The other day in the workshop I reached for my battered copy of Oppi Untracht’s ‘Jewelry Concepts and Technology’ to solve yet another problem. This book is like the bible of jewelery making and has served me well over the years. So today I’m dedicating a post to Oppi to share this brilliant book with everyone else.
Oppi Untracht was an American jewellery teacher and historian who trained and taught in New York but later moved to Finland. He has written a number of books on jewellery and metalwork. His best known were ‘Jewelry Concepts and Technology’ and ‘Metal Tachniques for Craftsmen’.
When I first got the book years ago it was on the recommendation of a South African jeweler I worked with. She’d occasionally mention that she had checked different things with Oppi and I just presumed it was an friend or old lecturer she was referring to. The minute I found out that all this knowledge was coming from a book and I too could have my own “Oppi”, I snapped up a copy!
I’m delighted to say Oppi has rarely let me down in that eight years. I’ve dragged this heavy book out for everything from starting new projects to idle curiosity. There will be times when I’ll be a bit rusty on different techniques and I dip in to the book quickly to check I’m not about to burn off my eyebrows! Sure enough, Oppi will provide the answers. Because I didn’t study jewellery in college there are some techniques that I’ve never had the opportunity to try. This book is great because it allows me to research different techniques from the process through to the finished piece. While I may need to get some extra help elsewhere on modern procedures (the book was published in the 80’s) I have a great basis on where to start. When I tried acid etching this year the majority of the information came from this book. He goes through different types of surface ornamentation from around the world like the Japanese Mokumé Gane. As well as lots of technical information, he also looks at the origins of jewellery and why we wear it. He has a brilliant diagram that breaks down the various reasons for jewellery such as tradition, collection and fashion.
So for all of you who have never heard of this book definitely check it out and for those of you who’ve looked at it on Amazon and debated whether it was worth the money take it from me, it is!