This is an open letter to all the members who shared both their
expertise and enthusium . I can not thank You enough. I have been a
long time Orchid reader and very occasional contributor. Finding the
joy of expression in this news group has been a source of constant
inspiration and motivation.
There is a need for more discussion on how we have found ways to aid
ourselves ( SELF HELP ) .
The following is an letter which I had written over a month ago . and
one of several replies
LETTER - * First, I need objective feedback on the following
questions . *
" A very Nice and supportive staff member at Texas Rehab asked a
question of me this week " Would it be safe for me to work as a
jeweler as I am diabetic ( first stage, early diagonosis, and in very
good condition at my last physical ) ? The administrators at Texas
Rehab ( equally nice and supportive ) are wondering if I would suffer
any problems working with my hands and being exposed to chemicals,
abrasives, sharp and hot objects ? I do not see how I could be so
suddenly at risk for being exposed to these things which I have worked
with in the Skilled Trades for the last 35 years ? My medical
retirement is due to a long series of back surgeries and the final
medical disqualification for any available job at my last place of
Would my current PERMANENT medical limitations , see below , be any
barrier to my working in the capacity of a certified bench jeweler
for full time or part time employment ?
1 No repetitive lifting of over 10 lbs for more than 1 hr. / day 2 No
repetitive bending for more than 1 hr. / day 3 No stooping for more
than 1 hr. / day
The terms of my accepting aid, from Texas Rehab to attend the full 2
years course work for Certified Bench Jeweler at Paris Jr. College (
at Parris, Texas ), requires me to work, upon completion of all
courses, for a 3 month minimum time as 1 Full time employee, or 2 Part
time employee, or 3 Self employed.
Am I being wildly optimistic ? Are my hopes not in line with the
general expectations for employment as a Certified Bench Jeweler ? Is
there something which I am not seeing , or accepting ? Why does this
look like a " Do-able" or feasable oportunity which I should throw
myself into ?
As a side note, I have been scheduled for a psychological interview as
a part of the conditions of my accepting aid from Texas Rehab. I have
been told that an interview of this type is mandated for aid from
Texas Rehab. Is there something which I am not seeing here ? Or is the
interview due to speculation that a person would have to be optimistic
and otherworldly to be a part of the Craft / Trade / Art in which I
would like to work ? Could it be that being " a little off " is no
barrier to working as Bench Jeweler , and could actually be an
acceptable attribute ? In the time I had off for my body to first heal
and then for my spirit to heal, could I have become wildly optimistic
A phrase which I remember from the year in which I learned to walk
again comes back . " First you walk on Your Will, Then You walk on
Your legs ".
- I gather objective through this News Group, but I also
have gotten a great deal more.
I would like to take this last paragraph to thank several people who
have helped my spirit to heal it’s self through involvement with and
in the Trade, Craft, and Art of Jewelery and Lapidary . Dr. E. Aspler -
without whom this list would exist poorly, or not at all . Jeannie, who
has been most supportive and encouraging . Every one else who has been
a member, supporter, and contributor to this wonderfull learning
resource . All my past teachers, whose lessons I hope have not been
wasted . And Last , but first in my heart, My sweetie ( who has aided
and abetted me in this renesance of the spirit ) .
Thank You All, Ever so Much,
ROBB - Retrainable Old Baby Boomer < grin > "
One reply from a very kind and supportive person.
" Hi Robert! My, I am just knocked out! AND I AM DELIGHTED THAT YOU
HAVE FOUND THE PATH !!!
I am pleased to have given you a mirror with which to see more about
you. It is, after all, what I did. For the one who is not able to see,
there is no support…
The joy is when people believe in their selves and their paths… and
sure sounds as if you are there. Yipppieeeeeee
Your psych evaluation, not to worry, It is standard stuff, for all
people who will be obtaining benefits. They need to week out the space
cadets, those who have no real faith in themselves, or think they can
jump buildings in a single bound.
They look for reasonable intelligence, and appropriate cognative
functioning…means can you understand, learn, and stay alert to what
is going on around you. The other issue they look for is
motivation…will you be a false starter in the process and cost them a
pile of money…and never use the education they pay for.
Robert, it is the most incredible stroke of luck to get TWO YEARS AT
THAT SCHOOL, IT IS ONE OF THE BEST 5 IN THE NATION. The cost of it
must be over $25,000 a year. That is about what the school cost that I
attended, but the instructors were just awful. The program is
considered very ‘‘cutting edge’’ - another name for damned near
worthless in the real world.
