Preparing for takeoff

Thinking about a process is always a good thing, however, the first
thing to do is to actually make a small quantity of niello by
following the normal recepie.

If you followed the EPA rules in everything you do you would never
get to do anything!

Its not as if your making the stuff 8hrs a day every day of the
week., but in say a 1oz melt of niello with you being up wind of the
crucible the risk to you is not measureable.

Then if youve actually succeded in making genuine niello, then
repeat the recepie with bismouth, to see if you can get the same
results. Most of us here dont have the luxury you have of building
such a fine workshop. I certainly have to produce products every day
that sell to keep the workshop door open and bills paid. Id love a
workshop with central heating, proper power, and lots of space to
position all the machines I have.

Everything else has to take second place to that. Let us know how
your first melt turns out…

Sutism and workshops

Sometimes is is necessary to say something and I think it might be
time for me to do just that. The people on this list might know a lot
about metals, gems and making jewelry but some don’t know
diddly-squat about autism. Andrew is autistic. And for him, making
his workshop the way he is and preparing for takeoff is not a luxury
of time. His brain is hard wired in a particular way and mine is hard
wired in another way. As is each of yours. Preparing in this way is
every bit as important to him as going to school or apprenticing was
to you. He has to do it his way - he has no pattern to follow like
you do. He is forging ahead and is to be commended for what he is
doing. It’s the differences in people that make this world exciting
and interesting every bit as much as what we create. We create
beautiful things. We create beautiful stuff. But it is the people who
make it who are important waaaaaaay more than the stuff. Andrew is
forging in totally uncharted territory. I invite you to read about
autism and go out and meet some who are affected. It will be a life
changing experience for you if it is new. Andrew, please know that
there are many on this list who are looking forward to your sharing
photographs of your work when they are ready. I for one look forward
to that day. If it never comes, that is ok too because you are
learning so much and achieving so much in building your workshop and
preparing. But I believe the day will come when you feel ready to sit
down and create. Wish I were closer to see this wondrous workshop and
meet you. That set of encyclopedia you are creating in your mind is
going to come in very handy. Sharing a cuppa is a good thing with a
friend who is interested in jewelry.

Barbara on a minus 5C night on the island - dontcha just love this
chilly beach of Canada

To be fair, I don’t believe that Andrew’s autism was mentioned until
very recently. I know that once I understood that, my interpretation
of his process was transformed.

Andrew mentioned it himself. This list exists I believe to enable
people who are interested in making jewelry to relate to others who
also are interested in making jewelry, no matter where they are
along that path. The world is thankfully becoming a place where
people of all sorts are being included in a community. Who knows what
other people who are reading this list are challenged by? We are all
handicapped by something if we want to look at it that way - lack of
dexterity, lack of funds, lack of space — lots of challenges.
That’s not news - sharing we meet those challenges and surmount them
though is what’s helpful to others. Note to myself to try to keep my
mind open when reading postings and not rush to judgement and the
"just get on with it" attitude that is mine because of my
British-half upbringing. Patience, Barbara, patience.

Barbara on a navy blue sky night on the island - on a cold night on
a warm island.

I also very much appreciate you also saying I need not put myself
under any pressure to produce. That’s extremely gracious of you.

unctioning autistics currently, alive, and could very well have
continued to work but for depression. and PTSD which further inhibit
my. socialskills, and affected my work. history to the point where
no. employer onGod’s green earth would. even consider hiring me in
any. capacity or trade. Further, most. every workplace is now so.
very team oriented that people are. now selected for their
personality. traits rather than for actualskills or. competence.
They would rather train. up thier own rather than take a. chance on
an outstanding worker. who they see as socially unfit. I. ha.d been
able to get by in the past. by asking for and accomplishing solo.
projects. But these days perceived. or actual problems with social
skills. will no longer be excused by. technical excellence. That is
why I. now .unemployable and judged eligible for SSDI, which because
I had managed, in spite of all which i suffered, to keep myself
together just long enough to receive an embarrassingly high check
each month. Not to also mention that my wife and I pooled our
retirement funds for a down payment on a house with some money for
anything my wife wanted to buy as furnishings. Igot the shed as a
bargain with her to the effect that the spare bedroom inthe 3BR
house could be hers in exchange for a shed up to $5000.

I bootstrapped my own upbringing from a very early age, from a
horribly dysfunctional family, with only three assets available to
me: my grandfather, who passed on from liver cancer when I was 12,
books of all kinds proving to be faithful and constant friends, and
an intelligence level too high to be measured by tests for children.

That was ALL I had for too many long years. I escaped by taking
advantage of all opportunities to improve my situation, such as
skipping all of junior high. Amateur radio was another big help,
which led me into a careerin engineering.

