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Thread: Newbie needing some advice re learning about silver

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Default Newbie needing some advice re learning about silver

    Hi,

    I am newbie to this forum and want to work with silver. I have done some jewellery making for the past 4 years but very amateur hobbyist I would say. i had booked onto a 1 year silversmithing course in Birmingham, but got chucked off after the first enrolment session because i explained I have certain challenges when it comes to dealing with things. The medical condition I have, which I won't bore you with, means that I have to manage myself very carefully and do risk losing muscle control at times, however this is never without warning and I generally manage it very well, after 13 years I have had a fair bit of practice, as you can imagine.

    Now if silversmithing is too dangerous for me, is precious metal clay a feasible option. This is something I have wanted to do for a number of years, and frankly I was gutted when I was asked to not to attend, I know this is not beyond me and I have frankly dealt with far bigger challenges, could anyone suggest any precious metal clay books or silversmithing books to get me started, and perhaps in the future I can look at my budget again and see if I can afford a non adult education course where they may be prepared to teach me!

    Thank you, sorry for the long opening post, I am not normally so garrulous, but felt I had to explain.

    Sorry to clarify my requirements, I do have weaker hands and arms than probably normal people so heavy and standard size tools are not really very good for me, although I find the travel size or mini sizes ideal and easy to work with.
    Last edited by palo; 19-09-2012 at 04:40 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Default

    Hi Palo, sorry to hear your plans were scuppered. From what you have said, the metal clays, would present very few problems for you as the tools can be lightweight, with little or no need for cutting or drilling. Torch firing may present you with difficulties as the temperature needs to be steady and consistent, but this could easily be overcome with the use of a kiln, any small soldering applications could be done at your own pace after firing.


    In the first instance search youtube for metal clay tutorials there are many and this will show you how easy it can be for you, there are lots of books featured in Amazon but I caanot recommend one as I have not read any, someone else will be along soon no doubt to recommend one. Best wishes in your endeavours.

    Excuse errors in this post I am on holiday and using an ipad which I loathe :0)
    Last edited by Kwant; 19-09-2012 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Extra info

  3. #3
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    Mar 2011
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    Manchester UK
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    Have you thought about Cad design ? I know its not the same as making it with your hands but the result can be very pleasing you can download free trials of software from the web which have a certain number of saves and there is loads of tutorials etc on youtube to get you going

  4. #4
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    Recent events have shown that determined people can do almost anything. However the main hazard for you seems to be around naked flames and red hot objects.

    So you should be thinking of kiln firing your clay and having a decent heat resistant area in case you drop hot metal and cause a fire. I'm sure you can do it, so strength to your arm. Dennis.

  5. #5
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    Jul 2012
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    Thank you for the suggestions so far, I am a bit dubious about utube videos, I have found that for the own field of expertise they are dominated by Americans whose legislation differs from our own, and the their tools and techniques are not necessarily ones we use in the UK, of course I don't know the situation with silver or PMC, which is why I was hoping for more specific suggestions.

    I am a bit perplexed by the CAD idea, I thought that was just design not actually making anything or learning about properties or utility etc?

    I am quite capable of using tools and do use them extensively, I am extremely risk averse and do ensure that safety is a priority with whatever I do and never work when I am unable to function.

    Does the torch firing have to be applied for long periods, that I would not be able to sustain, but if it is for say 10-15 mins that would be ok, and does it have to be hand held or are there not tools that can assist?

    Sorry it is hard to try to understand something when I am so ignorant! My jewellery making book (Jinks) arrived today I hope to be better informed after reading that.

    Again thank you for your help.

  6. #6
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    Sep 2012
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    I was hoping for more specific suggestions.
    What sort of specifics are you after?
    if you are planning on selling you would need to insure that it is sent to an Assay office for hallmarking, (unless under certain weight) this means you can sell it legally stating it is silver...

    I am a bit perplexed by the CAD idea, I thought that was just design not actually making anything or learning about properties or utility etc?
    CAD would just be design, but you could send the designs to people, or design for people, good money in that. you could also create designs per peoples ideas, certain things need to be/are best created by machines, e.g when using wax.


    Does the torch firing have to be applied for long periods, that I would not be able to sustain, but if it is for say 10-15 mins that would be ok, and does it have to be hand held or are there not tools that can assist?
    when torching PMC its best not to keep the flame in the same place, esspecially if the item is large, you would have to move it over the item to keep the heart consistance over the whole piece...Although expensive kilns are a good substitute.

    hope this helps

  7. #7
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    Ok, I have now watched a couple of videos, and read through Jinks, it looks considerably easier than I was thinking. The torch firing does not seem to be for very long, and therefore well within my capabilities, (certainly for small pieces) The kiln unfortunately is beyond my budget but I will consider long term.

    My aims are just small peices of jewellery - earrings, pendants, brooches and mainly findings. I can't really manage/manipulate wire heavier than 18 guage or 1mm so wouldn't make anything heavier than that. I'm not fussed about that because that just rules out rings, bangles etc etc.

    To me the creative process must involve making something out of raw material so I wouldn't be satisifed just with the design part of the process, the challenge is to turn your ideas into a physical creation that is what I enjoy and want to master. I am slow at that but I like to work to the highest standards and don't expect to turn out anything worthwile for at least a couple of years, but that is ok, skills aren't mastered overnight, and they take a lifetime to perfect.

    I think I will start with PMC as the easier option and when happy with that look at silversmithing again - it was 12 years ago that I first thought about doing this, so I can be patient and wait for the right time.

    Thank you for your help.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2012
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    i love your attitude, so positive

    You could buy blank rings and add to them, so dont rule out rings, plus you can make rings from PMC too, using a mandrele let it dry on that and then fire it...

  9. #9
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    Just an added word of caution then: You are not exactly a beginner and you might already have a suitable torch, but mini-torches beloved of beginners can become dangerously overheated if used for prolonged periods, so a suitable torch will be a consideration.

    If you put What Torch into our search box above you will find some of our recent conversations about this. Dennis.

  10. #10
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    If you have a gas hob in the house, then you can use that for firing precious metal clay (silver version anyway) too as long as the pieces involved are smallish (I was told smaller than a 50p and about as thick maximum) - it's the method I've used myself. For torch or gas hob firing you need a wire mesh anyway so either method is available once you have that - I think most starter kits for clay include one anyway. The advantage of using the gas hob is you can leave it as long as you need to (just keep an eye on it) but the downside is it will increase your gas bill slightly.
    Last edited by snow_imp; 20-09-2012 at 03:15 PM. Reason: Extra info
    Anne

    Feel the fear, and do it anyway!
    Blog: http://www.whiteoakjewellery.blogspot.com/
    Website: http://www.whiteoakjewellery.co.uk

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