Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Apprenticeships?

I have looked through the posting on this site for apprenticeships
before. I even interviewed with an artist I meet through this site
for an apprenticeship opportunity he had available that would have
provided a small salary and benefits. To my great regret I was unable
to take it for financial reason (I had recently graduated with a BFA
in metalsmithing and have loan to pay back as well as the great cost
to move myself out to where he was located)

I am still looking for an situation that would work for me. My
problem is that although I graduated with a BFA in metalsmithing, I
lack the practical experience of being on a bench everyday. I am
looking for a jewelry shop or independent jeweler who could teach me
the things I missed in school and allow me to hone the skills I
already have. I would love to work for a jeweler like the one I
interviewed with, a place with a nice mix of repairs, custom jobs as
well as making thing to stock his own shop displays.

I currently work at a fine arts gallery that shows art jewelry. I
have experience selling work (jewelry, craft, sculpture) as well as
extensive graphic design experience. I would love to work somewhere
that could benefit from my graphic skills as well as let me work
toward my dream of being a metalsmith full time. I do need an
opportunity that would offer a small salary/benefits so I could
support myself. I know this opportunity is out there but I also know
it is few and far between.

I turn to this forum because I have loved reading it and I know it
is full of people passionate about this craft. I have been out of
school for a year and a half and am desperate to get back to work!!
Can anyone offer opinions, advice or opportunity?

Continue from:
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/apprenticeships

Where are you located? Location would help a lot to find
you or anyone else an appropriate opportunity.

JS Hoch

I didn’t mention in my earlier posting about apprenticeships that I
am located in Philadelphia.

I wanted to thank everyone for the advice they have been posing and
sending. I hope I can soon be in a position to give advice instead of
just asking it!

Thank you all…Jen

Inspired by Jen, I thought I’d throw this out: I am wondering if
anyone knows of opportunities in the Southern region (Georgia would
be ideal, I am in the Atlanta suburbs)?

Thanks,
Jill
Blue Piranha Jewelry
@Blue_Piranha_Jewelry
www.bpjewelry.com

Hi Jen,

I’ve been thinking about searching for an apprentice for my business
for some time now.

Training time is a huge consideration and as I recently hired a
store manager, I now would like to find a person like yourself to
work directly with me in my retail jewelry store. If you or anyone
out there is interested in relocating to northern Michigan, please
contact me at @Mary_Ann_Archer1.

Sincerely,
Mary Ann Archer

Hello my name is Nicholas, 21 years old and currently in the Navy.
I’m getting out of the military soon and moving back down to south
Florida Ft. Lauderdale area. I would really like to start working as
a jewelry repair man and maybe do some designing. I will also be
going to the American school for Jewelers. Any tips or job offers
will truly be like a dream come true Thanks for any help.

@Brilliance4you
(757) 689-2696

Ya, my 2 cents is not to go to school…Find someone who has been in
the business for some time and learn from them. From what I have
gotten from kids from schools is hobbyist work at best. I had to
retrain them in real world design and repair. Take the time and go
door to door and find that right person to learn from.

Good luck!
Britten

Ya, my 2 cents is not to go to school...Find someone who has been
in the business for some time and learn from them. From what I have
gotten from kids from schools is hobbyist work at best. I had to
retrain them in real world design and repair. Take the time and go
door to door and find that right person to learn from. 

I would like to know what your experience has been taking on an
apprentice?

People who say they want to be an apprentice are the first ones to
bail as soon as they find out they have to do basic menial jobs to
start with.

I always tell someone who wants to apprentice to go to one of the
three schools locally and learn basics. They have to make a
commitment of their time before I waste any of my time. Not many
young people these days have good work habits or ethics.

One high school class and they want to be a designer.

If I took on an apprentice they would have to commit for a certain
length of time with several thousand dollars as a bonus held back as
an incentive to compete their term, and a no competition clause
within a certain distance of my business. I like to teach, but not
for someone to learn to do what I do and become my competition.

I have had an employee send my designs to another caster and I found
out because one of my customers saw them for sale in Tuscon!!!

Schools teach the basics, you learn a lot quickly, and then you must
practice, practice, practice, to eventually have a low paying job in
a very competitive business. There is a designer who has his
high-end retail shops in the best retail locations in the city I am
in, and rumor is that the main workforce is Vietnamese who are
aggressive competition and very protective of their territory, and
some people cannot work in that environment.

