Our introductory workshop for jewellery was more an introduction to working with the materials and processes that could be used to make jewellery. Our actual task for the day was to make a sculpture, again inspired by Bauhaus.
Our first task was of course to complete our health and safety induction as detailed bellow:
Then the technician talked us through the following processes that would allow us to work with the materials to create our sculptures.
Annealing is a process that softens the metal by heating it. After it has been annealed it can be manipulated a couple of times before it would then need to be annealed again, if it is used too much without further annealing it becomes brittle and eventually could snap.
In order to heat the metal we had to use the torches. Each torch has two pipes connected to it, orange for gas and blue for oxygen.
As well as this they have a pilot light stood next to it which is what you have to light first by turning the valve anti-clockwise and using the flint sparker to light it.
Making sure the pilot light is around 1 cm by adjusting the valve you then use it to light the torch. When lighting the torch it is always best to turn the gas valve on first, light it with the pilot, then turn on the oxygen. This should be repeated in reverse order to turn it off again as if you do not do it in the right order there is a load pop noise.
Lit Pilot Light
A bushy blue flame is best for annealing so once you have achieved this, from again adjusting the valves, you are ready to begin heating your metal. Place the metal on the stone surface provided and use the tip of the flame to heat the metal until it goes to a dull red colour.
Stone work space for when using torches
Once you have finished heating, turn off the torch, place it on the stand and use the tongs to ‘quench’ the metal by placing it into the container of water.
Water jug for quenching
A pickle bath is a mix of acid and water which is heated underneath. It cleans off any oxides on your metal leaving it with a clean, shiny finish. There is a sieve in the container to place your work in and you should leave it in there for at least half a minute, although you can always leave it for longer without causing any damage.
As it can be harmful to your skin if you were to come into contact with the mixture it is always best to use gloves and the tongs when putting your work in or taking it out. Also make sure you dry of your metal thoroughly before using it on any of the other equipment to avoid rusting of the tools.
Safety Gloves Rolling Mill
In order to create a texture for our work we were shown how to use the rolling mill. This can be used for most materials but not for steel as steel is stronger and could break it.
To add detail to your work you can choose almost anything that already has a texture and use it to indent your metal such as fabric, copper wire, plastic or even leaves. All you need to do is to attach it to your metal, adjust the plates accordingly to get the correct pressure and use the lever to pull it through the mill. After this you can always use fine sandpaper to brush over the top and highlight the texture you have just created.
In order to join our pieces together of metal together we used slots which we created by using the metal snips. The metal snips are made from forged alloy steel making them strong enough to cut through most materials used to make jewellery. To use them you simply need to mark where you want to cut and then cut as if you were using a pair of scissors.
Raw Hide Hammer
Before cutting your metal you may want to flatten it out, especially if it has just been through the rolling mill. We used the raw hide hammer to do this by placing our metal onto our work surface and banging the hammer down until it was how we wanted it.
If you wanted a curve in your metal you could create this by using a combination of the mandrills, which are cone shaped, and the rawhide hammer. Simply place your metal onto the mandrill and whilst holding it there with one hand tap it into shape using the rawhide hammer.
The Vice can be used to clamp the metal in place and which can be useful when try to create an angle in your metal by again using the rawhide hammer to knock whilst the vice holds it Tightly in place.