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Tutorial on how I pierced my forget me not egg


#1

Annabel asks for a tutorial on how I pierced my forget me not egg.

http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/jmdesign-2.htm

Here is my work method, it might give a hint to someone, explaining
the way I was taught piercing.

  1. I start with the egg shells, spun on wooden chucks from discs of
    0.70mm. thick 18ct gold.

  2. I then polish the two egg shells to a bright finish

  3. I then paint the polished eggshells with “Chinese White” poster
    paint, and leave to dry.

  4. I then draw the design onto the eggshells, freehand with a pencil

  5. If I am not happy with my drawing I just re paint over the error
    and redraw

  6. When I am happy with the design I draw over my pencil lines with
    scriber My scriber is actually a darning needle held in pin tongs,
    this gives me a fine point with a easy to hold knurled handle, the
    point is easily replaced also

  7. When you wash off the white paint you are left with the design
    perfectly visible on the polished surface.

  8. I then hand engrave the design, altering any faults in the
    process of engraving

  9. After I have the pattern engraved, I give the eggshell a rub over
    with fine abrasive paper so that they have a dull finish, which I
    find more comfortable when piercing under a bench light

  10. I then carefully drill every cell that needs piercing,

  11. I select a saw frame that is comfortable, ( I use six different
    frame depth sizes ) on the 0.70mm. thickness of gold, I would use 4-0
    size sawblades. Then I settle down and pierce while listening to
    music, I find piercing very relaxing.

Just for the record the eggshells on my Forget Me Not Egg, shown on
the orchid gallery took me 120 hours to complete, 85 hours of that
was piercing.

I hope this all makes sense and is of use to someone out there in
Orchidland

Please feel free to ask me any questions, if I can help I will.
peace and good health to you all
James Miller


#2

Hi James,

I start with the egg shells, spun on wooden chucks from discs of
0.70mm. thick 18ct gold. 

The rest of your tutorial is clear to me, however I am ignorant about
spinning a shape. How is this done, and what is a “wooden chuck”?
Thanks for all of the info. I have always adored plique a jour, and
I love that egg.

Cheers,

Lisa, (Thermometer went to 119 F here yesterday, I am planning on
frying up breakfast on the pavement today.) Topanga, CA USA


#3
After I have the pattern engraved, I give the eggshell a rub over
with fine abrasive paper so that they have a dull finish, which I
find more comfortable when piercing under a bench light 

Oh, what a good idea! This will be much easier on the eyes. Of
course, it will require the extra step of engraving the design
instead of just using the scribed lines, but for many jobs it could
be so worth the effort. Thanks for the tip, James!

M’lou Brubaker
Minnesota, USA


#4

James!

You are a class act! That you would take time to share the details
about how you made such an amazing piece of art is absolutely
amazing! Your egg is beautiful enough to be in a museum. It is a
testament to what a good person you are and, also, to how secure you
are with your talent, that you would share this tutorial with us. I
am now going to read and re-read the tutorial that you gave until I
understand it. Thank you very much for doing this.


#5

First may I appologise if I use terms that are not known worldwide,
as I have only ever worked in English workshops, what I consider
common names of tools and methods may not mean much to others. I am
also confused quite often by some of the terms and names of tools
used by metalworkers in the USA. I quite often have to “Google” words
to explain what I am reading.

Lisa Bialac-Jehle asks what I mean by a “wooden chuck”. Well this is
just a former, a shape turned on a lathe, from a hard wood (I use
Boxwood, or Lignum). A shape that relates to the inside dimensions of
the hollow shape that I need to make. We call this former, a chuck
and it is made by using woodturners tools and skills, I turn (cut)
the chuck, on a lathe, to exactly replicate the dimensions of the
inside of the egg shells. If you are also not aware of the term
spinning, it is short for “Metal Spinning”, if you want to see a
good tutorial on this method of shape manufacture, check out this
website: http://prl.stanford.edu/documents/pdf/spinning.pdf

One other small tip I would give to anyone considering piercing
hollow shapes such as egg shells, or bowls. When doing normal
piercing of flat pieces it is usual to hold the item down on the
flat top section of your bench pin. I find it easier when piercing
hollow items such as egg shells, to hold the shell up against the
underside of the bench pin while piercing. This is a method much
easier to show, than to explain in words.

