David Huang at LaFontsee Galleries

http://www.lafontsee.us/artists/david-huang/index.html

Wato wato,

You may like to sign up for email updates for LaFontsee Galleries. All top notch work from artists and craftspeople showcased to perfection.

Those who have followed this blog will know, I am a huge fan of David Huang, both as a person and an awesome visionary metalsmith. I received my email, David was featured in the mail shot.

The chased and repousse bowls shown here will make your head spin; gold silver and various smashing patinated copper finishes. Silversmithing skills through the raising of each bowl, through to tool making and design excellence to realise his three dimensional raised surfaces and flowing patterns.

I hope you enjoy them.

Soldering great butt joints. Not nearly but really right.

Wato wato,

One of the hardest things for me to get right was making a great butt joint. I kick myself now as it is something I should have seen sooner, being as my hobby before silversmithing and jewellery is model engineering. I also worked in fabrication, as well as various motorcycle projects over the years. My excuse is that I have a tendency to be too ridged in my approaches to things and wanted to be more ‘flowing’ if you will regarding my approach to silversmithing and jewellery. I deliberately tried to forget my formal engineering approaches to help me be more spontaneous. This is another lesson in the interconnectedness of things. This is far too heavy and irrelevant a topic for here for sure.

The textbooks are absolutely right here when they state solder will not hold well if gaps are present. If you look at the kind of strain and abuse I inflict on a join whilst forming with repousseĀ“ it is clear that nearly right is nowhere near good enough. I hope to be able to explain how to create a join so strong that, well look at my cuffs and other work not yet shown here for proof. I dearly like empirical, rather than theoretical evidence, I hope to be able to demonstrate it here so you can attain the results you strive for.

Rings and cuff bracelets present different challanges, I will start with bar stock. By bar stock I mean round, square, oval or whatever, just solid bars of any thickness.

In the first photograph you see all the tools I use, except the needle files, I forgot to put them in the picture, for those who don’t know what they are, just very small files enabling more accurate specific spot removal of material that the bigger files cannot.

The easiest and probably most effective method is to use a chennier cutter. The bar is held firmly and the jewellers saw is accurately placed in a slot preventing the blade from twisting, therefore making a perfect cut with minimal finishing. These tools can be very expensive however, for a beginner or someone who just wants to do occasional work as a hobby they may not want to, or be able to afford such a tool. There is another way for no cost šŸ™‚

An engineers square should be, in my humble opinion, an indispensable part if any toolkit. They come in various sizes and are very reasonably priced. Your bench pin will have a straight edge, with a pencil, I personally prefer to use a sharp scribe as it tears the wood fibres, creating a trench for the next part. If not, make sure your jewellers saw has a tight blade and follow the scribed line, creating a 90 degree little saw mark relative to the edge.

Using a square of triangular file you now carefully file a trench for your bar to rest in. I think the photographs explain better, as you can imagine it was not easy to hold and photograph at the same time. Providing you keep downwards pressure on your bar, wedging it into the groove, presenting it to the file slowly and making sure it cannot jump about. The act of keeping the file pressed against the true bench pin will ensure your two ends will be perfectly flat and true as the 90 degree angle ensures that, as long as you take your time and prevent rocking the file or wire. The human element has been taken out of the equation, the grove and edge being perfect ensures you don’t have to be, it will do it for you.

Sheet presents another challenge, you may be successful with narrow stock, however some of my cuff bracelets are 40mm or more wide. At this width it becomes difficult to coordinate, the filing as the sheet is difficult to locate accurately in the groove.

The trusty engineers square comes to the rescue again, more in a bit. Sharpie felt pens, or any, I use permanent markers, will make great marking guides. In engineering surfaces are checked for flatness with special plates and a beastly substance called engineers blue. Get it by all means is sticks like the preverbal sh12 to a blanket. On skin it will take an age to remove. I thought that marker pens would make a great substitute, they do.

When you cut out your edge, no matter how good you are, the edge will not be entirely flat. To start, file it so it looks flat to you, stop and apply the marker pen to the filed edge. Using a flat plate, like your steel bench block, put some abrasive paper on it stretched tight. I use a piece of abrasive stuck to a piece of board, manmade boards like high grade plywood or MDF are made to tolerances that are useful.

