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Jewelry and Industrial Processes class

I’ve applied for a $1,350 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to take a workshop on jewelry and industrial processes. This is becoming a big topic for me as a writer, although I wonder if it is somewhat controversial (if not misunderstood.) This class, taught by Don Friedlich, may not quite have enough students, tho, to make it a go. So I’ve offered to help spread the word.

Don’s Designing in Multiples Workshop takes place October 7 - 8, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Maryville University, St. Louis, MO. The cost is $400. See more at

The reason I’m interested is because I’ve been studying industrial manufacturing processes at a local community college. I feel it could be a way for me to produce cheaper pieces faster, in addition to my artistic pieces, This would allow me to offer customers options and save some wear and tear on my hands. In Don’s workshop, we are to spend some time making prototypes out of cardboard. Then he will lecture on industrial processes and help us to make creative use of these concepts – such as casting, laser and water jet cutting, commercial photo etching, etc…

Don is internationally known. To see his work go to

Hi Me1,
Ted here in the UK.
for what its worth, the industrialisation of jewellery manufacture took place here in the midlands in Birmingham around the 1870’s to 80’s, and a similar development in Germany about that time, then copied in the USA later that century. The hay day was up to thev 1st ww1.
So if as you say you want to produce cheaper and faster products going to this course by Don is not the way to go.
If you look at what he has done, his work is primarily with glass, and that required the cooperation of the large industrial glass companies like Corning, who for publicity provided
him with access to their glass workshops and development laboratories. Producing one offs for museums does not put bread on the table for ordinary workers like us.
So if you as you say want to spare the wear and tear on you hands, you really need to visit to see how it was and still is done.

  1. the Birmingham jewelley quarter museum to see how our Victorian companies invested in the machinery to mechanise the metal working of jewellery, and,
  2. the similar one in Berlin,
  3. my workshops here in Dorset where ive replicated just what you will see in our UK jewellery quarter.
    Then work out how your going to get together the equipment,
    machinery and associated tooling thats been around now for over 100 yrs to speed up your making process.
    These factories made items by the dozens to sell wholesale throughout the UK and the rest of what was then our empire.
    a good business model. A better one is to sell retail, then you make the profit on all the operations, designing making and marketing.
    Many of these factories employed lots people but the principle just works as well with one pair of hands.
    hope this helps

Ted: I see Don’s class a little differently. A different model for an individual jeweler working solo. Say, I electro etch a design on a strip of sterling silver and form it into a cuff. The whole thing takes me four hours, and creates some waste chemicals I will need to dispose of eventually. Instead, I can “outsource” a portion of that task to an etching service, which can do a dozen at a time more efficiently than I can. When I get the etched metal back, I then cut and form them into cuffs, because I’d rather not job this part out. While they do the work that I don’t want to do, I can create new design concepts or one offs.

Recently, I carved some pieces of sterling silver into fern leaves, and had them molded by another jeweler. She then cast as many leaves as I wanted. She’s happy to get the work and I’m happy not to have to invest $5,000 in casting equipment.

This concept of using other companies is probably so simple, jewelers do it all the time. My problem is that I don’t know all of the technologies that are available today and want to learn more about what I can do with them creatively and financially. Hence my pursuit of more learning.

Hi Betsy,
Hmmmm, 4 hours? to make the cuff?
Im interested in what do you do in the 4 hours?
apart from application of the resist and the etch time ? Can you spec

  1. the silver dimensions?
    length, width and thickness?
  2. The etching time?
    3.what other forming apart from bending into the “C” shape of the cuff?
    for example rolling of the edges or doming or concaving? for a 3 dimensional shape.
    As you may have seen recently, the titanium braclet I pictured in reply to the Spanish smith, ,
    3 off, 1/8in dia titanium wires some 14 in long
    twisted tight using the slowest speed in my lathe. . To make 2 bracelets.
    Forged into a “D” section. cut to length, forged again to taper the “D” section to a 3/16th in tapered round each end…
    then set upright in a ali foil cup to contain the argon whilst melting the ends together to form a 1/4in dia ball with a tig torch.
    Polishing next, and finally bending around a steel mandrel held in my 3rd hand , my 5in jaws smiths leg vice bolted to my main bench, to the “C” cuff shape.
    Max time from start to finish 45 mins for the 2.
    Main tooling, the universal fly press 8 ton rating and 1/2 round die to forge the round twist to the “D” section and another pair of 1/2round dies to remake the “D” ends into rounds.
    Certainly the Victorians would not have etched any design, too wasteful of metal, they and I would have comissioned a cuff bracelet press tool like I used when I restored all the machinery in the Birmingham jewellery quarter museum. This was the raised words Mizpah in a raised border. Given by young Jewish soldiers to their loved ones before they left for the front line in Flanders. this was a single part drop stamping die cut in the negative, with a positive made from hot brass when the die was set up in the drop stamp. Stamping time 100 an hour. Cutting to shape the 100 in 30 mins.
    that was my time to make them for the museum with their tooling. Originals in sterling, my samples in bronze. sheet 3/32 nd in thick. .
    i still have a few samples of that work here.
    hope you have a moment to look at this
    More on stamping small leaf shapes another time.
    If you know how?, I dont! if you type in my name all my posts can be read, amongst which earlier this year were some pictures for Janet Berg in Jerusalem of my portable drop stamp. to give you some idea what it looks like .
    an amazing universal tool that was developed for factory use in Birmingham in the 1850’s.


Hi Betsy, I have a background in production. The factory that I worked at produced the “Erte’ Art to Wear” project for Circle Fine Art. I was involved in the model making and engineering for fairly complicated multiple component pieces for limited edition production. This included many pieces made using Sterling and 14KY gold, many incorporating ultrasonically cut “cameo” pieces and many of the pieces used specially cut stones from Idar Oberstien, Germany. The images approved by Erte’ were in editions of 1,000
with various “States” of usually 250 pieces of one stone -say black onyx followed by 250 with Lapis etc. I was technical plant manager when the factory was purchased by Johnson Matthey during their ill fated venture into jewelry manufacturing. We had 22,000 sq.ft. and right at 100 employees. They bought the factory based on our technology and they were very impressed by the Erte’ project.

I’ve done some production consulting and I would be glad to give you some guidance if you’re interested. I’m not sure if this is okay on this site, but I guess they can delete it if not so here’s my email:

WOW, what a resume’ you gotta be proud of it!

Gerry! from my Toronto IPhone @ EDT

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Thank you Gerry! That means a lot coming from you.

Hi Betsy, I wondered if you read my reply? Because theres a much simpler and more saleable! way of decorating your strip of silver, without going industrial like i have.
And much quicker than etching.
If you can respond with answers to my queries,
happy to help.

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