I'm currently reading "Designing and Making Handwrought Jewelry" by Joseph F. Shoenfelt, written in the early 60s. It describes basic practices and would be a useful little for a beginner jewellery maker. My copy, found second hand, with its yellowed pages falling away from the spine, is a dear little treasure. I love going through books such as this, because in amongst the basic techniques, there will be one gem, one tiny piece of information, that will change your studio practice forever!
I discovered a recipe called "Bright Dip" - made by mixing equal parts sulphuric and nitric acid, with a pinch of table salt. This acid quickly strips firescale or oxides from silver surfaces, and also is great to produce a bright surface on copper or brass. I'm going to give it a try!
But the real gem is this:
"If jewelry is the creation of forms symbolic of human feeling, it follows that our jewelry will be better as we become more sensitive to the life around us. We can improve this sensitivity in each of us by careful, intelligent observation and application of the life and art in our own environment. As this environment widens, our life becomes more full and enjoyable. The English philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said that 'free activity is often the greatest stretch of which are minds are capable'..."
This one paragraph reveals much about dear Joseph, his vast inner world of creativity and contemplation. His process of jewellery making was obviously much deeper than simple manufacturing of objects of desire and adornment. He discovered secret keys in his studio, keys to the inner worlds of creation and its connection to the human spirit.