I apologize in advance for my long-winded answer. I hope you find
some nuggets of useful that you can use!
Our club, the Arlington Gem and Mineral Club, in Texas, has a 17+
year tradition of teaching silversmithing. The complete course
usually lasted just over 2 years. However, it was taught by one
person. When he retired last year, I went from being his assistant to
actually teaching the class, well before I had planned on doing that!
However, I also took the opportunity to revise our curriculum. It had
been heavily design-based, emphasizing the instructor’s personal
favorites. I’ve made it skills-based, with each project reinforcing
previously taught skills and introducing new ones, while leaving the
design to the student. I have relied on the many resources out there
in developing the curriculum (see list below), which is divided into
3 parts: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. The curriculum is
approximately 1.5 to 2 years long, from beginning to end.
Briefly, this is an outline of what we now teach. The difficulty
level increases with each project, and with each class, so that
people remain challenged.
Tool lecture and demo of various hand tools and shop tools (buffing
motor, rolling mill, drill press) Sawing metal (the students cut
various types of shapes and lines from metal, which they then use in
the pendant projects) Soldering demo: low light, so you can see
solder flow; students make silver balls to learn how fast silver can
melt Pendant-no stone: textures, mixed metals, soldering, applique,
finishing are taught. Pendant with bezel-set cab (first bezel
fabrication and setting). Triangle wire bracelet-teaches precision
layout, planishing, and forming on a mandrel (a design is filed into
heavy gauge triangle wire) Wire bracelet with bezel-set cab (teaches
bezel setting on a curved surface) Ring with cab & step bezel (we
make our own step bezel).
Faceted stone ring: Precision soldering, thrumming, faceted stone
setting (we use pre-made heads) Scrolling/filigree: Wire forming and
soldering, torch control, piercing, tumbling to work harden Etruscan
chain: Cutting jump rings, link forming, draw plate, findings
Special settings/shapes: Making bezel strips, setting non-round cabs
(square, teardrop, freeform), tooled- edge bezel, tube settings
Reticulation: Torch control, burnishing, depletion gilding, forming
reticulated silver Rivets: Tubing, riveting, spacers, design planning
and layout, drill press, drawing down wire Steel stamps: Filing
steel, annealing steel, tempering steel, using steel stamps
Overlay/applique: Sweat soldering, pierce work, texturing, patination
Spin bail: Blocking flow of solder, fitting, tube cutting
Surface Treatments: Texturing, marriage of metals, faux marriage of
metals (inlay), solder inlay, fusing, and patinas. Hollow beads:
Dapping, drilling, 3-D forming, soldering hollow shapes. Box Ring:
3-D forming, soldering hollow shapes, precision fitting. Foldforming:
Forging, annealing, and forming copper; metal characteristics
(malleability, elasticity, ductility). Forging: hollow tube
fabrication, spiculum forging, swage block, forming tubing, using a
drawplate, using wire soldering, planishing, bending hollow tubing,
grade rollering. Hinges: Hinge making, precision fitting. Clasps:
Box clasps, precision fitting.
In developing the curriculum, I relied on the following resources:
http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid (especially the archives), plus, with
proper credit given:
Complete Metalsmith (Professional Edition), Tim McCreight.
Jewelry Making: Techniques for Metal, Tim McCreight.
Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing, Tim McCreight.
Practical Joining, Tim McCreight.
101 Bench Tips for Jewelers, Alan Revere.
Metals Technic, edited by Tim McCreight;
Creative Stone Setting, by John Cogswell.
The Jeweler’s Directory of Decorative Finishes, by Jinks McGrath;
Japanese Patinas, by Eitoku Sugimori;
Patinas for Small Studios, by Charles Lewton-Brain;
Jewelry Concepts and Technology, by Oppi Untracht
The Theory and Practice of Goldsmithing, by Prof. Dr. Erhard Brepohl
Foldforming, by Charles Lewton-Brain.
Precious Metals: Metallurgy for Jewelers and Silversmiths, by Mark
The Metalsmith’s Book of Boxes and Lockets, by Tim McCreight
Hinges and Hinge Clasps, by Charles Lewton-Brain.
Our club library has many of these books available for checkout,
plus I encourage the serious students to buy their own copies as they
go along. I personally own all of them, and use them often. Usual
Good luck in developing your course. I’m looking forward to what
others recommend, since I may want to incorporate their comments into