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[Looking4] [NY] A mentor


#1

Looking for a needle in a haystack, I mean a mentor.

I had a brilliant idea today.

Here it is: I am looking for a old master who will pass on her or
his skills to me. In return I would provide room and board and the
person would have the opportunity to see this part of the country,
stay in a great place and eat good food, but most importantly have
the opportunity to pass on the knowledge they have to an eager
student. There are people who would get great satisfaction from doing
that.

I am still very green at the jewelry making. Even though I love my
current work, I have a long road ahead of me. I have taken classes,
seminars, gone to Snow Farm, worked with a mentor for a few days in
Vermont and I have spent a fortune and at the end of the day learned
very little. I am trying to teach myself metalworking and it is slow
going due to the cost of materials. If I could just toss all the
crap I ruin with abandon, I would be much farther ahead.

I am putting the word out on Ganoksin. Maybe you are this person or
maybe you know the right person who would love to do this. This
person is not looking to make extra income, I can’t afford to pay or
this would be easy. I know there are many many qualified people who
still need an income. I am looking for somebody else. This person is
looking to enrich their life.

Maybe it is somebody who has always wanted to see Central New York,
but perhaps has had no one to travel with.

Maybe it is somebody who is just plainbored and would enjoy the
challenge of teaching an old bat new tricks.

Maybe it is somebody who is always open to new experiences and the
thought of staying at a great house, with interesting people with no
kids, a fully outfitted studio, 3 small dogs, eating gourmet food,
fine wine, private room and bath is more appealing than spending
another night alone eating TV dinners.

Maybe it is somebody who loves the Nappa Valley wineries and has
never been to the finger lakes winery region and in fact does not
know that we rival the California wine region and that the first
winery is 20 minutes from here. Yes, we are expert tour guides and
would include you on a weekend tour, if interested.

Maybe it is somebody who craves skiing and lives in a warm climate
and would like the opportunity to ski and not have to pay for a room
or food. Ski evenings and over the weekend in 30 minutes from here!

Maybe this person is looking for a change of scenery and knows CNY
is 3 hours from Niagara Falls, 2 hours from the Adirondacks, 1 hour
from the 1,000 islands, 5 hours from New York City, 6 hours from
Toronto. The list is endless.

It would have to be the right person. No weirdos. I have some
reservations about somebody staying in my house for a week or so. I
would research your references. I am very happily married, a little
quirky, like to have fun, am passionate about my jewelry. I am a
retired banker and spent my career mentoring others. I believe a
good mentor is a critical part in the growth and learning process.

I am patient and I know just the right person is out there.
Hopefully I will live long enough to find you. I also hope my tool
obsession doesn’t get out of hand before then and result in there
being no room for a mentor in my studio!!! And lastly I hope my
Alzheimers doesn’t it so bad that I forgot I posted this!

Cynthia from
Cynthia Cameron Design


#2

There’s a website called apprenticementor
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/19, perhaps you can make a connection
there.

Elaine


#3

Cynthia…

Countless other wannabes like you and I have also posted on Ganoksin
to request a master to appear in our lives, see us for our true
potential, and turn us into real jewelers.

The only response any of us will get… is… the sound of
crickets…

I’d hate to sound cynical, but is just not worth the master’s time to
do that.

A better idea, I think would be to go to school.

Good luck,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#4
The only response any of us will get... is.... the sound of
crickets... 

Not so much in winter… (grin)

I'd hate to sound cynical, but is just not worth the master's time
to do that. 

Asking someone to travel to your shop in order to teach you, for
free other than room and board (and who pays for the airfare?) is
probably a stretch for man of us.

But on the other hand, if you happen to be in the Seattle area on a
weekend or something, and want to drop by my studio for some hands on
instruction, give me a call. I’m always up for a visit from
interesting people, and with a bit of advance warning, I usually can
spare the time to give you help where you may need.

