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Jewelry making education, books to read


I definitely want (need) hard soldering in my skill set soon, i’m
interested in sterling and argentium silver (not so much gold, not at
all diamonds and such) (maybe we can have a thread on esthetics- the
"Paloma Picasso Hot Ice Collection": “If he wants to heat up the
relationship, tell him to put some Ice in it!” was a headline in a
full-page ad in ArtForum back in the day…)

I can’t afford more schoolin’ (plenty of oustanding student loans
already), so i’m going to the Orchid Institute (you folks). I hearby
grant you all tenure say anything you want without fear i have very
thick skin.

I have read all the books (on jewelry making i mean) at the
bookstore and the local college library (so not just the new Penland
School book, but the old black and white one, too). I remember back
then there was a huge expensive book by Oppi Tract was the bible,
seems to still be in print and still be expensive, i’ll find it in a
library on my travels one day. Are there any books you recommend i
may have missed (doesn’t have to be about ‘jewelry’ specifically)?

I can throw out a few myself (all were on my freshman reading list
at architecture school):

first, and i recommend it to ANYONE working with their hands, even
my housepainting peers: The Nature and Art of Workmanship, by David
Pye. I see it as a ‘digital reprint’ on amazon. It’s a short book,
you don’t need to buy it, but you want to read it, trust me on this

On Growth and Form, by D’Arcy Thompson. About a century old, i found
readable copy online. If ‘nature’ is an influence on your work,
check it out.

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, by Robert Venturi
('66). Before ‘postmodernism’ became merely a cliche’d style for
shopping malls. Quite applicable to all arts i think (unless your
work looks anything like the PalomaPicassoHotIceCollection). it’s
still in print as a cheap paperback.

And my Lab-metal should arrive today- basically metallic Bondo, a
bit like Precious Metal Clay, but without the Precious or heat. i’ve
found no refences to it’s use in jewelry - but i’ve found no
references to using skunk kneecaps either


Do you have a torch cause hard soldering is like soft soldering on
steroids. Just get things a little hotter. You can do silver and
bigger items with an acetylene torch (no oxy)


If you happen to be anywhere near the Upstate of South Carolina, I
invite you to come over and we can do a quick class in hard



Hi Jim,

I’m not very far ahead of you, so maybe my experience will be of
some help.

If you want to do more reading, Interlibrary loan is your friend.
Just find the books you want through on line reviews and page
previews at Amazon and order them on Interlibrary loan.

You will also find a lot of instructional videos on Youtube, just
search a while. I also find that the newer jewelry books often have
step by step photos of simple projects, which makes things pretty
easy. For myself, I tend to read too much and do too little skill
acquisition. A few tools — a propane torch or a butane mintorch
will work for starting soldering — will allow you to start work on
basic skills like filing, sawing and hammering and you can expand
your inventory as money and skill acquisition dictate. You can start
your work in copper or brass or whatever you can afford if silver is
too pricey. Beth Katz at Unique Solutions is now selling a paste
solder for copper that matches in tone and I’m sure others have it,

If your metal clay is anything like PMC, what info you can’t find
through Youtube and Interlibrary loan should be available at the used
book store or on Amazon pretty cheap. One or two books should get you
the idea. I haven’t done any PMC, but it does not look like rocket
science to me.

Best of luck!


Tim Mcright(sp) is on you tube for some good basic vids and he has a
famous book called The Complete Metalsmith. Get that for technical
info and watch some videos. Soldering is not that hard. Good seams,
plenty of solder and don’t overheat and melt your piece. You will do
that a few times but try not to after that. Make some crappy ones
first, fast and sloppy. Big things use a big brushier flame to heat
larger areas, and small things use a tighter flame but not oxidizing
(look that up). Oh yeah, good flux. and good luck. If you bring
really good coffee I’ll show you. Middle of Wisconsin, think
about it