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A Poll for our community


#1

A poll ( of sorts) about you…

  1. How long have you been at the bench?
  2. Do you make your living doing bench work?
  3. Do you work for a retail jeweler?
    5 . Do you work for yourself?
  4. Do you do both? ( outside / side work)?
  5. How did you start your training?
  6. How do you continue your training?
    9 Do you see yourself as a designer?
  7. Do you see yourself as having a viable and profitable future in this business?
  8. What skill sets will improve your financial future?
  9. Who sets standards to whom you aspire?

In what manner, do you see Ganokskin, as a community, forwarding your skills?

Do you see the value in expanding the Ganokskin skill base?

How do you suggest this be accomplished?

Thank you for considering this inquiry .
Jim Grahl


#2
  1. I am now retired but spent 51 years at the bench full time and 4 years part time.
  2. Most of my living wage was from bench work.
  3. I do not work for a retail jeweller. But a lot of my work was commissioned by high end retail jewellers.
  4. My work for retail jewellers has mostly been one off unique designs, either from them of a 2nd party.
  5. I have worked for myself for the past 31 years.
  6. I have made work for other goldsmithing companies, which was sold as their manufacture.
  7. I served an indentured apprenticeship as a goldsmith, a term of just under 6 years.
  8. I have added to my skills over the years when working alongside other craftsmen.
  9. I have designed a lot of my unique pieces.
  10. I am now retired but old customers still ask me to make pieces for them.
  11. I made a good living during my time at the bench so finances are not a problem.
  12. Some of the craftsmen who I have worked with in the past are still creating quality goods, but times have changed and I am glad that I am not part of the trade now. My work was hand made, not computer crafted.

I hope Ganoksin continues promoting a skill base, I know that I am now outdated and my opinions are only of interest to old school benchworkers. Although I am sure that hand skills should be promoted, to many newcomers to this trade assume that everything is made via CAD/CAM techniques, and find it impossible to work without electricity, just the opinion of a 70 year old goldsmith folks.

Best regards
James Miller FIPG.


#3

I am a full time bench jeweler, running a full service repair, and custom shop in a retail store, plus doing setting, repairs and laser welding for several other stores, stores who also employ jewelers but rely on me for the most complicated work (and the laser).

I first trained at Bowman Tech in the mid 70’s, and have taken many classes and seminars since, the most recent two being sessions with kate Wolf, working on my wax carving skills.

After 40+ years at the bench I am getting ready to “retire” in the next year or so, but I expect to keep working as I really do enjoy making jewelry that excites and pleases, and I enjoy the feeling of “saving” customers’ prized pieces so they can continue to be enjoyed.

Were I younger there are two areas that I think that it would benefit me to pursue. One is hand engraving, which has always interested me, but I have not had the time to really work on. The second area is CAD-CAM, since I think that a craftsman with experience in wax carving, setting and fabrication, could take their computer assisted designs to exciting levels that most CAD-CAM “designers” will not imagine possible.


#4

[JimGrahlDesign] JimGrahlDesign
http://orchid.ganoksin.com/users/jimgrahldesign Platinum
December 23

A poll ( of sorts) about you…

  1. How long have you been at the bench?

I’m not a professional; but most consider me to be a fairly advanced
amateur. I’ve been serious about decorative durable arts for about 20
years.

  1. Do you make your living doing bench work?

No, I’ve done a few specific commissioned pieces, but any money is
really to allow me to afford tools and materials.

  1. Do you work for a retail jeweler?

Nope

5 . Do you work for yourself?

Not really applicable, but close enough.

  1. Do you do both? ( outside / side work)?
  2. How did you start your training?

I had a housemate that was trained as, and working as a jeweler who
taught me some fundamentals; all else has been self taught.

  1. How do you continue your training?

Self study. When time and circumstance permits, I plan to take some
formal classes in areas that I know I’m weak in (such as engraving).

9 Do you see yourself as a designer?

Somewhat.

