Jealousy and paranoia running rampant

Steve, Your comments about old time bench jewelers intentionally
misleading apprentices rings a bell. I have to share this story:

After training in Pforzheim, Germany, I came back to the US and
moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where I got my first job
working in a jewelry trade shop. The first day the boss sat me
down at a bench next to a real old time master goldsmith. I
could tell that he knew his stuff just by the tools on his
bench. I was doing simple things like ring sizing and chain
repair and looked over to see the old man whizzing through very
complex fabrication. I could not help watching him work and I
asked him a couple of questions which he answered in a terse
unfriendly kind of way. Like you, I could tell that some of the
answers he gave me were not true. The next day when I got to
work I couldn’t believe my eyes! The old man had gone out and
bought a full sheet of plywood, 4 x 8 feet, which he cut out to
the shape of our benches and placed as a divider between us.
There was no way I could see what he was doing from my bench

I was really confused and disappointed. But most of all, I was
sad for him. Here was this guy in his late 70’s who knew so much
and for some reason he was afraid to share it. To this day I
think about him and that memory is one of the reasons I have
made it a point to teach people how to make jewelry. I may never
know as much as he did, but I will not take my knowledge with
me. Too much has died with old timers like him. I
don’t want to be responsible for anything else being lost. It
means too much to me to hoard it all for myself.

Alan Revere
Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
San Francisco

I to have run across this sacrilege in my tenure, I share all my
knowledge as God intended. To do otherwise is selfish and unjust
to your fellow humans. Perhaps what we say my not always be
agreed on but it is always debatable. I hope to teach many in my
lifetime to express themselves without fear or prejudice and
relate their creativity to others! Thanks for all the wonderful
I have been able to challenge mine with, makes my
day! Tips hat to fellow Orcadians, Peace and GOD BLESS

Ringman John
Welcome To Ringmans Dreams…
Custom design and repairs

Alan, I was really moved by your story. What a sad, sad
experience - for both you and the old timer - he must have been a
lonely unhappy person. A thought about teaching and sharing,
when you teach someone you usually increase you own level of
understanding and your skill far more than the one you are


Nancy Bernardine-Widmer
Bernardine Art Jewelry

Alan and all

Your books, and all our participation in this forum, will go a
very long way to seeing that and knowledge carries

It only takes one generation for knowledge to be lost.

I want to thank you for all the that you so freely
share, and for the wisdom to realize that the greatest mark of a
teacher is when the student surpasses the instructor.

We all do well to remember, “No (one) is great by imitation.”

Dwyn Tomlinson @dwyn
Dragon Crafted
JoolCrafting List
“Beware the lollipop of mediocrity – lick it once and you suck for

Alan, Hats off to you for the kind of human being and teacher
you are! It is wonderful to share your knowledge and experience
to another generation! I have been enjoying the subjects you
have contributed to and read with interest anything that has
your name on it. Regards, Susan.

Thanks for sharing this, Alan. I remember reading this story,
in an interview with you, a number of years ago (JC-K, I think).
I have referenced you many times, and always remember it when
anyone asks for advice. Curtis

I was in a workshop taught by Komelia Okim a few years ago. She
told the story of going back to Korea to visit and how such
sharing as Orchid does, just doesn’t just didn’t
happen. She said that she had forgotten how it was. It was nice
hearing America praised.

Marilyn Smith


This is competition and happens in every field. The instinct of
survival and to keep the knowledge to oneself. Lets be honest
with ourself, you may be kind to teach others because of your
business. But someway down the road you have to keep your
competitor away from you then you have to do something.

Tay Thye Sun

Alan, Good for you— you go right ahead and spill your guts and
we’ll all listen or read for that matter! I have learned SO MUCH
from this list and find it to be a valuable tool in my
continuining education. I tell everyone, who will listen,
about this group and tell them to join the club. It’s a
wonderful resource! Thank you to everyone! Lisa Newark, DE

Nancy, Teaching is a gift. One of the things I like about it is
that it forces you to a new level of understanding. It is one
thing to do something mindlessly out of rote. It is quite
another to have evaluated what you do with your hands through
your brain, then to translate it into words that make sense to
another person so they can understand it with their brain and
translate it to their hands.

Alan Revere
Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
San Francisco

People who were subjected to working conditions of intense
competition tend to be very insecure about losing their jobs
to newer (and younger and less expensive) employees ;hence the
reluctance of some of them to share their expertise with the
newbies who might turn out to be their replacements. On the
other hand, a person with the soul of a teacher can’t wait to
impart his/her knowledge to others …and it is a credit to
the teacher if his student uses what he has learned to become
successful in that field. >D<

Alan, Your story gives me a chuckle, it is not unknown in other
arenas either, recipes from restaurants and others usually lack
the “secret” ingredient.

In relation to Rocks and Minerals, “special” locations for
Minerals, etc, are also going to the grave. Either as they get
older, rockhounds no longer remember where they went, and can no
longer find the spot, or they are afraid “commercial” interests
will come in and scrape the earth clean. So private, secret
areas are lost.

We mortals are indeed strange.


I moved back to Boston from Atlanta where people shared their
metalsmithing knowledge quite freely. In Boston it seemed that
the people who had the least to share (maybe they knew how to
bend wire a couple of ways) were the most secretive about their
methods. In Rhode Island I was lucky to work with a modelmaker
who was both very talented and willing to share his knowledge. I
owe a lot to my mentors, which is probably why I participate in a
mentorship program now.

