"Movement In Jewelry" Workshop by Tom McCarthy

November 15 & 16th , 2008

Written by Gail and Carl Pitts

Tom McCarthy (http://tommccarthyjewelry.com)  visited Tucson on the weekend of November 15 -16 and taught a workshop of techniques for incorporating movement into jewelry.  Tom graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in history.  While at Grinnell he took an elective course in jewelry making during his senior year and found his calling.  He earned a Master of Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and has taught at the Penland School of Crafts (www.penland.org), Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (www.arrowmont.org) and John C. Campbell Folk School (www.folkschool.org).  He authored a chapter entitled  “Reimagining Technique” in The Penland Book of Jewelry.  He lives and works in St. Petersburg, Florida.

On Friday evening before the workshop, Tom treated a packed house to a Visiting Artist Lecture.  He described himself as a born again jeweler and more a craftsman than an artist. He said that when he is creating jewelry “all materials are fair game”.  He showed slides of his some of his pieces that are often created from unusual materials such as molded concrete, rubber tubing and rusty metal.  Many of his pieces incorporate hinges, swivels or other gadgets that give them motion.

After he completed his presentation he stepped through all his slides a second time so that members of the audience had the opportunity to ask specific questions about pieces, materials or techniques that interested them.


During the two days of the workshop Tom described and demonstrated five ways to articulate or join different segments of a piece. Here we see him explaining the finer points of one of these techniques.  Note that he is using an optical visor because the processes involve objects, holes and cuts that are so small that they are difficult to see with the unaided eye.  The photographs below show examples of each of the five techniques.


An example of using jump rings to attach objects to a main piece.  Also shows the first step in creating a flat hinge.


Completed flat hinge on the left and a tubing and rivet hinge in the center section.  The sample in the upper right shows the use of telescoping tubing to create movement.


 This sample shows the beginning of a flat hinge on the left side and a slotted flat hinge on the bottom.  The object on the right shows a tongue inserted in a slotted hinge and a piece of wire inserted and ready to be measured as a rivet.


The doughnuts have half-round wire used for the legs of the hinges.  Jump rings and wire posts are soldered to pieces of tubing that span the distance between the legs.  Silver wire is used to rivet the tubes to the legs.


The left end of the piece is an example of a tube and rivet hinge.  On the right end is another example of a flat hinge.

Tom patiently worked to help each student create his or her own sample of each of the five techniques.  He is an excellent instructor and his delivery is entertaining as well informative.  Thank you Tom for sharing your ideas, skills and stories with us.

Jeanne Jerousek-McAninch provided the photographs presented here.

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