And I’ll bet there are a lot of others on Orchid who’d be a lot more
likely to be willing to have someone show up for some instruction or
help in the “teachers” home territory, than those willing to travel
for free…

Peter Rowe


#5

Hi Cynthia,

I’m inspired by your open request. Thought about cleaning out my
spare room and seeing if anyone was interested in coming to Buenos
Aires. Asking open-heartedly for what you want creates a space to
receive it. Doesn’t matter if nobody’s responded in the past. The
Finger Lake region is awesome. Literally. Wishing you well.

Ronnie Hausheer


#6

I remember it with two elves and more emphasis on ‘travel’ and
’suffer’ but we’re going back fifty years, so.

http://www.brownielocks.com/elvesandshoemaker.html

Anyway, I think you can make if you make it your business to make
it. On another note…in the few years I’ve been hanging out at
Orchid I’ve had three people approach me with similar type requests
for help. All seemed fired up and I helped as I could. But ultimately
all three lost interest when they found out some real world stuff
about jewelery making. Its not a judgement but I found that very
disheartening. And as a greybeard (really I have significant grey and
I have a beard!) I have to say that if I ever consent again I’d want
to see more than fire in the belly, I’d want to see some sort of
foundation on which to build. So my advice at this point is make
stuff, then make more stuff. Some of it may be god awful. But you
learn much from failures. In fact I think you learn more than from
success although success definitely boosts your enthusiasm.

I hope I’m not out of place with these comments.


#7
I've had three people approach me with similar type requests for
help. All seemed fired up and I helped as I could. But ultimately
all three lost interest when they found out some real world stuff
about jewelery making. 

When anyone asks me if they can be an apprentice, I suggest that they
take a beginning silversmithing class and learn to solder and them
come and see where things are at with me. I finally had someone take
me up on it. He showed up and said that I told him if he took a class
that he could apprentice.

We set up a schedule and he came once a week for several hours for
many months until the birth of his first child rearranged his
priorities. I just showed him a technique and had him do some work
for me making bezels, soldering bezels to back sheets, soldering
shanks and completing projects using my gemstones and sterling. He
learned or improved his skills of soldering, fusing, setting,
texturing, finishing and cabbing.

I ended up with merchandise for my store and he was able to practice
his skills and he always got a piece from the series he was working
on to give to his wife, she got some very nice pieces.

Each time he came, at the end of the day he would ask with some
trepidation if he could come next week, and he was always happy and
grateful when I said yes.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#8

Elaine,

I just checked out the site, registered, found a master jeweler
within 8 hours drive, and I hope she responds. She probably won’t
allow any strange man to showing on her doorstep, though.

Cynthia,

I really hope you can find best master possible. Just don’t let any
strange men show up on your door step, no matter what thier best
intentions.

Mr. Peter Rowe,

You are 18 hours drive away… I live in the Idaho panhandle, and I
think I can manage getting to Seattle anytime after 1 April in a
couple of jumps.

I’d love to spend three solid days at your studio, if I could,
learning the very fundamentals of silver-working the right way… the
professional way… all ship shape and Bristol fashion.

I’d want to learn skills I can bring back: how to alloy 925 from
scratch without a master alloy handy, proper hammer technique, manual
wire and bezel forming sans rolling mill, soldering with flux,
pickling, and polishing. And a basic course in using my Miniflam
torch, which I have as yet used but can bring with me.

I also can bring my 30 ounce Kerr Electromelt with me in lieu of a
heavy torch for creating the alloy.

Would that be too much learning to ask for during three days?

I can afford the gas and a cockroach motel in the middle, but
staying in Seattle is spendy… would you consider letting me sleep
on your workshop floor?

I can leave behind 10 pounds of Tufa rock as a parting gift. And, I
can cook.

Would you consider letting me contact you off line to make an
appointment?

Thanks,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#9

Finding a mentor is easy, get to know the jewelers in your area, the
real ones! Ask if you can sit quietly for a day at a stonesetter’s
studio (and I do mean quietly!) Get to know the jewelry suppliers
around you, yes even if it means driving a few hours. By showing a
pattern of patience, willingness to work very hard, and an
appreciation for skills that have taken years to master you will
find many people who will share their knowledge, just like here on
Ganoksin.


