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Passing on techniques


Recently the subject of art nouveau design has been raised,which as
it is a subject close to my heart, it’s started me writing! I have
collected a lot of books on the subject, full of beautiful images,
but I always find myself frustrated by the dearth of technical
available. I hate the idea of not being
passed on. Styles come and go, but if the techniques are documented
and passed on they can be used in different ways in the future. Art
nouveau had a huge influence for about 20 years, but was such a
strong style that there was a back lash against the whip lash , and
it went completely out of vogue until about the 1970’s. I assume that
some of the techniques used to achieve many of the distinctive
characteristics of the style have been lost(well, they have to me
anyway- a self-taught jeweller in australia) Usually very little is
actually written about technique, because renaissance, victorian ,art
nouveau jewellers presumably relied on the more oral tradition of
apprenticing. Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing for jewellery if
these techniques were documented. When you know how to do something
it very often seems easy. Usually I can achieve a technique by trial
and error(which sometimes results in new discovery,but is largely
wasteful of time) , or at least something approximating it, and i
very often don’t want to use the traditional way of doing things(id
rather my gas torch than bellows and a hearth), but at least it is a
starting point. I know many well respected books give overviews of
techniques(pope untracht’s being a prime example), and sometimes
specific instructions, but a dream book for me would begin with a
big chapter on what is known of the techniques that the egyptians(and
etruscans, and celts etc)used, and went through to the victorians,
and 20th century jewellers in different cultures(indian, indonesian
etc). I think jewellers tend to be independent thinkers, with active
imaginations, and so techniques can be modified to suit the times and
conditions, but some ways of working metal that are now lost were
developed over generations. Styles change, but it’s tragic to see
good ways of doing things lost. Anyway, if anyone writes a book like
this, put me down for a copy. Otherwise, maybe we could use this as a
forum to pool thanks for your time, victoria buckley

Victoria Buckley Jewellery
The Strand Arcade
Sydney Australia


I completely agree. One of my favorite books as a jewelry student
was about the traditional metalworking techniques of Native
Americans. Although I do not care for Native American/Southwestern
style jewelry, I loved it because as a student I did not have much of
my own equipment yet. The techniques it showed were low - tech and
simple to understand and I learned much from it. It is the same
reason I love Tim McCreight’s book, too. He often gives a few
alternative, lower tech ways of doing the same thing. For example
from his casting book: to cast a lost wax flask he gives
instructions on how to do it with a vacuum assist, gravity (swinging
the flask in an arc), or steam pressure.



Hi Victoria, I can think of one book that is in the direction you
describe: Jewelry Making and Design by Augustus F. Rose and Antonio
Cirino. ISBN 0-486-21750-7. The copy I have is copyright 1967, but
indicates it was originally published 1949 by another publisher. It
seems to me that a lot of the content is closer to the first quarter
of the century. I have seen this book available from booksellers in
the recent past, so I believe it is still available.

When I first got the book years ago (new for $3.50!), I didn’t
really like it because the techniques and tools seemed so archaic.
Where’s the flex-shaft?!? After developing a greater appreciation of
the craft, I’ve come to discover many of the techniques used today
are basically the same, but possibly with better tools. Granted it
doesn’t go as far back as Egyptians and Etruscans, but the
fundamental concepts are certainly consistent.

This book is also a good design reference, especially for beginners
trying to convert visual stimulus into jewelry design. Really good
examples about how to develop designs derived from nature, and the
fundamentals of rendering in pencil and brush. This part of the book,
which is substantial, is relatively timeless. Lots of examples in
both the Nouveau and Deco styles.

It may not answer all your needs, but I think its a book you’ll
appreciate if you can find it.

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)


Just a suggestion on finding books–alibris ( is a good
source of used/out of printt/collectible books. I have found some
interesting metal working and jewelry books through them and have
found their service to be good.



This book is still available new. I purchased a copy at a local
Barnes & Noble bookstore just a few weeks ago. Great book, Cheap
too!($7 or $8 USD).


Another great used book store is Powells in Portland Oregon that has
a national reputation. Try their site for all sorts of used books at:
Good luck