I had no childhood friends but plenty of children who went out of
thier wayto be cruel because I was different. Both my parents were
abusive with my father especially capable of bizzare behavior.

I was completely disgusted and ashamed of being human so I renounced
my humanity for several long years. It wasn’t until I was 18 and a
junior in college when I befriended a lady who helped me understand
over the following year that being human wasn’t such a bad thing
after all. Her final lesson was herself: five absolutely magical
nights given by her as my Christmas present. We then had to part
ways but not for reasons of rejection. She saidthe world and people
needed me and it would be unfair for me to be tied down to a lady
nearly twice my age. But without her wisdom and encouragementI would
never have gained the courage to venture into the world and take
achance on becoming vulnerable to more people than her. She was a
former child prodigy herself but at a much high level, more
intelligent than I was, than I was above average.

So I therefore dare ANYONE to say that my shed is a luxury. I earned
it with a lifetime of hard work in spite of rejection and a million
tears along the way.

am using your gifts wisely with whatever resources I can apply
ingenuity to.

As Hurin in the Silmarillion had said: “Day shall come again!”

Andrew Jonathan Fine

Keep going Andrew. Thanks for the quote from the Silmarillion. I did
have to get out my copy and look it up. I doubt many folk have heard
of it; let alone read it.



So I therefore dare ANYONE to say that my shed is a luxury. I
earned it with a lifetime of hard work in spite of rejection and a
million tears along the way. 

I will be another to say that your shed is a luxury. There are many
many people who have had bad experiences in their past life. You are
not the only one, please try to see that you have been BLESSED to
have what you have. You need to see that writing that you have
nothing and can’t buy tools and then write about spending $5000.00 on
a shed because you DESERVE it is aggravating to some. $5000.00 is a
lot of money, the difference between losing everything for some, or
the ability to build a shed for others.

It might be a paradigm shift for you to walk out and look at your
wonderful WORKSHOP and be in awe, not go out and have to go into
your shed to work. If you want to dwell on the past the rest of your
life go ahead, I can’t help you there. If you want to build a new
future I will be there for support with 35 years of jewelry
experiences, good and bad. There is a lot of good in your life, work
with that, and use it to build whatever you want so you can help
others cope with all the bad they have had. Helping others gives back
in many ways.



Interesting what you say about autism.

In the next town, Swanage in fact theres a boarding school funded by
our health service, set up specially for severely autstic children.
They range fron 7 to 18 yrs mostly boys. the staff are on a one to one
basis so every child has a constant mentor? so for the 60 odd
children the staff number 60.

Apart from the special teaching and living facilities, I was asked
to design and build an adventure playground for them.

Apart from the usual climbing frames I had to construct a hammock as
several boys were calmed by its motion. this needed to be strong
enough so if several boys got on it it would be safe.

Also the swings had to be strong enough so if say 2 18yr old boys
got on it together it had to be strong enough to safely take their
abuse. They also had a great desire to climb on the frame roof,
several boys on it were interesting to see.

so I do understand this condition and its ramifications.

In our trade however its practice practice and more practice at a
particular task that changes it from a technique to something that
is so natural to do that it then become the medium to interpret the
idea into artistic whole.

I just hope Andrew doesnt get depressed from making things that are
not to his liking after all his workshop building efforts.

hope you understand.


Here is my latest progress in getting ready for takeoff.

I spent about a week or so creating sanding and polishing sticks of
various contours and grits.

It was a major pain to do this. I needed both double-sided cellophane
tape to get the sandpaper to stick, AND I also needed cyanoacrylate
(Crazy) glue to seal the edges.

At least the larger sticks were easier to do. All I needed was
double-sided foam tape here.

My next priority after sanding sticks was to polish my surfaces. I
polished all the hammers in my inventory using a bench grinder, using
both the stone wheel for course and the fiber brush for fine.

Next was my rail anvil. I had lots of gouges in it from last year, so
I went over it again with 60 grit and then 220 grit Dremel sanding
barrels. It’s not exactly mirror polish, but I need to conserve my

Finally, I had a few bench blocks and other miscellaneous striking
surfaces. I’m going to save the circular block for initial
flattening of ingot, that way I can spare the anvil from further

I have two ball peen hammer pieces that I am planning on using for
stamping. I went over it with 60 grit again, I didn’t need more at
this stage. I think I will want to machine both the flat and the
round surfaces to give me outlines to stamp into metal for enameling,
for example.

Next step, fabricating silver and copper stock!

that I have it all polished again? Am I to cover it with leather?

