Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

How to find apprentice work


#1

I am writing this message in hopes that someone will be able to give
me ideas or any other pertinent on how to go about
finding apprentice work as an apprentice metalsmith. Perhaps if you
are an established metalsmith/ goldsmith, you could share how you
got started.

Thanks,
Chris Young


#2
I am writing this message in hopes that someone will be able to
give me ideas or any other pertinent on how to go about
finding apprentice work as an apprentice metalsmith. Perhaps if
you are an established metalsmith/ goldsmith, you could share how
you got started. 

Make a portfolio of your work showing your best skill. Everybody has
one. Make an appointment with a large firm and go for it.

Before I started in jewellery, I was a repousse guy. I had made a
lion mask with jaws wide apart, tong out, the back of the throat
completely visible. It was 6 inches in diameter and 5 inches in
depth, drawn out from 0.5 mm copper, without a single tear. Got me
hired on a spot.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#3
how to go about finding apprentice work as an apprentice
metalsmith. 
  1. Have some skills to offer.
  2. Work cheap.
  3. Network.

Worked for me.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#4
Perhaps if you are an established metalsmith/ goldsmith, you could
share how you got started. 

I struggled for two years looking for a spot while training myself
at home at night. Knocked on doors etc. Thru a referral I finally got
a job. Seven years later I owned the place.

If I was doing that today I think I’d join my state’s jewelers’
assoc and try to make inroads. Please do not tell prospective
employers you want to be their designer. A quick turnoff. In the
beginning you should make some pieces that illustrate proficiency in
several common areas, solder, fitting, setting, finishing etc etc.
Entry level will be grunt work.

It might be tough for awhile, finding a job in this market, but use
your downtime to improve.


#5

Chris -I know that Leonid and Elaine have given you great advice. I
have only one thing more to offer.

When I moved from one city to the other and was still new in the
trade… I worked at a job counting findings at the local jewelry
supplier for about 9 months. I hated it, but I got to meet every
jeweler in town. It was a huge help. I got to know who was who and
talk to them. I had some skills to offer and worked cheap… at
first.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#6

Another thing that can be done is to visit as many jewelers as
possible and work for free for a short period of time doing anything
from sweeping the floor to hanging out to clean customers rings for
the sales staff. If you are confident and show your stuff, a store
will make room for you. Offer to do this to the owner and agree to a
week or two of this. You will find a home. Also, while this can be
torture, the mass merchandisers are always hiring people who can
breathe and can talk jewelry. It will give you something to put on a
resume and with your knowledge you will become the go to person for
questions and advice. I know some very successfull people who have
done this for a year or two, there is a lot of recruitment out of
those places.

Jay


#7
I am writing this message in hopes that someone will be able to
give me ideas or any other pertinent on how to go about
finding apprentice work as an apprentice metalsmith. 

Seriously. Buy a good pair of walking shoes and plant your smiling
face in front of as many shop owners as you can find. And look eager
and willing to learn at almost any cost.

Ray Brown


#8

Hello Chris,

I am writing this message in hopes that someone will be able to
give me ideas or any other pertinent on how to go about
finding apprentice work as an apprentice metalsmith. 

Asking that question on orchid is probably a great way to start.
Good for you for taking the initiative. Some jewelers are cynical
about training an “apprentice” who they see as a potential competitor
down the road. But most active orchid members are not like that and
are friendly, supportive and enjoy sharing what they know. I have
trained several apprentices and would be very glad if one eventually
opened a studio across the street. One is opening a shop in the next
town very soon.

Several things that were turn-offs for me when people in your
position have asked me for a job are:

The guy who says he already knows it all. “Just show me where the
coffee pot is, I am ready to step right in.” No matter where you go
they will be doing things their own way. Even if your ways really are
better, start out humbly with an “I am a quick learner” attitude.

Remember that the potential boss is in business. The values are
different that the hobbiest and those in art school. The job is about
service to the customer and service to the master craftsman. Finding
yourself or expressing yourself or any of that navel gazing is not
what you want to lead with. The boss might be very helpful with that
after a while, or he might label you as a dreamer and not give you a
chance at all.

I hope that my apprentices are motivated to learn everything so they
can do their own designs and start their own businesses. This is not
always going to be the case. Guys like me are probably a minority. Be
cautious and humble about your ambitions in that regard.

Discipline is key to success. The good boss is probably very
self-disciplined and self-motivated. You need to convince him or her
that you will show up on time, sober, rested and appropriately
dressed without bringing a lot of drama from your personal life into
the work place. Employees typically need a lot of nagging to do
things right and efficiently. If you seem like you can be
self-disciplined on the job, you have a much greater chance of
getting a position.

There are some things a potential employer cannot legally ask you,
such as your age, any disabilities, relationship status, religion,
politics and those kinds of things. But you can volunteer this
and probably should. The boss wants to know how old you
are, even if he cannot legally ask. An apprenticeship arrangement is
much more intimate than just getting a worker bee job toiling for
some big company. If your background is clean and whole, let them
know. If you have some problems, these laws are designed to protect
you. You will have to decide for yourself when you let the cat out
of the bag. For instance, four of my past apprentices were smokers.
Two of them managed to keep that a secret for the first month they
worked for me. Good for them, not really any of my business. But some
people really loathe smoking. If you are a non-smoker, don’t make the
boss guess.

