Speaking as a life-long student- I never had the luxury of access to
workshops and teachers, so when I began making jewelry more than 50
years ago I just did whatever I had to do. I was a college student,
had little spare time, and very limited resources. I learned about
working with sterling and gold, made or bought the tools I needed,
obtained the raw materials, and learned how to use a jeweler’s saw,
various gravers, files, ring mandrels, etc. as I went along. I made
bezel settings, soldered components together, made prong settings,
made tube settings, set various cabochons and faceted stones, used
setting burs, made bead settings for melee stones, made chains,
learned how to dome and pierce sheet materials, etc. When I needed a
technique, I practiced it until I got it to work. No one told me what
to do, or showed me how to do any of this; I just did it. I am still
learning amazing things from the incredible forum here at ganoksin.
The first torch I had was just a chemist’s blowpipe and an alcohol
lamp. Later I used an alcohol blowtorch, then a propane/air torch
from Sears, now mostly an oxy-propane Little Torch. I learned about
fluxes and how to use various solders. I briefly explored making wax
models (but still don’t do any casting).
My specific projects have always been to make a suitable setting for
a particular stone I wanted to use from the stash I built up from my
lapidary efforts. (Some people are more inclined to make a metal
project, then use a stone to “fill a hole” as an accent.) For a next
step, you might just think about what you want to do. You can learn
a lot about techniques from a good book, maybe even get some
inspiration. Then practice, practice, practice. You will know when
you have succeeded. Then choose another thing to try, and do that.
You just don’t have to wait for someone to tell you what to do. If
you always try something you haven’t done before and do it, you will
learn something and you will add it to your tool kit.