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In-depth Granulation Education


#1

Hello all,

I have been bitten by a granulation obsession bug. I have
successfully done a bit of it but then done more with less success.

I would like to find out of any existing written materials on
granulation methods available.

Let me tell you I have already found, and printed, the chapter on it
from the Orchid tips by Dr. Brepohl edited by Charles L-B, and I
have also printed Sandra Buchholz’ 2-part fine silver granulation
tutorial. I have the book Metals Technic edited by Tim McCreight and
I have the first DVD on granulation by Ronda Coryell.

I want even more if there exists more in written form. I wish Jean
Stark, whose incredible granulation work I have seen online courtesy
of Randy (rocksmyth.com) would write a book or article on
granulation - unless she has already, in which case please tell me
the name of it!

In the absence of that, I would like to hear of granulation courses
in the future - excluding this year’s Cat.in Motion, which I can’t
make. I live within an hour of San Francisco.

Specifically, I wish to troubleshoot:

a) the roundness and uniformity of the granules (my charcoal block
is newly sanded, flat and level. Some granules don’t want to roll
off into the water. Most are not quite spherical.) I intend to use
tiny jump rings instead of straight wire snippings next time.

b) the successful fusion of the granules to the backsheet. They
seemed to fuse, but all came off. Even a melted-looking larger
granule came off! It looked melted, so how can that be? Yet I pulled
the misshapen, spread-out melted granule right off with pliers!
Maybe the backsheet was too thick? It was certainly clean! And it
was all glowing! I might need to really calibrate the backsheet
thickness to the granule thickness better.

c) some other way to make granules really spherical. I am sure there
is another way besides the charcoal powder in the crucible in the
kiln method. Why am I so sure? Because I want there to be. I don’t
have a big kiln.

d) a way to make the finished product - the backsheet - smoother and
more uniform, less blemished than mine turned out. I was able to
granulate a pair of fine silver earrings with very tiny granules.

A) stories of success and wise ways to begin using gold without
freaking myself out totally stressing about ruining some beginning
pieces. I feel like I need a rolling mill, melting apparatus, etc to
justify working with gold and possible / probable ruining of pieces.

Okay that’s a lot to ask of you all. I am just obsessed with the
beauty of granulation right now and have been for quite a while. See
Carolyn Tyler’s work, Kent Raible, Ronda Coryell, Jean Stark, Sandra
Buchholz.

Thanks for any and all tips, and I realize that lots practice will
be necessary.

Connie L.
www.papayani.com


#2

I will send you some pure silver granules that I have & do not use as
I only work in gold. My advice for working in gold is simple - forget
that it is gold ( you can always remelt it and use it again.) I am
hooked on granulation & there are many ways to do it You can even do
it in the air just holding the pc. with a pair of pliers. Just keep
doing it over & over again. My inspiration was Cezanne he painted
same mountain over & over and Over again. You can see my work
maijaneimanis.com

Good Luck!


#3

Dear Connie since you have the granulation fixation…do you know
about Janet Alix, she was in your area. also the new lark book
master classes at penland has a section by Doug Harling you may want
to check out. other than that the jewelry arts inst. in NYC was
started by Jean Stark and Bob Kulick (sp?) it is on 72nd and
broadway…they have alot of books on the subject. also Daniel Brush
had a show at the Renwick back in the 90s it is not a how to book but
very interesting ganulation. just a tip for searching for used
books…try ABE book exchange they have a national database of used
and out of print books, a great savings.

one more thought, have you seen the work of Bakakis and Johns?
speaking of ‘balls’ my friend nancy Modica worked for them for a
while. they had some swankey gallery call one day and ask Mark Johns
"how much do your balls weigh"? if you ever meet him, please ask
him. If you live in the bay area I would hve to say that your best
bet would be go th the revere academy and study with Ronda. even
though Alan is an ‘alien’ from planet metalico…he is a very nice
guy, I went there…and now I is a goldsmither…ha ha

wayne werner


#4

Connie-

Good luck with the granulation. I have a very large library of
jewelery related books, so I took a quick look. First I would
recommend Ronda Coryell’s 2nd DVD as well, a most excellent
instruction. In addition to the two books you mentioned (Metals
Technic with 10 pages of excellent and Brepohl) I
found:

The Complete Metalsmith, McCreight, Tim: A good one page
description, Metal Design & Technique, Wilhelm Braun-Feldweg: 3 pages
including much historical Metal Techniques for
Craftsman, Untracht, Oppi: 11 pages with many finished examples,
Jewelry Concepts & Technology, Untracht, Oppi: 14 pages with
finished examples, very good, The Complete Book of Jewelry Making,
Codina, Carles: 4 full color pages on gold, good.