One of these days I will write a book, I keep a diary of my work life
and I also have over 150 photos of my work, nearly all items are
unique one off pieces.

Peace and good health to all
James Miller


#6
You are a class act! That you would take time to share the details
about how you made such an amazing piece of art is absolutely
amazing! 

I do not disagree-- definately a class act. But I also would like to
point out that James has nothing to fear (as he clearly knows). It
has taken him a lifetime to be able to do what he does, and no
matter how much he told any of us, it would take a similar devotion
to do the same. I think I can say, without fear of contradiction,
that James would be delighted if any of us were willing/able to
immitate him successfully.

I figured out years ago that the only sure way to keep people from
copying what you do is to do something that is such a pain, such a
labor of love, that no one else would bother. Anyone who could do
it would end up doing something different anyway, having found their
own voice by the time they acquired the skill.

Noel

P.S. When a student told me she was going to do titanium landscapes
"just like yours!" I was taken aback, but then just told her “Good
luck with that.” Never saw any.


#7

Hi James,

Please feel free to ask me any questions, if I can help I will. 

If I may ask my questions on that superb egg and clock piece.

How were the white gold rims fitted?. Soldered before or fitted
after the enamelling? I notice the dome lying on your bench does not
seem to have a rim on. (maybe the photo?) How are the hinges of the
two cups fitted? Screwed in afterwards or soldered? The enamelling
and brittleness of the enamel makes me sweat just looking at it. And
aligning the white gold rims and the hinge and catch together with
transparent enamelling must a serious mission.

I assume the crystal egg is properly egg shaped ( the photo is 2
dimensional ) and that there was a hole drilled and polished into it
to accept the clock. But how was that exquisite flower work attached
to the rock crystal egg? I mean, is the hole all the way through, or
can you remove the timepiece from the front? Keeping in mind the
flower work. Is it electric or wind up and what make would it be?

And, how was the finished bottom part of the egg attached to the
leaves? Or were they bent up against the cup?

Ok, last few technical questions. I see there is a shaft that comes
out underneath the bottom cup. Is this shaft bolted onto the cup and
through the base glass as well? If it is screwed or bolted, are they
custom made gold ones or something else?

The egg took you 85 hours to complete the piercing (whew) Were the
other 35 hours to complete the whole piece, or for your part to
finish your work. If so, how many hours did that piece take to
finish?

I wonder what environment you must be in to receive an order like
that. Does that person walk into your shop and choose one from a
selection you have? Or does someone walk in with the finished design?
(I doubt that) Or do you walk that person from want to design to
finish to payment? Thanks much for any answers, James. Your work is
in a class of its own.

Cheers, Hans Meevis
http://www.meevis.com


#8

Oooh…Hans, you asked all of the rest of my questions! Thank you!
And thank you James for replying to my queries. I suspected that a
"chuck" might be a lathed wooden form, but didn’t wish to appear any
more ignorant than usual by guessing. I did love the tutorial on
spinning, and identified mightily with the “moral turpitude” part,
although in my case “pressing ones’ full weight”, against the tool,
might simply result in me being flung across the room as my “full
weight” is not much to reckon with.

So, now I must search for a video on spinning. Although the tutorial
was grand, I think I need to see it done in action. I am familiar
with spinning in regards to some forms and of drum cymbals and the
like, I have just never seen it applied to goldsmithing. before.
Certainly not in the US to my slim knowledge. Live and learn.

Lisa, (Cats are draped across the furniture, lying in front of the
fans. Dogs tongues have reached new lengths in panting exercises,
goats are glaring at me in reproof. Did you know that chickens pant
too?) Topanga, CA USA


#9

I doubt anyone on this list would think of copying his piece.
Information about how to pierce, however, can be used with many
objects – flat or round. It was more about his sharing the TECHNIQUE
and less about the DESIGN.

