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Simple Jewellery by R. LL. B. Rathbone, 1910


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Simple Jewellery by R. LL. B. Rathbone, 1910

A practical handbook dealing with certain elementary methods of
design and construction written for the use of craftsmen, designers,
students and teachers.

This 1910 book is a hefty 300 pages packed with great on
jewelry history and making jewelry. There are 94 illustrations, both
photographs and engravings. The term ‘simple jewelry’ seems to
connote what we would call ethnic or folk jewelry today, as well as
addressing basic metal working skills for making jewelry. It has the
best around on twisting metal and wire curling for
chains and decorative elements.

Chapters include:

A portion of the book deals extensively with design: The educational
point of view, scope of exercises and methods of study, pictorial and
sculpturesque jewellery, craftsmanship, examples of craftsmen’s
designs, peasant jewelry, designing jewelry, designs inspired by
natural forms, the easiest way for beginners, designing by
arrangement, the uses of grains, circular forms, theory to practice.

The chapters continue with practical skills: Uses and action of the
blowpipe, wire drawing and annealing, coiling wire for making rings
and grains, processes of soldering and pickling, details about
soldering, constructive functions of grain clusters, devices for
making clusters of grains, making and using discs and domes, details
about making wire rings, drawing flat wire, how to discover units of
design, methods of curling wire into scrolls, an alphabet for
jewelers, recording ideas for future use, an inexhaustible source of
design motifs, the evolution of design from units, of designing
apart from drawing, various kinds of chain, some uses of twists and
plaits, more on the uses and formation of twists, samples of twists
and plaits, some practical considerations, other ornamental
processes, setting and use of precious stones, the question of local
industries, mechanical aids to artistic production.

The appendices includes lists of tools, gauges, comparative tables,
weights, measure and standards.

The book starts with a discussion about education and how to learn
jewelry making. At the time the author bemoans the lack of schools
for jewelry making, that mostly it was through the job, or haphazard
in hobbyist and amateur training. This book is written at the very
beginnings of jewelry and metals being introduced into the
educational system.

This extract gives a flavor of the approach: “The growth of
commercialism, moreover, has robbed us of much of our due
inheritance in these matters, and in many crafts it has certainly
undermined, if it has not absolutely swept away, the whole fabric of
apprenticeship. However, it has given us fresh opportunities in
exchange, and has imposed new conditions. If it has made it
difficult for a youth to obtain a thorough allround training in a
manufacturer’s workshop, it has at least done something towards
removing the barriers which formerly preserved the mysteries of each
craft as impenetrable secrets, only to be revealed to those who were
bound by indentures to serve through a long term of years at merely
nominal wages.”

The passing of the apprenticeship system is mourned while
celebrating the opening of the trade to outsiders, allowing new, not
in-the-club people to enter the field. He deplores the restrictions
on design that the commercial world creates. The design of jewelry,
and its modes are extensively investigated. There is analysis of
design elements and composition with a number of rather florid and
baroque jewelry pieces. He makes a point that ancillary things like
stonesetting, niello, enamel etc can be superfluous to a design, and
that a piece should be able to stand by itself without being loaded
up with techniques. There is a theme of ideas coming from process
that pervades the book.

There are editorial comments about ‘peasant jewelry’ and how making
the same thing over and over again can be deadening for the maker.
The subtext is a 'Arts and Crafts Movement" critique of production.
There are pithy critiques of jewelry design, strong opinions of what
makes for good, and especially bad design. A good third of the book
is along these lines, with illustrations.

The new maker is suggested to work with the materials and take
inspiration from the working processes. The idea that processes and
samples are the letters in an alphabet that the learner makes into
words as designs is expounded. The descriptions of metal
characteristics and ways of working are poetic and really quite
interesting, as the author’s passion shows up. There are some good
exercises with granules and with making them. Granulation patterns
are really well addressed. Flattening granules to make small discs
is a forgotten approach. Jump rings as soldered design elements as
well. Great detail on constructing various specific piles of
granules to combine into complex pieces.

Then the technical side is dealt with addressing soldering and more.
Great instructions on using a mouth blowpipe. Jump ring making is
well addressed. There are some odd words, like ‘triblet’ for bezel
mandrel, small jewelers anvil is a 'sparrow-hawk and so on.
Soldering and construction are well discussed. There is very good,
wise, detail.

Dapping is covered as is drawing wire. Making shapes with pliers,
and exhausting all posibilitities of simple work with minimal tools
is really addressed very well. The level of description would really
help a beginner, where the pressure is on the pliers, how to bend
smoothly etc. There are good photos as well showing the subtle
stages of what, as jewelers, we take for granted.

There is a chapter on recording ideas, taking wax, carbon paper and
plaster molds from wire compositions so as to be able to repeat
them. Even soggy cardboard is used to record wire compositions.
There is a remarkable picture of 700 variations in bending the same
lenfth of wire. A lot of it is about using simple units in
repetetive variations. This is a high point of the book, and one of
the most interesting things about it, and what the author has to
offer. The best published exploration of using simple units I have
seen. It is the kind of thing that, like the Kulick-Stark school,
which concentrated on granulation and classic chain making, that you
could base an entire school, renewed book and hobby workshops on.

There are chapters on chain making by hand, with solid, insightful
Dozens of handmade chain ideas are pictured and
explained. In the same way twists are seriously explored, useful to
everyone from blacksmiths to jewelers. This is one of only a few
books that explore this kind of The level of
observation and comment are the deepest I have seen.

There is a section on using repousse and chasing tools to make
components. Casting, stonesetting and enameling is touched on.

Finally, he makes a plea that basic jewelry making should be
introduced into holiday areas, as crafts to see being made as well as
for participants, a kind of economic development suggestion. As well,
the disabled are suggested as makers for work in such venues. He
reiterates that process is the driving force behind new invention,
focusing, paying attention and being in the process to come into new
ideas. This is a very modern idea, and early days to have stated it.

The book ends with lists of studio tools and equipment.

A very interesting text, huge, deep, and has not found
elsewhere.

A good bet.

File Size: 50.2MB, 300 Pages

Download the full eBook at the ridiculous price of $5.