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Metalwork and Enamelling Paperback – October 5, 2011
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In this age of poorly trained metalsmiths who rely on style rather than substance, this book is vital in learning how to approach jewelry making. Age old craftsmanship is nearly dead in our powder coated silhouette machine made age of disposable jewelry. Buy this book now and read how old school artists, trained in a tradition that reaches back to ancient times did it.
If you consider yourself a real crafts-person and don't have this book, buy it now!
Although the editor of this fifth (1971) edition says that many tools and materials were updated, it still retains a lot of its older character. Soldering, for example, describes torches that I've only ever seen as antiques, and never mentions modern fuels like propane. Maryon presents dozens of formulas and recipes for everything from soldering alloys to etchants. While most are still helpful, many seem quaint. A few look downright scary to contemporary workers, such as a patination recipe that dissolves arsenic in acid. A little good sense will steer the modern reader toward safer techniques and materials, however. The section on twisted wire, for example, offers many decorative motifs that even beginners can use and explore on their own.
Modern how-to books tend to be better illustrated and be more helpful regarding contemporary tools and materials. Also, some mis-statements (such as the idea that Japanese layered metals were bonded with solder) have been corrected by later research. Still, if you want to look back in time for inspiration, historical grounding, or wide-ranging coverage of many topics, this classic is a great place to start.
If the other parts over metalworking and enameling are as good, and they look as good with a cursory glance, this text is perfect for someone who is going "How do they/I make REAL jewelry, anyway", where by REAL jewelry I mean you make your own materials, as opposed to combining beads and other materials that are pre-made and store-bought.
The importance of this is multifold. First it brings every process down to the directness of basic hand tools. It is the jeweler making every mark and every cut through the simplicity of the basic tools that have been used for centuries. Processes are not obscured through expensive specialized equipment that are limited in their application.
The same is true of the materials themselves. Sheet and wire that are readily made by the jeweler are the basis for all forms of fabrication. Hinges for example start with sheet metal and do not rely on the limitations of commercially produced products, thus freeing one financially and aesthetically.Thirdly, the use of basic hand tools expands the realm of the small studio. A simple burin, scraper and burnisher can accomplish many of the same tasks that match hundreds of dollars worth of specialized tools while performing a greater range of uses. Many of these tools can also be made by the jeweler or adapted to their own personal applications.
Herbert Maryon was a master metalsmith himself. His expertise is evident throughout the book. While no one book can cover everything, this book provides a foundation to develop any number of approaches. His sample of seventy-two kinds of twisted wire is one example of taking a basic technique and turning it into a full scope of possibilities of the highest caliber. From fabrication to casting, stone setting to enamel this book provides a wealth of information and insight.
(Review by Robert Jackson, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia USA)