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Looking cool

This is really a post about demonstrating for the pubic. I have an
in-house event coming up that usually involves some kind of

Been doing this event for more than 25 years.

When potters demonstrate for the public they usually work at the
wheel. It is fun to watch and the potter can look cool showing off
their skill.

Likewise, blacksmiths can bang away at the anvil. Progress is made
and the audience can watch for a while. Painters can paint. It is
interesting to watch and if you are good a painter can give some
interesting banter while they work.

I am afraid that as a jeweler I have a disadvantage that the cool
stuff happens on such a small scale that it is difficult to watch. In
the past I have demonstrated a number of techniques from lost wax
casting to mokume.

The interesting parts are usually over pretty quickly, or they are
hard for a group to see what is happening.

So I am looking to do better with this. What kinds of jewelry
demonstrations present well to the public? Is it worth investing in
some kid of video bench camera to make the demonstrations more
accessible? Please share your experience.

Stephen Walker

Hello Steven,

Torch firing enamel is a definate crowd pleaser. Seeing the powdered
glass melt and handling it when cool makes eyes go wide. Doming the
base metal with a dapping block before enameling is a great
addition. All this happens rather quickly and has always been an
interesting thing to watch for the crowd. The whole process is very
interesting and is a no brainer for the person demonstrating. You
could leave a tab on the dome and bend for the finding before torch
firing…texturing the metal before enameling is interesting
also…the world is your oyster. good luck!

Chris H.

For new students - or observers that are not familiar with metal
working techniques I will often demonstrate the following - which
are not at all necessarily techniques I would use in my own work.

Reasoning: Large scale enough to be seen; no need for torches or
acids (Unless you choose to take the techniques to a further level
that require annealing)

I have seen the wonder, and amazement in student’s eyes when I twist
wire - one end in a vise, the other in either the chuck of a good
old fashioned hand drill or a rechargeable battery operated drill.
(you can also show a reverse twist)

Twisting square wire

Twisting two or three strands of round wire, different metals
(copper and silver or copper silver and brass) then take this twisted
wire and pull it through a draw plate to create a “barber pole

OR take the multi strand round wire, tightly twisted and planish it
flat or run it through a rolling mill

Forging : start with round wire, forge a taper transforming the
round wire into square wire, then planish round. IF you are able to
anneal and pickle, then spiral the taper

Showing on fold formed metal how forging either the folded edge or
the open edge will arc or make the metal curve and elongate. Then
partially open the fold.

Creating a variety of leaf shapes with fold forming - I will have
the blanks pre cut Then partially open the fold. and texturing with a
delicate cross peen hammer, permitting the sheet metal of leaf to
arc and undulate resembling the gestural character of a leaf in

At the MJSA show the benchwork demonstrations always have a closeup
video feed showing on a large monitor. Works pretty well, once you
get the hang of keeping the work within frame.

Elliot Nesterman

Hello Stephen,

I have demoed fusing. The fire inspector was OK with my using a
small butanetorch, aka creme brule torch. Not much ‘firepower’, but
sufficient for fusing links for a chain. Patina application is also
interesting. Smelly too - lol.

What a good topic. I am watching for other ideas. Judy in Kansas,
where tomatoes are producing & I am running the dehydrator non-

You could always play the bag pipes.

Stephen- When Tim and I did a demo on ajouring at last years’s MJSA
conference here in Portland they set up a camera and screen for all
the folks to see. It worked beautifully. Check with Peggy Jo Donahue
of MJSA to find out what kind and who supplied it.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry

Jo Haemer

Hi Stephen,

If you’ve got the vents for it, I’ve been known to do cuttlefish
casting for demo-days. Get some fiber soldering boards, and cut them
in half to use as the backside of the mold. Saves fussing with the
other side, and gives you twice as many squidbits ™. Works OK
with a torch, but really well with an electro-melt. Just dump a
bunch of bronze in there and pour as needed.

Big, flashy, and fast. (smelly too, but you can’t have everything.)
If you’ve got someone really interested, let them carve their own
design into a bone.

What about pouring some generic plaster molds? Not those fancy
carved things of yours, but just some basic ones? Or Tufa? The
antique casting techniques play into your historical interests,
which means you’ll give a better talk about it, since you know the
background. That’s my first thought.

Linda’s idea about fold forming is good too: big, flashy, easy,
fast. Most ‘normal’ people are stunned by moving metal at all,
nevermind how far you can push it with foldforming. Let them make
their own leaves. Get a Whitney punch, blow a hole in the end of it,
and string it on a thong as a quickie pendant. It’ll be great PR.

If you’re feeling generous and adventurous, get some 6-8Ga
half-round sterling wire, and show people how to make basic band
rings. I’ve been known to have them deliberately melt the scrap into
a ball, and then solder that on top of the joint as ‘decoration’.
(also hides the joint, which may appear… suboptimal, in a ring
made by someone with 30 minutes experience.)

Whatever you do, don’t be under the mistaken impression that what
you’re doing for the crowd should have any relation to what you do
for real every day. It won’t.

Go for big, flashy, easy to see things that result in little objects
they can take away with them.

Hydraulic pressed stuff is also big for this sort of thing: quick,
easy, and you can let them pump the jack, so they feel like they
"made" it.


Hi, I usually use chainmaille or norse wire weaving.

I demonstrated piercing, on a bench pin and light attached to my
showcase. Of course the customers could not really see what was
happening, just my saw movement and body position and magnified
eyewear, but I took small visual aids to hand to them for their
closer examination. A piece of 2/0 sawblade. A partially pierced
piece. A finished piece. Mostly I got comments of their own
perception of their inability to be that “patient”. I replied that I
enjoy it! I think it made an impression about how exacting our work
can be. I then pointed out to them how economically priced my cast
copies of the pierced work were for them to purchase. Since most
folks do not know how our processes work, this can be quite

M’lou Brubaker
Minnesota, USA’louBrubaker/