#10

I sold catalogues and did the meet and greet at the 3rd years one
night under lights, met a lot of industry people that way.

Art shows are a good place to find jewellers, well, round my neck of
the woods anyway.

Regards Charles A.


#11
I'd love to spend three solid days at your studio, if I could,
learning the very fundamentals of silver-working the right way...
the professional way... all ship shape and Bristol fashion. 

Never been to Bristol. Only one I know is Mrs. Palin’s daughter, and
her fashion ideas don’t look so good on me, I think… (grin)

Let me just start by repeating what I wrote yesterday.

But on the other hand, if you happen to be in the Seattle area on
a weekend or something, and want to drop by my studio for some
hands on instruction, give me a call. I'm always up for a visit
from interesting people, and with a bit of advance warning, I
usually can spare the time to give you help where you may need. 

What I was referring to is that there are a few local area jewelers,
some of them my former students, others friends, who may not have
some of the equipment or skills I happen to have, whom I enjoy
letting come over for an evening or on a weekend for a few hours.
That sort of thing, I can find time for, and enjoy doing.

But you want to cram it all into three solid days? First off, where
do I find three solid days to do this? Understand that I have a
regular mostly full time job at a local jewelry manufacturer. If I
take time off, I need a decent reason to give up that already too
slim paycheck, especially in this economy. Weekends are only two
days long, and at least some of it, I need for my own work, not to
mention catching up on lost sleep during the week. I’m sorry if there
was a misunderstanding of my post, but I’m not trying to set up a
school here in my basement for full time teaching. A few hours at a
time now and then, sure. But this big intensive structured program
you’ve got in mind, um. I have my doubts…

But there’s more. For one thing, if you’re thinking one can just
cram three days into teaching everything all proper and complete,
you’re mistaken. For one thing, learning this craft is a sequential
thing. You start with one single skill, and you practice it and play
with it. Get comfortable with it and learn to control that tool and
skill. You don’t need to become a total master at it yet, but at
least, devote some time before you move on to the next. If you look
at the usual structure of a decent class situation, the instructor
will demonstrate something, then students have a bunch of time to try
it. And then the next, and so on. What you’re asking, if you want to
learn the whole thing, takes a good deal more than just three days if
it is to be useful. A three day time period is a fine way to cram an
intensive study of some specialized method or single narrow topic,
but that’s not what you’re asking for I think, and frankly, from what
I gather, you need more practice with the basics before you’re quite
ready for any intensive focused workshops. To put that into some
perspective, the average college level class might be six hours of
active instruction time per week, with that much again that students
then spend on their own working. And that’s over a whole semester.
What’s that, about 20 weeks or so if I recall? that’s a lot more than
three days, even working long hours. And a single class only covers
so much. Those college kids will take two semesters of sophomore
metals, another two as juniors and seniors. That ends up working out
to be roughly the same as a year and a half full time work (very
rough mental math there, I know, but the idea is that it’s not three
days). they end those programs not as finished and fully trained
silversmiths, artists, or jewelers, but with enough training and
exposure to the info that they’re well on their way. You’re not
asking that much, I know, but what you ARE asking might be roughly
half or more of what a single sophomore level class might cover over
a whole semester. The GIA or Revere acadamy classes that teach that
sort of thing usually take at least a week or better, two, and even
those tend to be focused narrow workshops, rather than generally all
around training.

But more to the point, I can help you with sticking points and bits
where you don’t understand some detail, without you needing to drive
across the west to get here. At three dollars a gallon, driving to
Seattle and back would cost you in gas a rather sizable chunk of what
you’re probably saving towards a rolling mill.

