Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Developing a Style


Thank you for your post. Your situation is similar to mine except
since I came to this late I feel time nipping at my heels. “The life
so short and Craft so long to learn.”

The three workshops that I took in the last year were excellent and
each taught me an aspect of the work that was very diffrent. I keep
practicing the skills that I was taught and try to blend them. The
frustration is that my work doesn’t resemble that of my teachers. Of
course they have been working for decades. Your words reminded me to
quit worrying and keep working.

I am on my way to visit Philadelphia where I hope to see wonders.
Lori Johnson

Lori; I don’t think that your work should resemble the work of your
instructor, all an instructor should teach in my opinion is
technique, not style, or this is the way to make a ring or a necklace
or what ever. Then you wind up with paint by numbers art, I’ve seen
the results of this type instruction Not good in my opinion, just
practice the techniques for each phase from Surface decoration to
Soldering or stone setting what ever the subject was, by the time you
get proficient in a particular phase, you will oddly enough have
developed your own style (hopefully ) Kenneth Ferrell


What you say has some merit. I find that my students become quite
impatient as they are learning and practicing techniques and are
always asking me…how should I make this look or how should I
change this. My answer is always the same…well, its up to the
artist (you). I try to get them thinking how they might do it…not

On the other hand, I always have some of my ‘demo’ pieces available
so they can see how various components fit together and how they will
look. I don’t quite agree that students work should not resemble the
instructor’s especially in the earlier stages. At this point of
learning techniques most students don’t have enough knowledge to make
many design decisions. They have to be lead. But you are right that
as they develop the techniques they begin to develop their own
style…usually without even knowing it.

Nor do I quite agree the an instructor should not teach style.
Unless a student has previously studied art forms, they have some
difficulty learning balance and form when working in metal. An
experienced smith can help a great deal in this regard. In fact, my
first lecture includes a fairly long introduction to ‘design and
engineering’ and the relation between the two. The first depicts what
might be nice to do…the second depicts what can and cannot be done!

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

Kenneth F. and all

Diamond Setting IS technique only. Show me two setters’ work and I
could show you two styles of “signature” methods of accomplishment.
What’s more strange is that even on different days my "signature"
style might alter a tad. This can be due to the varied types of tools
I use.

In my setting class in Toronto, I show also “technique” to my
students, I bet not one of them will set stones the same as me, or
others around that room. It all depends on “interpretation” of
viewing my demonstration. Hence, they will all find their own

I showed a manufacturer my method of setting engagement rings. It
was my style, my signature if you will, my technique…it is my
reasoning and how a diamond should look while its in the mounting.
BINGO! “my reasoning”, because of my “feelings” towards how any stone
should sit…This “reasoning” is the involuntary interpretation of
creating a method that is easy only for ‘that’ craftsperson.

I know what you mean Lori. I look at my teacher’s work or the
gallery postings of the master artists on this list and think, How
will I ever get that good!? The truth is, I may never be as good as
them as I too come to this a little late, but I’ll keep working and
learning. I do think we can still find our own expression, our own
mastery. Just remember there is an artist who is VERY successful who
loosely wire-wraps a few stones. No need to be a master goldsmith to
do that, but she has found her own unique voice. (that said I still
long to be as best I can!)

  practicing the skills that I was taught and try to blend them.
The frustration is that my work doesn't resemble that of my
teachers. Of course they have been working for decades. Your words
reminded me to quit worrying and keep working. 

Regarding teaching style or a student’s work looking like their
teachers. To some degree we can’t help but copy when we are learning.
We don’t have the “vocabulary” to express ourselves. What I’ve found
though is that this base will be a jumping off point. I was feeling a
little guilty when I picked up ideas from other artists, (although I
also noticed that the techniques were universal-many artists were
using them) but what I found is that my work will always end up
looking different and in starting with the basic technique someone
else might have, my own ideas start flying off into something that
becomes unique.

Leslie Nicole
Bordeaux, France