Another consideration is that the lower your skill level is, the
more you NEED excellent tools.
And how! Although a year has passed since I started practicing
seriously earlier in 2011 and I am a little further along than the
I’m more or less comfortable with the forging/annealing cycle of
shaping and fusing fine silver, using both propane for coarse work
and butane for fine work. Which, for the most part, is frames for
pendants. I can ball up silver and make lots of French hooks from 22
In my initial appeal last year, one person had sent me a
magnificent gift of sterling silver scrap, and I obtained that
person’s permission to cash it in for a rolling mill. I’m now
familiar with a compact rolling mill to make wire. Sheet, not yet,
because its a pain in the tush to change the rollers and I’d rather
not until I have reason for a production run. But I need wire all
the time. The wire, however, has sharp edges, hence my need for a
drawplate, which will open the door to making not only ear wire but
I’m ready to make my own nuts and bolts out of silver and a #0-00
tap/die pair, now that I have the practice doing same with #4-40 and
aluminum. That way I can do away with the epoxy for above pendants.
I now grok the basics of jeweler’s saw on a bench pin, at least
for cutting straight lines and jump rings, tho I still break a blade
from time to time.
I give up on using my flat lap to make cabs, instead I’ll use it
to shape closely fitting pieces that I’ll drill holes with and
connect together with silver nuts and bolts.
I’ve been able to use my tabletop CNC to engrave JPEGs onto
aluminum cookware. Excellent practice for brass, then copper, then
silver later. Yes, a $1500 machine and $1200 software can make idiot
like me look good.
I’ve learned how to carve and polish basic shapes of exotic wood
and elk ivory.
I haven’t sold a thing yet, but I’m getting lots of high fives and
hugs from the people I am giving away these attempts to.
Between this summer and winter I had used my Ticket To Work to make a
work attempt writing software for a defense company, but they gave me
my walking papers on the 18th (of December) and so it didn’t work
out. We didn’t save any money at all because I had to pay the
mortgage on my house and pay rent on an apartment, with the workplace
being two hours drive otherwise. I had ceased the silver-smithing
during the entire six months of the work attempt.
So I’m unemployed again, and still unemployable due to depression
and PTSD, but my SSDI will continue, and as long as I and my family
are frugal we can survive on it.
So at this point I will now say that I may have become an advanced
white belt (half white/half yellow) as a technical artist in
silver-smithing. My daughter (age 8) just got her advanced white belt
in karate, and took third place in a tournament, so she and I both
have something to be proud of.
I’ve spent six months saving my $50 per month allowance to electrify
my shed, and as a Christmas present my father is matching the funds I
save to do this. This will open the door to my being able to use my
Paragon miniature kiln that I bought in 2009 but were never able to
safely use yet, for either porcelain parts, glass fusing, and
I’m really grateful to all the people who answered my original
appeal for equipment, supplies, and books to help me teach myself the
very basics which I had mentioned above. You have all kept me sane.
But I am aware that more people have joined this group and therefore
have not heard from me. And, of course, those who have heard from me
probably have generated yet more debris from their own activities.
And so I will make my next appeal, which will be tightly focused and
targeted because thanks to you all I now have an apprentice workshop.
I am most in need of leftovers for fusing glass and enameling.
Please, if you have any leftover glass or frit, sorted or unsorted,
can you send it to me? It will help me build confidence in my kiln
without my having to waste money on good materi al.
I also would appreciate any and all high speed steel setting burs
with a little bit of life left in them: ball, hart, flame, or other it
really doesn’t matter.
I’m always in need of abrasive or polishing wheels/tips, if
you’ve got the odd one left over from a package that you can’t use
that would really help.
I know I got some flames last year from people who thought I was too
brazenin asking for help. That’s one reason why I decided to list my
progress, to convince those people that I wasn’t just simply
hoarding, but learning. I’ve tried to treat each of your gifts as
precious (no… not “my precious” lol) and to not use them unless I
judged the reason to be compelling, because I would never know how
soon I could replacement.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Holidays, or
whatever turns you on.
Andrew Jonathan Fine