Now GENTLY stroke the piece along the paper making sure you present it to the paper as square on as you can. Now look at the edge, in the photograph I just picked a scrap piece of copper to give an example. Where the black marker has been removed leaving a shining mark, these are high spots, the black areas are low. Now use your file, whatever size is best for the task, gently file the shining bits, coat with the marker and go through the process again and again until you manage to get all the black removed with a single stroke on the flat abrasive paper. Once all of the surface is shinny, the edge is flat.

Not great practice, though I do use it in a hurry or if a particularly wide sheet is becoming difficult, I use the engineers square. Keeping the straight side against the fat part of the square, pushing it firmly against it, I slide the square along the paper whilst pushing the material against the paper. You know this is a perfect 90 degrees as material is being removed along the edge of the square only. This is not great practice as it, technically, makes the square less true as you scrape it along the paper. I would advise that this is done as a last resort, only after you have trued it up as much as you can the other way first. If you do this then you can minimise the damage to the square by using the finest grade of paper you can for the job.

When presenting the ends of your now perfect edges, bent them past and slowly pull them back so the natural spring of the material keeps the seam closed for you, making the wiring of the join not as necessary. I have never wired any of mine, you may still wish to do so. By shining a strong light behind, no light should be visible along the seam. If you see light then a piece of fine abrasive paper can be encouraged into the gap and gently pulled through both sides, using the pressure of the spring in the material, don’t squeeze.

If you follow these steps you will have a joint that is incredibly strong. I always use hard solder as it will return the best results, both strength and colour match. The other beauty of this is that the solder seam is truly wafer thin making invisible seams more attainable. Also for rings you can be confident that the joint will hold up to really quite extreme re sizing as the joint is pretty much guaranteed not to fail, the surrounding material making like a noodle as it shrinks from the join.

I hope this helps, let me know if you need further explanation, or if you know a better/different approach.

Until next time, all my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Photographs taken at Paul Mounsey studio now showing on his site.

http://www.paulmounsey.blogspot.co.uk/

Paul Mounsey has added images to his photography website from our session along with Paul Penningtons work from the jewellery workshop Porthleven.

It is smashing to see my work here, makes me feel almost but not quite nearly a pro šŸ™‚

I feel sure his success will continue to grow, look at his other work and disagree if you can.

Stu Art

Victoria Lansford picture of the month July RepousseĀ“ cuff

 

Pebbles

Pebbles

I am fortunate enough to get another mention from Victoria Lansford, picture of the month of July to go with June 2013, good oh.

Again this is a chased and repousseĀ“ cuff that was first soldered round, then worked with punches made specially for this piece. Two recognisable models exist, other experiments to refine tools and technique are long since in the re cycling.

After the New Designers show I am fast appreciating, with advice from industry people and other outlets, that I’m basically kicking a dead horse sticking to this sort of work if I wish to support myself.

I intend to still make new ones from time to time, however it would appear that more demand exists for working in larger forms, such as sculptural pieces and vessels. Advice leads me to give jewelley less of a priority for the future, concentrating more on larger scale work.

As ever I will share the journey. Till next time, all my very best wishes.

Stu Art

http://www.victorialansford.com/Pic-of-the-Month.html

Sinking Britannia silver bowl, preparing for raising

Wato again,

back to work after all the show malarkey, I feel bound to say I much prefer the workshop to the marketplace, oh well we all have to do things we don’t like eh.

A previous post goes into more detail regarding sinking, please search back if anything is not clear.

The pictures are pretty much self explanatory, however I will try to add what I think is not. If you see experienced silversmiths at work they will invariably be less precious than me in the early stages. In another post I said that the material would not forget, it’s worse than that at times. A slight variation in the early stages ignored can turn into an unpleasant wrestle that costs more time than if you corrected it to start with. As a result I do not raise too much too quickly, my connection to the material is not good enough at this stage so I do everything I can to make sure corrections are as minimal as possible, more importantly corrected as they happen.

One of the most difficult things to master is consistency, this consistency is on many levels, I will try to put into words what I have experienced. The hammer blows need to be regular and controlled, you need to listen as every time the hammer make a sharp clang, you have compressed the silver at this point, remember what I said about clay, try to think of it this way, I find it helps. This will cause an area to distort and expand away from it’s surrounding material. In a future post I will show you how I correct this challenge, best left for now though.

