Since I've been the official jewelry girl and gem geek here
at Jewelry Making Daily, I've really
enjoyed seeing our readers and friends take on new and more challenging
jewelry-making techniques--as well as learning new ones myself! Many of you
have shared that you've moved from basic techniques to more advanced ones,
including wirework, metalsmithing, soldering, enameling, even mokume gane--and
vice versa. I have a friend who is a masterful enamel and metal clay artist who
recently asked me how to finish necklaces with end caps and crimp beads.
There's always something to learn, no matter how much we already know. So are
you ready for a challenge?
We've created a video with master metalsmith Andrea
Harvin-Kennington on creating advanced dimensional shapes in metal using
hammers and stakes. In Shell Forming for
Jewelry Making with Hammers and Stakes
, you'll learn the process for
turning flat metal sheet into dimensional metal masterpieces like tapered hollow
tubes or spiculums, synclastic (sunken) and anticlastic (raised) shapes, and
more using careful hammering-on-stakes techniques.
What Is Shell Forming?
Shell forming is a metal forming process developed by Heikki
Seppä, a Finnish American master metalsmith, and explained in his book, Form Emphasis for Metalsmiths, published
nearly 40 years ago. In the book (page 66), Seppä explains, "The word
shell means the outer skin of any form. The shell form is never solid. It
begins as a flat shape, but through the shell-structuring technique, it evolves
into a three-dimensional object and finally into a hollow structure."
In addition to the shells we are familiar with finding on
the seashore, consider the shells of many natural things we encounter in
everyday life--an egg's smooth shell, a turtle's lumpy, a snail's spiral shell,
a walnut's wrinkled and bumpy shell. All of these "shells" can be inspiring
forms to a metalsmith pulling curved shapes from flat metal. Shell forming
metal allows you to turn a relatively hard, solid sheet of metal into something
that looks soft, curving, flowing, ethereal, even liquid.
Beyond Shell Forming
In Andrea's video, you learn to understand and take advantage of metal's malleability and the working relationship between hard and soft tools
and forms--either hard steel tools and relatively soft wooden or nylon forms (stakes
and mandrels) or hard steel stakes and mandrels with relatively soft nylon or
wooden mallets. She even demonstrates how to make your own forms out of wood and alter them with hammers and files, as well as how to use your hammers like stakes in a vice. Once you understand this relationship and master the techniques for
creating spiculums (tapered tubes), synclastic and anticlastic forms, you'll be
able to craft basically any three-dimensional form in metal that isn't comprised of flat planes--and most of the world is not flat!
What Is a Spiculum?
According to Andrea's video tutorial, spiculum comes from
the Latin word spiculae, which means
a tapered hollow tube. The beauty of using spiculums in jewelry making is that
you can create considerable volume in a design, in a cuff or necklace for
example, that also packs considerable impact--but without the considerable
weight or costly materials. Forming simple metal sheet into these stylistic
tapered hollow tubes allows you to make a statement with your skill and
craftsmanship, not how much you spent on the materials used in a piece, so it's
also a great way to get more bang for your buck when working with metal sheet.
Similarly, synclastic and anticlastic forms also pack quite a punch, volume-wise
and design-wise, in jewelry creations.
But creating spiculums is just one of the ways that shell
forming helps us create more interesting, unique, lively work--and wouldn't we
all like to do that? Andrea, who holds an MFA in metal design, says in her
video that every metalsmith should know how to pull metal from a flat non-dimensional
piece into three dimensions, because it makes for more interesting jewelry. Seppä
wrote that in metalsmithing, artists must create "forms that are
inherently freer." Free your jewelry designs and take the leap from basic
jewelry making or even introductory metalsmithing to advanced metal forming. Your
jewelry designs will burst to life with flowing curvilinear lines, interesting depths, and eye-catching spirals and curls. Order or instantly
download Shell Forming for Jewelry Making
with Hammers and Stakes and learn to enhance your jewelry designs using
some of the most important tools in a metalsmith's studio.
P.S. You can also get a refresher
on hammers and other tools in our jewelry tools guide.