Reviews: The Complete Metalsmith

The Metalsmith Reborn!
From Tammy Powley,

To many of you, I probably sound like a broken record because whenever I'm asked about learning to solder or do other types of metal jewelry making, I inevitably tell the person or persons to invest in a copy of Tim McCreight's book Complete Metalsmith, which I have long considered a valuable reference book. The reason I say this is because that's exactly what I did when I took my first serious jewelry making class. In fact, it was a required textbook for the class. Along with a toolbox full of specific tools, I was required to buy and bring this book to class every day. That was many, many years ago, but even now when I have a question about metal, I reach for this tattered old book. As the years have passed, Tim has updated his popular book, keeping it current and expanding on his already proven methods. He has added more jewelry information to each edition, and now he has gone a step further by expanding and finally creating three separate editions:

1) First there is Complete Metalsmith the Student Edition (retailing for $15): This is much like the first book I bought way back when, but it is slimmer in shape with a sturdier cover, perfect for the toolbox. When compared to my much older edition, it boasts more detailed information and illustrations, plus a section on metal clay, but it still covers much of the important basics such as metal data, tool descriptions, and various metal related methods. The appendices are also excellent references for quickly looking up things like the weight of sheet or wire, temperature conversions, and melting points.

2) Next is Complete Metalsmith the Professional Edition (retailing for $30): Like the student edition, it is spiral bound, so you can really use this at your bench. However, the cover is a little sturdier and made of fabric, including an elastic band, so you can add your own notes or handouts between the covers. If you teach metal work, this book is designed as a teacher companion for the student edition. If you are just a super-serious metal worker, then you'd probably like the level of detail that is provided in this edition, which is twice as big as the student edition.

3) Finally, there is the Complete Metalsmith ProPlus Edition (retailing for $45): This is a package deal that includes a copy of the Professional Edition of the book as well as a CD that provides an electronic version of the text so that you can read and use the search option on your PC. Tim also includes electronic copies of his books Design Language and also Practical Jewelry Rendering. Besides the electronic books, he has video clips and calculation software for you use.

With these three separate editions, Tim has offered basic and advanced metal information for everyone from the newbie who is afraid to light her torch to the old pro who may even make jewelry for a living. In particular, this range of texts allow for teachers to offer some practical help through a textbook that everyone in class can use, and there's even a teacher discount available through his publishing website at - You can find more information about books written (and now published) by Tim McCreight on his website as well as and other bookstores that continue to carry his titles.
Tammy Powley

January 2005, Lapidary Journal

For the past 20 years we've shared our workbenches with a dear old friend upon whom we've depended on for all sorts of information and advice: Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight. That its once bright cover is now stained and its crisp pages dog-eared in no way diminishes our relieance on this treasured old friend. McCreight's first edition, published in 1982 with its red cover, was revised in 1991 when it gained its now familiar green cover. Bothe editions have become a standard reference for beginner and advanced metalsmiths.

Recently, we were introduced to the latest edition, sporting a smart, stylish green cover and larger binding rings. At first we felt a twinge of guilt showering our attention on this new upstart; however, our closer examination revealed that nothing had been lost. Instead, a plethora of new materials and techniques are presented that will enable metalsmiths to master the challenges of modern technology.

There have been many advances in metalworking technology since 1991, most notably being metal clay, which had yet to be introduced. McCreight has expanded many topics such as stone setting, hinges and catches, anodizing aluminum, coloring metals (patinas) and gemstones (including color pictures). Plus, he has added topics such as enameling, and new sections like the one on Charles Lewton-Brain's fold forming and another on Jean Stark's classical loop-in-loop chains. He details safety considerations and the dangers of numerous materials and chemicals that we encounter in our art and craft. He also covers how improper handling of tools can result in repetitive stress injuries. Anything of questionable safety has been removed or revised.

This 2004 edition is availalnle in three versions. The student edition is a smaller, 160-page, full color version with plastic cover and lie-flat spiral binding, featuring a one-topic-to-a-page format. The professional edition is a larger, 312-page, full color version with a light green fabric hardcover, larger lay-flat spiral bindings, and an elastic band to hold notes. The ProPlus edition is the printed professional edition plus a bonus CD that takes advantage of the latest electronic technology. It is filled with additional books, videos, and programs. Bonuses contained on the CD are as follows:

With the addition of the CD, McCreight takes a giant step in bridging the gap from the traditional Guttenburg-style of printing into the new electronic digital publishing age. To us, this is a completely new learning experience, not just a revision. McCreight invested a lot of time, effort, and love to insure that his new Complete Metalsmith is more informative and easier to use than our well-loved original. We feel that this new edition will become a classic and is a legacy for future generations.

Goldsmiths Gazette
November 1984

I was asked to teach a metal jewelry class and my greatest asset was the Complete Metalsmith on CD. I could not have brought off my first college level class without it. Most of the students were not art majors and the explanations for different techniques was ideal. I wanted to thank you for that great CD. ___________________________

. . . .there is much reliable material not elsewhere available and the method and ease of use of the book must recommend it to many teachers, students and craftsmen. Those in the industry will find hints and recipes that are normally difficult to find. Once you get used to the cryptic presentation the ease of access to information becomes a novelty and one finds reaching for the book and everyday necessity. The strange mix of science, craft technology and silversmithing folklore will appeal to many and can certainly be packed into such a small book. It is titled as an illustrated handbook and in a totally unpretentious way this is exactly what it is.