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Jeweler's aid software


#1

All,

Right now, during the winter, it is too cold to do much, and I am
stuck anyway trying to afford either a rolling mill or a jewelers’
education.

Would it be worth it any of you, if I were to try to write a program
that could take as input the jpeg scan of the based of any gemstone,
and create from it a CNC machining pattern for a bezel mold?

Would anyone want to beta test it, let along buy it?

Please advise,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#2
Right now, during the winter, it is too cold to do much, and I am
stuck anyway trying to afford either a rolling mill or a jewelers'
education. 

Andrew, with your permission I will be very blunt.

It is only one man opinion, but you are going in the wrong
direction. I completely understand your predicament. I have started
even lower on proverbial totem pole where you are, and made the same
mistakes. Thankfully, there were people around to point it out to me,
so I am simply returning the favor.

Path to acquire competence, so man could support himself is an
arduous one and cannot be leapfrogged. No equipment can substitute
for skill. Formal jeweler’s education, in your circumstance, is a
waste of time. Concentrate on what can be made with what you have. A
lot of jewellery can be made with a hammer, and plumbers torch.
Forging is a great way to start and requires very limited resources.
Become a master in wielding a hammer. Develop designs which require
nothing else but forging and market them.

Allocate yourself reasonable time and do not expect quick results.
Put everything out of your mind and practice, practice, and practice.

I want to leave you with this thought. You should know firm like
Bulgari, one of the most prestigious and reputable firms in the
world. Well, it was started by one man, who wasn’t even a goldsmith.
He was a chaser. He had a small store, in the basement of which he
did crude castings in silver and chased them. He worked at night, and
was selling it during the day, and look at it now.

Nothing can stop you, if you want it bad enough. So concentrate on
one thing only and perfect your technique. The rest will fall into
it’s places.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#3
Would it be worth it any of you, if I were to try to write a
program that could take as input the jpeg scan of the based of any
gemstone, and create from it a CNC machining pattern for a bezel
mold? 

I do that quite a bit in ArtCAM, by scanning a pen line drawn around
a stone, or simply measuring the stone and drawing the result. It
may help jewelers who don’t have access to a CAD/CAM system, but in
that case it might be more cost effective to fabricate the bezel in
metal, or even wax.


#4

Leonid,

It hurts a lot for me to admit it, but I know you’re right.

These last few weeks have been hard. I’ve felt blocked ever since I
started reading the books which all of the wonderful people on
Ganoksin, including yourself.

Many of the other jewelers on this group consider the rolling mill to
be so essential that thier comments regarding working stock without
one to be so discouraging that I was ready to give up.

Are you wanting me to design jewelry that considers forge marks to be
pretty? Or are you wanting me to just practice manual technique with
the hammer and file and polisher and make the silver look like the
hammer never touched it?

I can do the latter. My wife noticed me losing my confidence over the
last few weeks and told me about the same as you today just get off
my butt and do something.

If I knew how to pull it off, I could even try the former, but can I
really make people believe that forge marks are really a sign of
charm rather than incompetence?

Heck, I made my first earrings using a ball-peen hammer, a butane
pocket torch, and various grades of sandpaper, out of pieces of
sawed-off file silver ingot and fine silver sire.

Go ahead, look at them on Facebook, and laugh at me. Sneer at me.
Please just tell me just how awful they are. They were my first, and
so far, only attempt. But I did it once, and I can do it again.

Andrew Jonathan Fine


#5
Concentrate on what can be made with what you have 

Absolutely! As I recall, Andrew feels he can’t progress til he gets
a rolling mill because of the cost of mailing materials. Even if he
gets a cheap one, what are they $300? That’s a lot of shipments.
Penny wise pound foolish if I may say. So while he is stalled waiting
to buy the mill he could be obtaining materials and moving forward.

Honestly, at his stage I don’t see a mill as particularly
beneficial. So what, you learn to mill. Milling is not making. Making
is making. I bought my first mill after 35 years last June and I
haven’t even opened the case yet, I still managed to make some stuff.