I'd want to learn skills I can bring back: how to alloy 925 from
scratch without a master alloy handy, 

Sterling silver doesn’t need a master alloy. It’s just pure copper.
Scrap electrical wire is a great source. The rest is just weighing
the two metals. Put the copper on the bottom of the crucible to avoid
excess oxidation, or add it after the silver is already molten.
However, (and I’ve said this before), you really need to get this
idea of absolutely needing to make your own metal, including sheet
and wire, out of your head. There are many of us who spent years
making jewelry using purchased sheet and wire, not pouring ingots,
and not rolling sheet. Drawing wire down in size is so simple, and
you can use inexpensive drawplates, that this is within reason,
especially if you start with larger guage commercially made wire. But
short circuiting yourself by not having a rolling mill is just plain
tilting at windmills. These tools are nice, and most professionals,
especially working in gold, rely on them. But you don’t absolutely
need one. People made jewelry for thousands of years prior to the
invention of the rolling mill, or for that matter, even steel tools.
I have a former student who’s been selling nice jewelry to local
fashion shops for almost a decade now, and making a decent living
with it. She only bought her first rolling mill around two years ago,
and even now, she buys her sheet metal already made, in larger guages
so she can roll it down to what she needs. She doesn’t try to pour
her own ingots.

In the case of silver sheet metal, frankly, you’re far better off
buying commercially made sheet. Pouring your own ingots and rolling
sheet in silver is troublesome even for the experts. Silvers’
propensity for oxidation and pits/defects in a casting (like an
ingot) make it quite difficult to make a piece of sheet metal with no
blisters or defects. You can make more than you need, remove the
defects and work around them, but you’re generating more scrap to
remelt. What you save in processing to buy new metal, you loose in
time, energy and efficiency by a wide margin. I make my own sheet and
wire in gold and platinum. In silver, I make my own wire. But i buy
my silver sheet. I suggest you do the same. You said you’ve got a
bunch of fine silver. Send it in to any decent refiner such as David
Fell, United Precious Metals, or even Rio Grande, and take back the
return as clean sheet metal. Even with paying for manufacturing costs
and their profit margin, I feel you end up with a better deal than
struggling to make your own sheet metal.

But if you insist on using your metal, I’ve an intermediate offer
for you. If you pour decent ingots for sheet or wire, and send them
to me, I’ll run them through my rolling mill for you. You pay
postage. Registered mail is the best way for precious metals, and not
that expensive.

proper hammer technique, 

Start by polishing the hammer faces of those hammers you’re doing
any sort of real shaping and finishing and refining surfaces with.
Then polish (or at least almost polished) whatever steel surface or
anvil you’re working with. Now grab some scrap copper or brass rod
(brazing rod for example), anneal it, And start playing with tapering
it flat, tapering it to a square taper, tapering it to a round taper,
flaring one side and flaring the other end at 90 degrees to the
first, and any other shapes you can come up with. Learn to control
where the hammer hits so overlapping blows are equal and leave a
uniform finish. Your basic hammers are a slightly domed face, a cross
pein (round tight curve in the vertical plane, straight in the
horizontal plane, like a piece of rod looked at from the side), and a
flat. All polished. Smaller shapes like ball piens or the like are
usually next in line. Many of these can be made yourself by reshaping
cheap hardware store ball pien hammers. light weight engineers cross
pein hammers may already be ready go needing just a good finishing
of the face. A well polished hammer can leave a bright polished
impression on the metal. Done with control, a well forged shape may
need only a little rouge to be complete, and that’s if you want a
bright high polish. If you wish less, it may need nothing else.
Learning to use a hammer is learning several things. Controlling
where the hammer hits and how hard, controlling how you hold the
workpiece (against what, at what angle, etc), and learning to let the
hammer do the work, not your arm. Done right, you can spend all day
forging metal and not find your body in pain at the end. (well,
unless you’re in really bad shape, in which case this is good
exercise) But it shouldn’t be a strain or difficult. It does, though,
require some practice.

manual wire and bezel forming sans rolling mill, 

buy bezel wire, or cut it with snips (easier) or a saw from thin
sheet metal. For making wire, you can start with a thin ingot poured
into a mold made by drilling a hole down the centerline of two pieces
of steel clamped together (or you can buy molds like this). Initially
working such a poured ingot is easiest with a rolling mill, but you
can even it out with a hammer too. Initially pulling thick wire from
such an ingot (unless you’re pouring really thin ones, which is hard
to do) will need a draw bench, which you can build yourself from a
boat winch.

