I started out with buying a book, some basic equipment and just went to town. I do have a knack for learning by reading and then doing, as well. I would reccomend you to do what I did only if you have experience and a safety understanding when it comes to connecting your own propane systems as well as making sure you read -everything- you can find on the technique before starting to play around with 800-degrees-celsius molten glass.
Learning the basics is easy. It is mastering it that will take a lifetime. I have been at this for less than a year, but do have many other craft techniques under my belt.
The basic equipment cost about as much as taking a basic weekend class in the subject, and since I am a jeweller/goldsmith I figured I would get more out of it by spending those money on the tools instead. of course, many of my goldsmiths' tools could be used for glassmaking as well so i had a head start. (Owning propane tanks, for instance).
It's hard for me to say, really. I would say though that since metalwork is a bit more versatile in what kind of items you can create, it takes a lot more tools and technique, and it is slower in getting a resuult than glasswork. However, the items are built to last and won't break if you drop them on the floor...
For my glasswork I need a burner, protective glasses, mandrels, bead release, glass rods and vermiculite for cooling and preferrably a kiln for annealing them.
For jewelsmithing, I need a saw, drill, sheet metal, solder, burner, solder board, files, various pliers, acid bath, solder liquid, hammers, a small anvil, polishing machine with various wax'es and whatnots.. the list is endless and the various thing you can do got very specialized tools.
If you just want to make a simple pendant you need some sheet metal and a drill. You drill a hole in the sheet and put it on a cord.. so it all boils down to what level you plan to take things. There are hundreds of special tools for glassmaking as well...
I'd recommend taking a look around to see if anyone is holding classes in silversmithing or lampwork, and if you could, try both. It is very different.
I always wanted to become a glass blower and the versatile ways of the glass amaze me, but I think it's the novelty as well making me favor that material for now. ..And the price. For every 100grams of silver, I could've bought twenty bundles of glass rods (five kilo)...
wow, thats another thing that it boils down to, at least for now.....price. Im just starting college, so im really trying to keep on top of payments and the like... so glassworks affordabliliy alone would make it a better fit for the moment
i really would love to take classes!! but as I said already, kinda keeping a tigher fist on my money for now, trying to prioritize!!
i love versatile materials, especially when u can use them in ways that other people wouldnt think of
lol id imagine!! my dad knows a little bit about metalworking, but only from a practical, construction type perspective. He said that hed teach me how to solder (sp), so thats a few ideas I can work on without a huge goldsmith station XD
Yeah! Being able to solder widens your ability to create with several levels! learn how to handle the varieties of silver solder!
Then I'd recommend you to get (part from silver, silver solder, flux, torch and a surface), a sawing board, a jewellers' saw, blades in at least two sizes and some tiny jewellers' files. (The smallest set in hardware stores usually work fine). A rubber mallet and one of the most important tools, at least for making rings; a ring mandrel. That will take you a long way. Get a book of basic techniques, like [link] this one...
I would, however, try taking a weekend course first no matter what. It's easy to get the wrong idea or making things exceedingly difficult when learning by text. Usually you get to make a little pendant or a ring and it's a good investment to see if you really want to do this. Even a few tools easily dig holes in your budget.