Getting Ready to Roll

When I was first getting my studio put together I knew that a rolling mill was a must have for my design style. I was planning to pattern sheet and wire, reduce metal thicknesses,roll wire, and create graduated wire. And having my own rolling mill would give me the opportunity to do some fold forming and of course to create sheet from ingots that I’ve made from my scrap.But what a big commitment to make! I knew that I wanted a tool that would last a lifetime,or maybe longer. After doing a lot of research, I decided that a 120 millimeter combination with reduction gear would work perfectly in my studio. For what I needed the choices quickly narrowed down to only two, a Cavallin or a Durston rolling mill.

The Cavallin Rolling Mill is made in Italy, the Durston in England. Both of them are well-regarded and have been in business for many, many years. The Cavallin had pulled out of the US market for a few years ago but is back,stronger than ever.

I checked with several metalsmithing friends who have their own rolling mills. Two of them were kind enough to let me come into their Studios to play with both a Durston and Cavallin Mill.

I arrived with annealed metals, Copper and silver sheet, to my friend’s Studio. Her Durston is a beautiful machine. I easily rolled my 20 gauge silver down to a 24 gauge. And, she had some pattern papers that we ran the copper through with. All in all we had a lot of fun and the Durston is a terrific Mill. I was almost sold on the Durston at that exact moment, but I had already set up a time with the other friend to take a look at their Cavallin. A few days later I went to his Studio. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.

Once again, I brought annealed metals, 20 gauge copper and 20 gauge sterling silver sheets to run through his machine. Because I was trying to compare the Cavallin and the Durston, I did everything that I had done before. I rolled the sterling silver down to a 24 gauge. I found it easier to do with the Cavallin mill. It was a true pleasure to work with and seemed a natural fit in my hands. My Durston friend had given me some of the patterned paper that we had used on her mill. I used this again on the copper sheet that I brought with excellent results.

After my Durston VS Cavallin test I came to the conclusion that both the Durston and the Cavallin are versatile, excellent quality Rolling Mills. They both offer excellent customer support, especially now that the Cavallin is represented in the United States again. The Cavallin simply felt “better” to me.

So, as you can probably tell by now, I ended up purchasing a Cavallin Rolling Mill for myself. I could not be happier with how much this has improved my work. I can’t imagine not having one at hand. The rolling mill in my studio makes my life so much easier, not to mention it saves me a lot of time! Time I can use to drink coffee and work on metals.

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Different Types of Soldering Boards

There are many different types of soldering boards, blocks, and surfaces. How do you know which one to start out with, and which one to use for each soldering task? Each type has its own purpose and function while soldering. There are two main categories of soldering board: ones that reflect heat back into your metal, and ones that draw heat out of your metal. The boards that reflect heat are often softer, more crumbly, and good for soldering medium to larger pieces like bezels, hollow construction rings, and sculptural pieces. Reflecting-type boards include charcoal, Magnesium, and Calcium silicate. Boards that draw heat out of your metal are more durable and dense, and good for annealing all sizes of work, and for soldering small elements that will melt if they get too hot. These boards include ceramic, firebrick, honey comb, and pumice stones.
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5 Unique and Simple Men’s Jewelry Projects

It seems at times that women have all the fun in the jewelry world. But there are many projects that can be made for the men’s jewelry market, as well. While it may not be the standard necklaces and earrings jewelry makers can still create unique projects by creating tie tacks, cuff links, rings, and pins.

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Even in the era of smartphones, many folks still like to wear a watch

Even in the era of smartphones, many folks still like to wear a watch. Although phones and digital time pieces are just about everywhere, watches still provide a classic look and feel that can’t be found elsewhere. If you interested in home watch repair, know that there are some things that you just won’t be able to do yourself.

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Jewelry Pliers: What’s the Difference Anyway?

Jewelry pliers come in a great variety of shapes and sizes. Each set of pliers has been designed to accomplish a different job.
Chain Nose, Flat Nose, Round Nose, Bent nose . . . what’s the difference anyway?
Well first the basics, there are four main types of pliers, each designed for specific tasks.

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Upcycle Your Life

Upcycle your lifeFor many, school is starting, which means that Fall is almost upon us! I’ve always felt that each school year brings new beginnings and new goals to strive for. Starting this Fall, strive to be greener! One of the most enjoyable ways to start this Earth-loving habit is to practice Upcycling!
What IS Upcycling you say? Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

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More than Metal: Interview with Tim McCreight (Part II)

What is your favorite metal to work in and why?
Metal SheetsWhen I can get my hands on it, high karat gold, it is just beautiful. I spend a lot of time testing metal clay. And I work a lot with ingots, hammering and rolling them down. About 10 years ago, when I started working with fine silver ingots, I just fell in love with it – it’s just – yummy! Fine silver is really quite yummy. (But I would not say so if the other metals could hear!)
What projects are you working on currently?
PMCA new PMC book by Hadi Sanderson, just finishing up the final proofing and designing of the cover. It’s very exciting, it will be sent out today. I am also working on 2 more in house books. And in the next year, I’d like to do another video. I just outlined it this weekend. Workshops, I’ll be forging at Bead & Button and I’m a chairman at the PMC Conference coming up.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years?
I am delighted where I am. I don’t have any plans or desire to change things. I’m not a big future planner. 30 years ago, I didn’t come up with a master plan that put me where I am today. Although, I probably will be cutting back on workshops, with all the travel and the bad food, and nights in hotels, it’s time to step aside for the next generation.
MetalDo you have any advice for beginners to the field?
Someone invented everything. It is efficient to pursue education, but there was no one there to teach the first graver how to engrave. Curiosity is the best tool! Sentences that begin with I wonder – Be Inventive! Trust the process! And don’t over intellectualize. Metalsmithing is logical and there are often 12 or more different processes that will be done to the metal, saw, drill, punch, hammer, solder something on, wrap. When you don’t give yourself the time to explore where a piece could go, or you have too rigidly defined the end result you set yourself up for disappointment and you miss opportunities.
SolderingDo you have any words of advice or encouragement for those of us who are not new to the field, but are continuing on?
Follow your bliss! To do your best to find the arrangement that is most satisfying – there is no one path. There is no hierarchy of craft or material. Find your relationship – – let me focus on the metal the way I like it – – for who you are and where you are. Don’t listen to anyone else, and it’s NOT all good. Don’t fall into the misleading hierarchy. The value is personal reward. Find the mix of paying your bills and creating what is satisfying to you. Don’t be clouded by assumption.
When I asked Tim to comment on his fame and the enormity of his career, he told what a few strangers have told to him at conferences and lectures: “We’ve never met, but you are my teacher.”
Tim’s work will no doubt continue to inspire and teach the metalsmiths and jewelers of tomorrow. This concludes our interview with Tim McCreight. We look forward to our next Spotlight Interview!

-Amelia Upton