Where to start?

Well, I sure hope Im doing this right!

I am brand new to Orchid, but tickled to have found it! I so badly
want to master the trade, but I am completely new to to all of it-
trying to read and learn all I can from the looks of it, I should be
attending Bergin Clark Studios, but unfortunately time won’t permit
me to do that right now-

Would you suggest to take a class at a local arts center, or should
I try my luck with some Alan Revere videos? I should say I’m a bit
worried about setting myself on fire (!) or something to that
affect, but perhaps the videos would be a good reference to review

Also, I am in Northwest Arkansas, and would love to find any other
Orchidians within the area whether it be Arkansas,Oklahoma, or Texas
(my birth state! yeah!)

My name is Amy, and I look forward to meeting you all- my email
address is @Amy2 if anyone needs it…

Hey the “bench hall of fame” is pretty cute! Boy have I got looottts
to learn!


I suggest taking a class with a real live instructor, who can help
you right on the spot. Time enough for videos later.


Instructors are the best thing to initially work with, trust me, I
know…my students at my community college can attest to this fact,
why? you cannot interrupt a video to ask questions …you cannot get
personal attention and examine each procedure from a video… you
cannot examine the tools being used from a video…you are only
seeing and viewing one method of workmanship from the eyes of “that
video maker”.

You might have to pay dearly for the instructors time, but you will
have to pay more for the loss of not using an instructor,…you decide
which is more important ! I know from my own experience which is more
important…“Gerry, the Cyber-Setter”


Welcome. You came to the right forum and you asked some good
questions. I’m sure you will hear from many on this list.

Search out local adult ed programs. They are a good way to become
immersed in your passion. Fire is not scary. Not understanding how
torches work can be. But when you think about it, we drive around
with 13 gallons of combustable liquids all the time, and never give
it a thought. I was in a bad fire a long time ago, so I have a
healthy respect for what it can do. However, it was that experience
that brought me to metalsmithing in the first place.

I would recommend, Tim McCreights book, A Complete Metalsmith
available through Ganoksin.

It is a book that you will keep for a long time. This is the
standard for many fabricators and as you progress in your skills,
the book will make more and more sense.

If you can’t find any local programs, knock on the door of some
jewelers you know. Bug everybody.

Here is one in Little Rock.

Keep asking questions. We are here for you.

Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio

I just started some courses at a local University on metalsmithing.
I would like to finally, after 40 years, graduate. I’ve been
waiting for an opportunity to add metalsmithing and jewelry courses
because I feel that there are many gaps in my education that need to
be addressed. Most of these are just straightforward steps that can
be consolidated into my spending much less time than I have been on
certain things… :O) It has taken me many years to find my
specific passion in the Art field, having spent many years as a
weaver and basketmaker.

After talking to the professor for a few hours, I learned that the
majority of the students were taking this class to get the credits
to graduate, a filler class for Seniors, or because they thought
they could walk out with wearable jewelry, not to learn the
processes and study the ‘art’. She was happy to have a student with
the ‘passion’ to learn and evolve.

She’s a realist, and during her classes, ‘speaks’ to all with the
passion one has for the process. She knows there are people there
who are just spending time, yet she treats them all with the same
enthusiasm and gives of her time and expertise. This, to me, is a
great teacher.

Our first project was an assignment that familiarized us with the
correct processes of designing, annealing, sawing, finishing etc.
(We’re using Tim McCreight’s book) I’m sure that there were many
that did not see the importance of the progression of steps. (or as
someone mentioned-a mindless exercise) As the studio time
progressed, there were more and more students actually getting
interested and learning something.

If you cannot get into a class close to you, do try to work with
someone who has the skills you need to enhance. Think of it as
honing your skills. Think of it as learning some new way to improve
your skills-designs-whatever. Don’t worry about the ‘Diva’ in the
class, I’m convinced that there are always going to be Diva’s out
there, it’s life-concentrate on why you are there-if you spend your
valuable time and money to learn-don’t rent space in your mind to
people that are not there to help you-pay attention to the one who

Being the ‘Ancient’ in this class, I experienced this, and just
smiled and mindlessly nodded my head in agreement when our 'Diva’
pounced on me, and kept on working. When I’m teaching adults to
ride, who are restarting after years off having families or working,
I start with the basics. If they are truly interested in becoming
proficient, they may grumble about the basics, but they know that
eventually we will get beyond the basic stuff to the more technical
aspects of the work-and will understand the progression of my
instruction-the connection and importance of it all-right down to
How To Use A Broom…

Cheers! Dinah. (who feels very fortunate to have found such a

I keep getting disconnected, but wanted to make this observation
about videos books and articles…while they all have their
place in any education, there is no substitute for 'hands on’
experience and ‘practice’.

You need to be able to ‘hear’ the torch, the hitting of various
hammers on various surfaces, have an ‘on site’ pair of educated eyes
and hands to guide you.

As with anything, it’s all about the mileage, experience, productive
practice and the feel. Cheers! Dinah–who LOVES challenging
equestrian students-especially the ones that have ‘read all the
books, seen all the videos, taken all the weekend

To Karen and Gerald,

Thanks so much for your kindness in posting- you bring up some great
points and have definitely shifted my first thought-I like the car
analogy! ha! And Geralds point on first hand experience is so right-
Thanks for the website and encouragement!!!

(Silversmith wanna be),

 I would recommend, Tim McCreights books....


I have two of his books and they have become my “bibles” and
essential references when working with metals. Definitely the best
money I ever spent.

Being self-taught, make that one who learns by reading and just
doing, often leaves me desiring more knowledge about the use of a
torch. I can heat stuff up and generally produce more than adequate
joints and seams. However, my knowledge about the proper flame
atmosphere for various metals is sorely lacking. Many times I find
my torch techniques, although effective, to be rude and crude.

I would appreciate any thoughts you, or other Orchidians, might have
concerning books or videos that deal with the finer points of
soldering and brazing jewelry items.


J. Russell

As has probably been mentioned already, Alan Revere’s fabrication
project videos are an excellent place to start. They are easy to
follow and have good visuals on soldering and working with a torch.
Taking a workshop is even better, of course, but it is possible to
make a great deal of progress on one’s own, just using Alan’s books
and videos and a bit of metal.

Michael David Sturlin