I think the top question I get is, how did you get into it. You’ve already heard all about that one right. So, let’s go to the next top question I get. How did you teach yourself?
Quite a few others would like to be a smith too. I must warn you, if you would like to learn as a hobby it is going to cost you a lot of money. It is not cheap, the tools, gems, and silver add up very quickly. I didn’t have any classes around my area so I improvised and read articles on tools and the supplies you need right away to get started. I learned definitions and what was what. Then I would watch any video able to hold my interest. There are tons of low quality videos, or great quality but not all teach in a way that I learn. It’s important you find your right teacher. After so many articles and videos I felt I was ready to begin and found myself intimated by the torch. I kept thinking things like what happens if I blow up my house, what if I burn myself? Thankfully, my husband is a pro at the torch, he works on his vintage motorcycles so he helped me get used to the little butane torch I started with (and still use for bezels). And when I felt I was ready to upgrade to a “big girl” torch which for me is acetylene he helped me again. He hooked up the nozzles and lines. Eventually he taught me how to do it but it was extremely important he was there to walk me through every step. If you have someone in your life that is familiar with the torch you want to use I suggest you ask them to help.
After that comes trial and error. You’re going to melt a lot of things, ruin bezels, and maybe even crack stones while setting them. Thankfully, you can save all of your silver scrap and turn it in to get credit back. I like this because nothing is wasted. Or you can even melt it yourself and roll it back flat if you have the proper (yet expensive tool) to do so. Another way to learn is to follow other smiths on social media, as many post videos of them working. Some are even happy to answer questions once you’ve built up a rapport. You have to understand it can be overwhelming for some to answer a million of your questions. I have limited time with having little ones at home so I may send you a link or give you key words to google to find the answers on your own. I would suggest doing all the research you can and if you still can’t find the answer to your problem then ask. Some may help, others may not. Below is a list of places I looked when learning.
Also, another piece of advice you can use or not when you begin to offer your pieces for money and you find that you are doing it for a lot lower of a price that others, maybe state that you are a beginner and that is why the price is low. As you begin to raise prices as quality grows then people will understand they are paying for your experience.
You Tube – start with searching how to solder a sterling ring
Beaducation – offer online video classes
Follow @metalsmithsociety on instagram
One the very first places I began my journey was with THIS magazine that I reference from time to time. I have found the digital copy available but if you dig further I'm sure you can find the issue.
There are so many other places, no I do not get any kickbacks from these links. I just want to help others find some resources that I found valuable.