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Ordering and Contact Information

 Contemporary work

For the Re-enactor
 

 

Bill Dawson
Instruction in Metalsmithing
 

Home
 
Ordering and Contact Information

 Contemporary work

For the Re-enactor
 

 

I teach small groups or one on one, with focus on empowering students to realise their designs as independently, and with as much facility as possible. Some of my workshops require a fairly well equipped studio, but others can be done more or less anywhere that there is a sturdy table and good ventilation. In fact I have taught some of them outdoors. Some of these workshops can be completed in an afternoon, but most take all day or several days, and sometimes evening classes can be arranged. For upcoming workshop dates see below. If you would like more information or want to arrange for a workshop, do not hesitate to contact me at bill.metalsmith@gmail.com My rates are reasonable and I am willing to travel to teach, as the situation and my schedule allow.

Spring/Summer 2011
 Date Location  Workshop
     

June 3-5

Danaca Design, Seattle,WA Anticlastic Forming

July 22-24

Pouncing Rain Jewelry and Metal Working Center, Bellingham, WA Workshop TBA

August 6-7

Danaca Design, Seattle,WA Tool Making for the Chasing and Repoussé Artist
September 17-18 Danaca Design, Seattle,WA Rivets, Tabs, and Tiny Screws: Cold Connections for Jewelry

Available Workshops

Workshop title

 Time requirements

 Studio requirements
Ancient Techniques for Modern Metalsmiths

 Two to four days
A well equipped studio is required, plus a space to set up a charcoal hearth.
Anticlastic Forming

Two to four days
A well equipped studio is required, plus one vice per student.
Creating Rigidity:An Introduction to Decked Forms

Two to three days
A studio that will handle a lot of soldering is required..
Cold Connections

Two days
A moderately well equipped studio is required.
Enamelled Engraving with Cloisonne

 Two days
A basic studio, with good light ventilation and running water is required.
Making Enamelling Tools

 One to two days
A very basic studio will do well.
Fold Forming

 One to two days
A basic studio is required.
History of Metalworking Processes

 One afternoon or evening 
A computer and erasable board are required.
Introduction to Engraving

Two days. 
A basic studio, with good light is required.
Mixed Media in Hollowware

  three to four days
A well equipped studio is required.
Personal Dog Tags for Friends and Pets

 One afternoon or evening
Sturdy table and good ventilation.
Pewter Casting in Soapstone

 Three to four days.
Sturdy table, good ventilation, and fire resistant surroundings.
Relief Carving in StoneTwo weekends. Sturdy table, good ventilation, and fire resistant surroundings.  A sheltered outdoor location will work.
Rune Jewellery
 One afternoon or evening 
A basic studio is required.
Survey of Metalsmithing Techniques

 One week to three months
 A well equipped studio is required, plus one vice per student.
Tablet Weaving in Wire

One to two days 
 No studio required.
Tool Making for Artists and Metalsmiths

 One to two days
A moderately well equipped studio is required, and a basic forge is helpful.
Designing Successful Castings 

 Two weekend sessions
 A moderately well equipped studio is required, and compressed air is helpful.
Further descriptions of these workshops are at the bottom of this page.

If you have questions about any of my work, or want more detailed information about any of the things you see here do not hesitate to contact me.

Bill Dawson
3403 Steamboat Island Road NW
PMB # 527
Olympia, WA 98502

 

More about the workshops.

Ancient Techniques For Modern Metalsmiths - A Hands On Workshop

Understanding how our ancestors manipulated the materials they worked informs and guides us as present day artists. By experimenting with age old processes we come to better understand our materials, and better appreciate the work of those who have gone before.

In this workshop students will start with a silver ingot, and working together with hammer and hand, create a range of wires, patterned mouldings, and matrix stamped reliefs. We will discuss the tools used long ago, including beading irons, stone moulds, and bronze dies. We will also cover the use of modern tools to streamline ancient processes. Each student will be able to take home samples of the products of this workshop, along with new insights into the past. Simple finished jewellery pieces such as those pictured above are also possible, as time and equipment allow.

