Jewelry and metalsmithing might seem like they have nothing in common with other jobs. You might be surprised to learn some of the same techniques are used in seemingly unrelated industries.
The easiest comparison would be with farriers. These days most horseshoes are premade and just slightly altered to fit each horse’s hoof. But they still use hammers, anvils, and either a torch or miniforge to move the steel.
The techniques metalsmiths use to make hollowware (like my bowls or teapot) are the same that auto body repair shops use. They work on a grander scale and have some cool suction based tools for dents that my pieces are too small for, but the basic idea is the same. One of my online hammer sources is actually geared for body repair.
Most surprising of all might be the connections between jewelers and dentists. Yes, you read that right. Dentistry uses similar tools and techniques for tooth repair that jewelers use to create work. A dentist drill is the same thing as my flex shaft (like a dremel tool.) It just uses much smaller bits. They use polishing wheels, molds, and other tools that are incredibly similar to those that jewelers who cast metal use. I’ve even heard of dentists who make jewelry as a sideline or hobby, even to put them through school.
So next time you get your teeth cleaned or head to Maaco, remember that they’re just jewelers on a different scale. It might feel less scary that way.
Anachronism: anything that seems to be out of its proper time in history
What I do is somewhat anachronistic. Even the head of my metals program in college felt that way. Machines and computers are the modern tools for jewelry and hollowware. Who am I kidding, people don’t even use things made out of metal anymore – it’s all plastic. Even our troops wear body armor created through chemical science rather than smithed.
Even though that is true, society will always have misfits like me who love a good anachronism. Just look at TV. There’s not one, but TWO reality shows featuring the resurgence of full contact jousting. Typewriters are making a comeback. I even saw a “vintage” rotary phone on the Etsy front page the other day.
Humans will always have a need to use their hands. It’s what has helped us evolve. Yes we’ll also always try to find ways to do things easier, to have others (either robots or just other people) do the labor for us. But we’ll still have that urge to make something by hand. And that’s what I celebrate every time I let my hammer fall.
Today it really feels like Fall. There’s a cool breeze, I heard crows, and I even saw a yellow leaf fall off my neighbor’s tree. I love Fall, it’s my favorite season, and not just because I’m an October baby. It puts me in the mood to get back to work and start some new projects while also finishing others. It makes me want to go for a walk in the woods, curl up and read a good book with a cup of tea, turn on the propane stove…but it’s not quite that far into Fall yet.
That’s what I’m going to do today. I’m going to work in the studio on a couple of projects that have been sitting in my sketchbook for quite some time now. This Sunday I’ll be working in there also. It feels good to begin work on some major projects again. One’s even a bowl! I love holloware, but it’s not time or cost effective right now while I’ve been working for craft shows. When I finish, I’ll show you some pictures, but you know how slow I can be with posting pictures on the web. I’ll keep you updated. For now, just go outside and enjoy this wonderful “Fall” day!