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The Complete Metalsmith: A Review
Article © MAIL User: sakredchao
By Tim McCreight
Published by Brynmorgan Press, inc
Page Count: 299
reviewed by sakredchao
Tim McCreight has just released a new edition of his famous 'complete metalsmith' book. I recently got a chance to look over the 'professional edition'. I saw the student edition, but did not get a chance to compare my 1991 'revised edition' with the 2004 'student edition'.. I only got to compare the 1991 'revised edition' with the 2004 'professional edition' after we got the book home. I am highly impressed with this printing of the book. All of the topics you know and love from previous printings are present, as well as new topics you know and love, such as 'chain mail' and 'repetative stress injury'.
Tim covers byzantine, boxchain, european 4-1, european 6-1 and japanese 4-1, although he uses different names for them. He refers to japanese 4-1 as 'italian pattern' and offers this comment, "This is just one of the hundreds of alternate patterns of mail." I emailed Tim and asked about this, he said he did not remember his source for the italian information, but he was about to do a new printing of the book and would research japanese maille beforehand. he also said that he had been to the MAIL site before! He covers aspect ratio, and suggests stretching the spring to make preopened rings.. He also suggests a ring supplier, who tim says was chosen arbitrarily. Compared to MAIL, this section is mediocre, but I'm glad to see maille getting more exposure in the art and jewelry industry.
Another important addition is the repetative stress injury section, which lists some stretches, and discusses the importance of using them.. (stretch, people!)
Just about every section I looked through had all of the old information I was used to in the edition from 13 years ago, and just about all of the sections had some new piece of information to pass on to you, the artist. If you're going to buy the complete metalsmith, spend the extra 12$ and get the professional edition over the student edition, it is well worth it.
The Complete Metalsmith - An Illustrated Handbook
by Tim McCreight
Published by Davis Publications, Inc.
Page count - 200
Reviewed by sakredchao
This tome consists of 9 chapters: materials, surfaces, shaping, joining, casting, stones, mechanisms, tools and a reference section.
The illustrations are clear. This was written by a college instructor and seems to be a textbook. Not intended for novice artists, but novices could get a lot of information out of this book.
Materials - This chapter will be of interest to many maillers. It begins with a couple pages of metallurgy and then discusses each
metal for about a page: the element symbol (if applicable), melting point (in F & C), specific gravity and sometimes the atomic weight are given for each metal.
gold - 2 pages, discusses karats
platinum (platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, osmium)
silver (4 alloys mentioned)
copper (mentions 2 japanese alloys specifically: shaku-do [oxidizes to a deep purple], and shibu-ichi [silvery pink color])
brass & bronze
iron & steel
white metals (alloys of lead, tin, cadmium, bismuth)
titanium & niobium
Surfaces - This chapter covers topics such as hammer marks, engraving, stamping, several inlay techniques, etching and much
more. The topics that are most useful to maillers are the various coloring techniques.
Electrolytic copper plating
preservation (laquer & wax)
copper patina colors: green, blue, brown, red, gray
bronze patina: gray to dull black
aluminum patina: gray to dull black
pewter patina: gray to dull black
steel patina: gray to blue black, red-orange
reactive metals (titanium and niobium anodization. 2 methods covered: bath & applicator.)
Shaping - Many topics are covered but the most interesting to maillers are drawing wire, rolling wire, and twisting wire.
Joining - This chapter can be useful to those maillers who wish to solder, weld or rivet their rings.
Casting - Maillers might use this section for pendants, or casting rings.
Stones - Shows how to set stones, as well as listing many stones and their physical & metaphysical properties.
Mechanisms - This chapter covers clasps and catches, chains, hinges and threaded closures (lids).
The clasps shown are ornate and often complicated, but still interesting.
The chains section starts with making rings. It suggests using masking tape underneath square or rectangular springs, and burning
it away so you can slide the spring off. The cutting methods mentioned are jeweler's saw, and cutting disk. The book also
suggests that the artist solder every ring, about 1/2 before the work begins, implying speedweaving. This is mentioned next to a
simple 2 on 1 chain. The only other chainmaille weave covered is "idoit's delight" or byzantine.
The other chains that are shown in this area are simple decorative chains, knitted chains, and etruscan chains.
Tools - Various tools are mentioned: chemicals, measuring tools, saws, files, mallets & hammers, motors & flex shafts, anvils,
and even a workbench design.
Reference - Quick reference for safety precautions for various materials, an alloy chart, dividing a circle into equal parts, the
history of metalsmithing, photographing finished products, conversions, temperature comparisons, relative sizes and weights,
silver/copper phase diagram, stone sizes, sawblade sizes, weight charts, weight per foot of wire, geometry formulas, periodicals
and organizations, a suggested reading list, list of suppliers, glossary, and 6 different graphing grids of different layouts.
The relative size & weights section allow you to take an item out of pure silver and calculate the weight if it were made from
platinum or gold.
Weight per foot of wire chart is pretty useful to us, however only covers fine silver, fine gold, 10k, 14k, 18k gold and platinum.
Although this book is weak in its chainmaille content, the topics it covers that relate to our craft make it a worthwhile purchase.
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