Students will be expected to bring earplugs, safety glasses, and if possible, small hammers and bench blocks.

Students will be provided with a small amount of silver and copper with which to work, and the option for gemstones for final projects.

 

Anticlastic Forming

Take the confusion and mystery out of anticlastic forming, as you create beautiful organic looking shapes from sheet metal. In this workshop you will learn the basics of anticlastic raising. This process allows you to create exceptionally strong, flexible, lightweight, and organic-looking forms. A flat sheet of metal is shaped by compressing its edges and stretching the centre so that the surface develops two curves at right angles to each other. A saddle is a good example of an anticlastic form. We will focus on "open" or "monoshell" forms made from single pieces of thin sheet metal, working to create striking dimensional shapes. Each student will have the opportunity to make a finished piece of jewellery that includes this process.

Though open anticlastic forms date from the middle Bronze Age, it is only recently that they have been explored in detail. This new focus has yielded some of the most interesting forms in contemporary metalworking. You do not need a great deal of metalworking experience to take this class, but some facility with the hammer is helpful.

Students should bring earplugs and safety glasses.

Students will be provided with sheet metal and other materials. There will be toolkits available for purchase.

 

Creating Rigidity: An Introduction to Decked Forms

When you apply a cover or "decking" to an anticlastic form, a hollow form, or even a fold form, something interesting happens. In all cases, the form becomes rigid. Un-decked, these forms may be manipulated, usually by twisting, so that their curves change to create beautiful and sometimes useful shapes. Once decked, they no longer twist, and hold these new shapes with a remarkable toughness.

In this class you will learn to make patterns and to apply decking to a variety of forms to create beautiful and in some cases functional objects. You need not be an expert metalsmith, but you do need to know how to solder, sear, and file metals. You will need to have already taken an Anticlastic Forming workshop, as we will be making a number of simple anticlastic forms to be decked. If you are familiar with fold forming, that is also a plus. You will be amazed at the diversity of forms you are able to create using this process, and you will marvel at their lightness and toughness.

Students should bring earplugs and safety glasses.

Students will be provided with sheet metal and other materials. There will be toolkits available for purchase.

 

Cold Connections

Come learn a variety of techniques for joining parts securely, without the use of heat or solder. This workshop will cover a wide range of mechanical joints that can be achieved with simple tools. We will be working with simple headed rivets, roves, blind rivets, tube rivets, and much more. There will be practice samples, as well as the option for a finished piece of jewellery to take home. We will work with brass, copper, silver, and horn or antler, learning how to determine the appropriate sort of cold joint for the materials at hand.

Students will be expected to bring foam earplugs and safety glasses.

Students will be provided with sheet metal, rivets, wire, tubing, and other materials.

It would be helpful if students who have small hammers and bench blocks would bring them.

 

Enamelled Engraving with Cloisonne

Make your own exquisite enamelled jewels while being introduced to two traditional metalworking techniques. Student will first engrave a pattern into a fine silver base, and then work a simple cloisonné pattern into transparent and opaque enamels. The effect is brilliant, and the techniques are fairly simple. Once fired, the enamelled disc can be set like a cabachon or antique coin, in whatever design you choose. This workshop is appropriate for beginners, but experienced jewellery artists may find it very exciting as well! I co-teach this workshop with Alison Fine, so we may need a bit more lead time to find a date when we are both available to teach.

Students should bring a small sketch book.

Students will be provided with gravers, which we will set up and fit to each student as part of the class. Materials and supplies to make one or two small enamels will also be provided. Additional tools and supplies will be available for purchase.

 

Making Enamelling Tools

Tools for fine enamel work can be both costly and hard to find, but you can make many of them yourself. In this workshop students will make trivets, spatulas, probes etc, and no tool making experience is needed. This is a great class for both beginners and experienced enamelists alike.

