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Jewellery / dental skills


I have a bit of an odd question. At present I do retail/office work
and do my jewellery on the side. I have some work in local shops,
but the problem is my present job covers the bills and leave a tiny
bit to put towards the jewellery making.

I am considering approaching a few dental labs and see if the
jewellery training I have is transferable to working in this field.
I am wondering if anyone on the list works in a dental lab and could
give me an idea of the skills needed, so that I can have a bit more
knowledgeable when I approach them.

Please contact me directly at b_ryder AT

Thanks in advance
Brigid Ryder

Brigid, I am a former dental tech, who can offer much advice into
the realm that you are about to enter. There are two different types
of labs, some contain both practices, they would be the crown and
bridge lab, and the partial and denture labs. I would be more apt to
steer you to the c&b side of the business, because you can learn
more about carving in wax and working in metal in this side of the
business than in the denture side. Dentures are about as much fun as
well, visiting the dentist for an extraction. The main skills that
you will need are ones that you have probably already found you
possess, that would be good eye-hand coordination and the williness
to learn. Don’t be expecting to walk right in and become a waxer or
finisher, first day , it is alot like the jewelry trade, you will be
expected to start low, polishing, pouring models ect. But, hopefully
you will find a lab that will allow you to move up quickly. If you
need anymore help you can contact me directly. Chuck Fizer

Hi Brigid,

In the 1980’s I approached every dentist in the small town where we
lived in Upstate NY asking them if they’d take some one on and train
them in Dental Technology–crown and bridge work. I was an aspiring
jeweler, recently out of college with Studio Art (mostly jewelry and
metals) and Lit magors. I had been making jewelry on my own for
several years, working on my own pieces and on and off at trade

One dentist responded, had me over and showed me how to carve a
crown in wax. We cast it, I finished it, learned how the mouth works
and began a 3 year relationship with the office. Eventually I taught
myself porcelain work as well.

I was quite taken with casting in school and easily transferred my
abilities to c and b work. It was here, in the lab at Dr. Wiggin’s
office that I learned to really handle a variety of waxes (not
carving waxes) and to cast precisely and confidently. The scale and
demand for precision was very much like jewelry making. The anatomy
of teeth was beautiful, like a small sculpture that had to function.
I discovered a variety of rubberized abrasives that I still use today
and a vacuum mixing machine that I also still use to mix my
investments. (I’ve seen a brand new dental vacuum mixing unit in the
metals studio of a Tucson community college.)

At the time, no one was really using dental products in jewelry
studios. These days a large variety of dental industry products are
available in Rio’s catalogues and others. Certain abrasives,
products from Ney and Kerr, some waxes that were developed for dental
technology are all available now in our catalogues. The two fields
are soooo close. (Funny thing: when I was doing it, other
technicians that I met were terrified of soldering!)

It’s important to mention that at night I would work on my own
jewelry, so the two pursuits really meshed.

While I am no longer working with teeth, I found the experience

Good luck in whatever you choose.

Andy Cooperman

Hi Brigid, While my brother Mark and I worked together in the early
1970’s as model makers and designers, he is now a highly regarded
dental tech at a top dental practice in Atlanta, while I continued
making jewelry as a self-employed goldsmith on Martha’s Vineyard. The
skill set is essentially the same- though neither of us would trade
places. He does make more money and his job is more secure- he
recently tried to quit, and was lured back to his job with a
substantial raise and an offer of an extended paid vacation to NZ,
as long as he returns to work…

Rick Hamilton