Yes well I have to admit that I took along sil in a few forms that
would be useful and interesting -
8mm x 1.2mm strip stg
4.2mm x 2.4mm halfround stg
2mm round wire
6mm sq fine silver bar
Here’s what I did: Asked them to decide on a ring style based on
the silver resource, hand each as they arrived a piece of binding
wire to wrap round a finger and twist at the back, I snipped that
and straightened it out and said that’s the length we need, mark
the silver and cut a little outside this mark. I found even bankers
and orthodontists could do the sawing well enough with simple
I’d come along after a few minutes and finish the job if they were
TOO slow and getting frustrated.
Then tell them to file the edges flat. That’d give me several
minutes with someone else. Periodically I’d check them and inform
them that the file cuts on the way up (forward) not like the saw.
They’d go ‘oh okay, got it’. (better attitude than many jewellery
students I could think of!)
Then comes the creative part - they bang and file ‘designs’ into
the flat shank. A few minutes showing them how a hammer and punch
works, how textures get built up with a simple-looking punch, and
they’re away (on a practice piece of silver first).
Then we round up the shank. I get them to wield the mallet while I
put the shank over a wooden swage block (grooves about 3/4" or so
wide) and they hit a steel bar. By magic the silver strip becomes a
ring-looking shape! They loved this bit!
I have to take some credit here, as although they were the power
behind the hammer, I was placing the shank in just the right
place! You know how you do.
They were doing something, though. I never did much alone. I
always make sure they took part some how. I gave up some of the
I think that was where their joy come from; taking part on all
Now to align the ends. Weeell, okay I did this bit after they’d
had a go.
Then soldering, I sat opposite them with the soldering board
between us (I was behind a low wall!). They had the torch and I had
the (dry) flux and the (stick) solder.
I instructed them simply: you are the heat source, and we’ll need
to be sure the heat is right. So there are 2 rules: 1/ Never take
the flame off the join as the silver will blacken up and not solder
properly, and 2/ respond when I say back or forward, so the heat
will be cooler or hotter on the join we’re soldering. Something
like that. They got the message.
When the solder flowed it was like wow again. Bang it in the
pickle. Lapsed time so far: 45min. I’d speed the pickling up by
quenching warm a few times. I know it’s dangerous, but these are
bankers and other responsible adults.
‘Finishing’ entailed filing, sanding, and hand-polishing (leather
strip on a stick). This was fine for most. $NZ40
<FX: cash register>
Have I missed anything out? Seems too simple. No stones of course.
Well some did attempt pretty fancy footwork on the shank. Tried too
much. But when I pointed out that what they wanted to do was great
and possible but would be a little beyond them at this stage they
accepted that and simplified up.
I anticipated that some would want to do a pretty stone on it, so
just as I was leaving home I grabbed a handful of my 8mm and 10mm
round bezel castings, and some were tickled to have these to solder
onto a shank. Then we set the stone (carnelian or a recon turquoise
or lapis cabochon). Depending on various factors I might inform
those who wanted to do a ring with a stone that thay’d better book
in for a 1.5hr or 2hr session. That was fine too.
The earrings some of them did were sweet too. I took various sizes
of stg wire. Times varied from 1 hr to 3hrs for the roofing
contractor who forged a pair of telephones from fine silver bar:
earrings hung on silver coily earwires! Brilliantissimo.
I think it’s cool to teach. I did something similar for my sons 6th
grade art class. I gave each a coin size piece of green wax and
showed them how to draw the design,cartoon it to the wax,and carve
away. I made a video tape of the rest of the process for them to
watch. On the days I was there I was no sooner done helping one
kid and 4 more would call my name.This is a great way to excite
young minds to create.
Yes. It’s also a great way to get a boost myself.
B r i a n ? A d a m J e w e l l e r y E y e w e a r ?
@Brian_Adam1 ph/fx +64 9 817 6816 NEW ZEALAND
http://www.adam.co.nz/workshop/ NEW - report from Queenstown Jan’98