Over the past two months, I have given several lectures on both coasts of the United States, and during that time, had a chance to investigate two books by the authors.
Brad Smith, one of my early mentors in the Culver City Gem and Mineral Club, published a book called “Bench Tips for Jewelry Making”. One of the things about Brad is for a time he could not make it to many of the meetings as he was busy teaching jewelry making at LAUSD in Santa Monica. I did not know what to expect out of this book, so it was surprising to find out that it is, basically, my favorite kind of book for technical information. Full of short tips covering a wide variety of jewelry making, so much I was inquisitive about, so much that is not just for jewelry makers! Using Alum to remove a broken drill bit might be helpful to jewelry makers, but putting that idea in my head about removing broken bits of metal from non-metallic items, using Alum, was something I did not take home from science class 20 years ago. I’m going to keep it next to my copy of Gem and Mineral Data Book by John Sinkankas, both books, full of great tips!
While serving as the guest speaker for the Eastern Federation of Mineralogical Societies twice yearly Wild Acres Retreat I had the opportunity to visit with the classes and instructors. During this beautiful mountain retreat, classes in different lapidary and metal working are offered. I took a class on Geology, while others learned soapstone carving, wire wrapping, gem faceting and my roommate was very excited to take a class on Lost Wax Casting. He planned on making a setting for a beautiful gem yellow idaho opal. When I went to check on him, four days later, he confessed, this was not something you could just JUMP into and showed off his much simpler designs, sans opal. That class visit was fun, the instructor, Fred R. Sias Jr. took the time to run me through all the basic steps of casting in a couple minutes. Looking at the projects the class was working on, I can see this is not something you can do repeatedly, well, without some practice and experience. Fred has a book, which I can highly recommend, that speaks about the methods of wax casting, providing an amazing overview for someone who has never been introduced to this ancient art. For those who are already wax casting this might not provide a lot of new content, Ashanti casting might be something you have not been taught, and Fred Sias does a great job of illustrating this primitive technique.