I understand there are no hard and fast rules for what order a piece
is made. However, are there some guidelines of advice when beginning
as to what should or should not be done before another process?
Example, do you etch always before you form? Do you rivet a piece to
a cuff before you form? How do you rivet a ring when it has been
I understand there are no hard and fast rules for what order a
piece is made. However, are there some guidelines of advice when
beginning as to what should or should not be done before another
The only rule about arranging work flow is that nothing that was
done before should interfere with what has to be done at present.
While sounds simple, it is the thorniest issue is goldsmithing.
My DVD series is based on demonstration of integrating techniques
with appropriate workflow.
With sufficient experience, correct workflow is determined by
thinking through sequence of fabrication. But even the most
experienced goldsmith, from time to time, resort to making a maquette
prior to fabrication.
I always etch when a piece is formed and finished with either
scotch-brite (for satin finishes) or tripoli (for polished finishes),
and there are no stones set yet. In other words, I etch when I am
ready to set stones, no earlier. This is of course the usual, I have
made exceptions. As well, I don't use photo-etching, just resist and
a scribe for the designs.
I would recommend getting yourself some quality reading material,
such as TIm McCreight's "Complete Metalsmith." Many of the questions
you have been asking could be answered by reading that book alone.
I am far from competent as a bench jeweler, but it seems to me that
the key here is "plan your work and work your plan." If you have a
clear idea of what you want to do, they you can run through some
scenarios until you get an order that seems to work best. For
example, it would seem to me that if you are going to form and etch,
that in most cases you will have to form first and then etch, else
you'll be banging on your etching and possibly ruining it. If you
don't have to hit the etching in forming, it might be best to etch
first, while the metal is flat and easy to submerge. I think you
could come up with similar reasoning for your other examples.
The problem for me as a beginner craftsman is often that I am not
sure what tricks there are to work around problems. For example, how
close to one joint can I solder another. But these kinds of
questions just mean I need a mentor on call for specific questions as
they come up. Aside from simple principles you already know like
finish your work and then polish, I don't think there are many
infallible general rules.
When I have a choice, I do the hardest part first. That way, if I
mess up and ruin the piece, I have the minimum possible already sunk