Master Riveting with Kim St. Jean’s New Video Tutorials, Part 2: 8 More Essential Metalsmithing Tips

I’m learning so much watching our new videos by Kim St. Jean. They’re basically about riveting, but they go way beyond riveting to cover sawing, hammering, dapping metal, texturing metal, and more. It’s impossible to watch a jewelry-making expert like Kim create a project and not pick up some helpful advice! Imagine how many tips and smart shortcuts an expert instructor picks up during years of teaching metalsmithing classes to dozens and ultimately hundreds of students?

Those little tips and pointers pop up throughout their demos, so even if I already know how to do something, I still like to watch to see what bonus info I can learn. About two weeks ago, I shared seven essential metalsmithing tips that I gathered from watching just one of Kim’s new riveting videos–and there are five more videos! But I figure, who doesn’t love a good tip? So here are 8 more nuggets of wisdom from Kim’s new video tutorials that go way beyond riveting.

how to hold a metal stamp

1. When metal stamping, hold the stamp with all fingers, not just your thumb and forefinger. This helps prevent shadow impressions that come from the slight movement of an unsteady hand.

2. Dip metal into and out of liver of sulfur repeatedly to create a dark patina more quickly than just leaving it in the solution. Sounds like it would be the opposite, doesn’t it?

save your fingers by holding small metal pieces with a wooden clothes pin or craft stick while hammering

3. A wooden clothespin (or a craft or Popsicle stick) is ideal for holding metal in place while you hammer–they’re affordable and easy to find; they’re rough enough that they won’t be slippery and allow the metal to slide out from under them; and the wood is soft enough (as opposed to pliers or tweezers, etc.) that it won’t harm the face of your hammer or your steel block if you hit it.

4. If you are adamant about having perfect circles or other shapes in your work, remember to texture the metal first and then cut it out using disc cutters or metal shears. The texturing process will stretch and spread out the metal, distorting the shape.

5. Kim recommends hammering/texturing the outer edges of the metal first; this work hardens the metal and helps it maintain its shape as you texture the interior portions. If you start in the middle and work your way out toward the edges, the metal will stretch. This can be very important if you’re trying to layer or fit two pieces together.

hammer ONLY the front third of ear wires, to work harden them

6. When making ear wires, hammer along the front curve of the wire to work harden it and give some strength to the wire–but hammer only in that area, because it doesn’t enter the ear. If you hammer the center or end of the wire, you’ll flatten it and create sharp edges that can be painful to the wearer.

adhere patterns to metal with rubber cement or glue stick

7. You can use rubber cement or a glue stick to adhere a pattern to your metal before cutting. You can also draw directly on metal using a marker, but you run the risk of it rubbing off as you work.

cut sanding blocks into thirds to triple their useful surface area

8. Cut your sanding blocks into thirds. Then you’ll use more of the surface of each piece, roughly tripling their value, and you’ll clean your shears in the process.

Another great thing about these videos? You can get all six in Kitchen Table Metalsmithing: Intro to Basic Jewelry Tools Through 6 Metal Earring Designs with Kim St. Jean, one info-packed DVD that shows you how to master various types of riveting and other metalsmithing skills while you create six different earring projects. We’ve also put together a super-handy collection of jewelry-making tools that will help you make these projects and so many more!

It’s a great value to get them all in one–you’ll get all six for a little more than the cost of just two–but if you don’t want all six, you can buy each video lesson individually as well. Here are three that you might particularly enjoy:

Domed Paddle Earrings with Kim St. Jean

Tube Riveted Layers Earrings with Kim St. Jean

Two-Part Dangle Earrings with Kim St. Jean

No matter which video or videos you pick, you’re going to get lots of tips and advice for mastering riveting for jewelry making while you learn at least one great earring project. Have fun!



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