  1. Do you see yourself as having a viable and profitable future in
    this business?
  2. What skill sets will improve your financial future?
  3. Who sets standards to whom you aspire?

I primarily study and emulate Medieval and Renaissance examples, so
trying to understand the pre-industrial skill sets are my focus.

In what manner, do you see Ganokskin, as a community, forwarding your
skills?

Over the years, the tips, tricks, and suggested resources posted by
Ganoksin contributors has been of great value to me.

Do you see the value in expanding the Ganokskin skill base?

I think it’s a good thing.

How do you suggest this be accomplished?

That the willing contributors remember that some of the “lurkers” are
people that are currently trying to learn the skill sets it takes to
reach a level of professional success, in the jewelry and decorative
arts world.

Ron Charlotte
Gainesville, FL
thaalibi@gmail.com OR ronch2@bellsouth.net


#5
  1. I make my living making custom work and exhibition work. Also a small amount of less expensive “production” type pieces. $175-600 retail. I also teach workshops and seminars across the country.
  2. Nope. Although I did back in the 1980s.
  3. I absolutely work for myself. Since 1987.
  4. I have taught as adjunct faculty
    occasionally.
  5. In college as a studio art major and then at
    the bench in a wide variety of situations.
    Mostly retail stores.
  6. Good question. Play is the best answer.
    Trying and adopting new technologies
    such as powder coating and pulse arc
    welding. Conceptually, I read and, again,
    play. Occasionally I take a workshop or
    view online tutorials.
  7. I don’t consider myself a designer in the
    greater sense, although design is a huge
    part of what I and we do. I see myself as a
    maker, a jeweler , metalsmith or an artist.
  8. I see the future as viable as always.
  9. If I was starting out I would become
    conversant in CAD/CAM. I see newer
    technologies such as laser and pulse arc
    welding as opportunities to stretch and do
    things that I couldn’t do before as
    opposed to replacing existing
    technologies. They open conceptual and
    artistic doors.
  10. As a self employed and solitary worker I
    discovered early on that I needed to set my
    own standards and police myself in that
    regard. That being said I always have in
    mind another jeweler or smith holding and
    scrutinizing the thing I’m making. I build to
    that standard.
  11. I enjoy the exchange on Orchid. But I see it as primarily an exchange of fine jewelry design and technology. In the past, when “Art Jewelry” has been discussed there has been some less than positive commentary, especially where the topic of an Artist’s statement is concerned. One thing I have learned in my years in the field is something that I actually learned early on. There’s more than one way to get something accomplished. I enjoy and find value in seeing how others do something but I don’t enjoy opinions that seem to state that there is only one “proper” way to work. But that’s the dynamic of any community.
  12. I see Orchid as primarily a technical resource. It’s funny, but as a maker I see myself as straddling what I see as the two poles of the field: fine jewelry and conceptually driven metals. I work in both areas and derive the same level of joy from each. That being said, I see Orchid and SNAG as representing the two areas. I should say that these are my opinions and I suppose that there are some members here who would absolutely disagree with my last statements.
    Great idea to take a poll. What inspired it?
    Andy Cooperman

Please excuse any typos-- curse my clumsy digits…


#6

Hi,
Andy,
Ron
Ring doctor
James.
Thank you for moving this along.
As to what started this ,
I come form many of the same arenas as you-all, but most of my time has been with the trade and private client commissions. And , like some, a formal apprenticeship in Pave’ setting .
But,
this is about finding common ground in language for communicating new skill sets, answering questions for those who may not have experience in certain areas, and celebrating our diversity, rather than trying to confine it to some arbitrary set of rules or standards.
The additional upside is the possibility of cross pollination, . For those that out source or take in trade work, engraving, setting and the like might be wanted for project but outside one’s skill set, while perfect for another looking for that type of work.
While the possibilities are endless, but the intent is simple.
Use a simple set of questions to establish who we are (the “Poll”.)
and share.
Thanks ,
Jim