Students need bring no special tools, though a razor knife is helpful.

All the materials, parts and supplies will be provided.

 

Fold Forming

Fold forming is an exciting new method for shaping metal quickly, and without the need for many repeated annealing. The metal is worked near to the limit of its malleability making it possible to create forged forms from remarkably thin sheet metal. The natural properties of the metal come through in this process to give these forms an almost organic look; quite different from traditional hammered forms.

In this workshop we will use copper sheet to create a variety of sample fold forms, which may be adapted for use in jewellery designs. We will also have an experimentation, "play with the metal," session in which we can develop new variations of the standard fold forms.

Students will be expected to bring earplugs, and safety glasses.

Students will be provided with sheet metal, and other materials.

It would be helpful if students who have small hammers and bench blocks would bring them.

 

History of Metalworking Processes - The companion lecture to the Ancient Techniques workshop.

We seldom take time to consider how much we owe to those who have gone before. As artists and metalsmiths we are working with thousands of years of accumulated experience with which we are free to create. In this lecture we will explore how this wealth of human endeavour was arrived at, starting with the very beginnings, and working up to some of the most recent innovations, and re-discoveries.

Students should bring note taking materials.

Students will be provided with a bibliography and a printed handout, featuring a rough time line with some of the high points from the lecture, and plenty of space for annotation.


Introduction to Engraving

Mastering engraving is a lifetime endeavour, but like most such arts the basics can be learned in a fairly short time, and after that repetition and careful practice increase skill. There is a lot of embellishment that can be done with relatively little engraving experience, and engraving can add a great deal of interest to your designs. In this two-day workshop we will start with tool setup and layout and then explore hand engraving, wriggle cut, and hammer driven engraving. We will work with a variety of methods for holding the work piece and a variety of schemes for pattern transfer. Lettering, gunmetal engraving, and inlay work will not be covered. Each student will take home a basic set of gravers fitted to their own hands and a whole new range of options for decorating their designs.

Students should bring a sketchbooks.

Students will be provided with metal practice plates, and the tools to get started.

 

Mixed Media in Hollowware

Hollowware can be much more than simply raising a form from sheet metal. In fact from the earliest times materials like wood, stone, horn, glass and shell have been used to great effect in all sorts of vessels. Many such objects get special names, such as Nef and Mazer, but what they all have in common is some sort of mechanical system for connecting the metal parts to the non-metallic parts.

In this workshop we will explore the potential of mixed media vessels, and learn to design and create such mechanical connections. Each student will have the opportunity to finish a mixed hollowware piece that involves horn, wood, or even found objects that students provide. Students need not be expert metalsmiths, but some jewellery experience is helpful.

Students should bring safety glasses, earplugs, dust masks, and any personal metalworking tools they wish to have on hand.

Students will be provided with metals, non-metallic parts, and fasteners. Silver, gemstones, and some specialised tools will be available for purchase.

 

Personal Dog Tags For Friends or Pets - A fun and easy workshop.

In this workshop students will create their own personalised metal tags for themselves, their friends, or their pets. They will learn to work with letter and pattern stamps, and explore some of the basics of jewellery making. Copper and brass sheet will be available to work with, as well as pre-cut metal shapes.

Students should bring foam ear plugs and safety glasses. I also recommend aprons, bandanas, and hair ties to help keep both students and their clothes safe and clean.

Students will be provided with the sheet metal and jump ring needed to make a one of a kind personal tag with inscription and decorative patterns.

 

Pewter Casting in Soapstone - An extended workshop.

In this workshop students will progress from the bare basics of pewter casting, and work up to casting complex shapes in multiple-part keyed moulds. We will cover one-part, flat-backed moulds and the basics of pewter casting, producing a one-sided flat casting. We will progress to two-part, keyed moulds, creating castings with surface details on both sides, and we will explore keying strategies and the use of multiple part moulds, to cast complex shapes.

