There’s already been some excellent advice in this thread. Hopefully
this will be more than just a “what they said”…
Leonid and Neil and the rest were dead on the money with their
advice: Make what you can with what you have, but above all, make
something. If you keep waiting for the “right” tools, you’ll never
I’ve never been in your shoes, but I have had my own issues with
depression over the years.
It always seems like an earth-shattering effort to get started, but
once I’m moving, it always feels better to make something. Anything.
Creativity has both inertia and momentum. Once you’re moving, it’ll
be easier to keep moving. So make something simple out of wire. Play.
Then expand it to something you haven’t ever done. I’d suggest laying
in some thick aluminum wire (like 4 gage), and play around with
forging on it. It’s aluminum, so you can’t sell it. Which frees you
to see what you can make it do without worrying about “what is it?”
(thick aluminum wire can be had (cheap) from art-supply stores.
Ceramic sculpture types use it for armatures.) You can also find it
in scrap yards, if you’re willing to go do some scrounging.
Once you have some interesting shapes, then you can bring those
forms and techniques back to real metals.
If you have the Penland book, John Cogswell did a really interesting
chapter on wire forging in there.
You can do some amazing stuff with a couple of cheap hammers and a
hunk of railroad track.
I started in my parent’s basement with a vise, a bench pin, and a
hardware store blowtorch.
The first rule of art is simple: whatever you do, make it look like
you meant it.
So if you’ve got hammer marks on your piece, make them regular, even
and deliberate. Own those marks, and make them say what you want
them to say.
They’re only a sign of incompetence if you let them sing their own
tune. Make them sing yours, and they’re a sign of mastery. (Nobody
ever said all jewelry had to be a perfectly flat mirror polished
surface. Make the marks you can’t avoid work for you.)
Take a look at your hammers. Make sure the faces are clean. (no
dents, scratches or nicks) Every mark on that hammer is going to
print itself onto your piece, every time you hit it. So if you don’t
want to polish the mark out of your piece thousands of times, polish
it out of the hammer once. Same for the anvil.
You also want to radius the edges a bit. That way if you hit
slightly cock-eyed, you don’t dig a crescent into it.
The most useful basic forging hammer I have is a little “engineer’s
hammer” I picked up at a flea market for $5. It’s just a medium
sized (for a jeweler) crosspeen hammer. The head’s about 3 inches
long, and it weighs maybe a pound. Probably less. I took it home,
polished the faces with sandpaper, and I’ve been using it for years.
The biggest thing to do to it is put a radius across the front face.
Probably a 10" radius across the face, with a much steeper radius
around the edge. (Keep in mind that I didn’t measure that radius. It
was just “some” followed by “more” around the edges.) Then radius the
crosspeen end, so that the crosspeen is very slightly convexly
curved, with the curve getting steeper at the ends. That way if you
hit at an angle, the corners of the peen don’t dig in and leave a
crater. It still will if you come in really off-angle, but at least
it buys you some leeway.
The biggest thing to remember is that while you may not have gotten
the answer you wanted with all this, everybody who responded is
trying to help. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t have said anything at