Hope this helps.
Marlin


#5

Connie,

I have studied with Ronda, and am actually visiting with her right
now in Oakland. I can tell you without a doubt, Ronda Coryell is
your best bet. Go to Revere Academy, take her classes. She is a
master goldsmith and a teacher’s teacher.

Karen Christians


#6

Connie,

I believe Penland will have a two week workshop this summer
featuring Doug Harling and enamelist Sarah Perkins. I took their
workshop last year at Arrowmont and can tell you it’s well worth the
time and money. It’s great to have these two amazing talents at your
disposal to answer questions and help you problem solve. You might
contact Penland for more I actually liked the class so
much I’m considering taking this one too!

I have the first Rhonda Coryell DVD and it’s very helpful, but I
granulate differently than she does. I would like to sell it. Please
contact me offline if you’re interested in purchasing it. If you
want to see the type of granulation I do (in fine silver with chips,
not balls) visit my website at www.redbeedesigns.com.

Tammy Kirks


#7

Maija Neimanis,

Thank you for your inspiring words. Today I experimented with
Argentium silver. I made granules for a couple of hours. They came
out quite good on the charcoal block with round depressions made with
a small round bur. Then I spent a couple more arranging a simple
design. I patiently let it dry in 4 stages.

Everything seemed to work splendidly until the end. When the piece
cooled it looked like it was made of wet-dry sandpaper, about 250
grit: same color, same texture. And, the granules came off with
enough force (cloth catching on it, a fingernail).

I am depleted and don’t know the exact factors that caused it, or
what it is, but I am learning. Meanwhile I found a lot of good
on the Orchid archives by typing “granules” into the
search box.

I have sent you an email.

Your work is splendid!! My aim is to have control over the materials
to do that. I am patient to some extent but it seems right now at
this rate I will need an extension on my life expectancy.

Connie


#8

I’ve been following this thread with interest and am surprised that
no-one has yet mentioned Giovanni Corvaja’s work - he is an absolute
magician with granulation and I was lucky enough to do a workshop
with him in West Australia a couple of years ago. I know he has done
workshops in the US as well. Google and check out his web page!

Jane Walker


#9

Dear Connie,

I’ll try to answer your questions as best as I can. However, I am
actually borrowing another’s computer at the moment to check my email
as I am out of town. If you have further questions, send me an email
so I don’t forget and I will try to answer them. Also, you should
note that my granulation method is a bit different from the most
common form. I use 18K gold, which consequently requires the use of
cupric carbonate to facilitate the “fusing” or eutectic-bonding (if
my terminology is correct) of the parts. If I’m not mistaken, most
granulators use 22K and true fusing.

Questions:

a) I only use a charcoal block to create larger granules.
Consequently, I actually use a ball bur to cut out rounded “seats” in
the charcoal to help the larger granules form. If you wish to create
a great deal of granules, I wouldn’t waste your time trying to “melt
them on the block and roll them into water” as several books suggest.
It is far better, in my opinion, to get a kiln and use the
"charcoal-powder" method.

b) If you are having trouble getting the granules to stay, make sure
that your “flux-water-glue” solution adequately covered the areas
between those two spots. Otherwise, before cleaning up your piece, go
over it with a loop and check all the bond between the granules. It
may require several rounds of fusing to get them all to stay
put!..which isn’t uncommon for me to have to do.

c) As far as making the granules more spherical… well, to be
honest I’ve actually designed, but never built several different
machines for creating large amounts of round granules. Biggest
problem is space requirements coupled with financial limitations. If
you would like to get pre-made granules, call SPM. The make 3
different sizes of 22K granules, but they are expensive… of course
with the current cost of gold, it really isn’t that expensive anymore
as a percentage of the total. I don’t have their number in front of
me at the moment, but do a search through Orchid (I think someone has
listed it here before) or a search engine.

d) Ah, the eternal quest for a more “finished” appearing piece. I’m
not sure what style of granulation you do (18K or 22K). I have no
experience granulating on 22K so I have no idea how to fix it.
Otherwise, in 18K it is a matter of controlling the temperature of
the piece and the areas covered with flux. The hotter it gets, the
more likely more of the surface will flow and create irregularities.

