Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Just starting out

Hi everyone.I currently live near Fort Lauderdale, Fl. I studied in
San Miguel, Mexico for a few months with a wonderful teacher.I mostly
made silver jewelry. Now Im home and don’t know where to begin. I
want to start buying all my own equipment but am concerned maybe I
need to learn more. I was hoping someone in the area might also make
jewelry that can give me sone advice… Maybe someone is looking for
an apprentice or teaches classes. I want so badly to be making my own
jewelry but I feel stalled. I dont know what to do next. Any help or
advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks everyone! Lisa

Hi Lisa,

I currently live near Fort Lauderdale, Fl. I studied in San Miguel,
Mexico for a few months with a wonderful teacher.I mostly made
silver jewelry. Now Im home and don't know where to begin. 

I already contacted you directly, as I also live near Ft. Lauderdale.
You now have the regarding the Florida Gold Coast Gem &
Mineral Society and their meeting Wednesday night. Hope you can come!

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL

Lisa, In fact, there are a number of places in the Ft Lauderdale
area where you can get additional training and advice. You might try
the American School of Jewelry on University Blvd, the Boca Raton
Museum Art School has an outstanding jewelry program (I teach
there…naturally), the Florida Goldcoast Gem and Mineral Society is
active (I’m Vice Pres there) as well as the Gem and Mineral Society
of the Palm Beaches and the Miami Gem Society. The Florida Society of
Goldsmiths also has an active chapter in the Ft Laud area. Please
give me a hoot off-line if you wish and we can talk about furthering
your jewelry interests.

Cheeres from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


So why do you feel “stalled”?

If someone is looking for an apprentice they want you to do their
jewelry not yours,so think long and hard before you accept an
apprenticeship…I just had a situation where i hired two (married
couple) to apprentice and move them into a position where they could
buy my shop in the future, they would have been a shoe in,knowing
the customers, vendors, etc,they left in one month owing me
240.00 for pieces they made on the sly…i was able to get caught
up with my work but the stress was’nt worth it,having two puppies
in the shop would have been easier. lol

Lisa McConnell

Hi Lisa,

You say you don’t know where to begin. Well, you’ve already begun.
You studied with a “wonderful teacher” in Mexico, and that’s a big
head start over many of us. Now you get a few tools and some
material, set up some sort of work station, sit down and just start
fooling around. You already know much of what you have to do, now
just do it. Forget about more preparation, at least for now. Some
years ago my wife and I bought a sailboat and decided to cruise away
to far off places. While we were living on the boat in a marina in
San Diego and getting it, and ourselves ready, we met other boat
owners there who were also “getting ready”.

Some had been “getting ready” for years before we got there and were
still “getting ready” long after we left. There was always something
they “need to get for the boat” or some repair or modification they
had to make. Most of them never did leave. Nobody is ever in their
own mind “ready” to embark on something they dearly want to
accomplish. I imagine their hesitance is due to fear of failure.
There is not one of us on this list who has not failed and made a
mess of something. What most have learned though is that the faiure
itself is not as bad as their fear of it beforehand. By now you know
how to saw, file, solder and polish and that’s plenty to get started.
Get a couple of books on jewelry and jewelry making and design for
inspiration. You’ll see something that fires up your imagination.
Pick up the saw and start.

Best of luck.
Jerry in Kodiak

Sometimes the best thing a person can do is to get themselves a
tasksmaster, someone to assign you your projects, and to let you
know when they need it to be done by you. Get a friend, or a
relative, to tell you what they want, and expect from you, and then
its up to you to go about whatever needs done to be done to fufill
your taskmaster’s request. Or plan on making jewelry as gifts for
someone, and determine what dates need to be met in order to
accomplish this. You’ll get practice, and they’ll get gifts handmade
by you. It sounds like you simply need to apply pressure to yourself.

Ed in Kokomo


There are several opportunities for jewelry study in South Florida,
Fort Lauderdale area… The Florida Society of Goldsmiths (FSG), not
limited to gold by the way, has meetings with a jewelry program,
demonstration or a class at least once a month in the Fort
Lauderdale area. Please check for a listing
of activities for FSG and other jewelry display opportunities and
fine art exhibitions. As Don Dietz mentioned, there are always
wonderful classes at the Boca Museum of Art. It is just a short ride
north from Fort Lauderdale; the facilities and classes are excellent.
There is also the Armory Art Center, in West Palm Beach, that offers
many classes in jewelry and metal arts.
There are many activities in Miami through the Jewelry Arts Guild.
There are several places to take classes if you wish to travel to
Miami or Miami Beach. The Coral Springs Art Guild offers
demonstrations, shows and meetings in various craft disciplines.
There are many teachers in the area, that offer private lessons in
fine metals, jewelry fabrication and lamp worked glass. There is a
wax and casting class at one of the Broward County middle schools,
adult education program; taught in the evenings and Saturday. Check a
publication called The Adult Educator, available at the public
library for more on those classes. There is a full lamp
working glass studio in Fort Lauderdale if you wish to learn how to
make glass beads to incorporate with your metal work. Currently, FSG
is working with several cities to set up metals classes at their
recreation centers. This may be a bit off in the future for your
immediate needs, but FSG is always interested in keeping jewelry and
metal arts alive and well.

Beth Katz, Unique Solutions Inc.
Paste Solder and Powder Solder for Jewelers and Metalsmiths

For anyone who is just starting out, to begin making jewelry there
are three necessities: tools, materials, and instruction.

It is possible to proceed without instruction, but, take it from
someone who was self taught for the first 12 years of a 30+ year
tenure, the long circuitous route is much longer and more arduous
than learning from someone who already knows the route. The time and
aggravation one will save by starting off with quality instruction,
whether from books or in workshops and classes, is well worth the
cost and investment. It will pay for itself many times over compared
to the alternatives.

My suggestion is to begin with simple tools and basic techniques.
Using simple tools does not require a huge investment of resources
and will allow you to purchase more materials. Being able to purchase
more materials will allow working more and producing more jewelry.

Using simple tools and basic techniques will increase hand skills,
which will develop fluency with tool and materials, which in turn
will enhance creativity. Tools and materials are just like language,
the person who is fluent, and articulate, can communicate effectively
and intelligently.

Michael David Sturlin