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Metal Working Techniques

For all above uses of jewellery, so many types of ornaments have been made for different body parts. All the body parts from hair to toe are decorated with different type of ornaments. Different type of techniques used to make all these ornaments like Hairpin, hair-buckle, hair-brooch, crown, tiara, coronet, diadem, necklines, Neck-chain, choker necklace, Rani-haar necklace, pendants, tanmaniya, tops, brooch, ear cuff, earrings, ear-pin, ear-chain, hoop, danglers, full ear, ear-pin, nose-ring, nose-pin, nose-hoop, nath chain, armlet, bracelet, bancle, kada, pachheli, kadandia, poncha, finger ring, thumb ring, spiral ring, engagement ring, cufflink, buttons, tiepin, waist belt, breastplates, anklets, toe-ring, amulets, prayer beads, medical alert jewellery, body piercing jewellery and many other like these.

The idea of gold nuggets is to some extent a myth they do exist nuggets weighing upto160 lb have been recorded – but this is the exception rather than the rule for the most part gold has to be extracted laboriously in tiny quantities form metal bearing quartz or by the collection of Alluvial gold washed into river beds from the mother code by centuries of erosion. Tons of quartz has to be crushed or sand rifted to yield no more than a handful of gold speaks. The process annealing must have been the first major technical discovery to be made by the goldsmiths of the Ancient world.

Forging:

Forging utilises the malleable quality of metal which allows it to be hammered into various shapes. One of the advantages of this technique is the spring tension created by the hardening of the metal. Such tension can be used to spring a forged bracelet together or to hold earrings or a necklace in place, thus eliminating the need for catches or clasps. Forging can be used to form many hollow shapes not only for jewellery but for hollowware as well, which includes teapots, bowls, spoons and plates.

Soldering:

The range of objects which could be made from a single sheet of metal was considerable, but there a time arrived when two or more pieces of metal had to be joined together. Before, soldering could be achieved satisfactorily; the problem of oxidation had to be overcome and through there is no mention of the substance in any ancient writings. We can only presume that they used some form of flux. When gold is approaching melting point develops a skin of oxide which interferes with the flow and adhesion of the solder. The surface is to be soldered therefore must be coated with the flux, which acts as a barrier from the air, not only preventing oxidation, but also guiding the solder into the joint since this is the only area which will readily receive it. What material was used in the ancient world is impossible to say but it must have similar properties to borax, which is used by contemporary craftsman.

Stamping:

Stamping marks the introduction of the concept of mass production to the world of jewellery. This technique appears to have evolved almost simultaneously with that of repose despite the considerably advanced degree of technical skill required for tool making. Some craftsman preferred to work in reverse in which case the design would be carved in reverse on the face of a bronze tool, the gold sheet laid on top covered by a thick sheet of lead and the design hammered out. This was in fact a primitive form of the die stamping widely used today.

Filigree and Granulation:

Soon after they had discovered the art of soldering, goldsmiths started to decorate the surface of their work with patterns of wire and granules. The production of wire for filigree work without machinery must have presented ancient craftsman with a lot of problems. There are various theories about the method of production, but it is generally agreed that the first step was to cut narrow strips of gold from a sheet with a chisel.

However, it was produced the existence of wire offered enormous scope for decorative patterns with a simple pair of bronze tweezers, the craftsmen could produce spirals, loops and wavy lines which could be soldered onto the face of the work. Two or more wires could be twisted together, which in twin became more complex designs. To add variety to this filigree work designers incorporated domes or spheres. These were originally quite large and produced as hollow domes punched out of this gold sheet and trimmed to size but as work became more complex and the component parts smaller. This method proved too time consuming, so solid spheres were used instead. This was the start of granulation, the most amazing of all the technical achievements of the craftsmen of the Ancient world. Granulation was in use in the 3rd millennium BC, but the granules used were large and the work comparatively crude. It was the Etruscans in the period 700 – 600 BC, who perfected the technique and produced work which puzzled craftsmen and metallurgists for centuries. So minute were the granules used some measuring less than 1/200th of an inch, that they look more like matt bloom on the work than a collection of granules.

Hammering:

This is a method with which the artist chooses from a number of various sharpened tools, all with a different shape at the end and by hammering the end of each tool gently, applies a force on the silver surface in order to create the desired decoration and representation of saints or other designs. This method is primarily used for Byzantine style icons and Ecclesiastic instruments.

Inlay:

One of the earliest and most popular methods used to incorporate stones was inlay. The first thing required of the setting was that it should hold the stone firmly in position and the second that it should protect it from knocks and abrasion.

Another popular substitute, developed in the Egyptian Middle Kingdom was frit, the earliest known form of glass. It was similar in composition to modern glass but with a slightly lower proportion of silica and lime. Much of the frit produced is opaque and would suggest that is raison diameter was a gemstone substitute rather than an entity itself.

Enamelling:

The earliest enamelling technique known as Cloisonné enamel was identical to inlay but used molten glass rather than individually cut stones. Then the Champleve technique was developed in which the design was cut into the surface of the metal and the recesses filled with molten glass.

Later more sophisticated techniques were used allowing continuous tone pictorial decoration unpacked stained glass effects and polychromatic decoration in three dimensions or relief.

Electroforming:

This is a unique and recent technique for forming jewellery, is the art of building metal forms, by electro-deposition, on a base of medium. The medium can be metal or an unorthodox material such as wood, lac, paper, tinfoil, wax or polystyrene. These materials can be left inside the newly electroformed piece, or they can be burned or malted out, leaving an extremely lightweight piece of jewellery. This technique has unlimited possibilities for the invention of jewellery forms previously impracticable by traditional methods. Many soft materials such as coal and porcelain, which break easily and have been nearly impossible to mount, can now be set by electroforming.