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way to go Barbara

I like to learn and I aspire to go on learning to the day I die and I
find I learn sometimes in the most unlikely places and books.

I was trying to design a pendant that was a combination of three
pendant styles and could not put it all together. I was trying to
eliminate design/structural flaws in the designs.

Went round to a mates place who is a fisherman not a jeweller. While
he was making a coffee I looked through a ship chandlery catalogue.
And Eureka there was the piece that pulled the design together. It
was a twisted D shackle. Who’d have thunk it?

I have seen very similar designs since I made mine some better some
worse. I think they did not look in a chandlery catalogue.

My teacher was telling students who were making boxes to look at
EVERY hinge they could find, doors, cupboards, boxes etc.

To understand what hinges do and why they are made for the job.

Talking of students, today we made rings. One very feisty 15 year
old girl said I can’t use the saw. Showed her how, told get out of
the road and away she went. I can’t use the torch same thing
happened. Hammering ring round on the mandrel I can’t hit it hard

“You know that annoying kid, (her cousin) imagine its his head.”

Wow could this little girl use a mallet or what? When finished she
barged into the principal’s office to show off her work 3 rings
ready to polish.

This kid has the jewellers spirit at 14 she managed shifts at a
pizza store, rode track work for race horses and was a show jumper.

Her jewellery work is clean, neat and precise and this was her first
silver smith lesson! She can do bead work like a daemon. I showed
her a gem set ring and asked if she would like to set a stone in her
ring band. Hell yeah! I told her it was demanding and annoying. She
said “I put up with you it can’t be worse!”

Just another poor child addicted to jewellery making. LOL She is
also a talented artist. So it will be an interesting few years. The
aim is for her to leave school with the bench skills to start her own
business. If she has not done so already.

It is a joy to have a student like this rather than those that need
to be threatened with a mandrel to the head to behave.

In my jewellery class I am the boss and have punching rights LOL.
Every kid at this school gets to make a silver ring, but many do not
get the chance to return to the workshop. Those who do have self-
discipline and good attention spans and a strong desire to make

Xtines Jewels

Richard! What a refreshing note on Orchid! No matter what any of us
make today, it is exciting to find those special ones of the future -
the tomorrow kids. Good luck and keep on enjoying as much as you
obviously do now!

With very best warm regards


I’m glad to hear you too restrict the workshop to students that are
committed to actually working in it ! I have the kids for a week
before they get to put a tool to metal, or get to ignite a torch for
the processes involved in reclaiming scrap that will become their
stock with which to design. no short cuts: they learn from tools and
maintaining them to fabrication of raw materials to designing and
laying out the operations necessary to complete any item they wish to
invest in…(they pay for metals, stones etc. having kids part with
cash gets their attention !). But often the result is in fact people
with a lifelong passion for metalsmithing, MFA, and maybe on to a job
in the trade or a working studio of their own. One of the youngest
students I ever agreed to admit (13) indeed had their own studio by
the time he became twenty and is now a successful shop owner with
over 18 years in business…

I did learn however that often the best work one gets out of the
students comes in the first two or three weeks of a programme and
from that time on you can easily discern those whose enthusiasm is
genuine and those that will remain as hobbyists or less.! I wish you a
good start to the semester. rer

Love this story Richard not so much for the child but that you
allowed yourself to step back and see the possibilities of your
students. Amazing… In high school in the USA I was not allowed to
take art because the teacher did not think I was good enough to be
in her class. After winning the international pearl design
competition in Japan she finally said she made a mistake. I wish I
had had you for a teacher I would not have wasted 6 years of mylife
joy drawing because I thought I was not talented enough.

Thanks for all you are doing for your students…

Hi Richard,

There is no greater reward than imparting knowledge to people who
soak it up & apply it, no matter whether it is work, sport or

Many of our young people need just one ounce of encouragement to
burst forth & bloom.

It is great to hear you enjoy raging with our future achievers.

Thanks to all the Orchid contributors.

Phil 71, still on the learning curve.

Thanx all for your posts on my teaching silversmithing.

The kids have to make 2 rings one for the school to sell and one for
them to keep.

They have to be of equal quality or the student gets the lesser
quality, keeps them focussed.

As for “those who can do and those who can’t teach.” What a

Never met my teacher or the many other great teachers in jewellery
land, did this poster.

Might be true in some subjects but jewellery is very different, if
you don’t learn from a master you will never KNOW how to make it