About the limitations of your back, nope not a problem as you stated
it. The chemicals, heck no. Sitting at bench is the hardest
part…get up and move as much as possible, and use of GOOD chair with
pneumatic adjustments is essential.
If you have upper back problems, you will enefit from ergonomic
articulating arm supports. They are fantastic, and permit you to work
with ease, taking the strain off your arms as you work at the pin in
wax carving, soldering, filing, sawing, and general work. The other
tool that would be helpful (and expensive) is the Bench- Mate set up.
Get all of it, including the shelf for the engraver’s block. And, get
the engravers block, the bench pin, AND the extra gizmo for the working
of rings in the vice. I have the entire set, and it is the most
precious thing I have in the studio!!!
A secret heRe: the state allows a lot of money for tools. If they are
willing to put you into that school, the Rolls Royce of schools, they
will pop for the tools. Make a list that includes the good stuff, and
if you would like adivse about that, let me know. For sure, I recomend
this as a min.
Wax tools and injectins pot Wax pen, and waxes Bench Mate Delux and all
accessories Swiss files, 3 sets, min. Flex shaft, with reduction gear
Foredom or better brand. Tanks, regulators, hoses, torches == Meco and
Little Torch if they will hold still for it… Or, a Meco if you can
have only one. You can cast with it, and not easy to do with Lil
Torch,small volume with those tiny hoses. Medium sized tanks, two
stage regulators, and flach back arrestors, and check valves for
Stone setting tools, hand and burs for the flex shaft.
Mandrels, lots of them. Hammers, leather, rubber, brass, steel,
setting, Scale, for wax & metal, dbl or triple beam Chair Bench
Now you sure may have this stuff, but I know that my state will pay
for the school AND $10,000 for tools and other things. The rule is,
"You don’t ask, you don’t get!’ They will fight like heck to keep from
tell- ing your what the tool budget is. It is easy to understand why.
You would do well to include METAL in the list of stuff you need.
Nothing like getting into it, and to find that you have to have silver
and gold in significant quantities for projects, and that some of it
will get all messed up. and you wil need replacement. So, how ever you
can do it, work out a way for them to pay for it…you wil be really
glad you did.
Something really important for you to stress with your
counselors…the program at Paris is one which is recognized by
Jewelers of America, (JA) which, if you are not familiar with them,
are the largest jewelers trade orgnization in the US, and they have put
their stamp of approval on less than ten schools in the nation. More
And, when you have completed the course, you will be taught to the
level of certification for a bench jeweler with that organization. It is
now the single most prestegious title available in the trade, except
for GG (graduate gemologist) with the Gemological Institute of
America. (GIA). To be taught to the level of a JA bench certification
assures employment upon completion of the progam. It is a very
important credential to take with you for it can help you establish
early up, the pay scale to which you should be enjoying in your work.
I am impressed that they would be willing to see you self employed.
Not many of these programs are willing to do that.
I can’t recall that I told you that I am also diabetic. I was not
diagnosed early enough…much damage done to my legs and feet, and a
little to my fingers and eyes. However, with diet, I work hard to
control it. The only thing that I see as a real problem is the time at
the bench, and how my feet feel,NOTHING is more important than
getting up and walking several times an hour, and more if you can. We
can get SO absorbed in the work, it is easy to forget to get up and
move and to drink all the fluids we must have.
The other thing I laughingly mention, but is true…the anxiety that
you feel as you take on a new skill,my mind is thinking of soldering
and all the stuff to do with the tanks, regulators, torches, and the
piece on which you work, your blood pressure will shoot up, and also,
the stress will kick up your sugar levels. It is important to check it
more frequently in the early stage of any high anxiety project.
You will do fine, Robert. JUST FINE. I SEE NO BARRIERS, NO PROBLEMS,
AND NO UNREASONABLE PLANS IN YOUR PROGRAM.
I am delighted for you! Go for it, you can do it!!
I know a jeweler in another town who has now employed a bench man
who’s in a wheelchair. Boy, was I pleased to see it. My former sweetie
worked there, so i knew the equipment and bench lay out. I think they
had to make only one change to permit the full access to all
equipment. Not so at the school I attended (I am not in a chair) where
no handicap was tolerated!! Isn’t that a strange concept?
The only real accommodation I require is to have a full benchmate
setup, The vice is useful for SOOO many things, and the shelf is
wonderful to adapt to different heights of working. The next best was
to stack my bench with convenience storage chests and have a big, 16
drawer metal chest next to my bench so I don’t have to leave the bench
Best wishes, Jeannie