I recently returned from 6 days of teaching at Mendocino Arts Center - what a joy to be in a real classroom again, with live 3D students! It was a huge amount of work getting ready, from tailoring the fusing process to the specific school equipment, to packing up everything from Simple Green to a bandsaw into my car and driving 650 miles each way. But it was all worth it. Couldn't have asked for nicer students, and we had great weather too.
In the Fuse, Forge, Roll workshop we had 8 students, coming from all over the US (Boston, Texas, Arizona, etc.). I loved the mix of backgrounds - about half were blacksmiths, half were jewelers/silversmiths. Some were both!
I was pleased to see the set up we used worked perfectly (manual press, hand-forging the billets). So, an electric press is really not necessary for solid-state diffusion bonding, yay.
People made team billets of base metal (copper/brass/nickel silver) the first day, then the second day most chose to do their own silver/copper or silver/copper/brass billets. With two kilns it was no problem to have some folks (blacksmiths) do another base metal billet instead. The hand hot-forging worked well, with the kilns heating the billet to an accurate temp (so as not to overheat the silver). And the Harbor Freight $6 'tongs' were a hit!
On the third day, I was demonstrating how to roll the billets down to sheet, when I got the vibe to ask a question: "how many of you have newer rolling mills at home?" Everyone's hands shot up! These were some students with serious home tools. Mendocino's mills worked fine, just didn't have the high reduction ratio of the newer ones.
I was proud to see we had no billet failures at all - just a few minor delams on the top layers when rolling, easily ground out.
That was the first 3-day class. The second class (patterning "Art of Mokume") was smaller at 4 students, and we were a bit tired from all the forging and rolling. I think I'll build in a day of rest in between the next time. Still, we had a great time making twist bracelets, and I taught them how to make the elusive cherry blossom pattern. It isn't easy, but there were successes! Lots more info in the photo captions. Looking forward to teaching this in other venues in the future.
Educator, metalsmith, jeweler, maker of custom mokume gane jewelry and wedding rings.