#7

A poll ( of sorts) about you…

  1. How long have you been at the bench? Nine years.
  2. Do you make your living doing bench work? a partial living as an artistic silversmith. I consider myself a good amature.
  3. Do you work for a retail jeweler? No. I sell my work in galleries and teach nationally. However, this always can change a bit.
    5 . Do you work for yourself? yes
  4. Do you do both? ( outside / side work)? N/A
  5. How did you start your training? During the recession I took classes at a local artistic jewelry school, then attended a much cheaper program at a recreation center.
  6. How do you continue your training? I pick short classes that solve a very specific issues. I once got galvanic etching training long distance by phone from a Ganoksin member.
    9 Do you see yourself as a designer? I’m more of an artist. Innovation is also a critical factor.
  7. Do you see yourself as having a viable and profitable future in this business? Yes. Couldn’t say that 9 years ago, but my career keeps building.
  8. What skill sets will improve your financial future? A good crafter’s software program so I can track expenses better and work as efficiently as possible.
  9. Who sets standards to whom you aspire? You folks do, but I can not reach these standards, because I simply am not formally trained. I rely on my art history background to find my place.

In what manner, do you see Ganokskin, as a community, forwarding your skills? See Question 8. I also ask questions here and look at other contributions daily.

Do you see the value in expanding the Ganokskin skill base? Sorry, but I am not sure what this means. I have a tendency to work with experts outside this industry, including a dentist, a toy soldier maker, collision repair specialist… Thanks for asking.


#8

Hi Me1…
Thanks for responding,
As with all of us you’re background opens up new ways of thinking and responding to the needs at hand…
Great job,
Thanks, Jim


#9

A poll ( of sorts) about you…

  1. How long have you been at the bench? for about 30 years, but never full time.
  2. Do you make your living doing bench work? No, It is really a hobby for me
  3. Do you work for a retail jeweler? No
    5 . Do you work for yourself? Yes and no, I have a day job, but I’ve almost always had a side business
  4. Do you do both? ( outside / side work)?
  5. How did you start your training? First thing I got into was lapidary work, then I wanted to do something with the rocks.
  6. How do you continue your training? Reading, watching videos, taking a class from time to time and pestering nice people who share their techniques with me, then playing on the bench to refine the skills.
    9 Do you see yourself as a designer? not of the class many of you are!
  7. Do you see yourself as having a viable and profitable future in this business? Only at the hobby level I suspect.
  8. What skill sets will improve your financial future? Everything I learn helps
  9. Who sets standards to whom you aspire? The amazing members of Orchid give me so much to aspire to!

In what manner, do you see Ganokskin, as a community, forwarding your skills? I’ve been a member of Orchid for many years and it has been an incredible experience learning from everyone.

Do you see the value in expanding the Ganokskin skill base? I’m not clear what that means, but it sounds like a good thing!

How do you suggest this be accomplished?


#10

Hi,
Thanks for taking the time to look at this topic.
As to expanding Ganoskin skill base…
I think , as you share and the willingness of others to do the same, the skill sets will grow organically.
I know Seth has plans in action for tutorials, I know Seth, they will break new ground.
Others are encouraged to add the same, for free or for profit… We are a world wide tribe with so much to share.
Please keep looking at yourselves, your contributions, sharing your experience.
This Poll isn’t graded, judged or validated by ones superiority or shortcomings.
It’s just a place to share.
Best,
Jim


#11

A poll ( of sorts) about you…

  1. How long have you been at the bench?

I took my first class about 18 years ago and have been involved ever since.

  1. Do you make your living doing bench work?
  2. Do you work for a retail jeweler?
    5 . Do you work for yourself?
  3. Do you do both? ( outside / side work)?

I make jewelry strictly for the challenge and for the personal
satisfaction. In my area if I wanted to sell and make money I’d get a
food cart.

  1. How did you start your training?

Classes at a community college.

  1. How do you continue your training?

Practice, practice, practice, following discussions on Orchid, DVDs,
more classes at community college for the instructor’s help & advice.

9 Do you see yourself as a designer?

On an integer scale of 1 - 100 I rate myself at about 0.003 as a
designer. Very sad.