soldering with flux, pickling, 

You don’t need a course in flux or pickling. Soldering, well, it’s
been very extensively discussed throughout the history of Orchid.
read the archives. Then practice. There is a bit of knowledge needed
for soldering, and a bit of skill, but mostly, it’s learning to
control the heat, and anticipate what’s heating up at which rate.
Then it’s remembering to have the metal clean and well fitted first.
And then practice, practice, practice, etc. Along the way, spend a
few sessions seeing how far you can heat metal before something goes
wrong. Then don’t repeat that when you need it to work. In many
classes, students might get a half hour of demo and discussion on
soldering. Then the rest they learn and get better at over the rest
of their career. Good soldering technique is more practice than it is
teaching.

and polishing. 

OK, there’s one where some instruction is pretty useful, if only so
you end the day with all body parts intact, and the jewelry too. But
good polishing is also an art and a skill in itself, which you don’t
master just overnight.

And a basic course in using my Miniflam torch, which I have as yet
used but can bring with me. 

I’m not familier with that brand. Link please?

I also can bring my 30 ounce Kerr Electromelt with me in lieu of a
heavy torch for creating the alloy. 

Not needed. You could bring it if you like, but they eat a lot of
electricity, and that’s not free any more either…

Would that be too much learning to ask for during three days? 

Yeah. Take it a bit at a time is better. One way, cheaper for both
of us, would be if I lug my as-yet-unopened web cam down to the
workshop. It would be possible for me to do short demos for you on a
webcam via Skype if you want. Just remember, this sort of thing I’d
want to fit in as a “time available” sort of thing. Not an intensive
two hours every night thing. I’ve not the energy, nor the time for
that.

I can afford the gas and a cockroach motel in the middle, but
staying in Seattle is spendy... would you consider letting me
sleep on your workshop floor? 

No. But the couch upstairs is a hide-a-bed, so long as you’re not
allergic to friendly cats.

I can leave behind 10 pounds of Tufa rock as a parting gift. 

Thanks, but I’d never use it. I’m sure someone on Orchid might,
though.

And, I can cook. 

Being a long time diabetic, and overwieght to boot, I try not to
keep company with people who cook too well. Hard on the waistline and
blood sugar too… (grin. I cook too, but preferences are a lot of
salads and veggies, and soups. Not much else too fancy if I can help
it.)

Would you consider letting me contact you off line to make an
appointment? 

We certainly can talk, (206) 763-5665, evenings after about 7 pm
pacific time, or weekends whenever. I’m happy to help you if I can.
But as I said, I have doubts this three day intensive would be worth
it, even if I could figure out where to get three continuous days for
you (and then I’d have to find the energy to actually stay at it for
that long. Don’t laugh. That’s a real problem for me at this point in
my life)

But as I said, I think there are cheaper ways to get you the info
and demos you wish. As I said, I think I can hook up a decent web cam
by the bench. Will take a little doing, but should be possible.


#12
get to know the jewelers in your area, the real ones! 

When I first saw this thread, I thought, “Well, that’s like saying
you want to find a husband or wife” like they just fall out of the
sky. And perhaps it’s just language and they actually are looking for
an apprenticeship, which is more like a job, or should be. I consider
it my duty as one of the resident old-timers to mentor some of those
around me. Notice I said ~some~. It’s an ongoing thing over the
course of years - “How would you solve this issue? - What did I do
wrong?” Etc. For myself, I only put out the time for those who
already know how - I’m the sort who doesn’t do well with raw
recruits, just me. Go out and meet people shake some hands, hang out.
And work like a demon meantime. It’s something that happens
naturally, mostly. I know I would ignore any inquiries that just came
out of nowhere. Just me, again…


#13

Sometimes I get the feeling that some may have a certain view of
learning jewelery making. What I’m sensing is that maybe they have
the notion that skill or proficiency or however its defined is some
kind of item or commodity (Tinman’s testimonial) that can be
obtained by reading or attending classes or talking, whatever. Those
are all fine as means of communicating aspects and theories and
procedures blah blah blah.