Finally, as others have mentioned, don’t forget that you can’t
destroy your gold. No matter how melted and messed-up your pieces may
get while trying to learn, it is still gold and will always maintain
it’s value regardless of its form. If you have anyother questions,
feel free to send me an email.

Best of luck!
Sincerely,

Erich C. Shoemaker
Erich Christopher Designs, LLC
www.ErichCDesigns.com


#10

Jane Walker

Jane, thank you so much for Giovanni’s name - I wasn’t familiar with
his work and am now absolutely blown away by it. Makes me feel like
what I do is on the level of a kindergardner with play dough. Wow,
it is impressive on all levels and to think he is so young. Thanks. K


#11
I've been following this thread with interest and am surprised
that no-one has yet mentioned Giovanni Corvaja's work - he is an
absolute magician with granulation and I was lucky enough to do a
workshop with him in West Australia a couple of years ago. I know
he has done workshops in the US as well. Google and check out his
web page! 

Indeed an amazing craftsman. He spoke at one of the SNAG
conferences, and we then had the chance to examine a number of his
pieces up close. Interestingly, some of what he’s done, that at first
appears in a photo to be granulation, is not. He’s done quite a
number of pieces which employ a back plane of sheet metal, like with
granulation, but which he’s drilled with a pattern of holes. Into
each, he inserts a bundle of very fine wires (he’s kind of the king
of very thin wire…), which can be the same or varying different
metals, the exposed ends of which are balled up. Soldered very
delicately from the back, these little clumps then appear from the
front to be a bunch of granules like granulation. Think, if you will,
of a bunch of little trees. From above, the forest is a uniform
carpet of green leafy tree tops (mass of grains). At ground level,
it’s solid trunks (the bundles of wire inserted into the seperate
holes) with a decent amount of space in between them. It has much the
appeal visually of granulation, but with the added feature of
allowing multicolored/multimetal grains, as well as some other
textural possibilities depending on how much the wires extend forward
of the base sheet and how tightly they fill the surface, among other
things. From the front, these look very similar to a granulated
surface, but from the back, the actual structure is apparent.

cheers
Peter


#12

to Marlin,

Thank you for your recommendations. I have McCreight’s Complete
Metalsmith, and need to get Untracht’s books - the price of one is
the reason I don’t already have it. I I have saved your list and I
will look for the books. Codina’s book looks good too.

to Wayne Louis Werner,

Thank you for the ABE source, I will check it out! I am looking at
Revere’s class schedule and granulation is not on the latest
calendar, but I will keep checking. A cursory search gave me nothing
on Bakakis and Johns, but I have seen some beautiful work by others,
many on this list.

I see that Janet Alix has a shop in Mill Valley. Her work is
beautiful too.

Yes I’m in the bay area, and haven’t asked Ronda yet b/c I want to
make sure to do my best to respect her time. If she teaches a
granulation class at Revere, or even somewhere else close by, that
would be the best way to begin, IMO.

I am confident that some day I will produce one successful example
of granulation (my short term goal) and then go on to the next goal,
produce another one! And learning along the way.

I have been very successful with chain mail jewelry. At the
suggestion of another Orchid member, I have purchased Jean Stark’s
Classical Loop-in-Loop Chains and their Derivatives. So next I will
fuse fine silver instead of making chains with mostly open
(unsoldered, unfused) jump rings. That might help bridge my
education gap on the way to what I want.

I have an affinity for small, nitpicky repetitive multi-step projects
and a passion to create granulated things. And, I have a torch…


#13

Hi Connie,

I have been bitten by a granulation obsession bug. I have
successfully done a bit of it but then done more with less
success. 

