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Appropriate level to seek apprenticeship

Thanks all for the replies Re: porosity. Very useful, can’t believe
I hadn’t written in before. This encourages me to ask another
question, related to the topic of guidance. I’ve been carving wax
for casting under my own direction for a little over two years. My
website is listed below. I have recieved a few bits of feedback here
and there to encourage me along, however now that I have a suitable
workshop space, a decent stock of tooling, etc., I ask myself: Is
this the right approach? Am I missing valuable by going
out on a limb without the feedback of any jeweler besides the books
that I have on hand?

The books have been enormously useful, and I have long been the sort
that does better with my hands than in a classroom. I feel that my
skills and designs are approaching a level where increased
commitment is due. I currently work with wax in a sculpture foundry,
where I have similar work but technically unrelated mentoring that
does not translate to the small scale. My requests, not knowing about
the industry standards:

As an individual interested in becoming a designer, rather than
running a retail shop, and most interested in creative wax carving,
and not having much in the way of financial resources, what is the
best avenue to expand my horizons?

Is it normal for someone at my level to seek apprenticeship? If so,
what would I be doing? Does anyone know any designers in the LA area
that would be suitable? Is my own work at risk of being ‘absorbed’ if
I take such a gig at another workshop? Would it be better to approach
a school and try to take a class at a time? At present, I have time
and facilities of my own to devote practice.

Any guidance would be appreciated.


Hello Robert,

Is it normal for someone at my level to seek apprenticeship? 

Apprenticeship is a word that no longer has an agreed upon meaning.
It can now mean anything from entry level employee to student,with
all sorts of levels of commitment. Forget that word and seek
"employment". You can get on-the-job training at any level of
proficiency. It is a really good way to learn the skills you need to
succeed in the real world. Schools are good, but they cost time and
money. A job pays money, although you will very likely take a longer
time to learn a diverse range of skills. You will probably get very
good at a smaller set of skills and also learn how a successful
business works at the bench. This can be very different from what you
get at school.

Is my own work at risk of being 'absorbed' if I take such a gig at
another workshop? 

That depends. I applied for a job once where they told me that I
would be expected NOT to do any work on the side because they wanted
my best ideas to benefit the company. I took another job where it
didn’t really matter because I was simply making the boss’s designs
just like he told me to. In my own shop I encourage employees to work
on their own projects on their own time, because I feel that they
learn a lot faster when they encounter problems that they have to
figure out for themselves, rather than just follow my instructions.

I would highly encourage you to look for a job, preferably full
time. You will learn a lot. After a while, think of moving to another
job and getting a different set of skills and experience. You can
always supplement your education by taking some workshops. I have
been at this for more than 30 years and I still take a workshop now
and then and also teach one now and then. If your goal is self
employment, plan on always learning and expect to be surprised at
what opportunities turn up and how things turn out.

Good luck,
Stephen Walker