I could be wrong but I seem to remember you’re sitting on some bulk
of silver. Turn it into cash and buy some milled stock suitable for
the projects you have in mind. You’ll loose money? Its sitting there
doing nothing, how is that gaining you anything? take your
$1000(arbitrary number) worth of material, scrap it for I dunno,
$800? Buy some stock that you can make into stuff and maybe sell it
for $1500, $2000? Sounds like a winning plan to me. Even if you never
sell it you will have actually made some pieces and hopefully taught
yourself something.

Oh, and don’t make outrageous stuff. Outrageous doesn’t sell easily.
Make clean well done relatively simple items at an attractive price
point that you can convert back to cash that you can plow right back
into making more and better jewelery. Get the mill when you can’t do
without it. But there’re probably dozens of tools and equipment that
you WILL need beforehand. Got a decent torch? Mandrels? Nobody ever
has enough pliers.

This kinda goes along with the tool junkie thread. Leonid’s comment,
“No equipment can substitute for skill” applies to both. Its the
HANDS, not the tools. Tools are dumb, lifeless lumps of steel. Until
they are in skilled hands.

Sorry to have shot off like that.


#6

Andrew,

There is real truth in Loenid’s advice. He has put in many years of
time behind the bench honing his skills, and has hand fabricated fine
jewelry in the workshop of Tiffany’s in N.Y. If you have seen what
this man can do with a saw, it’s incredible. Lots of practice!

I met a man once in Maui who made his living traveling the world
cutting coins with a jeweler’s saw. He had only a clamp-on bench pin,
a small sawframe, a bag of assorted international coins, a small
hand-cranked drill, drill bits, and lots of sawblades. He cut out the
emblems, logos, or unique animals on a coin, leaving the edge of the
coin intact, and sold his cut out coins as pendants. He didn’t even
use files, his cutting was so precise.

I saw a street artist in Sweden who did very well selling jewelry
made with just plier bent horse-shoe nails!

A lot can be done with limited tools and materials, one just has to
be creative and experiment. I very much like Leonid’s advice to
practice with the hammer. Michael Good, as an example, creates
astoundingly complex forms with just a couple of hammers and stakes,
and again, lots and lots of practice and experimentation.

The Orchid community is always here to help you in your quest for
technical or advice.

Jay Whaley


#7
Are you wanting me to design jewelry that considers forge marks to
be pretty? Or are you wanting me to just practice manual technique
with the hammer and file and polisher and make the silver look like
the hammer never touched it? 

Techniques are important, they are very important. But everything
starts with idea, design if you will. You must have something in your
head that you want to see in metal. Get into practice sketching every
day for at least an hour. It will help to develop appreciation for
the form, and then simply make it happen in metal. The way you see
it. Polished or with marks it is up to you.

You will quickly notice how technique will become a second nature
without even trying. Use hammer and files to bring form to life.
Think form and technique will follow. These are the first steps.
Pretty quickly you would like more than one form, so it will be time
for soldering to join forms together.

Since you now invested a lot of time in creating your forms, you
will be extra careful and reread several times pertinent pages from
books that you have, and so on. That is how it happens. Nobody can
lean in vacuum. It starts because you want to make something and take
necessary steps to see your idea comes to life.

When you complete your first few projects, you would know what must
be done better and remedy whatever it may be. That is all. It is an
organic process. One must learn how to crawl, before one can walk,
and walk before one can run.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#8

Hi Andrew,

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
make anything.

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
all.

Regards,
Brian.


#9
Sneer at me. Please just tell me just how awful they are. They were
my first, 

That’s a perfectly fine job, Andrew. Now do it again…


#10

Andrew, I’m not going to sneer or laugh at your first attempt.
They’re not bad and I’ve seen a lot worse. But, if all you’ve made is
one pair of earrings then you’re not going to improve your technique.
I agree that some books tell you you must have a rolling mill, and a
bench shear and a tree trunk and buffer/grinder and vacuum system and
flexshaft and all these other wonderful, high priced, cool but
totally unnecessary until you’re ready tools.