Consistency of the placement of the silver disc as it is hammered to the stake. I use a very gentle domed stake to start raising, howeverĀ this is a double edged sword; yes the curve is gentle and less likely to make your disc distort to look like a long flowing dress, worse a pringle crisp. The challenge is to keep presenting the disc in the same place throughout the round, the natural state being for the sheet to skeet about the top of the domed stake. The disc must be supported, angled slightly towards you, the hammer blow coming down just ahead of the contact point meaning you are using the hammer to kind of fold the material over the stake as it is in an air space, without hammering so hard as to drive it into the stake causing stretching. I hope this makes sense as it is a fluid movement that requires you do rather than just read. Use some scrap copper to practice, the best advice I can give through hard earned experience is do not hammer like crazy, every single hammer blow should be considered and accurate. A pro may well sound like a woodpecker, I pretty much guarantee you try it without many hours of experience and it will end in tears. Again it may not look too bad in the early stages. The silver will remind you later that you were less than diligent in your task as the errors multiply.

I show the silver on a sandbag resting on an engineers surface plate, silversmiths call it a flat iron. It is used to accurately mark out machined parts, great for box making as well, more on that in another post. The beauty of this plate is that it is truly flat. Between each round I check it agains this plate to ensure the disc is raising equally, again I will cover this in an upcoming post.

The raising stake I used for this bowl I made with the aid of an angle grinder and other abrasives. If interested I will show this. I made this one as the commercial cows tongue stake was too flat for the early stages of raising from the point. Stake selection is crucial, I am still trying to get a feel for it, nowhere near proficient at this stage, time will put that right though.

It is much easier to use a stake such as this as opposed to the domed stake being as it has a defined ledge to locate against, the silver being less prone to skidding around, the blows being more definite, less room for error. Please take time to look at the pencil lines I draw to show just how little I raise art each course. When I get a better feel I will be more aggressive, at this stage slow and steady is the order of the day.

Make sure the hammer face rests, at the end of each blow, squarely to the stake underneath. Rocking it side to side will cause unevenness, worse the edge of the hammer face can dig in causing a dink that can become impossible to remove if too deep. Other problems arise if the face is presents too far forward or back, just aim for all of the hammer face to contact at the same time. Consistency is hard with all of these considerations eh!

I wanted to free form this bowl as I didn’t want to be held back by looking at a definite plan. I think in the early stages this is no bad thing, however don’t let it become habit as, with all thats going on it is easy to become disoriented without a defined template to check against. I will use new next time to take my making skills to the next level.

I think thats enough for now, I hope this helps, please let me know if you would like clarification. I really think you would benefit from seeing a tutor who is experienced. I have a sack or two of failed experiments. As you see from my bowls acceptable results can be obtained with little more that looking at some demos. I feel certain I would be far further forward if someone had ‘held my hand’ in the early stages as it were. It is so easy to become despondent, no really!

Don’t be, just $*%ing hit it šŸ™‚

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Studio photograph session with Paul Mounsey for my chased and repousseĀ“ jewellery, art metal and silversmithing

http://www.paulmounsey.co.uk/

http://www.paulmounsey.blogspot.co.uk/

I came back from a session with Paul yesterday, I am blown away with the results and could not wait to share it with you all. Especially for people who have struggled to be heard with their work alone. I feel certain that with Pauls’ input my opportunities for being better represented have just taken a seismic shift into the unlimited possibilities zone.

I am so excited to see my work looking this great in print. As I have said before I have been slow to appreciate the importance of quality images, mistakenly assuming that buyers and gallery owners would see past the groggy images, being only interested in the finished article; don’t you new makers make the same mistake. A string of rejections and soul searching could have beed lessoned if I had images such as these to start with, as feedback from the people and places you approach is not common. The inevitable result, you are left floundering as to why people don’t bother to follow up on your enquiry. The reason, you are not seen as a professional, someone who has not paid attention to detail, and will continue not to do so, not the best trading partner.

I felt, as I’m sure most of you do, I was capable of taking a photograph, how hard can it be eh!

When I entered Pauls studio I was amazed at all the specialist equipment and his attention to detail. The computer alone looked as though it could handle much of the NASSA space programme. His lighting and the props he uses to tease out the smallest detail was truly astinishing. Without thinking and with the intuitiveness most of have for driving a car, he continually made minor adjustments to the lighting. Flash and reflective surfaces being altered for every shot, his intimate understanding of his subject made this an outing rather than a chore. I love to see people who are doers rather than talkers effortlessly practicing their hard fought for, practiced craft, making it appear effortless and seamless, the way that time served people can. This was a true treat and a fantastic experience that, as soon as I make more work that needs it, I will return, no hesitation.

