3 May 2012


So it has been a year since that scary business with my lung. What a year- it took quite a while to recover, and so it was a bit of a write-off really, but now I'm doing great. I feel much more aware of my mortality now, as you might expect, and more appreciative of my blessings- not the least of which is my body.
Don't forget to look after your body! Especially when it comes to work hazards.
I am much more conscious of this now- particularly when it comes to respiratory hazards.
I have been trying to minimise or avoid fumes and particles that are typically created during metal work.
For example, take the earring above. I redesigned it slightly so that there is no need for soldering.
( thus eliminating flux fumes and pickle fumes) I used to solder on the hallmark disc and the hinge part that holds the ear wire. Now I cut all of these parts out of the flat sheet and bend it up from the one shape. Its not filed or sanded either, the texturing is done with the rolling mills at the beginning.
Its a bit trickier, but its better.
Other precautions:
Wear a respirator or, just don't do that fumey, dusty task. I've been doing a lot of hammer-finishing, so there's no sanding.
(~ Special Thanks to all those beautiful people who have been ordering Goodness Rings, this allows me to be safer and make truly special objects for you~)
Do abrasive work under water ( just in a basin- you don't have to dive into the pool)
Use a good exhaust system for soldering. I am going to upgrade mine.
( + use borax cone flux in preference to flouro-borate flux~ better still, join by fusion/ diffusion etc)
Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up dust as you make it. (Now I have one attached to the  back of my bench peg- I may show you a pic of this, it works great. But not for gold work!)
Just don't do blackening/ other crazy patination/ acid etching/ cutting or sanding of plastics.

The limitations might just set me free.

 Be safe, young smiths


  1. What is a good exhaust system for soldering that you recommend?

  2. I don't have a specific recommendation, Im sorry.
    It depends greatly on your requirements.
    I will put up a pic of what I use- and how I would like it to be better.
    The main thing is that it is effectively drawing fumes away without snuffing the flame out.
    I have a booth/ hood that I made, which houses a kitchen range exhaust fan.
    Some institutions use articulated ( posable) pipes that go to every work station- that is very local exhaust;
    I think a combo of these would be ideal.
    But also try to avoid harmful fumes altogether.
    This would include cadmium present in many commercial solder alloys!!!!!!

  3. David, how do you do these beautiful thin lines and the embossed ones on your Aster earrings? By chasing/repousse, engraving or do you cast them? Thanks for the suggestions - I am a drawing maker turned jewelry maker and very interested in line work. Damla

  4. Hi Damla,

    Yes fine lines are tricky.
    Things you might try;
    engraving- use a hammer and chisel.
    I highly recommend a study of Japanese Tsuba if you're really interested in drawing on metal. Mind blowing!
    Repoussé- good option, use in combination with chisel engraving. ( chasing)
    Etching, but acid is very hazardous.
    embossing/stamping with rollers or press is excellent, but making the stamps/ dies is expensive.
    Casting I do use sometimes but I find it very frustrating- results are often disappointing. Im still experimenting with wax techniques- its not really my forté. It is certainly possible to achieve very fine lines with casting- but you'll need a good operator, or your own casting equipment.

  5. This is absolutely beautifully detailed.