I took an apprentice he came every day for about six months I paid
him nothing except buying him lunch then I helped him get a job at
a giant pawn shop where he is the buffing slave and gets to fix alot
of really bad jewelery. I could not afford to pay him and didnt
really have anything for him to do so I just let him use my tools
and and an extra bench and told him to make whatever he wanted and I
would help him when he needed it. It worked out real well because I
have had other so called apprentices and they thought that I would
hold their hand and spend all day showing them stuff , this guy
jumped right in and was not afraid to try plus he read all the stuff
I told him to and he was making some pretty cool stuff moslty out of
copper and brass since he was dirt poor but he learned enough that
the place where he works pays him 10 bucks an hour and he gets tons
of practice. I dont have any repair accounts I mostly carve wax and
cast so he got alot of experience at that as well. He has been at
the place for almost a year now and they are thrilled to have him.

P.S. prior to the brief stint as my apprentice he was working at
dennys as a dishwasher for 5.25 an hour sharing a one bedroom
mobilhome with four other people now he has a car and his own
appartment pretty cool.

Kevin

At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon I’d like to say that
the whole apprentice issue is a frustrating one. Last year I
attempted to recruit an apprentice.

This was not the first time we have sucessfully trained several, one
to the point of becoming our chief designer (he subsequently left to
become a Chiropractor). When I began, twenty-eight years ago (God has
it been that long) recruitment wasn’t a problem. The children of the
Sixties had a philosphical commitment to “crafts”. We all wore jeans
and workshirts like Bob Dylan and were committed to honest work.
Being a craftsman was seen as an important and valuable calling.

Today, as we know, things have changed. There seems to be no
commitment to anything beyond self. Kids I speak with seem more
interested in funding their retirement than in learning a craft.
They want to know about their “career ladder” before they pick up a
hammer. No one is willing to begin at the bottom and there seems to
be little in the way of loyalty to anyone of anything.

At 59 years old I would love to find someone interested in picking up
where I must soon (actuarally speaking) leave off. And, hell between
myself and my highly skilled workshop crew, have 75 years experience
in making the most interesting and difficult hand made jewelry. I
have spent 25 years traveling the world and have developed, what I
believe to be the potentially most profitable retail model for
independent jewelers in the 21st century. I’m no slouch as a
gemologist either.

Apprenticeship is a very big commitment on both sides. The potential
apprentice must be willing to work at low wages for several years.
The master must be willing to spend endless hours teaching.

Richard
www.rwwise.com
For Information and sample chapters from my new book:

Good for you Kevin.

Sounds like you got the young man off on the right track. He sounds
like pretty much of a self starter anyway but sometimes the attitude
and a few words of encouragement from their sponser can make a lot
of difference. Hopefully he will stay with it.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2

I keep hearing these comments on apprentices working for no
pay…and in the same breath…they are not good apprentices because
they eventually quit and get a real job!

I would not work for anyone for free! A low starting salary for no
or little experience is reasonable (happens in every industry) but
everyone’s work should be compensated.

After 3-6 months if you haven’t been able to get value from an
employee and give them a raise then an assessment should be made. Is
there a lack of skill and talent on the employee’s part or does the
fault lie with the mentor?

Nobody eats for free anywhere…

Mark

What a great story Kevin. How nice it is to see such a success
story-it’s obvious that you were a great influence and teacher for
this guy. Just giving him the opportunity to work, to learn and to
grow in his own direction was a gift. Some things can not be
measured in money.

Regards,
Dinah.

       Apprenticeship is a very big commitment on both sides. The
potential apprentice must be willing to work at low wages for
several years. The master must be willing to spend endless hours
teaching. 

There are many goldsmithing students in Holland that are very willing
to move to your part of the world. They need to do a 1 year
mandantory apprenticeship to conclude their 4 year (fulltime) study.
I’m sure you will get over a dozen reactions if you would advertise
an opening. Kids speak English in kindergarten here, so there should
be no language barrier.

Alain

There is hope. A few of us young ones are willing to work for
nothing and make a commitment.

I searched for my apprenticeship after returning from Kashmir with a
small parcel of low quality sapphire. I snuck in the back door of
trade shows and was laughed away by most jewelers. I found an
apprenticeship and worked for 0 (zero) pay 3 years learning the
business while earning $8 an hour on night shift paying the bills.

The experience was exponentially more valuable than going to any
school of gemology/lapidary/jewelery although during those years, I
thought many times this method is ridiculous. You have to love it.

Sure my friends were making 60K+ per year, but how much do they love
their work? Our society is about instant gratification. It=92s taught
in school, only the fit survive, morals are relative. This is the
dumbing down of America. Good thing few of us believe in a hard
honest work.