The chased and repousseĀ“ surfaces now come aline, punch textures become more defined and the reflective planished surfaces are simply stunning. He managed to capture the aged patinaĀ I wanted for the copper art metal bowl. Oxidisation looks more pronounced and less fuzzy helping to clearly define the raised texture left behind after polishing. Silversmithing items like the highly reflective surface of the Britannia silver bowl are notoriously hard to photograph, check out these beauties above!

Always a good start and the sign of a thoroughly good egg, good strong tea was provided and made the proper way. Paul has a very calm manor and is totally accommodating, listening to and responding to every request and offering suggestions, treating work with respect and careful handling. I could not be more happy, and wholeheartedly recommend him to anyone.

Well, just look at the images for yourself, I had to be a little selective as I felt like uploading all of them! A good example if the pendant from the previous post I asked for an opinion as to the best finish. You cannot deny this now looks like a completely different piece. It is unchanged from when I photographed it with my trusty point and shoot.

I went will Paul Pennington from the jewellery workshop in Porthleven, also attending the same course as me. Sandra Austin used images made by Paul Mounsey in her final presentation. This is what blew us away and led us to seek his services. This is another example of his flexibility and his accommodating nature. This is a last minute thing to get my promotional stuff ready tomorrow for the next day. Paul excelled himself and delivered, returning my images the same day, yesterday. Can’t get better than that can you. Just wish I was nearly as organised though.

I would like to thank Julia Rai from the Cornwall school of art craft and jewellery as she respond to a FB quote I made about photographing work, introducing Paul Mounsey. Well worth a visit, Julia has been a supporter of me since I attended a forging class. Sign up and be amazed at her PMC skills, Not my thing, no hammers required see šŸ™‚ nonetheless awesome.

https://www.facebook.com/JuliaRai

https://www.facebook.com/CornwallSchoolOfArtCraftAndJewellery

Opinion please for finish on chased and repousse pendant

Number 1 matt, polished craters

Number 1 matt, polished craters

Number 2 all over polish

Number 2 all over polish

Number 3 Oxidised, polished craters

Number 3 Oxidised, polished craters

Number 1 matt, polished craters

Number 1 matt, polished craters

Number 3 Oxidised, polished craters

Number 3 Oxidised, polished craters

Number 2 all over polish

Number 2 all over polish

Wato wato

Another quickie, please could you look at the pictures of the same chased and repousse silver pendant and kindly let me know which finish you prefer. I would be very grateful as I can’t decide which one I like best.

New Designers exhibition in London

http://www.newdesigners.com/

Wato wato

I’m off to London for the new designers exhibition Next Tuesday, displaying my jewellery on stand J9 with Truro College, if anyone is around, be great to see you there.

I will be there with Sandra Austin, she will have a website to follow shortly, I will share it with you when I get it.

Danielle Elkes who has a Facebook pageĀ https://www.facebook.com/DaniellesCornishJewelleryDesigns

Abigale Ashmore who also has a FB page Ā Ā https://www.facebook.com/abiashmoresilver

Frank Luckham FB page and web site

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frank-Luckham-Minimalist-Jewellery-ArtistĀ www.frankluckham.co.uk

And Paul Pennington, who’s Ā wife Clair, has a shop in the beautiful Cornish harbour in Porthleven, well worth looking at the photographs of the harbour and the position of his shop, idyllic.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Jewellery-Workshop-Porthleven

http://www.porthlevenjewelleryworkshop.co.uk/

This is just a quickie introduction to my fellow students who I will be displaying allongside. With their permission, I will introduce them to you over coming posts to give you a break from the dryer topics I try to communicate to you.

I haven’t forgotten the Raising of the silver bowl, rest assured I will continue to post after I return from the show.

Once again if you are around it would appear to be a blinder of a show. Be great to catch up, you could also meet the others as well.

Until next time, all my very best wishes.

Stu Art.

Raised silver bowl, calking for a thickened edge

Wato wato all, back to the making of the Britannia silver bowl.

I feel somewhat of a fraud, talking about the thickened edge here as the completed bowl was not a complete success, having not gone entirely to plan. Annealing is a topic I will cover in another post, suffice to say at this stage over, or under annealing causes problems. In this case, near the end of raising the rim cracked. This meant I had to cut off my, hard fought for and carefully made thickened edge. Oh well, at least it wasn’t a complete disaster, I am still happy with the end result. I will explain in detail later in this process.