Since you live so close to San Francisco, have you investigated the
classes offered by Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts located in San
Francisco? Ronda Coryell is on staff there and may be teaching a
granulation class sometime in future. Revere also has a masters
series and brings in guest instructors from around the country to
teach their particular specialty, among them- granulation. I wish I
lived closer to San Francisco so I could take more Revere Academy
classes. I was privileged to attend Revere Academy East at Wildacres
in western North Carolina this past fall in conjunction with Florida
Society of Goldsmiths (FSG)… What a treat to work with such a great
staff. Ronda taught two different classes in granulation. The work
the students produced in her class was incredible. There are probably
many granulation classes given at some of the Arts Centers or
sponsored by various metal arts societies in California. Check with
your local metal arts society to see what is being offered by that
organization. If you are not already a member of a local metals
organization it pays to join. These are people of like ilk and would
welcome someone interested in learning more. You might also try FSG
fsg4u.com to check out the schedule for upcoming events and maybe
there will be a granulation class that you can arrange to attend.
The FSG classes, however, are held on the east coast but definitely
worth the travel.

Beth Katz
http://www.myuniquesolutions.com


#14

to Jane Walker,

Thank you for the referral to Giovanni Corvaja’s site and work. For
some reason (probably through a Google search ) I have just been
looking at his site over the past few days. Very interesting bunch
of objects! His bio is interesting too! I guess obsession comes with
the territory.

He is pretty far away and his site shows no trips planned.

to Karen Christians,

Tell Ronda I said hello! I had a wonderful time at her house last
month! Tomorrow I will give it another try, with Argentium again. I
will follow the article by Nancy Howland in Art Jewelry Nov. '06. I
just don’t have a soldering pad like hers, I do have a charcoal
block but that may be too different, so I’ll try a gray soldering
pad that I have. I just don’t think it’s the exact same material.
Also I have different glue…

Karen, I agree with you that Ronda is very clear and understandable
and I want to take a class with her as soon as I can. Not only is
she easy to understand but her work showcases the techniques I would
like to master.

I hope some day to work in gold, and Ronda works in gold so I know
she would know something about making that transition. I am just in
Walnut Creek, about 20 minutes away from you!

I just checked the Revere site and calendar. It looks like a
granulation class is not on the immediate calendar. That’s OK
because it gives me time to allocate funds. I did read 3 class
descriptions of Granulation 1, 2, and 3! I’m there.

I told Ronda I hoped to take Stone-setting 1 there, that’s this
coming weekend, but my mom and my husband both have birthdays then.
I had also told her I would be in Tucson but that will not happen
either!

to Tammy Kirks,

Wow, how cool is that! Looking at your work, I remember seeing it on
a previous search. It’s unique and attractive! I think I should do
what others are saying and do the obvious, and use my local
resource, Revere Academy.

Penland sounds good and the input of two people, especially in
granulation which may be very sensitive to slight variations from
one studio to another, could be a real plus.

I also own Ronda’s first DVD and it is very informative.

Incidentally, I worked in the Phelan building, where the Revere
Academy is housed, until the year before Revere Academy started. I
worked on the 8th floor. The dentist I worked for is probably still
there. The dental lab, Hugo’s, is probably still there too.

Anyone else who has practical info on granulation, please don’t
hesitate to add to this thread.

I have on hand some 26 gauge fine silver, 24 gauge Argentium, and
wire in both FS and Arg. I have a charcoal block, Titebond hide glue
(and honey and spit!), a nice Meco Midget oxygen propane torch, and
a beehive a.k.a. trinket kiln.

I lack a set of sieves for sizing granules and I’m just using my eye
right now, and lack a full-size kiln.

I have Fridays and Mondays to work in the studio. I think I have
found a pretty reliable way to make lots of granules so I might just
spend some time making more granules tomorrow. And I have learned
that the granules need to match the backsheet in thickness.

Connie


#15

to Beth Katz,

Yes, I have pretty much decided to go to Revere and take a
granulation class with Ronda as soon as it’s offered. I am a member
of my local metals guild.

My news today: I finally did it! Here are posted pictures of what I
made today, not including a pair of earrings.

http://www.papayani-jewelry.com/granulation.html

to Erich Christopher,

Your designs are beautiful, breathtaking, finished and polished. I
love the idea of granulation with durability, and that’s what 18K
gold sounds like.

I am working with fine silver. I tried Argentium too. Today I worked
with fine silver after deciding to work with Argentium and changing
my mind.

Today I finally finished a successful firing. I did actually 4
successful firings, besides some samples. I feel so much more
confident now. Above I have posted a link to pictures of what I
completed today. I also made a pair of earrings, but I am wearing
them already and I forgot about them when I took the pictures!