Case in point, basic soldering. There’s scads of posts here
describing what to do, what not to do, this nuance, that variation
etc. And if it were a simple acedemic exercise most newbies could
recite the mantra good enough to get at least a B. And if all that
what’s to be achieved is to drum something into a head that would be
OK I guess.

Except that you need to make something of substance. Not an
exercise. A finished piece. Well, actually hundreds of finished
pieces. Thousands eventually. And you do it with your hands. Training
your hands is more than half the battle. Tech info is easy to find,
its application with finesse is maybe not so easy.

I’d be among the first to sneer at the sentiment that you become the
work, too new age for my common sense approach to life but there is
some validity to it. I don’t mean a spiritual experience. I think you
have to embrace it, become it…then good grief let it go. I mean
nobody really needs to cut off an ear.

But maybe above all else you need to take responsibilty for it. If
you want to ‘be’ a jeweler, nobody can make you a jeweler except you.
You might model after some particular person or whatever but
everything you do ‘is’ you. Maybe it is Zen, maybe its just
concentration and practice. But you have to solder, not your
instructor, not your mentor.

Pick up that torch, don’t be afraid of it, don’t be afraid of
failure. Melt something you just spent many hours and big bucks on.A
valuable lesson indeed. That’ll teach you better than all the
dissertations anybody could muster.

Good gosh is he done yet?


#14

HEY, I want all that Andrew’s asked for… but seriously, a live
video hookup over the net would REALLY be cool for I’m guessing, a
BOATLOAD of people. So any of you talented and, (It doesn’t take too
much to discern the amount of talent on Orchid) caring, and share
willing, individuals here feel like going through the trouble and
work involved. Maybe a live feed to anumber of gifted artists and
tech jewelers. I would gladly except. Water in a bottle costs more
than fuel. So I wonder just what this would be worth? I’m guessing
more than I can afford. But maybe with “numbers” and a fee? Who
knows?


#15
the notion that skill or proficiency or however its defined is
some kind of item or commodity (Tinman's testimonial) that can be
obtained by reading or attending classes or talking, whatever.
Those are all fine as means of communicating aspects and theories
and procedures blah blah blah. 

So, you want some mentoring…Make a necklace, bracelet or
dangle earrings. Jump rings are NOT permitted - they are forbidden.
Find a more elegant solution. Nobody who’s worth anything will lead
you by the hand. Rise above the mundane.


#16

Neil- You nailed it.

Pick up that torch, don't be afraid of it, don't be afraid of
failure. Melt something you just spent many hours and big bucks
on.A valuable lesson indeed. That'll teach you better than all the
dissertations anybody could muster. 

I’ve always told my students that the hardest thing about learning
to solder is getting over the fear of fire and failure. I tell them
that to learn they’ll have to screw up a bunch. So my advice is to
get your mistakes out of the way as fast as possible. Just melt a
bunch of things, preferably inexpensive ones, right off the bat until
you get the hang of it.

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


#17
I've always told my students that the hardest thing about learning
to solder is getting over the fear of fire and failure. I tell
them that to learn they'll have to screw up a bunch. So my advice
is to get your mistakes out of the way as fast as possible. Just
melt a bunch of things 

Me too. Well I start with melting some scrap.

Brian
Auckland
New Zealand
www.adam.co.nz


#18

amen, john! i am still struggling along, trying to figure this out,
the only time i improve is when i am at my workbench making a piece
of jewelry, and of course i learn the most with mistakes! just like
life! hey i could use a mentor for life. but i don’t have a house to
offer as i live in a shack in the jungle. and the bathroom is quite a
hike! angi e in hana


#19

Andy,

I don’t want to open a can of worms but I have been reading this
thread and thinking the exact same thing. I am glad someone with your
level of accomplishment has voiced this point of view. I am so
grateful for all the generosity shared on this forum but I think it
is disrespectful to ask someone to mentor pro bono.

Just my 2 cents,
Beverly Jones