Praise God,
http://www.kashmirblue.com

In regards to my apprentice I have even convinced several of my
jeweler friends to take him on for a week at a time so that he gets
a wide variety of experience, at first they were afarid he would
become competition but after I explained to them my theory they were
cool about it. I ask them how long it took them to get to the level
they are at now. In my case I have worked every day at the bench for
14 years and I am 34 years old This guy is in his twenties so unless
he is gods gift to the jewelery world I have a forteen year head
start on him by the time he has forteen years in he will be my age
and hopefully as skilled as I am or better but I will now have been
a jeweler for almost thirty years and by that time I hope to be a
demi god able to make solder leap across the biggest gap and make
big diamonds set themselves and yield to my will.

Kevin

I tried to discourage him by telling him that there is very little
money to be earned by working with your hands you dont do it for the
money you do it because you cant think of any thing better to do
(just kidding) I work entirely for myself I am a terrible business
man I cant sell, or dont like to I have poor math skills, and have
been told that I am anti social and dont play well with others. I
mostly work for myself because I am a lousy employee I complain alot
and think the boss is a moron. Any way I told him up front that I
couldnt pay him not because his work was not worht anything but
because I dont make squat and earn just enough to keep shoes on the
kids and gas in my 50 year old car. He did get compensated with some
tools and cheap pizza at little place down the street. Now he has a
career.

The Holland connection sounds interesting. We have had two
apprentices from Japan, one for six months another for one year. The
experience was mixed but generally positive. Do you have any more
specific on possible contacts in Europe?

Richard
www.rwwise.com
For Information and sample chapters from my new book:

They want to know about their "career ladder" before they pick up
a hammer. No one is willing to begin at the bottom and there seems
to be little in the way of loyalty to anyone of anything. No one
is willing to begin at the bottom and there seems to be little in
the way of loyalty to anyone of anything.

May I speak in defense of the poor young apprentice? Life is so
complicated and risky today. The times they have a changed, and
lots. I’m 52, and it wasn’t so complicated and risky when I was
young; when my mother washed her hands of me at 18, I was able to
get a full time job as a file clerk and support myself and save
money. (And believe me, that awful experience has shaped my entire
life.)

Frankly, I think if any of you want a good apprentice, you will have
to be able to provide them with a living wage (or room and board and
a stipend) and health insurance. And if you live somewhere where
there’s no public transportation, i.e., mostly everywhere in the
good ole independent US of A, then you’ll have to provide them some
way to get around because it’s too dangerous to hitchhike anymore.
It’s impossible to have a goal and stick to it if you can’t afford a
place to live, food to eat, and a way to get around. Ok, maybe not
impossible, but incredibly difficult. Yes, I know a lot of kids and
other younger people seem to be more concerned with getting extras
but really, if you could provide the basics, you’d have qualified
candidates knocking your door down.

Christine in Littleton, Massachusetts

man you guys are really hitting it on this thread, gonna have to
chime in; i was never a schooled fine artist, but i did expressionist
paintings in impressionist colors for ten years after highschool and
drew my doodles with serious intent and on grande scales with markers
and fountain pens (mont blanc drawing pen, permanent ink), on
drafting film then finally when i was 30 took a job in a sweatshop,
nyc (‘83) learning under a 50 yr.old russian granite sculptor stuck
there carving ivory jewelry every day creating designs and production
for our boss, off the books no insurance, etc., we used spotlight
bulbs clipped under our seats for much of our heat in the winter and
worked partially nude, under aprons, with alot of cold water and
windows open,10th fl. good view, in the summer, while our boss
grossed 90,000 a month, yes i learned well from him for ten years
didn’t want to carve ivory because i was a vegetarian that wouldn’t
even wear leather but i stayed since quit, been carving my
experimental designs, along with designers’ modelmaking and
production and have never had a problem amazing any nyc designer
craftshow jury/owner showroom owner gallery owner, layperson, since
that includes myself, i also tend to be as kevin, kevdan; I work
entirely for myself I am a terrible business man I cant sell, or dont
like to I have poor math skills, and have been told that I am anti
social and dont play well with others. I mostly work for myself
because I am a lousy employee I complain alot and think the boss is a
moron and agree totally with everything that richard wise had to say(
i was born in '54); The children of the Sixties had a philosphical
commitment to “crafts”. We all wore jeans and workshirts like Bob
Dylan and were committed to honest work. Being a craftsman was seen
as an important and valuable calling did learn some interesting
jewelry practices in schools , but bottom line for me was neverending
practice and production, dp