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Review: Complete Metalsmith video

Hi all,

Dr. Aspler suggested that I consider posting some book reviews I
have written which are not up on the Tips pages. Since people
seemed interested in James’s postings I thought I’d follow his

If people want more like this there are a few more complete
reviews I have I could post. Yea or Nay on this?

Lewton-Brain =A9 1990

Review of Tim McCreight’s The Complete Metalsmith videotape
Produced and published by the Brookfield Crafts Center.

=46or a start this is the best technical tape for jewellery that I have seen
yet. From to graphics it is top quality and carefully
constructed. It constitutes a solid addition to the field.

This tape is an excellent beginners tape though it is perhaps a little
misleading to have called it ‘The Complete Metalsmith’ when the book is so
much more complete, so much more wide ranging. It is of course impossible
to make a single tape which could approach the book in scope or amount of
nor would it be advisable to do so. Let it just be noted that
the tape does not in fact attempt to be related to the volume of
in the book except that it is based on Tim’s distilled, concise
and thoughtful approach to metalsmithing. The tape is in the form of an
introductory metalsmithing course. It would in fact make an excellent
introductory course or in the context of a school a vital high quality
technical resource. My foundation students thought it was extremely good
and said it deepened their understanding tremendously, especially as there
are many close-ups of basic techniques that are impossible to see in a
class situation. They also liked the easily understood descriptions of
technical and process issues. It was noted that the tape held their
interest even though at 70 minutes it is a long tape. There is a lot of
unspoken teaching going on in the tape with many small movements and
actions being done for reasons. In class I challenge my students to
question the reasons for certain movements when I work and it might have
been helpful to have had some comment about looking for unexplained actions
and figuring out the reasoning behind them as the tape runs. This might
perhaps be included in any later text addition to the video package.

It should be noted that even an advanced jeweller will probably pick up
some good from it, I know I did. It is very well organized and
the is presented in clearly defined blocks which make good
sense. The main blocks of are Cutting, Joining, Forming,
Surfaces Techniques and an appendix called Building. Each section is in
turn divided into a number of sub-sections. Under Joining for example
riveting, soldering and fusing are introduced. The covered in
the tape is surprisingly wide ranging, including basic metallurgy,
toolmaking and hardening and tempering. Tim’s teaching style, warm, vital,
exciting and caring comes through very clearly in the tape. His humorous
asides add interest to the tape. The camera shots are reasonably mobile
and very smooth. While the pace is at times a little slow the tape would
be extremely useful for an introductory level course if it was used by
section to introduce the major aspects of metalsmithing and as a backup for
everyone to learn from. It would be difficult not to learn from this tape.
The quality of the graphics is remarkable and unfortunately for those of
us just beginning to think about videos it sets a new standard of quality
for video instruction. As I understand it this was part of the aim of the
video and it must be said to have succeeded well in this regard. It was
very professionally made. The budget for the tape would I believe have
been beyond the reach of most individuals; for example a studio set was
constructed for the video. The Brookfield Craft Center too is to be
congratulated for this contribution to the field.

It would improve it to have a page included with the video package listing
the ‘chapter’ headings so as to let the viewer know what their choices are.
Major divisions and subheadings for sections would be very useful to have
in text outside of the video format in the form of a table of contents with
tape counter markings noted so that one can fast forward or rewind directly
to a specific chapter.

The pace is excellent and Tim’s soft voice pleasant to listen to. Problems
with the tape are few. They include a very blurred voiceover during the
use of the oxidizing flame. Other slight problems are mostly of the
personal ‘I would do that differently variety’ which really have little
validity in review criticism. Having said that some of the things I would
do differently include keeping the lid over the pickle while quenching in
it (though a safety alert sign is present in the picture) and using a deep
quench in oil when quenching steel to avoid the possibility of a flash fire
from any still glowing portion of steel held over the surface of the oil.
I also prefer to place a little hand soap on the steel prior to hardening
it to reduce the amount of scale present after quenching before cleaning
for tempering. I also prefer to place solder chips on the pre-heated,
glassy flux instead of placing them at the beginning and having them dance
around as is shown in the video. A safety issue is liver of sulfur
(potassium sulfide) for which ventilation and gloves are recommended which
is not specifically mentioned in the video, in fact gloveless hands are
shown in the solution, though an excellent comment on general safety issues
is presented at the beginning. The safety warnings, as in The Complete
Metalsmith are thorough and very good. The use of a the Brookfield Craft
Center’s rather decrepit anvil, even if it was spruced up was a jarring
note in to the overall extremely professional quality of the tape. It
would have been nice to have heard yet a couple more ‘this is not the only
way to do this’ sprinkled though the tape, though Tim probably does more of
this and offers more technical options than anyone else in a technical

There are also some Art School conventions which emerge in the tape such as
lifting the file from the surface of the metal so as to keep it in good
shape longer. In the industry one keeps one’s file on the work most of the
time so as to maintain control over the file, which is far more cost
effective in terms of additional working speed and accuracy than protecting
the file by lifting it. One replaces one’s file every eight months or so
at a cost of about $15.00. This is offset against a great increase in
working speed and accuracy.

A strong point of the tape is the inclusion of abbreviated versions of
jewellery making seen at the end of the video (Building) wherein the
techniques and procedures mentioned in the video are put into practice
(even if remarkably fast and trouble free through the magic of video).

This video can be very highly recommended as an initial introduction to
jewellery scale metal-working or as a review for the early education of
metalsmiths. An advanced worker can still learn some things from the tape
and it should be looked to by educators as a standard against which future
technical instruction tapes can be measured-it is really very good. I have
asked the ACA library to obtain 3 copies of the tape. I think it should
become a standard addition to all metal programs. (Hmm…Pretty good
recommendation huh?)

The tape is available from the Brookfield Crafts Center and from other
sources within the United States. Note that of this writing it is only
available in the VHS standard format and thus cannot be played in most of
Europe and Australia as well as other countries using different standards.
It would be pleasant for the tape to be available in various formats for
use outside North America.

Brookfield Address:

Brookfield Craft Center
PO Box 122
Brookfield, CT, 06804, USA

The tape is currently priced at 39.95 in US funds.

Brain Press
Box 1624, Ste M, Calgary,
Alberta, T2P 2L7, Canada
Tel: 403-263-3955 Fax: 403-283-9053
Email: @Charles_Lewton-Brain

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