Yes, I used a charcoal block today with little wells I drilled into
it and created a surprisingly large number of granules. For now, I
am satisfied with the same method you describe, with the little
wells indented into the block. I made a bunch of smaller (than the
indentations) granules the second time around, and just laid the
snippets outside the indents, b/c too-large indents inhibited the
full melting. They danced around a little bit but I didn’t lose or
fuse any.

Every firing, after doing a few samples, yielded a piece whose
granules were all fused very securely, yet with a minimal filet.

I am so happy. The big breakthrough for me was (drum roll…)
getting into a position so I could really get a good view of the
surface of the piece as I was firing. I could really see the exact
flash and was able to stop in time.

I had to stand up on a little 6-inch high footstool b/c my bench is
just high and the kiln surface is even higher. I am using a little
kiln to fire on, instead of a pad or block. I covered the back side
of each piece with ochre to prevent meltdown and it worked
perfectly.

You and others on this list are giving me confidence about working
with gold in the future. I am looking forward to that.

Connie


#16

Connie,

We should have the Summer/Fall schedule for Revere Academy set
sometime in February. My classes will be towards the end of the
semester - September or October. I have not offered the Granulation
2 class for a while due to the hight cost of gold. The Granulation 3
class combines Argentium and 22kt. I will also be lecturing at Rio
Grande Catalog-in-Motion February 8, 11:30-1pm. The free lecture
will be about Argentium: Granulation on Chasing & Repousse. I am aslo
giving a class theRe: Fusing, Fabrication & Granulation with
Argentium Sterling. February 10-11, 8:30-3:30pm.

Ronda Coryell
Studio Manager/Instructor
Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts


#17

Ronda,

I am glad to know you will be teaching granulation at Revere in the
fall. Hopefully it will be a good time for me. Yes I have noticed
gold is very high.

I was going to Tucson, then my boss the dentist arranged a trip to
Irvine for a c.e. seminar for the whole team. I agreed to cancel my
Tucson trip, but yesterday he canceled the seminar! So I’m once
again looking forward to Tucson and I plan to attend your Argentium
lecture.

Is there a way to reserve a spot? Do the lectures fill up fast?

I have to leave on Sunday night (unless something changes) so can’t
take the 2-day class.

Thanks very much for the info.

Sincerely,
Connie


#18

Don’t forget Rio carries Argentium granules. Some of the benefits of
our premade granules are:

Our granules are made from a higher purity Argentium than Argentium
wire. Those who make their own tend to use AS 930 wire. Our granules
are a mixture of AS 930 and 970. The silver content is on average
higher and less impurities. Making granules is very time consuming.
Making granules to specific sizes and consistent sphericity is
challenging. Our granules come in a variety of screened size ranges
which are carefully inspected for sphericity and foreign matter.

These can be found on page 35 of our findings catalog.

Sincerely,

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical Support
800-545-6566
505-839-3000 ex 13903
technicalsupport@tbg.riogrande.com


#19

Hi Ronda

Given your posting, I’m curious; who do you see as your audience for
these classes?

I have not offered the Granulation 2 class for a while due to the
hight cost of gold. 

What the price of gold has to do with your not offering this class
eludes me.

Personally I would be interested in granulation but not silver
granulation. I rarely do anything in silver. I earn my living making
jewelry and cutting stone and it’s all sold at retail. I can’t see
that anything done in silver as commercially viable unless one is
doing production work on a large scale. People who sell their silver
work retail, say at ‘art fairs’, are having and have had a very
difficult time making it. And I’m talking of “pre gold at $400”.

And Argentium: Granulation on Chasing & Repousse seems a less likely
proposition. Art for art’s sake excepted.

I know that 'Argentium is the new kid on the block, but… !

Of course if commercial viability is not part of the equation what
I’ve said is irrelevant.

KPK


#20
People who sell their silver work retail, say at 'art fairs', are
having and have had a very difficult time making it. And I'm
talking of "pre gold at $400". 

True, when gold was under $400 an ounce people could afford to buy
it, and silver was treated like a poor relation. Today, with gold
approaching the stratosphere, silver is commanding lots more respect
and much heftier prices.The chunk of the market that has been priced
out of gold will turn its attention to silver, which is still
affordable and has intrinsic value. I work mainly in silver and have
noticed an increased demand for silver jewelry since the price of
gold escalated.

Dee