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Direction for a newly disabled jeweler


I am not new to Ganoksin, but have been lurking for years. I first
learned of it years ago at Metelwerx at a fold-forming class with

I have been a silver-smith in CT for several years. Those in the
northern east coast may even know me. In 2010 I suffered a life
threatening spinal cord injury. Fortunately between my amazing
Neurosurgeons and my strong will to recover I have made amazing
strides. Unfortunately both arms and hands were severely affected.
Being labeled permanently disabled and losing everything I had worked
so hard for, has been beyond difficult to say the least.

I had been in occupational therapy for over a year and unfortunately
my therapist’s and insurance felt that my recovery had hit its’ peak.
This has not been acceptable to me as my work as a silver-smith was
not a job, not a career, but my life, I was my work. For those of you
that feel similar, understand. I’ve always said even if I won 20
million dollars I would still do what I do, I would just have the
most amazing studio, buy every tool in the Rio catalog that I ever
wanted and would have more help!

Having my studio in my home all those years, and losing my home
meant no more studio, not even a place to set up and try to see what
I can still accomplish…

This is where maybe the Orchid community might be able to point me
in a direction. I have tried to find somewhere to set up my studio
again, but now on social security, my budget barely affords me a
place to live. (I now rent a room) I am willing to do anything to
find a place to set up again, even if, only a garage. I certainly am
willing to barter space for teaching, working hours in some retail
storefront, etc. I just don’t know where to turn. I’ve had so many
doors closed, and giving up just isn’t an option. I would appreciate
if anyone had any ideas or could point me in a direction. Setting up
again, will not only help with occupational therapy, but my heart,
mind, and soul. I would love to have my purpose back! Thank you.

Laura Brothers

Hello Laura,

There is a program in Massachusetts called ElderHostle they have a
great web site. They offer studio space to the instructors there. I
don’t know how far it would be from you, it is in Williamsburg, MA.

Best of luck to you, I understand disabilities as I have several and
only by the grace of god do I have my home and home studio


Dear Laura;

I am so sorry for your situation. I am also disabled with spinal
problems, and I also lost my home. I can only tell you that you need
to keep the goal before you, don’t let it wither. I would suggest
messing with fimo clay. It is cheap, it is easy to do in small
spaces, and will increase your skills. You can do it, re do it, and
do it again until you have enough to bake. I lived for 7 months in a
bedroom of a friend that had dementia and needed help. I am grateful
for their offer, but living in a corner of a room with my dog and
cat was rough. But… i never gave up on the dream of when I had
a place of my own. Talent is a skill to express yourself. It may not
be silversmithing, maybe it is a quick sketch of a beautiful item.
Maybe it is silver clay instead of silversmithing. I started my
business on the principle that I would reinvest every cent right back
into my business. In the beginning it was $10 back into a bag of
Walmart beads. The trick to living with disabilities is to not put
boundries on your life. If you have nothing, learn to make something
with the plastic bag that the neighbors paper comes into. You are a
storehouse of creativity, just do not let it stop because you can not
do what you once did.

Most of all, realize you are not alone. Join a group, any group be it
church, seniors, craftsman, aa or whatever. When you get in among
those people, share your dilema and listen to theirs, and combine
your assets. You may find a partner who has a huge house with spare
rooms. Or someone that needs a house sitter, no telling what
resources may come up. I love the saying "Misery loves
company… and before you know it you are having a party.

Today I live in an apartment. it was a true answer to prayer, as I
looked at it, the landlady said… oh and we have this
storage room, maybe you can use it? And there before me was my shop.
It took a year to get it cleared up and set up, but today I have
classes there, and it looks more like a shop than a storage room.

Hang in there and remember that this is a journey in life, and be
sure to notice the small things that make it such a wonderful trip.
Blessings pat

Hello Laura,

You have had quite a journey and I applaud your determination. Stay
strong! That said, it would help if people had an idea of your
location a bit more specific than in CT. I don’t mean your street
address, but perhaps the name of a nearby city.

Judy in Kansas, which is a pretty big place, but with only a few
people in comparision to CT!

Damn!!! I live at the other side of the world, so i can be of no
help, but hell! Push as hard as you can and as long as it takes and
i’m sure you will find some way out the storm, and see the sun rise
again! I’ve been through quite difficult times too, so I know what
i’m talking about. It took me 10 dark sad years to get out the
storm. Keep up!!!

