Freeform metal manipulation – for jewellers and silversmiths with Abigail Brown

Ref: S5D32628

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About this course

Learn methods for freeform metal manipulation, predominantly using hammering techniques. This is an ideal introduction to silver for beginners or a short experiment in techniques for the more experienced. This course is suitable for jewellers and silversmiths.

Course Description

Learn methods for freeform metal manipulation, predominantly using hammering techniques. Beginners and those with more experience can explore metal forming through basic techniques, including forming, soldering, annealing and texturing. Also, more complex procedures can be explored, such as fold forming, raising, anticlastic raising, planishing and press forming. If you are more experienced, you can continue to develop your skills according to your needs. The techniques can be utilised to create jewellery, vessels or sculptural forms.

Your design ideas are discussed on a one-to-one basis. Demonstrations and individual practical assistance enable your projects to progress successfully. The level of experience and complexity of ideas affects what you can achieve in the time. However, by the end of the course, you should have effectively realised a design idea into a three-dimensional form in metal or begun a project for continuation at home. The course approach is strongly ideas-led, and you are encouraged to make simple drawings of your ideas to communicate what you wish to make.

You can explore your ideas and a range of silversmithing techniques on this course. The techniques covered by you will depend on the nature of your project. You will receive instruction and support in a friendly and creative atmosphere. The techniques are taught through practical demonstrations, with the emphasis on encouraging you to have a go and to develop your own ideas. If you prefer more direction or a more challenging technical project, you can also request a set assignment. You are welcome to bring your own project for advice and discussion.

Please contact the tutor before the start of the course to discuss projects and metal by emailing [email protected]


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course, the College will supply some of the materials, including wet and dry paper, saw blades and copper for first experiments.

What students need to bring

  • You will need to purchase silver or copper to complete your project. This can be purchased from the College Shop, or in advance from a supplier.
  • Apron
  • Sketchbook and/or technical notebook
  • Camera
  • Inspirational books, images and source materials
  • Texturing materials for roll printing - lace, feathers, dry leaves, fabric (optional)
  • Sensible footwear – no trainers, sandals, ballet pumps
  • Protective eyewear (provided by the College, but bring some if you prefer to use your own)
  • If you have any tools of your own, please bring them with you (and ensure they are marked with your name).
  • You may wish to bring 1mm sheet silver depending on your design idea.
  • If you have an idea for a project and require advice about materials, please contact the tutor by emailing: [email protected] before the start of the course.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Silver can be purchased from the College Shop, which stocks a range of sheet, wire, rod, tube and findings. These will be available in set sizes and lengths, suitable for a wide range of projects.
  • Pens, pencils and drawing materials
  • Solder
  • Saw blades
  • Tools
  • Available from tutor:
  • There may be a small number of cabochon stones available to buy for inclusion in your project.

Additional information

USEFUL WEB ADDRESSES – Information & opportunities within British craft – The Goldsmiths’ Company selected jewellers & silversmiths list – American jewellery website including techniques Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Abigail Brown, Tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Abigail Brown

Abigail Brown has been producing contemporary designs in silverware since graduating from Loughborough University School of Art & Design in 2001. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is widely collected.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Interested in a career in metalwork?

Our Foundation Degree in Metalwork will enhance your employment prospects, give you the skills to set up as a self-employed craftsperson or allow you to continue to higher education. Encompassing both silversmithing and blacksmithing, you will learn practical skills, material properties, placing your work in a broader context and historic metalworking techniques. Find out more