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Let there be light?

Everyone on Orchid has a method of viewing their jewellery at their
bench’s, right? They use fluorescent lighting, again. right? Well,
what did the jewellers use long before these lights came into
existance? Any ideas? My teacher told me this little piece of
English history a few years ago and I want to pass this to you all,

Forget the electric light method, how about having on your table-top
bench a little candle shining to your bench-peg. This will give only
1 candle power of light (obviously)! Now how are you going to
increase this candle power to have you work late at night? What did
these innovative thinking folks do? They put that candle behind a
beaker of water, simple process, right! Then the light was magnified
and increased towards and shone to their own bench. Now they could
work all night if they had to, till the Sun rose again in the
morning! We take so much for granted, but few of us actually know
what life was like in those earlier days of our profession. To
appreciate today, we should understand what happened to our
forefathers way back then!


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They put that candle behind a beaker of water, simple process,
right! Then the light was magnified and increased towards and
shone to their own bench. 

Gerry, great post, I have often wondered about that. Whenever the
power goes out I am SHOCKED by how much of what I do in the shop is
dependent on electricity. Then I think, snap out of it, people were
doing this work for a thousand years without electric power! In some
hard to explain way, although I use plenty of electric tools, I am
personally and sort of emotionally drawn to doing work as it was
done traditionally, by hand rather than using more modern electric
gadgetry (I say that as I type on my home computer to send a
personal message out to the entire world!). Next time the power goes
out I will think of you and remember the candle and the beaker


Lighting is a very important health issue if you spend many hours
under a given light, eg at a bench. It is like sawdust from stones,
wood etc. A small wiff here and there probably won’t harm you but a
lot surely will. Give a lot of thought to shop lighting as well as
ventilating. I am doing that now, setting up a new shop for my 2012
Christmas present, a nice commercial-grade slabbing machine. I also
hope to buy a robotic carving machine for the shop in 2013 so
sellers are welcome to contact me (off list likely).

On the stone-light aesthetics link, I should mention those flexible
fiber-optic wires I have seen which are as thin as a human hair. The
light runs through and emerges in a tiny spot at the end. What if
they were used in a necklace with the tiny end lights behind stones?
How much would that enhance the stones? The batteries which power my
$1 laser pointer are small enough to be necklace-worn.

Gerry- They also worked in rooms with lots of windows and light with
large glass globes between each bench and the window filled with blue
tinted water to ease their eyes.

I used to play music in a place in Paris called Le Web Bar. It was a
three story open atrium bldg that had once been a jewelers studio.
The top floor celling was all glass with windows all around as well.
That was where the work was done. The first and second floors were
for display and sales. I still dream about setting up a workshop in a
place with that kind of light.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer


I read a post where an old school jeweller used a gold fish bowl in
front of his candle.

And apparently they don’t think it funny if you put a goldfish in


Hi guys,

I’ve seen these things in museums. There’s at least one in the city
museum in Basel, in that reconstructed silversmith’s studio they’ve
got in the basement. I think I’ve seen them in other ‘ye olde
jeweller’s shop’ reconstructions elsewhere. I think there’s one in
the V&A, and another in the Birmingham jewellery quarter museum.

Pretty neat idea: four blown glass spheres (full of water) set on a
wooden baseplate, with the globes at 90D relative to the center of
the baseplate. Center of the baseplate has a candle. There are
wooden threaded rods under the globes, so you can adjust them for
height. I think I remember that the candle is vertically adjustable

Just looked through my digital pictures to see if I had one, but no


In NH, we get frequent blackouts, to the point that many a household
hasgenerators. I’m this close to getting one as well. Having
survived multiple blackouts, quite a few for 4 days or so, I can’t
cease and desist working, so I do my work by candlelight. Amazing
how 10 or 15 candlescan provide a lot of light. Thank goodness
torchs only need gas to operate. Of course, battery-operated LED
lamps are great as well, and both candles and lamps get regular use.
If I read, I have candles or lampson each side of me, and book in
middle, reading away the long dark nights.

Oh, as a tip, if I do frequent lighting up my torch, I keep a candle
on my soldering bench, and can light my torch with the candle,
during production times, when I have to turn off and on torch every
60-90 seconds. A Torch-Mate is a great friend if you have a painful
thumb and the good ole flint striker is a bear to use. My Torch Mate
is battered and looks like crap but still working after 9 years.

We are so dependent on electricity, it’s embarrassing. Even I need
electricity, to recharge my rechargeable batteries to operate my
cochlear implant processor. I won’t be living in an area that has no
electricity, that’s for sure. Otherwise, I can’t hear and it’s not a
good thing.

Joy - let’s hope we don’t get a major ice or wind storm this winter,
after the epic 2008 ice storm and the 2010 wind storm.

Note From Ganoksin Staff:
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