"More Bench tips & Tricks"
by Mark Ramsour
April 11th, 2008 - Tucson ArizonaWritten by Gail and Carl Pitts
After an 18-month hiatus, Mark Ramsour revisited Bench Trips and Tricks and shared his wealth of experience with us. He said he had lost his notes and was winging it, but a guy that carries that much knowledge around in his head doesn’t need notes. Mark earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Kansas State University in Emporia. While at Kansas State he was chosen to be a jewelry studio assistant where he had the opportunity to mentor younger artists. He has continued to mentor students in metal smithing, jewelry design, fabrication and finishing throughout his career. He taught jewelry making at Central Arizona College in Coolidge for three years. He has continued to hone and add to his artistic skills by participating in more that 200 workshops and seminars covering such diverse subjects as paper making and Fimo Jewelry. He was head of production and lead jeweler for Bomac International Corporation for three years and has worked for Phyllis Woods Designs as an independent contractor producing a variety of jewelry products for more than twenty-five years. He has been a teacher for the City of Tucson’s Parks and Recreation Visual Arts Program for 14 years. The 1999 June issue of Lapidary Journal featured Mark’s article entitled “Forge-Welded Mokume Gane”. During the “Metalsmithing Beyond the Basics” class that Mark will teach this summer mokume gane is only one of the subjects that students will explore. Mark was also a contributing artist in Patricia McAleer’s “Metal Corrugation: Surface Embellishment and Element Formation for the Metalsmith”. In some of the thoughts he shared with us he says “I have been producing jewelry and metal objects for 38 years. I have always enjoyed investigating combinations of metal and other material. For me it is always about the process, putting together textured and smooth surfaces gives my work a contrast I am beginning to explore in more colorful ways. I work in metal and related 3-D materials because it satisfies a core need to manipulate the world around me and a desire to be ‘hands-on’ in my creativity”.
The tips and tricks that Mark gave us are too numerous to cover here, but we will mention just a few:
- If you break a drill bit off in a piece you are working on, you can remove it by making a mixture of water and alum, warming it, placing the piece in it and waiting patiently for the bit to dissolve.
- If you want to remove copper plating from a silver piece make a half-and-half solution of pickle and hydrogen peroxide in a glass container, warm it and put the piece in the solution. The copper will dissolve but the silver will not be harmed.
- Do not get steel wool fibers around your pickle pot! Instead use bronze wool that is available at the Ace Hardware on 22nd street.
- You can save patina on your piece of jewelry by coating it with Renaissance Wax.
- Drywall screen is a good media for texturing metal using a rolling mill. Be sure to cover the screen with a sheet of copper or brass so you don’t mar the rollers.
- The process that jewelers use to join metal pieces is brazing, not soldering – plumbers solder. Nevertheless, we continue to call what we do soldering even though it is wrong.
- Metalsmiths can’t know too much about safety! Excellent references are “The Jewelry Workshop Safety Report” by Charles Lewton-Brain and “Health Hazards Encountered in the Field of Metalsmithing and Alternatives for a Safer Working Environment” by Linda Weiss.
Mark mentioned that the Ganoksin website www.ganoksin.com
is a great place to get answers to your jewelry and metalsmithing questions and, if we may quote Robyn Hawk’s description of Mark on the Tucson Gem Show Blog tucsongemshow.ganoksin.com
“What a Hoot – this guy is fun”. Thanks Mark for a great afternoon and for sharing you knowledge with us.