  1. Do you see yourself as having a viable and profitable future in this business?

Viable as a business, no. Profitable, assuredly not.

  1. What skill sets will improve your financial future?

Tool purchase avoidance.

  1. Who sets standards to whom you aspire?

I set my standard in that I try for perfection. I’ve made 2 pieces I
consider without flaw. Somewhat more pieces that I am very pleased with
but that were not quite …um, 10X clean. Remember, this is in the
context of someone who is not in any way or form a goldsmith. I make
simple to possibly mid-range things, not diamond and platinum ballerina
rings and such. I’m smiling as I write this… I look up to the work
of many people on Orchid and others. Probably with the same awe that I
have for the U.S. gymnastics teams at the Olympics.

In what manner, do you see Ganokskin, as a community, forwarding your skills?

Seeing what can be done, in many cases seeing how it was done, being
able to ask questions.

Do you see the value in expanding the Ganokskin skill base?

I’m not sure what this means but it hardly sounds like something I’d be
against. Time for an emoticon, I guess. :slight_smile:

Maybe a few more… :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Neil A


#12

Hi Niel,
Thanks for sharing.
Take pictures, don’t use 10x…
Practice is everything, at some point it’s just muscle memory, the brain kinda takes a rest and the body leads the show…
Great job fo jumping in and sharing.
Best,
Jim


#13

Just a start.

  1. How long have you been at the bench? I am a piker compared to the rest. I have been at the bench for 5 years learning as I go.
  2. Do you make your living doing bench work? I am finally getting to the point of covering rent and other overhead. 2nd time since I started retail.
  3. Do you work for a retail jeweler? I have a retail shop where I offer my work and other artists’ works.
    5 . Do you work for yourself? I do.
  4. Do you do both? ( outside / side work)? No. Everything out of my shop.
  5. How did you start your training? Kalamazoo Institute of Art helped me fall in love with hammering and fabricating. This is all reflected in my work.
  6. How do you continue your training? I take occasional classes at KIA and read all the Ganoksin posts. Aspiring metalsmiths adds little tricks.
    9 Do you see yourself as a designer? Yes as everything is one of a kind. I work with some of my clients to design something for them taking their ideas and modifying to make it practical and to my abilities.Show no fear in creating something I have never tried.
  7. Do you see yourself as having a viable and profitable future in this business? I really hope so. I love what I do, but won’t go into production work
  8. What skill sets will improve your financial future? Learn how to better promote my business to get folks in the door.
  9. Who sets standards to whom you aspire? I do as I am a perfectionist. I don’t want my name on anything that I have no pride in. Not everything goes out perfect, but ir is art and is solidly built.

In what manner, do you see Ganokskin, as a community, forwarding your skills? Always wonderful ideas on how to best do things rather than the hard way. Not afraid to practice, but need to know how to start and how to improve technique.

Do you see the value in expanding the Ganokskin skill base? Yes and worth the fee.