Richard D. Hamilton
A goldsmith on Martha’s Vineyard
Fabricated 14k, 18k, 22k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography,

Alan,-What a touching story and sincere best regards to you and
your organization. For the past year I have had the good
privilege of learning jewelry fabrication and repairs from a
lady who has been in the business for 20 years. She has not
been one of those who keep knowledge to themselves but has just
been marvelous in teaching me (in stages) everything she knows.
Its a wonderful experience… In fact we both attended one of
your schools classes in April… Very fine learning experience
for both of us, mainly as a refresher for her and fantastic for

Gary Dirks
Redding, Ca.

Hey Nancy- This is a story that is common in the trade. It’s just
the nature of the beast, I think. For some reason, it is very
common in the trade and it is the exception to the rule to find
an ‘old timer’ to give a newbie the benefit of their experience.
Call it job security- whatever. But I think this is also the
reason SOME people are so willing to share their knowledge. I
also experienced this phenomonea when I was breaking into the
trade. People were hesitant to teach me as they felt I was a
threat to their livelyhood and would eventually replace them.
And if you can replace a "high line’ jeweler, you are a jeweler

Alan! I think we were on a similar page. When I got a job at
one of the world renown silver houses as an apprentice
silversmith in the late '70’s, oftentimes I would be working on a
production from materials and blueprints. The well seasoned
European master silversmiths would sit back and watch, laughing
at me! Luckily I had a wonderful foreman (who had been a member
in the Nazi youth group), and a fatherly head of the union who
both looked out for me.

Years later, I worked for a now world-renown silver &
goldsmithing firm based in Philly… the ‘gentleman’ kept me in
soldering jumprings and chains until I was nuts, while he did
some fantastic benchwork, which I was forbidden to pay attention
to! I never heard of such attitudes, and made sure I helped
anyone I could when in a position to do so. It’s really
pervasive old world thinking, that won’t go away!

Gail Selig, G.G., M.Ed.
Allentown, Pa.

Alan, When Metalwerx had their first big press splash on the
front page of our local paper, it read “Removing Walls Between
Art and Public”.

The best part of what we do, is showing John/Mary Q. Public that
not only is it nice to look at jewelry, but it is even more fun
to make it yourself.

I salute mentors like yourself with a host of others who have
inspired me. Claire Sanford, John Cogswell, Boris Bally. And
finally to Greg Ramallo, who let me sit at his bench when I was
in high school and watch him set stones, put a flame to a torch
and divulged the mysteries of a kind of pyro alchemy that was
strange and beautiful. He was a friend of Salvidor Dali and
worked on his jewelry pieces that are in the large book published
by Abrahms. Greg was also a pilot who helped ferry medical
supplies to Mexico City.

Sitting at his bench inspired me to always share with others.

Karen Christians
416 Main St.
Woburn, MA 01801

Current Artwork:

For Alan and all generous Orchidians, You wondered “why” the old
jeweler was so frightful and hostile in his 70’s. Perhaps it was
not paranoia or jealousy alone at work. Consider please, if you
can ever find time in your busy lives, Ibsen’s play called The
Master Builder. That old man’s sight and hearing were no doubt
going fast. He felt the crush of new, young, talent breathing in
his face. He was withering while you were blossoming. Death was
in his thoughts more likely than his weary, albeit skilfull
craft; because at that age pain is a constant companion. —He
seemed impossibly hostile.-- The terrible selfishness he
displayed however, may have been prompted more by being defeated
by youth and talent. You perhaps did not consider that maybe he
could see the brightness in your work, if you could see his. You
must be commended for your marvelous, generous spirit and talent
as a teacher and an artist. However, it will be much harder to
be so quick and generous at a high old age. Thank you especially,
Alan, for allowing clods like me to lurk only out of great
admiration and gratitude for what I am learning.

Dear Alan, May I take this opportunity to commend you on you
attitude regarding the sharing of I could never
understand the reluctance to share when I started
gathering knowledge in the jewelry and silversmithing field. I
had spent most of my adult life as a professional and as a
teacher in the field Dentistry, and I always felt it incumbent
upon each of us in the profession to share knowledge and
technics either in informal discussions, lectures, seminars, and
meetings. This willingness to share is what seperates the true
professional from a tradesman. That is why I am so grateful for
this forum which is dedicated to the sharing of know-how, tips,
and source with all of us. And I would like to thank
each and everyone who takes the time to help by posting their
contribution here. In particular, I’d like to thank you, Alan,
you,Peter Rowe, Skip,John and many others who take the trouble
to write on a subject. It takes a good deal of time to interrupt
the everyday tasks that each of us must accomplish, and sit down
to write a piece which may help many of us, or even just one.
So a great big THANK YOU to all that make this possible. With
much gratitude

						Joe Dule

Alan and others: I’m not a professional jeweler like alot of
you, for me its an obsessive art and my skills are meager and I’m
deadly slooooow sometimes. But I have to say here that I
absolutely HATE to have anyone watching me when I work! I know
some other jewelry artists who are like this too. My wife has
learned to not bother me when I’m in the garage doing jewelry
work and I get pretty uptight when soldering the 14th piece onto
whatever I’m working on. It just takes a half second of
inattention to what you’re doing to ruin a piece thats taken 10
hours to do. I just wonder if the old man just didn’t like
people looking over his shoulder. On the other hand I love
telling other artists how I did something, and would love
teaching in general. Have to admit though he does sound like a
sourpuss. In the field of graphic design at the upper levels
there is this kind of snobbishness also and I hate it. Its that
old “I could tell you how I did it but would have to kill you
afterwards” thing and those people think they’re cool when all
they’re really getting is lack of friends. Anyway, sure glad
Alan has his school and someday hope to finagle a way to take a
class down there…Dave

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