I’ve taught mostly beginners for years and usually start with a
split shank cabochon ring, the cab being 13x18 for easy handling
by a novice and the split shank being double half-round sawn back
a half inch or so and spread. ( The bezel is plain)
The split shank ring is a good idea- I’ve made many of them over
the years myself.
I frequently have them make a tear drop shaped pendant out of
14 or 12 ga. round, hammered in some areas,with a free form cab
set in a different bezel soldered on the inside, with a jump ring
and bail on top, as a second project.
My other student is making a bracelet of ocean worn ceramic
pieces with bezels soldered to a back plate- I’m thinking that
this would not be immediate enough for a 13 year old, but the
pendant certainly is a two session project. I am thinking about
something using rivets and moving parts, and maybe some textural
I also take a selection of easy pieces I have done to give them
ideas for succesive projects, and encourage them to design their
own (subject to my approval and based on their level of
My previous student was out on her own on the second project-
she was quite creative- but then, her mom did the images for 3
children’s books for Carly Simon, so it came as no surprise.
The biggest safety tip is teaching them to watch where they
point their torch flame. As you know, they can become quite
cavalier after the first few hours and have been known to scorch
the bench, set stray paper on fire, etc. The other major danger
seems to be the buffing machine.
I have them use small buffs- and I have lexan shields in front
of the wheels. I knew two jewelers who lost fingers to polishing
machines, and one who crushed her hand making a mold in plaster
in a can. I am serious about safety.
I’m sure with your years of experience, you’ll have no problems
at all. Sorry we won’t be able to meet you in person at Tucson.
Haven’t been to the show in 15 years- though I did live there
one winter, worked for a jeweler named Abbey Taylor. I missed the