Having a job like mine can be both a blessing and a curse when you meet people for the first time. The blessing is I have an interesting answer for the first thing most people ask; what do you do for a living? The curse is answering what follows…
Everyone I've met asks me, in some form or another, one or more of the following questions: You can make a living making pens? How did you make that? How did you learn to make that? The first and third are easy to answer (mostly, I'm an autodidact). It's the innocent little question in the middle which causes me the most problems. How do you distill years of knowledge, hundreds of hours of experimentation, and tens of hours of making something, into a single serving answer which will leave people satisfied? The simple answer is you can't.
The third of Clarke's three laws states: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. While that is very true, I'd also suggest combining a number of primitive technologies together is indistinguishable from magic. You see most of what I do, and the techniques I use, are very primitive. Mankind has known about them for centuries if not millennia. Sure we have fancy kilns and precision tools, but they don't fundamentally change the techniques; just make them more repeatable, and faster. Unfortunately most of this knowledge has been kept away from the general public. It's been safe guarded by the guilds who made a living off of it. So while most people have seen videos of how their car was built, they can't tell you how their wedding ring was made.
All of this is a long winded way of introducing the latest feature on my site: Inside the Studio. It is the home for some of the answers to the second question. You'll find details on the materials, techniques and tools I use to make my art. I hope it provides a useful reference to anyone who isn't satisfied with the single serving answer. It will never be complete, but I intend to add to it regularly.
Argentium Silver is a modern Sterling Silver alloy. It was created by Peter Johns by replacing some of the traditional 7.5% copper with germanium. The addition of germanium to the alloy creates a silver alloy that does not tarnish easily, and is harder than traditional Sterling. These new properties make it ideal for use in making pen and money clips. Unfortunately the layer of germanium oxide that forms on the surface to protect the piece from tarnish, also prevents enamels from fusing to it.