Hello all. I’ve been reading, enjoying and learning from the
that has been posted over the few months that I’ve been a
subscriber. However, I think my lurking time has come to an end as I
have a few questions and am seeking some advice.
My background is in physics, I’m 33 years old, and I currently have a
somewhat “cushy” job at a university in Chicago. On the other hand I
am also a very artistic person, and for several years now I have been
on a path toward deciding whether to pursue a “career” in art or in
science. I have been engaged in a huge internal battle in which,
long story short, the art side has finally won (though there will
always be a special place in my heart for physics). I have chosen to
follow my passion for jewelry design and creation, and seriously
need guidance on how to achieve my goals.
My main goal is to have design and fabrication knowledge/skills be
second nature for me-I want to come as close as possible to being a
master of goldsmithing. I’ve been engaged in self study for a while,
and I even took a metalsmithing class at an art center here in
Chicago. I did not like the content of the class (or lack thereof)
for the price. So, I told myself that for the money I’d be spending
on taking the classes, never certain of whether I’d learn what I
felt I needed to learn in a given period, I’d just invest the money
in books, tools and equipment and teach myself as much as possible.
[I’m about to buy and teach myself how to use a water torch (my husband and I live in an apartment and I don’t want to risk working with compressed gases indoors until I’m totally comfortable with them-caustic chemicals though, no problem! ;-)]
My desire to learn and do jewelry has become very overpowering. My
frustration is building because trying to learn and do this in my
spare time and on weekends just isn’t enough. I want to totally
immerse myself in the jewelry world-and not from a sales
perspective-I need to fabricate (although, I am open to
possibilities). I mentioned the “cushy” job earlier because though my
plan is to teach myself what I can, I do realize the value of guided
instruction. I am SO willing to quit this job and take a likely
crazy cut in salary to work as an apprentice. -I’ll do it in a
heartbeat if I find the right environment. Having an unrelated day
job is quite torturous.
In the meantime I’ve constructed a curriculum for myself that
includes pretty much everything in most of the major fabrication
books out there. I’m also planning to take a few GIA courses. Could
that be enough to give me a decent working background?
So, that’s an abbreviated version of my journey, and here are the
a) Does anyone have any advice?!
b) Does anyone know of any good, professional places to learn
jewelry fabrication in the Chicagoland area? --I’m surprised that
with Chicago being such a hot spot for jewelry sales, design and
fabrication, there seem to be no education or trade programs for
those who want to learn the craft.
c) With regard to torches, based on reading and research I’ve done,
most jewelers/artists prefer compressed gas torches-would I be at a
disadvantage trying to develop my fabrication skills on a water
Any advice would really be appreciated.