Good luck. Times are tough for job seekers.


#9

Hello Chris -

My practical experience was to put on my best (as in “ALL my best
personally handmade”) jewelry and go into someone’s jewelry shop. I
had tried this several times before without success. I asked to
speak to the owner. Fortunately for me, this one was a real mom-n-pop
place! I asked if they needed any silversmithing help.

The owner said, “Well, what kind of experience do you have?” I told
him that I’d made all the jewelry I was wearing. (I didn’t say that
it was only 6 months of actual experience.) He looked me over, then
asked me to step behind the counter. Then he showed me where my
workbench was, where his was, the buffer, ring stretcher, etc.

I insisted on working for free the first month so both he and I
would know that we could work together and that he could absolutely
trust me. My first day on the job he told me, “There’s nothing you
can break that I can’t fix. Don’t worry about making mistakes.” Boy,
did he come through on that! My first week I broke two small
diamonds, a month later wrapped a chain around the flexshaft, and
later cracked a sapphire in the pickle. He made good on every one,
and never told the customer that I had done it.

It took a lot of courage to go into his shop in the first place.
After being out of work for a few months, that’s all I had left.
Before I opened my own place, I did a lot of grunt work on the
buffer, hollow chains, chain repair, more chains & more buffer.

May you be full of courage,
Go forth and succed!

Kelley Dragon


#10

Kelley,

Thanks for your story. What a great idea to go into a shop wearing
your portfolio!

I definitely need more pieces to show before I can do something like
that. But, it’s just a matter of time. I understand that getting
turned down is a part of the process, also. It was smart how you
offered to work a month for free. I think this showed that you were
giving your new career a lot of thought.

Were you mostly self-taught at the time you were hired or had you
taken some classes?

Thanks again for your story and encouragement!

Best,
Chris


#11

Chris -

I had ‘learned’ to solder one weekend from a friend, then 6 months
later took a silversmithing class at Wm. Holland in GA. Later that
year I purchased Victoria Lansford’s DVD on filigree, and that
helped improve my skills immensely! Very clear examples of torch
controls. Everything else was me just working at it. I turned one of
my spare rooms into a workshop so I could use my torch at any time,
even if it was 100 degrees in the garage. (FLA). I don’t have fancy
clothes or car to show for my time as an engineer, but I do have some
very nice tools!

Good luck to you,
Kelley


#12

Interesting thread…

This year, I celebrated my 40th year as a self taught, self
sustaining, artist/goldsmith.

My own personal journey has taken me from selling copper wire hair
ornaments at local flea markets, through eight or ten very exciting
years of art festivals, living on the road 12/12, workshop in the
van…, a pawn shop or two, raising babies and working trade and
repairs at home, on through 7 years as part of a vibrant retail
design team (a real nice paycheck and insurance!), through to today’s
clients, primarily designing, fabricating, and engraving custom
bridal rings.

Today, I am creating way more designs than I can possibly than I can
build and set myself.

I keep having a feeling of, “If I only had another pair of
hands…”. For several years, I’ve been pondering an apprentice
relationship but, from the other side. I have an extra bench, some
duplicate equipment, and a great deal of experience to pass on.

Advice would be greatly appreciated. interested? Email me off list.

Ken Weston
Chapel Hill, NC
You can see some of my work at www.goldworks-nc.com


#13

Ken,

MJSA has just opened a new job search on their website for all parts
of our industry. It’s easy to use and this could be a good place for
you to begin to find somebody perfect for your needs.

Everyone who is looking for a job, needs a job, an extra pair of
hands, apprentice position post school, design, graphic arts, bench
jewelry, marketing assistance, web designer, really anything related
to the jewelry business should spread the word and start building
this up.

We’ve needed this for along time and now MJSA has brought the idea
to fruition.

Well done MJSA.

http://jobboard.mjsa.org/

Karen Christians
Cleverwerx


#14
I keep having a feeling of, "If I only had another pair of
hands...". For several years, I've been pondering an apprentice
relationship but, from the other side. I have an extra bench, some
duplicate equipment, and a great deal of experience to pass on. 

One would be hard pressed to find a better apprentice opportunity
than working with Ken Weston. He has about the most varied experience
of anyone I know in the trade - from living and working on the road
as a vagabond artist/goldsmith during the late sixties in a full shop
set up in a van with a raised roof built out of an old boat, to
crafting very high-end custom work at a premier custom shop, the “top
of the food chain” as we used to describe it. He is a master of the
trade, in many skills. He has much to share. Plus he has a wonderful
record collection! From Zappa to Miles, and a whole lot of stuff in
between, there’s no lack of inspiring and creative music in his shop.

Anybody in the Research Triangle area looking for an apprenticeship
ought to jump on this one quick, before someone else does!

Dave Phelps