Quick re cap, the peening process moved material from the centre of the disc towards the edge. Calking pushes the edge down compressing the edge in on itself thickening the edge in the process.

Just as the raising process work hardens and will crack the silver if overworked, so only a single overlapping blow is desirable, or wise, at each and every calking stage for the same reason.

With the bowl to be resting on a sandbag for support, a soft faced cross peen hammer, I used a modified raising hammer, is bought down confidently, striking the edge. Accuracy is very important, each blow ideally overlaps slightly to lead into the next blow. The hammer must be square on, if not sharp ding or undulations will develop leading to uneven distribution of the silver. This will cause problems further down the raising process as the sides will become uneven, worse, it may encourage cracking due to the added stress caused by the gathering of a forceful blow on a very small ‘ding’. It may not develop into a crack until further along, you may not even be able to find a cause when it happens.

A thing I have learnt working with this slow process is that, you may well be able to cover up a misplaced blow, even forget you made it, the silver wont!!!!

Sooner or later something will happen, I will show uneven raising examples another time. The message I wish to convey this time is, take your time, don’t just hit it, measure and control your hammerblows. If you don’t, and hit it willy nilly, it will come back to haunt you later.

I found, as Christopher Lawerence showed on his demonstration, I had much more control and more feeling by holding the sandbag on my lap the whole time. Same rules as raising, move the disc, not the hammer, concentrating on keeping the hammer blows consistent and square to the edge. The picture shows one of my raising hammers that I softened, rounded off to reduce the chance of catching the edge of the silver with a sharp edge, as seen on the opposite side of the hammer showing the original as it came factory finished.

Knocking off removes the burr that is created by calking process. The beauty of this is that material is saved by re compressing it back into the rim rather than, as you would be forgiven for naturally doing, removing the burr with a scraper or file.

As can be imagined this is a delicate process, too hard and you will remove all of the work hammering the rim back on itself, too little force and the burr remains causing problems further along. This is done on a flat plate, hammering from the inside on a steel flat plate in the early stages. Later it becomes impossible to get a hammer in as the opening reduces in size. The picture of the copper one shows the knocking off process done on a mandrell. The hammer used is a collet, of domed faced planishing hammer.

Remember the pickling process is your friend. Every time you strike the silver it will stand out as a shining mark that clearly stands out from the pickled matt finish. No excuse for overworking as you can see where you have been, again don’t just hit it, measure your blows and make sure you are as consistent as possible.

After each round of sinking, then raising, calking process is applied until the end of the raising process, or when the desired thickness is reached, whichever comes first.

Hope you can follow this, please let me know if I’m not clear on something and I will add to this.

Thats all for now, raising proper starts next time, untill then. All my very best wishes.

Stu Art./

Victoria Lansford picture of the month June 2013

vlhos blog picwindows

Yesterday I completed the end of my BA in Jewellery and Silversmithing, I am minded of the old saying, one door closes and another opens.

As negative as this experience was it has been eclipsed by this fantastic honour to be picture of the month on Victoria Lansfords blog accessed through her excellent, informative website.

http://www.victorialansford.com/Pic-of-the-Month.html

For those of you who have followed my blog from day one will perhaps remember my introduction to her signature chasing tools. As my earliest ‘instructor’ its fair for me to say I would not have achieved any of the Eastern Repousse that you have seen so far. I also include the David Huang inspired bowl, I know she does not make this sort of thing, however the skills I learnt are completely transferable.

I want to take the opportunity sincerely thank her for such generous recognition and to give you all the reminder to visit her site again, to look at her fantastic work and learning resources that led me down the chasing and repousse path to start with.

This act of recognition that I have experienced here is akin to having the master recognise and praise the apprentice. This is a life changing moment for me and one that I will continually remind myself of when the black dog comes calling, as it does when I’m at my lowest ebb.

Many times not able to see any wood for trees, I try to remind myself that balance is to be aimed for. Just as my lows are very low, this is a fantastic, timely, very welcome and awesome high that will, I feel sure, help me to redress to a kinder perspective in future. Thank you so very much Victoria.

I will continue to post the, now completed, Britannia silver bowl raising process in another post to follow.

All I have to do now is start to make a living!!!!!

Until next time, all my very best wishes.

Stu Art