Each session will have four phases: lecture, demonstration, design, and hands-on. In each lecture we will discuss the principles that underlie the day's project, design parameters, and problem solving strategies. In the demonstrations students will have the opportunity to watch the process they will be using in the hands on phase of the workshop. Students will then be assisted in designing objects that can be successfully cast with the process being covered. Finally students will carve moulds, cast, and finish their pewter pieces.

Students will be expected to bring earplugs, dust masks, and safety glasses. I recommend bringing sketch books for taking notes and working out designs. I also recommend aprons, bandanas, hair ties, and leather shoes to help keep both students and their clothes clean and safe.

Students will be provided with pewter for casting, soapstone for carving moulds, and lead for casting keys.

Relief Carving in Stone - A hands on workshop.

In this workshop we will start by learning to make and maintain traditional stone cutting tools. Then we will proceed with design and layout and carve our designs in Tenino Sandstone. The focus will be on designs and techniques useful for architectural elements such as keystones and corbels and for garden art. If there is interest we will arrange a free day trip to stone yards and sculpture parks in the area at a later time.

Rune Jewellery - A hands on workshop.

In the 8th 9th and 10th centuries in northern Europe runic inscriptions were used to write down everything, from invoices to love poetry, graffiti to magical charms. The archeological record is filled with claim tags, tallies, and personal notes, all in variations of the FUThARK, or runic script.

In this fun and informative workshop students will create simple pieces of jewellery, inscribed with a runic message. We will examine the development of the FUThARK, and learn to cut simple runes with pattern stamps and chasing tools. Students may make and inscribe pendants, bracelets, ear cuffs, and simple brooches.

Students should bring foam ear plugs, and safety glasses.

Students will be provided with the sheet metal and wire needed to complete these projects.

 

Survey of Metalsmithing Techniques

This workshop can take many forms depending the time available. We will explore the plasticity of the metal, while creating beautiful forms. This workshop will cover the differences between raising and sinking; between anticlastic and sinclastic shapes; on and off anvil work; hot and cold forming. We will focus on traditional techniques and their structural and metallurgical foundations. You need not have a great deal of metalworking experience to take this workshop, but a bit of stamina, and a willingness to explore are essential.

Students are expected to bring earplugs and safety glasses.

Students will be provided with sheet metal and other materials. There will be toolkits available for purchase.

 

Tablet Weaving in Wire

Tablet weaving is an ancient textile art, still practices in some places today. With a few loom modifications this technique may be applied to wire, with striking results. Some textile experience is helpful, but no previous metalworking is required.

Student need bring no special tools.

Students will be provided with a loom wire, weaving cards, and other supplies.

 

Tool Making - Chasing Tools and Pattern Stamps

In this money saving workshop students will make several simple tools, and gain the skills to create and customise a range of tools both for the jewellery shop and more general uses. We will learn to gauge the quality of steel, as well as how to harden and soften it. The workshop will cover hot forging, stock removal, engraving, and other metal shaping techniques, and we will discuss where to get tool steel stock new, and how to get it as salvage. Learning these skills provides the artist with a whole new range of options, allowing him or her to create or alter tools to suit the task at hand.

Students will be expected to bring earplugs, and safety glasses. I also recommend aprons, bandanas, hair ties, and leather shoes to help keep both students and their clothes clean and safe.

Students will be provided with steel for making several simple tools.

 

Designing Successful Castings  - a scientific approach

Learn to create patterns that work every time both for custom work and production. Whether you do your own casting or send your masters out, there is no substitute for a design that is well thought out and takes into account the physics of the process. In this workshop we will cover basic waxwork, spruing schemes, mould making strategies, and treeing for both vacuum and centrifuge. We will cover the physical differences between different metals and the design accomodations they require. In addition, each student will carve one design in wax to be moulded in RTV and cast between the first and second session. We will then finish the casting as a master that can be stored or used for vulcanised mould making. We will also troubleshoot the RTV moulds and inject waxes for treeing. Students who wish may send out their trees to be cast.