Andrew Jonathan Fine

Andrew I protect my hammer heads (polished, of course) by covering
them with baby socks. My sheet metal I put between cardboard and
keep as dry as possible. Bench blocks get stored in plastic bins with
silica gel packets until needed. There might be a better way, but
thats how I do it.

Polished all again?

Any metal working shop needs to be kept at a constant temperature
and relatively low humidity otherwise changes in these will cause
condensation and susequent rusting of ferrous tools and oxidation of
other metals. How well is your workshop insulated? heated?
ventilated? Thats worth a lot of time and effort if you live where
its cold and wet at different times of the year. my best tools are
kept in the house. Best anti corrosion oil is gear oil, I use EP 90
on everything that I dont want to rust. Smells nice too!

I protect my hammer heads (polished, of course) by covering them
with baby socks. My sheet metal I put between cardboard and keep as
dry as possible. Bench blocks get stored in plastic bins with
silica gel packets until needed. There might be a better way, but
thats how I do it. 

Sheri- if you are storing silver between cardboard sheets the acid
in the cardboard will eventually discolor the silver. We have a
basement shop in very wet Oregon. So we have a de humidifier in our
shop. Works wonders. Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Andres, just make one ring or a bracelet, on the ground before you
take off…

I think I might be asking the wrong question.

But in answer to others re my shed:

  1. There is no insulation. I need to place shelves between my studs
    to help conserve storage space.

  2. Heating is via a pair of space heaters.

  3. The construction is tight and holds heat well. The shed becomes
    livable for a few hours after only a single hour of space heating
    full blast. I can turn the heaters off after the first hour.

I understand what I need to do to prevent rusting. I could brush all
my tools in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and they’d be pretty well

What I want to know is: what techniques are used by silversmiths to
prevent damage to polished hammers, anvils, and bench blocks as the
silver is getting hammered?

Andrew Jonathan Fine

Taking your paragraphs in reverse order, make sure you dont hit the
softer anvil/stake/block or whatever with the harder hammer. IE dont
miss strike!! Think relative hardness. And, practice, practice and
practice some more on some copper scrap BEFORE to start on the real
stuff Get you hand and eye in, as we say. Simple really.

You could use extra V OOL but its too good, in the industrial museum
at Hagen nr Essen Germany, they paint all their machinery in the
restored workshops with corn oil, so through the winter there
preserved till the warmer season. Use the cheaper oil.


Today, I made the Pripps’s Flux in my shed.

It really was not as involved an affair was I was anticipating. I
followed the recipe given of 1 quart of water to 120 grams boric
acid, 80 grams borax, and 80 grams TSP.

I used an old non-stick saucepan that I’m going to keep an hope my
wife does not notice missing from the cupboard it has been stick
behind other stuff for the last couple years :slight_smile:

I did also have a hot plate in my shed that I could plug in and put
the saucepan on. I got the water to simmering and then slowly added
the boric acid first, stirring briskly to dissolve.

I did get a little bit of excitement as I added small bits of borax
to this, because it would foam up quite threateningly and then quiet

Dissolving the TSP was a little more difficult but still doable. By
then all solids were dissolved in the water, I unplugged the hot
plate, and let the pan cool. When the solution was cool a few hours
later, I stored it in a plastic jar, put warning labels on it, and
stored it under the master bathroom sink.

The reason I kept it there, was because I was not sure whether
Pripp’s would still work well if it got frozen and then defrosted.
Would the solids precipitate out?

So there it is. One more item off the launch checklist.

Andrew Jonathan Fine

in the industrial museum at Hagen nr Essen Germany, they paint all
their machinery in the restored workshops with corn oil, so
through the winter there preserved till the warmer season. Use the
cheaper oil. 

Doesn’t the corn oil get gummy after a few months?

Linda in central FL

Doesn't the corn oil get gummy after a few months? 

Yes its meant to, thats what preserves the metal and keeps the
water/damp out.

I was taught to use petroleum jellly. I applu a thin coat to the
rollers of my mill. After using the mill, I cover it with a hood of
plastic to be sure that no dust accumulates on it. Periodically I
wipe the rollers clean, and apply a fresh coat of vasoline.

After rolling my silver, I wipe the silver clean with alcohol to
remove the grease. So far nothing has ever rusted, even though I
live in the damp Northwest.

A machinist friend suggested that I mix the petroleum jelly with
some axel grease for further protection, but so far I have not done
it. Alma

Hi Linda,

I notice both corn oil and canola oil gumming up on my plastic
bottles in my kitchen.

Actually, EVOO is my choice of lube for CNC machining. It’s very
similar in viscosity to many machinists’ synthetic lubes, but its
completely non-toxic, and 50 times cheaper. And it never gums up.

Andrew Jonathan Fine