Furthermore, NO ONE, should have anything to fear from anyone else
about sharing If one’s work is good enough, it will
stand on it’s own. That’s why I wholeheartedly agree with your
comment to your student. There is no reason for you, or any artist
who is really secure in the knowledge that they are producing good
work, to feel insecure about a studnet or someone who is just
starting out. From the reactions of a minority of people to my posts
– most of you have been wonderful and encouraging and thank you for
that – posts that make it clear that I am a beginner who is eager to
learn and just starting out, I wonder how happy people really would
feel if a true apprenticeship program did emerge in this country.
Talented people who are secure in their work should not be worried
about new talent who are trying to learn the ropes. I am not
highlighting your post, it is just something that I have noticed in
general.

Perhaps, folks, part of the reason that more young people are not
going into smithing is that they are not receiving encouragement to
do so. If they were equally bright and talented and went to a large
jewelry conglomerate and offered to make them money will receiving
the opportunity to learn in return, maybe they would receive more
encouragement. But guess what, they would probably be offered work on
the business and not on the production side, because many items are no
longer produced in Western countries. Most of the young people I know
who have gone to work for companies with names like Asprey have all
gone in on the business side. Unfortunately, even if a young person
were to try to get a job making products such as a pierced for the
equivalent of an Asprey, they might not get very far. Why? Because
many of the items are made overseas.

My personal feeling is that there is enough space in the universe for
different artists and businesses and I also believe in karma. If one
helps others and spreads positive energy, then positive energy will
be returned. If one spreads negative energy, that comes back as well.

Just my two cents.


#10

James,

Thank you for the link on “Metal Spinning”. The page with the tool
shapes is a great help. There is not a whole lot of on
this side of the pond. I have done a little of this and look forward
to doing more in the future.

Thanks.
Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#11
I wonder what environment you must be in to receive an order like
that. 

An environment where people have a lot of money to spend and the
knowledge to know what they are spending it on! I am not kidding
about this. My background is in PR and marketing, so I feel qualified
to speak on this issue. The only difference that I have seen between
many of the fabulous jewelers who are not making money and some of
the jewelers who are doing well or are even millionaires is access to
good PR and connections to people who can afford to pay a lot of money
for jewelry. That is why one of the largest groups of women I know in
New York City who are making jewelry and actually making money out of
it are either women who were born or raised in that environment or
married into it or worked as fashion editors, fashion publicists or
buyers or held other jobs in the fashion industry. If I recall
correctly, this egg was made for Asprey. You would need access to
that kind of environment to find someone who has the funds to pay for
such an item. It would not need to be a luxury jeweler per se, but a
gallery that sells luxury items or a museum or craft show that is
featured by wealthy people. Maybe other people can speak about the
areas that they live, but I am just referring to the New York market.

I’ve given others free advice offline about this, so please feel
free to email me offline if you’d like any further details. I’m
grateful for all of the advice that many of the people on Orchid have
given me, so if I can give back, I definitely will.


#12
Perhaps, folks, part of the reason that more young people are not
going into smithing is that they are not receiving encouragement to
do so 

Perhaps that is part of the reason, but this subject has come up on
this forum in the past. I can’t remember the thread, nor could I
quickly find it in the archives, but a few years ago, somebody was
wondering why there were so few young people interested in making
jewelry, goldsmithing, lapidary, etc. A few teachers (high school)
who were contributing to Orchid at the time asked their students
whether they’d be interested in learning some aspects of the trade.
The reported response was overwhelming, and I use quotation marks
because I’ll never forget it: “I don’t think I should have to work
that hard to make a living.”

I experienced a fair amount of this same attitude as an instructor
in the Air Force back in the mid-1980s. Trying to teach many of those
kids about electronic radar theory of operation was harder than mohs
10. They knew that the Air Force’s policy was not to far off from the
"no child left behind" program, and were far more interested in
partying than studying. Not that partying is a bad thing, but
obligations should be met somewhere along the line.

A case in point is the young woman who works in the same store I do.
She’s 23 years of age, and has been working there for around 5 years.
The owner paid for her GIA Diamonds & Diamond Grading Distance
Education course just after she began working there because she
wanted to become a gemologist. When I went to work there about 16
months ago, she had finished about 2/3 of the lessons and hadn’t
touched them in years. The store owner decided to sign her up (and
pay!!!) for her to attend the classroom part of the course while the
instructors were in town. She railed against it but went anyway, last
year. That did prompt her to finish the Distance Education lessons,
but she still hasn’t scheduled a proctor for the final exam to get
her Diamonds Certificate.

