“The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques” is a comprehensive workshop book, which was published in English by Thames & Hudson Ltd. in 2010. The latest and second edition in german translation was published by Haupt Verlag in 2017. The guide is meant for jewellery designers and for lay persons who have dedicated themselves to jewellery design. The designer and author, Anastasia Young, provides you with all that you need to know on the subject of jewellery design, spread over 320 pages and with almost 850 colour photographs in the volume.
A review of history shows that jewellery goes far beyond the idea of decoration and fashion in its functions. Our ancestors wore jewellery long before they wore clothes! It was only later that jewellery was also used to fasten clothes. It is presumed that Homo sapiens’ uninterrupted interest in jewellery is something that is inborn. It is also something that is common to all the cultures all over the world and has remained an integral part of all these cultures even up to the present day, in spite of all the advances that have taken place. The creation and appreciation of works of art is innate in all of us and ages-old creative forces drive us to design jewellery. It is our fondness for precious materials, the challenges involved in processing them, the pleasure these give us in implementing the concept right from the beginning up to the end and the need to express our own ideas in a complex medium that satisfies us.
From the raw material to the finished piece of jewellery
In its five chapters, the jewellery manual provides you with a wealth of information with regard to the workshop and raw materials, technologies, design and special knowledge required for jewellery design. Besides the expertise required in working with your hands, Anastasia Young also explains the practical aspects of a jewellery workshop. She describes the creative process involved in designing – right from the first sketch to the prototype. The detailed explanations with regard to the technologies and the clear instructions that accompany every work step along with many photos, are a major element of this work. Therefore, it is not only suitable for professional goldsmiths but also for students and trainees at all levels who are looking for a comprehensive guidebook on their profession. Subjects such as safety at the workplace, health protection and the contracting of external specialists and suppliers are subjects that are also discussed and these increase the bandwidth that the book provides.
The jewellery workshop: essential workplace with many tools
One rarely starts with one’s own fully-equipped jewellery workshop. Generally, one starts practising on a solid work bench or a stable work table. It really does not matter, if it is a table or a work bench, the right workplace is the most important item for all goldsmiths and it is indispensable for learning jewellery design properly and/or to utilise it as a professional.
Just as important is the subdivision of the working area. This needs to be thoroughly thought through, so that all the tools and devices are well within reach. In the first chapter, the book provides a broad overview of everything that would be needed – from simple hand tools all the way to complex machines. Tools, which are required as basic equipment, have been provided a corresponding symbol in the book. The specialist knowledge required for the use of each tool is elaborated and this is particularly useful to the beginner. Many of the simple hand tools, which are suitable for sawing, filing, marking or measuring, that are discussed in the book are essential for budding goldsmiths. Special hammers and lump hammers that are required for slightly more sophisticated techniques are discussed in greater detail.
Metals and their applications
Many goldsmiths work only with metals. It is however very exhilarating to get to know and to try working with other materials as well. This makes an interesting contrast to noble metals. However, since the processing of metals is one of the easier tasks, it is this which is best suited for beginners who can get used to tools in this way and can experience how these tools react differently to different raw materials.
In primitive times, only materials that appeared naturally in nature such as wood, ivory, shells and leather were used for making jewellery. This was before metals, precious stones and decorative stones came to be used. Today, conventional materials are also a preferred material. The book describes the various metals that are used, along with their properties, in the designing of jewellery and also discusses their many varied applications in detail.
Technologies used in the making and design of jewellery
In the second and third chapters of the manual, the design approaches are described. This is done along with the description of basic technologies and design processes. This is because every technology is preceded by an idea and every piece of jewellery is based on an inspiration. This inspiration can be a technology, a material or a visual impression. For this, Anastasia Young provides you with an overview of the sources that are suitable for the collection of ideas and also explains why sketches and drawings are so important in the initial stages of the planning for jewellery design. Even transient sketches allow the jewellery designer to get an idea of how the piece will feel on the body, how it will look and what kind of an aesthetic message it will give. Although the attraction that many pieces of jewellery have, lies in their simplicity, a judicious choice of the technology can make the result more attractive and the work process more interesting. Many jewellery designers fascinate you through the extraordinarily personal character of their pieces of jewellery and the special appreciation that they get from the person wearing it.
What is even more important is to put your personal stamp on the jewellery and to make your own aesthetic concept with original design ideas. This can be achieved through, for example, mechanisms and the use of moving parts such as chain links, hinges or clasps that often act as trademarks and provide the creation with a recognisable logo. This aspect has been discussed in detail in this book.
Anastasia Young is a designer, goldsmith and artist whose works are exhibited internationally. She graduated from the Royal College of Art and from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London where she is presently teaching as a lecturer for the Batchelor’s degree in Jewellery Design.
You can find gorgeous pieces of jewellery from well-known designers and from fresh talent as well, in our Jewellery category.
Posted on 09.08.2017
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