Metal work is not for beginners but somewhere along our jewelry making journeys, there comes a point where it becomes useful to know at least some of the basics.  Who knows?  That initial foray in this branch of the craft might become a life long passion.  But where to start?

If opportunities to sign up with a local metal working class are limited, then consider the new book by Kay Rashka called Bead Meets Metal.  I received this book for review. The focus of the book is the use of beads in metal work. But what I found especially useful are the well planned simple lessons which introduce the reader to key techniques.

There aren't as many projects like many books - just 16. But that is well compensated by the large tool and technique section which comprise approximately 40% of the book. The author extensively covers sawing, filing, drilling, forming and forging, texturing, finishing, forming spirals, making earring wires, oxidation with liver of sulfur for antiquing metal, etching, tube riveting, making jump rings and torch work.

She advocates the use of hand held butane burners - start with a micro torch (like those used for crème brûlée ) which will work with smaller projects and progress to a larger one if the technique is going to used often. Many are wary of using the torch but there are so many things one could do with a torch like balling wire ends for nifty head pins, annealing to soften metal and make it more pliable as well as soldering.

The first project for simple pearl drop earrings is an excellent example of how the author teaches metal work in baby steps. One can make this design with bought balled headpins. However, she shows how one rolls the wire between 2 metal blocks to straighten it, use a torch to ball the ends, drill the pearls to enlarge the holes, forge the ear wire portion, hammer and file to finish.

Another early lesson is the lovely kimono earrings which teaches one how to saw, file and finish the edges.  The texturing was done with the peen end of a hammer, line stamps and some dull center punches and then antiqued.

A number of the projects included soldering. The Soldered Link necklace though would give the most practice in this technique!

One of my favorite projects from the book was the spinner ring one.  The ring band started out as a simple shape which was etched on the flat.  The tube riveting might be a tad tricky to see with a small project like this.  So the author also included how to use very large riveting tubes on some river stones (not shown).

The Beaded Toggle bracelet project was also inspirational.  It did include soldering rings to the bar part but it could be adapted into a non-soldered project if one could only manage the sawing and part.
This is great book for those who are starting down the metal work path but who need very clear lesson plans to follow.


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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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