When I ask her why she refuses to finish what she started, she
exclaims “It’s hard!! There’s math, and stuff!!” Then, there are the
discussions she starts about how she isn’t getting paid a “living
wage” for South Florida. I try to explain to her that most high
school dropouts like her are lucky to make anything above minimum
wage (she does far better than minimum wage), and the idea that
somebody who refuses to improve themselves and the knowledge of their
chosen field of employment doesn’t automatically deserve riches
simply for drawing breath on this planet. Her ears are deaf to this
rationale, as she plans to marry a rich guy.

I hope she doesn’t apply the same work ethic to her marriage (if
that ever happens).

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL


#13

Annabel I too wonder that same thing. The lack of these types of
programs (that I’m aware of) are (in my opinion) part of the decline
in formal gold/silversmithing and the tendancy for ‘beginners’ to
learn CAD/CAM and pick up a cheap 4-5 axis mill. Sure, everyone
complains about cheap knockoffs, etc… But these things can produce
amazing models as we all know. The education is more available for
these systems than learning traditional methods of working metals
which is unfortunate. I don’t think anyone who is interested in this
stuff would choose CAD/CAM over traditional methods when starting
out, but the way things are causes it and then the established
gold/silversmiths complain about it!

Talk about a catch-22.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#14
A few teachers (high school) who were contributing to Orchid at
the time asked their students whether they'd be interested in
learning some aspects of the trade. The reported response was
overwhelming, and I use quotation marks because I'll never forget
it: "I don't think I should have to work that hard to make a
living." 

The young people mentioned in your post sound like an extraordinarily
lazy bunch, if I do say so myself. There is a ton of money in
jewelry, if I may say so myself and ALL work is hard. As for the girl
who complained about GIA classes that were PAID for her, I have no
words. I know many people who worked their way through college and
grad school and would have loved to have had school paid for them.
But may I point out something – maybe people are looking at the
wrong group of young people to train. Also, maybe people are not
explaining the rewards that can come from a successful career in
jewelry. Why did this girl not complete high school? If it were
because of an extenuating cicumstance, alright, but if it was out of
sheer laziness, why did the owner hire her in the first place and
then agree to pay for her GIA classes? If she did not have the math
skills to finish high school, how was she going to finish that GIA
course?

As for minimum wage, it is well known that in many places in this
country, minimum wage does not cover the minimum. Yes, people should
be willing to learn, but they should not have to starve to learn. In
the Bronx, which is not considered a wealthy part of my city, the
poverty line for a family of four several years ago was $40,000!
Furthermore, rent alone in my city can cost anything from $18,000 to
$120,000 or more per year. I kid you not, there are people who are
paying $5,000 to $10,000 a month for rent – or even more! Mind you,
people need to pay for this out of after tax income! And many
landlords in safe neighborhoods insist that a potential renter’s
yearly salary be 50 to 60 times the montly rent of the apartment one
would like to rent. While a beginning jeweler should not expect to
live in luxury, they should make enough to live in a safe
neighborhood in their city.

I have noticed that in countries that have successful apprenticeship
programs and other programs that encourage artisanal careers, such as
jewelry-making, there are ways for people to learn the trade while
still having enough money to eat. They don’t need to be living in
luxury, but making enough to eat and live in a safe neighborhood and,
if they need a car, being able to pay for gas is necessary.
Otherwise, there will be a financial disincentive for anyone but the
very wealthy to get into this business.


#15
When I ask her why she refuses to finish what she started, she
exclaims "It's hard!! There's math, and stuff!!" Then, there are
the discussions she starts about how she isn't getting paid a
"living 

“Math and stuff!!” That’s classic James… :slight_smile:

Seriously though, what about the people who DO want to learn and
don’t mind applying themselves? I think the jewelry industry is one
of the hardest to break into, yet many complain because it’s being
offshored. There are a few reasons things end up ‘off shore’, cost
is a big one, but also finding the labor force necessary to complete
things is another. The USA has many talented IT folk, but often
business cannot find a ‘fit’ for what they need because their skills
may not be right (ie administering an AS/400 instead of a Windows
network or something) so they look offshore. I think the same may be
part of the reason jewelry mfg is being offshored. I don’t have any
facts and may earn some flames but applying what I know about the IT
field to this one it seems logical.