#14

I started learning engraving in 1967, worked the bench on and off until 1984, full time benchie since then.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
Do you make your living doing bench work?
[/quote] Yes.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
Do you work for a retail jeweler?
[/quote] I own a retail design studio with my wife and life-partner Gaybeth. I also employ three other very talented benchies, one of which is my son, who is one of the finest stone setters I’ve ever known.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
5 . Do you work for yourself?
[/quote]Yes, and for many other people too, much to my surprise.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
6. Do you do both? ( outside / side work)?
[/quote]I still do some work for the trade, primarily engraving and complex repairs and restorations and the occasional custom job that nobody else wants to do. We also have a laser which brings in all kinds of work, like repairing eyeglasses and that kind of thing.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
7. How did you start your training?
[/quote]I asked my Dad to teach me how to engrave. He handed me a box of pencils and a loose leaf binder and told me to fill it with beauty stems and open sixes. When I told him I didn’t want to learn how to draw I wanted to engrave, he told me that “if you can’t draw it, you can’t cut it.” He then showed me how combinations of the simple beauty stem and open six create well over half of the letters in the script alphabet as well as forming the basis for many variations of scrollwork. So began my journey.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
8. How do you continue your training?
[/quote] Believe it or not, mainly by teaching. I learn as much as I teach usually. Also by hanging out with other goldsmiths. That’s where the real expertise in our trade is to be found; right at the bench next to your own.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
9 Do you see yourself as a designer?
[/quote]Not as much as I would like. I have to struggle much more at design than I would like. I seem to be more of a craftsman than a true designer.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
10. Do you see yourself as having a viable and profitable future in this business?
[/quote] Golly, I hope so. So do about a dozen other people within my sphere of influence, including my accountant, my banker and my landlord.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
11. What skill sets will improve your financial future?
[/quote]Business skills such as marketing. As someone smarter than I am once said, "you can make a living making jewelry, but you’ll make more money selling jewelry.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
12. Who sets standards to whom you aspire?
[/quote]My standards at the bench are set by other goldsmiths. I sometimes see jewelry of such meticulous craftsmanship that it makes me ask the owner who made it. I strive to create jewelry of high enough quality of craftsmanship that it makes other goldsmiths want to know who made it. The standards I strive for in my business dealings are set by Tiffany and Co. They earned the privilege of charging what they do for that ‘little blue box’ the old-fashioned hard way and continue doing so each and every day, with each and every customer…

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
In what manner, do you see Ganokskin, as a community, forwarding your skills?

Do you see the value in expanding the Ganokskin skill base?
[/quote]I once apprenticed for a gentleman that made me promise to share all that I learn. He taught me that it is a sin to keep skills to oneself. I am grateful for everyone that shares here on Orchid, both those that have skills and those that are self-assured enough to admit that they don’t. That isn’t always an easy thing to do.

[quote=“JimGrahlDesign, post:1, topic:53945”]
How do you suggest this be accomplished?
[/quote]I think we’re seeing that in action, right here, everyday.

Thanks for asking, Jim


#15

Thanks for responding David.
You’ve added an enormous amount to our community by sharing your skills and perspective.
Best,
Jim


#16

To those who have looked at the poll, thank you,
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please take a look and see what fits, how do you see yourself in the Ganoksin community?
Happy New Year to come,
Best,
Jim


#17

How long have you been at the bench?

About two years.

Do you make your living doing bench work?

No.

Do you work for a retail jeweler?

No.

Do you work for yourself?

Yes.

Do you do both? ( outside / side work)?

No.

How did you start your training?

Classes at my local community college.
Workshops through my local metal arts guild.
Instructional videos and DVDs (purchased).
Youtube videos.
The Rio series of Craftsy classes.
Books (LOTS of books).

How do you continue your training?

Continue to take classes and workshops as they are offered, re-viewing my video and DVD library as well as re-reading my many books. And, of course, practice, practice, practice.

Do you see yourself as a designer?

Yes, but a beginning one.

Do you see yourself as having a viable and profitable future in this business?

Viable, yes. Profitable? I hope so.

What skill sets will improve your financial future?

Getting better at design, and practice, practice, practice at achieving a professional finish and result.

Who sets standards to whom you aspire?

So many! Tom Ferrero, Andy Cooperman, to name two. Outside of jewelry-making, Keith Newstead.

In what manner, do you see Ganokskin, as a community, forwarding your skills?

Lots of information not available anywhere else. Small tidbits that can make a world of difference in one’s work.

Do you see the value in expanding the Ganokskin skill base?

Of course!

How do you suggest this be accomplished?

I’m not sure how to go about it. More videos like Gerry Lewy’s, perhaps? I also really like the short series Mr. Lewton-Brain recently posted about (though I realize those are not through Ganoksin).

Tricia


#18

Thank you Tricia.
As you say… Practice practice, and, exposure .
Thank you so much for sharing.
Best,
Jim


#19

OK Jim, your turn to answer the poll… How 'bout it?


#20

Ouch…