Association for Contemporary Jewellery

Wessex Group

Dawn Gear recently went on a Press Forming Course  at Benches Workshop in the New Forest.  Here is her report on the event.


I had been looking forward to this two-day press-forming course for a long time in order to inject a new dimension to my jewellery by including hollow forms.  The course tutor, Rebecca Walklett, was an experienced and patient teacher, who knew her subject very well and showed us a variety of sample ideas to spark our imagination before learning how to create our very own double sided mould from polycarbonate and brass.  David Corbin was also on hand to assist and advise and guide us around the equipment in his workshop.

Rebecca had brought her own hydraulic press with her, although manual ones can also be used to excellent effect and it is possible to make your own press.  By lunchtime on the first day we were ready to make the first attempt at pressing copper into our moulds, but not before adjourning for a really lovely home-made lunch prepared by David's wife, Jenny.  The afternoon was spent learning how to use the press and transforming our pieces of copper into three-dimensional forms, filing both sides for a perfect join and then soldering together.

Having had time to digest the process overnight and decide what else we would like to try, everybody reconvened on Sunday and formed a variety of beads, containers, pendants and little boxes.  We were also shown how to make a pretty little hinge and clasp for the boxes.  Rebecca demonstrated different ways of producing texture and coloured patinas on our copper using heat and some household chemicals such as ammonia and vinegar.  With Rebecca's help I decided to try combining fold-forming techniques with the press forming and produced an interesting pendant, together with a pair of earrings and some samples for future projects.

Once again we were offered a lovely lunch and all went away at the end of the day inspired by the possibilities of combining this new technique into our own jewellery styles.  I would certainly recommend the course to anyone –and

my thanks to Rebecca, David and Jenny for a great weekend.

Dawn Gear