The whole ‘you have to pay your dues’ thing is bullshit and if you
(not you James, ‘you’ in general) think along these lines then I
have some words for you that I cannot post. I’ve worked in the
computer industry for 22 years and have done everything from
application development, builds of high end servers, deploying
networks, WANs, LANs, BLANs, etc, etc, etc and if I subscribed to
the ‘you have to pay your dues’ theory for every new person that
comes into my shop I’d have no skilled labor… that attitude makes
me sick…

Luckily I’m not trying to break into the jewelry field as my main
source of income. I like it because of it’s artistic release and
working with my hands. Sure I bring in some cash but that’s a bonus.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#16
I experienced a fair amount of this same attitude as an instructor
in the Air Force back in the mid-1980s. Trying to teach many of
those kids about electronic radar theory of operation was harder
than mohs 10. They knew that the Air Force's policy was not to far
off from the "no child left behind" program, and were far more
interested in partying than studying. Not that partying is a bad
thing, but obligations should be met somewhere along the line. 

I wholeheartedly agree…to an extent. I worked as a Russian
Linguist in the Air Force after I graduated from high school. I was
active from 1986-1990. I vividly remember the frustration. Perhaps if
the USAF made the entrance exam a bit tougher… On partying, we
worked shift work (who could sleep anyway with that kind of schedule)
and it wasn’t often but we were known to pull all-nighters and then
go right to work. We always did our duty though. I more than a little
regret that I did most of my studying in a drunken state as I don’t
seem to remember much of my training today, but I always did the job.
I disagree with that part of your post. We always met our
obligations. Those who did not were kicked to the curb. One, I
remember, was walked right off the floor in the middle of the shift.
She said “I don’t feel like working right now” and then she was gone,
just like that. Those people were sent directly to Nebraska…a far
cry from beautiful Bavaria, West Germany.

I worked for a couple large companies before I had children and the
one thing that gets me is the lack of repercussion for bad behavior.
It is so easy in the Air Force to get ahead. Just sit on your butt
for thirty years and take a test once in a while. Despite this, it is
still so easy to lose everything in the service. Slip up, even one
time, and your gone. They called it “re-classed”. On the outside, it
seems you can’t get fired if you try sometimes. I don’t think it is
the fault of the younger generation, I think it is the complete lack
of consequence. Why try hard if you don’t have to?

I don’t have a problem with twenty-somethings, but I do, however,
wish they would pick up their darn feet once in while. Do you hear me
out there? No one wants to hear the constant shushing of your
flip-flops. Try running around the track once in a while. Maybe it
will strengthen your legs so you can walk.

In any craft (including jewelry) the harder you work, the greater
the benefit you receive. The more you work, the more you make. If you
are skilled and can come up with good, salable work, then you can
succeed. This is not true for much of the larger companies in our
society, however. In many large companies, there is not a direct
relationship between how hard you work and how much benefit you
receive. The younger people are just taking the path of least
resistance when they opt for anything but becoming a jeweler. They’re
actually being quite smart. Why wouldn’t one take the path of least
resistance?

Best Regards
Kim Starbard


#17
I experienced a fair amount of this same attitude as an instructor
in the Air Force back in the mid-1980s. Trying to teach many of
those kids about electronic radar theory of operation was harder
than mohs 10. They knew that the Air Force's policy was not to far
off from the "no child left behind" program, and were far more
interested in partying than studying. Not that partying is a bad
thing, but obligations should be met somewhere along the line. 

I ran into the same sort of thing when I worked in state government
in PA for nine years. I wanted to quit every day. I was actually
under suspicion and being scrutinized because I left the office every
day with an empty inbox. They thought I was up to something. I was -
I was doing my work. A well-known dodge was to take the stuff in your
inbox and either put in in a wastebasket down the hall or stuff in a
file drawer somewhere. A lot of workers used that one.

I remember a guy who was perpetually drunk, used up more sick leave
than he had, and was sent to rehab three times at the state’s
expense. He got promoted. He later married an alcoholic woman (very
attractive lady), and his wife died by inhaling her vomit while drunk
and unconscious (sorry, but that’s what happened). He’s now getting
drunk on the insurance money. And still works for the state, doing
nothing all day.

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers