Throughout history mankind has been fascinated with creating beautiful items using metal and precious stones. Archaeologists have discovered Incan metal items going back to 1000 AD and Etruscan metal creations dating back well over 2000 years. The profession and the art of metalsmithing has been an important part of many ancient societies.
Metalsmithing combines elements of art, creativity and high end craft. When you are creating custom pieces you have to envision the dance of shape and form. You then use your metalsmithing skills to take the raw items from thought to finished, beautiful form.
If you would like to follow in the footsteps of the ancient metalsmiths, there are a number of options for learning the craft. Online videos can give you an introduction and let you develop a sense for what is involved. A better way to learn metalsmithing is to sign up for in person classes at a local studio. These classes will teach you the basic skills you need to know and you’ll get to create items along with your fellow students. Advanced classes are also usually available.
Even as a beginner, you will need the right tools to construct the beautiful pieces you design. It’s best to buy good quality tools as they will last you for years to come.
A metalsmith has to carry a lot of tools and supplies. Instead of buying a small tool box, it’s a good idea to buy a tall tackle box that will give you room to store everything you need.
A metalsmith uses hammers to modify the shape of the metal. Chasing hammers have two different sides. One is used for making indentations in the metal while the other is used if you need to smooth out dents. A rubber or rawhide mallet can shape metal without leaving any marks on the surface.
When you are selecting wire cutters, look for ones that have a flat or flush side. They will make a nice cut on wire that will need less finishing. There are different cutters for different thicknesses of wire.
Jewelry Saw and Blades
As you work with sheet metal, you will often use your jeweler’s saw frame and blades to cut out the shapes you want. It’s a good idea to buy some high-end blades for your best work and some less costly ones so you can practice your craft.
Files and Pliers
As a metalsmith you will need several types of pliers and files. Typically, you would get both round nose and chain-nose pliers. For files, consider a large hand file for rough edges and Jeweler’s files for working on small areas.
When you need to join silver and gold you will use a soldering torch. Bigger torches can be a little hard to handle, so it’s worth considering something along the lines of a pencil tip torch. You will also need several types of solder for your projects.
Metalsmithing can be a fascinating, life-long pursuit. This craft lets you tap into your creativity and artistic sense as well as the skills necessary to actually construct the beautiful item you’ve designed. With the right tools you can begin your education and enjoy the art of metalsmithing for years to come.