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Diana Widman’s Planishing Hammer

While a hammer is a hammer to many jewelers, Diana Widman of Diana Widman Design in Chicago goes so far as to declare her planishing hammer her most valuable tool.

“I make metal that is textured like fabric, so the hammer, whether by design or action, has helped me get those gorgeous rich textures,” says Widman, who uses her planishing hammer to make models from which her pieces are cast. “The rounded

side of the head is so much fun for moving and puffing things out, giving the pieces a silky edge.”

 Diana Widman Earrings

Hammers were one of the first tools she learned to use, and they quickly became her favorite. “Hammers are it for me,” she says. “I love them and I can never have enough hammers.”

She’s enjoyed perfecting her hammering technique, being very efficient and using her forearm with a light sure strike. She stands at a designated workbench and hammers metal atop a steel block. And the process itself is therapeutic for her. “Hammering is the part of jewelry fabrication that, for me, is the most meditative,” she says.

Not surprisingly, her hammers get the star treatment: She stores each in its own unused athletic sock so one can’t touch another. Together, they occupy a drawer lined with felt that she has lovingly named her “Hammer Shrine.”

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