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Simplicity in jewelry design can sometimes be enough.  Using a basic shape like a circle and making small modifications can lead to shapes with “significant form” to use a Clive Bell phrase.  We will explore taking a flat circle and make it dimensional by cutting and folding.  Sometimes using a few tools and aiming at a minimal design can be a good place to start in designing a piece of jewelry.  This shape makes a good building block for adding stones or more detail.


The three main areas of jewelry design are shape, color and texture.

Shape is the foundation and sets the backdrop for color and texture to add their magic. Hammer texture can be bold or subtle and is often the element that completes a piece of handmade jewelry.

Hammered or handwrought jewelry is appealing for its decorative quality and revealing how the piece was made. Hammer texture is a primitive way of forming metal and also very vital to the contemporary jeweler, as it conveys the process of the craftsman at work.  Working a piece by hand is an aesthetic statement in contrast to work that is produced by machine or computer.

Fluting a Pure Silver Cuff with Maker Hammers

By Bill Fretz

#1 Cutting a Straight Line.  


Fluting has a long history in metalsmithing, and is now being used in a contemporary manner.  Traditionally fluting was very symmetrical with even flutes and spacing. By varying the flute sizes and patterns the work changes in mood and speaks to a more contemporary design aesthetic.  Using stakes and hammers made for the process speeds up the work as pitch does not have to be the supporting medium.  A cuff bracelet is a good choice as it affords a large working surface.


By Bill Fretz

#1 Cutting a Straight Line.  


It is really difficult to draw a straight line on a curved surface.  Lay a piece of masking tape on the metal surface and the tape edge will act as the line. It will be straight and easy to adjust if needed.

Next, saw along the tape edge for a perfectly straight line. Another option is to draw a line (curved or straight) on the tape. Then just saw through the tape for an accurate piercing.


By Bill Fretz

Pure silver is a silky white color and is incredibly malleable and soft when annealed.

Because pure silver is soft it is usually alloyed with copper to make sterling. By hammering the pure silver and forming it into curved shapes it is possible to have a piece of wearable jewelry that takes advantage of the beauty and non-tarnishing characteristics of this metal.  Hammering and work hardening the metal into curved shapes also make it possible to have a bold shape that is quite light.




By Bill Fretz

Sometimes simplicity is the best design solution.  The Mountain Ring is easy to make and is very dramatic using very little silver.  The shape has movement and at the same time evokes mountain peaks in silhouette.  The hammer marks transform the static round wire into the symbolism of rocky terrain.

 We will go through this project as if the ring will be made as multiple pieces or a single ring.






By Bill Fretz




 It's hard not to like a circle and this project is about circles.

The flared and flattened round tubing shape is often referred to as a Torus shape.

The circle clip bracelet with a Torus top is a simple project from sheet metal that ends up with a sculptural form.  Turning a slice of tubing into a Torus/hollow donut looks impossible but in fact is easy due to the extreme formability of malleable metal





By Bill Fretz



Jewelry design choices are limitless. What starting blank, stake, hammer to pick? We will explore the possibilities of a freeform blank being formed into a deep concave shape. After forming the metal from the inside of the curves, we will switch hammers and stakes and move the metal from the outside to totally change the shape and personality of the bracelet design.



By Bill Fretz

We’re going to take the same metal blank used for making a concave bracelet and instead use it to make a domed fluted bangle. Choosing different stakes and hammers will create a piece that doesn’t remotely resemble its genetic cousin.   Along the way we will explore variations of how a step may be done, and the pros and cons of each solution. The more a craftsperson knows about process, the easier it is to create new work that ventures into new arenas of design exploration.

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