And then there’s these wonderful people on Orchid who have told you
over and over and over that you don’t need any of that. You don’t
need a crucible to make an ingot, or Delft clay, just a plain
charcoal block. You don’t need a rolling mill to make sheet, just a
hammer and a lot of patience. You don’t need a flex shaft or buffer,
just files, sandpaper and patience, patience, patience. If you don’t
have sheet, use wire. If you can’t afford silver, use copper.
Personally, I want a Swanstrom disc cutter and Knew Concept saw. Can
I afford them, no. So I’ll stick with my current (read cheap)
Jewelers saw and cut my circles by hand.

Have you tried making a small sheet of metal for yourself or seen
what you could find locally by way of copper sheet, pipe or tubing?
Practice on that. It’s a lot cheaper than silver and many people like
copper jewelry. Practice sawing, make some circles, punch them,
texture them, polish them, antique them, link them and make a pretty
dangle.

Like you, I am disabled. I find it difficult sometimes to just get
out of bed and go into the studio. I haven’t even been in it for a
couple of months now. Unlike you I don’t have someone living with me
to give me a kick in the pants to just go in there and PLAY!!!
That’s how we learn. My playing around with the techniques we’ve read
about and making mistakes. Asking the nice people here what we did
wrong, and going back to try again.

I hate sawing because I’m not good at it. I’m not good at it because
I don’t practice it. I don’t practice it because I think I need a
Knew Concept saw. Do I need one? No, because for centuries the best
jewelers didn’t have it and look what they did. Do I want one? Heck
yes, but I can’t afford it so… vicious, vicious circle that doesn’t
do anyone any good, especially me.

So, thanks for the kick in the pants. I’m going into the studio now
to just saw out some copper circles and practice, practice, practice.
Maybe I’ll stamp them, or texture them, punch them into rounds and
make a bead or patina them. The results won’t be art, but they may be
good enough that someone will buy them, or they’ll get put into the
scrap pile, or saved for a future project. It doesn’t matter because
in the end, I will have refined my technique by just that much.

I’ll let you know if I ever get to like sawing. :slight_smile:

Michele


#11

Andrew,

Many of us started with very little equipment - you DO NOT NEED a
rolling mill. A flat hammer face will flatten out things quite well
and, the ethnic look is very attractive. May I suggest that you go
to the scrap yard and beg some copper sheet - great for practicing.
Plan to make some pieces that use copper and silver. It’ll "stretch"
your silver stock and I have been pleasantly surprised to find a
genuine market for mixed metals! I have a mill, and did not get it
until I’d been in business for several years. I still buy sheet stock

  • it’s just a better use of my time to let someone else struggle with
    flattening an ingot. The mill is now most useful to texture pieces
    and to thin wire and stock sheet.

Just do it. Keep us informed and don’t ignore using other metals
when creating your work.

Judy in Kansas, who is bringing her daughter to Tucson and sharing
the excitement. Wonder what we’ll find that’s new this year???


#12

Judy,

Plan to make some pieces that use copper and silver. It'll
"stretch" your silver stock and I have been pleasantly surprised to
find a genuine market for mixed metals! 

Damn good idea. It would certainly make the silver more affordable.
Sort of like making a roast: the copper is the meat, but the silver
is like the carrots and onions.

Andrew Jonathan Fine


#13

Just curious what this means

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 

is aluminum not to be worn or is there a reason why it can’t be
sold? Or was this referring to just the wire?


#14

Hi Rebecca,

is aluminum not to be worn or is there a reason why it can't be
sold? Or was this referring to just the wire? 

No, there’s nothing wrong with aluminum as a metal, or for jewelry.
It’s mostly that most customers won’t pay enough for it to make it
worth the hassle. (You have to watch out for aluminum filings the
same way you do for lead: they react badly with silver when heated.
This means you have to be very, very fussy about cleaning when
filing it.)

The suggestion to use aluminum was mostly because soft aluminum
forges beautifully, with very little effort. Which makes it a good
material to practice forging on. Since there’s (probably) no point in
fussing with it to get it to a saleable stage, it frees you from
worrying about the function of this interesting little squiggle
you’re making. It also frees you from worrying about the cleanup
work, and lets you focus on what the metal’s doing as you pound on
it.

Regards,
Brian.