Craft Show perspective. My wife and I
create All of our own components for our work out of Glass Rod,
Rough Gem Material, and Metal Sheet and Wire so we have problems with
Stringers. You see, we can’t often get into shows because they have
filled the slots. Even if, few people understand what they are
looking at. Mostly they just walk past the booth. I work a lot in
copper, and they see it and don’t bother looking further even though
I have Ricker mounts of gems, some of which are faceted.

My wife makes each and every one of our beads by hand. She makes all
of our ear wire for our dangle earring. People assume we buy it all
and string it together. We talk to people as they come in. They often
hate to be spoken to as if by talking with them we obligate them to
either buy from us or tell us just how cool we are, but if we say
nothing, they won’t know. If we post it in a sign, maybe one in Fifty
will read it.

What makes the Assembly thing even worse… most stringers are
using imported components. Hell, getting down to it, there are a lot
of people who claim to be designers getting into shows that don’t do
a damn thing other than tell some people in China the sorts of things
they want to see.

As far as I’m concerned, we should NEVER be dinged for a show
because we make all of own components.

So Stringers bother me, but I tend to laugh at them anyway out of
self-preservation. I even laugh at some of my relatives that claim
to make “Jewelry”.

TL Goodwin
Silversmith
Goldsmith
Lapidary
Jewelry Artist (uh-huh)

The Pacifik Image
http://thepacifikimage.com


#17

As, this time around, the originator of the question, let me add a
bit more, having read some of the commentaries.

First, we are an International Forum, and some comments can easily
step on a few toes. I believe, each of us have national pride, and
recognize that within our own borders, we have people amongst us of
the highest ethics, some middle grounders, and unfortunately some
who think those with scruples are fools.

I am going to speak first primarily to those in the USA. For many
reasons we can be insensitive to others without thinking of what we
are saying. Emotional, more often than factual. Many items are not
now, nor ever have they been “Made in America.” I have long
respected the handwork of peoples around the world, Burma Jade,
Chinese Carvings, Bali Silver, Australian Opals, Sri Lankan
Sapphires, Siamese Niello, Japanese Damascene, Italian Cameos, the
list goes on. Yet, we disparagingly speak of competing with
"overseas junk."

Complaints are basically about commercial shows where the promoter
accepts anyone with booth money. The blame falls on the merchant who
like everyone else is trying to make a living. Many ridicule
WalMart, I live near a very large Marine Base and often see very
happy young persons at the Jewelry counter there either with or
buying for a significant other. They are joyous because they can buy
something with the money they have. Are they really your customers?
Is WalMart taking away your business?

Hand-crafted, fabricated, assembled, there is a market for all, it
is your responsibility to identify and sell to it. There really are
folks out there who want the story of just how it all came together,
they are the customers for you. I wonder if you would really find
them amongst bargain hunters.

Wendy Rosen, who is well known to some, “The Rosen Group,” recently
has become very active in promoting “Buy American,” in Gift Shops
open in areas where many tourists come and spend money. She actually
presented to Congress, that in the Smithsonian Gift shops, the
majority of tourist type items for purchase, were not “Made in
America.” She has made an excellent point, and there is a lot more
to be done. Visit your local Museum gift shop, see where items come
from, look to see what is offered and then see how you can effect a
change. Find your local craftspersons, determine that they are able
and willing to have stock and back-up of locally hand crafted items.
Cover all bases, jewelry, glass, ceramics, weavings, toys, etc. with
commitments in hand, present it to the Museum, tourist attraction,
any place within your community that attracts visitors and buyers.

It is so easy to blame and complain, and so difficult to change. We
spend far too much time finding someone else causing our loss of
business, we need to focus on how to make it all work. Integrity
will never go out of style, charlatanism will always be present, now
find your market.

Hugs,
Terrie


#18

Hey John,

Jim's book about Craftsmanship of certainty and risk sounds real
interesting (really). It matters not one iota to me when I sit
down at my bench to make something, though. I just make it. Unless
there's some job classification that pays more for a fabricator and
less to an assembler, could someone explain to me why it matters
even a little bit in the real world? It sure sounds like prejudice
to me. 

Some clients care about the mental attitude, philosophy, process and
dare I say it artistry the craftsperson uses. If that is your
clientele then you need to cater to their desires, but if your
customer wants it to look good and be done at a reasonable price then
you need to cater to their needs or if your client just wants the
least expensive item that sort of looks like a higher quality piece
then you need to produce that work. There are a wide variety of
clients that have different sets of criteria. It is incumbent on the
craftsperson to define which client type they are courting and
produce work of a quality and price point which that client wants. If
you spend 5 hours on a piece that will only sell for $50 you are not
going to be in business very long, likewise if you only spend 15
minutes on a piece that you want $25,000 for it is likely you will
not sell it or end up with a very unsatisfied customer. It is not
prejudice, just matching your work processes, philosophy and
materials to the desires of the type of customer you are seeking to
serve. Some people will drop $1800 on a dinner and some are fine with
Wendy’s the same concept applies to virtually every form of business.
And if you are not making jewelry for a living then the only person
you need to please is yourself so you can make it to fit your whim.
But I think we all have some bias towards our particular work/client
niche and often do not understand why others do what they do as it
does not make sense to do it that particular way in our niche.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#19

A kindred spirit!
Make lots of beautiful jewelry for unique people!

Barbara


#20
A kindred spirit! Make lots of beautiful jewelry for unique people! 

Fabricate or cast, a thread that just goes on and a discussion that
goes on in business outside of Orchid as well. Several years ago I
took on a project for a commercial store out of the midwest, custom
work that they needed done. They sent me the stones and I produced a
semi-finished product for them. They did the clean up and stone
setting. I carved the waxes and cast the pieces, put them through the
tumbler and shipped them out. They called me when the pieces arrived
and were very pleased and commented what a great job of fabrication I
had done. I explained that the pieces were cast and they offered me
the custom work for all their stores. The point of the story is I
used the technique that was the most comfortable and economic for me
to produce the best product for the client. The next job I might
fabricate or cast or both. Do what you do best and what works for you
regardless of how someone else feels it should be done. You are the
person at the bench and your execution is what counts. My experience
with cast or fab.

Frank Goss