Best wishes Laura!

Hi Laura, I understand exactly where you are coming from. Software
design had been everything to me, a way of compensating for autism
and inherited mental illness. Unfortunately the modern workplace has
now rached the point where a lack of outstanding social skills can
no longer be excused by the presence of technical excellence. I
become clinically depressed soon after facing any form of adversity
or conflict in the workplace: deadline pressure, management pressure,
design disagreeents, and office politics. My work record after a 15
year career like this is now such that no one will consider me for
any job. I have made some trial work attempts but I found each time
the depression comes back full bore. I am a homemaker now, along with
my wife who has also is unemployable. We care for ourschool-age
daughter. I had taken serious thought of retraining to be a
goldsmith, but I’m too old now for student loans. I’m having to teach
myself off books and internet, but this a very hard road, and I am
still only an amateur, I have sold nothing yet but I have made a few
nice gifts for church and family with what I’ve learned so far. Other
people on Ganoksin had been extremely kind towards me, gifting me a
couple years ago with no less than 13 boxes of surplus equipment,
tools, and materials. I’m quite certain that if you ask us, we can do
similarly for you. I’d be honored to pass this favor forward, so
please email me offline with your shipping address and I’ll send you
what I don’t need. You mentioned your arms and hands were severely
affected, past tense. How are they now? Are you now simply wheelchair
bound, or are you still worse off? I have an elegant suggestion for
you if your arms and hands no longer work well for you: Do something
like Aahz and Skeeve did in thebook Myth Adventures. Aahz was a
master magician who got stripped of his powers. Skeeve had the
potential to be a magician but his previous master had gotten killed
so knewnothing more than how to light a candle. So Aahz took Skeeve
on as an apprentice.He supplied the procedure while Skeeve
suppliedthe power, and this was able to develop Skeeve into a very
good magician indeed. I think you should take on a group of
apprentices : free training in exchange for them being your arms,
legs, and hands. You can tell them what to do, they can try to do it,
and you can examine and comment upon the results. At a certain point
you can go pro again, andmake your former apprentices your
juniorpartners. If the results become good enough that you can geta
double share of the profits as founder while the others get single
shares. I wish you the very best.

Andrew Jonathan Fine

very good advice do not give up, baby steps gets you there. a spinal
injury keeps me in a wheelchair i lost everything except a very ill
husband who i was the sole suport of i just purchased a very cheap
home just built a small shop next to the house now i am saving for
for electric to be be run in the shop. then next the rest of tools
and equipment. its been 3 and a 1/2 years it may be another year or 2
but i will not give up. i may only make enouph to keep the bills
barely paid but it will give me a reason to get out of bed. find what
works for you and then take your baby steps good luck

Hello Jen, may I send you the gifts of energy and endurance. Count
your blessings. You have a little home and a shop and you still have
someone to share it with. Getting out of bed is the first step in

Barbara, with smiles and gifts

I can’t thank everyone for all of their encouraging words. I am
truly overwhelmed by your kindness and understanding. I also had no
idea, that “I’m not the only one out there,” in a similar situation.

I think more detail of my situation may help clarify some questions.
I had been a independent (my own business) full-time working
silversmith for about 10 years before my injury. I live in the
Danbury, CT area. As my injury stands now, I consider myself very
fortunate in so many ways. The doctors thought I would be a quad,
because of the severity of my injury, however I’ve rehabbed to a
cane/walker, with many complications to my lower body. It really is a
miracle. The issue with neurological injuries, no one can really tell
you, and everyday is different.

My upper body issues aRe: I have lost about 50 % of feeling in both
hands and fingers (numbness and tingling) about 30% fine motor skills
in my right hand and 80% loss of fine motor skill in my left. (I’m
right handed) Lost about the same in strength. The pain is just
something I live and deal with daily, as my injury is to my cervical
spine, and have neck issues all of their own.

I really appreciate every ones input, please keep me in mind if
someone has any ideas. I will NEVER give up.

Laura Brothers

Dear Laura, just keep working those hands, and the thing I notice is
that there is PT and there is doing something that is familiar. Find
one or two small things that you can repeat from the past. Every day
those hands will amaze you and remember a little more. It may be
years, but they will not let you down. Blessings pat