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Favorite exercise

Embarrassing but true, I’ve become a fan of Project Runway and The
Apprentice: the assignments given to the contestants at each
episode are intriguing and amusing, and I’m fascinated by the lessons
in “what works and what doesn’t”.

It occurred to me to ask all you good Orchid folk what assignments
or exercises you’ve been given (let’s say, by teachers or mentors)
that you found to be just great in challenging your creativity.

I’d actually like to try some. Please share details!

thank you!

My first wax carving teacher, Spencer Moss in Albuquerque, had me
carve a square, a rectangle, a sphere, a tetrahedron, a pyramid, and
a dipyramid… all about 1/2 to 3/4 inch across. I carved in green,
blue, and purple hard carving wax. Not really a favorite exercise but
how I got started sculpting miniature waxes.

There was another wax, Karvex, that was incredible. It was somehow
more brittle and stronger than the regular green wax. Really held an
edge well. You could carve, and sand, and sculpt on a really detailed
piece all day and the edges you’d cut in the morning were never
rounded off by your handling. The company disappeared in the late
70’s. Maybe was absorbed by a larger mfg. Anybody know the formula
for that wax? It would be worth cooking up in the studio.

The Pythagorean solids were small but got me into symmetry and
precision in that small scale world. The idea was to get parallel
sides parallel, angles equal, corners square. It showed me how
quickly coarse to fine files work on small bits of wax. That was the

Then we started carving bird fetishes with inlay channels in them.
That got me into carving whatever people asked of me.

    It occurred to me to ask all you good Orchid folk what
assignments or exercises you've been given (let's say, by teachers
or mentors) 

Hi Tracy;

Offhand, I know there are many I can’t remember, but I do remember a
metals professor suggesting I study Japanese Floral Arraingment. I
never got around to it though. Sounds off-beat but it’s really not.

David L. Huffman

Tracy, Carving the solids didn’t challenge my creativity but began to
develop my skills with files.

The part that challenged my creativity (still does) is to have a
stranger commission me to make a concept they have into something
three dimensional.


Hi Tracy,

I hope this will fall into the category you had in mind - I’ve found
that some of my most challenging “exercises” have been provided by
customers for whom I’ve done custom designs. It never ceases to
amaze me when a customer will describe what I think is some bizarre
or unworkable idea, and then I find a way to execute it, and end up
with something really cool that I never would have come up with on
my own. Even though I’m still very much a newbie and my repertoire
of techniques is limited, I gain more technical skill and better
design aptitude with each custom order I take on.

Looking forward to others’ posts on this thread!

Jessee Smith (who also suffers from Mad Poster Disease)
Cincinnati, Ohio


I’ve been working in the silver & Gold industry for since 1991 and
started my own bussines in 2002.

I did this because i wanted to work on exclusivly on commisions and
limited edition pieces and repairs as i got fed up of making the
same products over and over again don’ get me wrong we did do
commisions thats how i got a taste for this type of work but we
didnt do enough for my liking

I always find its when you are doing a commission for a customer
that when you get the most reward and exercise talking the design
over with the customer is always a pleasure as you bounce ideas
backwards and forward it give you a chance to really talk to a
customer and build up a relationship with them that will last

And then you have to think of the bestways to costruct the item in
question That generally get the brain working

And to make the item is always a pleasure and you cant wait to get
back to the bench to carry on creating

And to see the customers face when you show them the finished
product is the Best reward it makes you feel proud to have created
something unique that they will treasure forever and be passed on
though the generations with your hallmark

Be creative
David Baggaley

D.B.Silversmiths & Goldsmiths
Specialists In Handmade Jewellery & Gift items and Jewellery repairs
9 Berners Close
Tel : 07901 854054