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May I please have your junk and castoffs?

Hi everyone,

I’m friends with at least one Ganoksin member who, understanding my
situation a little better than most, suggested that I make a broad
appeal on this group for assistance.

I’m a beginning silversmith and lapidary who, as a result of an
inherited serious mental illness, is unemployable and therefore
drawing SSDI.

I support my wife, my child, and myself on this income and so my
ability to spend money retraining in a field where I can be capable
of eventual self-employment is extremely limited. I can spend perhaps
$100 per month on tools, equipment, and consumables… this doesn’t
go very far. Workshops and travel for them is of course out of the
question, so I rely on books and Ganoksin for my training.

After two years of self-training, I feel like I’m stuck in space
with a broken warp drive. I’ve got a functioning impulse drive and
I’m not afraid to use it, I’m pushing what I’ve got to relativistic
speeds, so I’ll do what I can to make it by myself if I must.

But at this point I’d like to make my appeal to a higher power… the
good will of the people of this news group whom I’ve gotten to know
over the last couple years.

So I’m on my knees asking for a Christmas miracle…

If you have worn out tools or hammers, broken equipment or appliances
or gadgets or flexshafts or accessories of any type, previously
viewed training DVDs or books, or anything you just want to get out
of your studio but can’t sell or bear to throw away, please consider
sending it to me.

If you can provide the junk, I can do my best to repair it, adapt it
or reuse it. Please contact me offline for mailing address if you
wish to contribute.

Beyond this: I also know there are some very high level people out
there reading my message.

I know I need bench jewelry and lapidary training very badly. I would
so much appreciate the gift of permission to attend workshops for
free, air miles to attend them, and a place to sleep on the floor. I
can pay for my food, I’ll even cook for you in the same way I cook
for my own family.

I’m not asking for money… even though I know that time is money so
I realise I’m still asking for a lot.

You’ll find me to be a quick study from a technical point of view
based on my previous life as an engineer, and I’m open to learning
more of what it takes to become an artist. I’ll go anywhere in the
world if necessary to learn.

All I’m asking for is a decent chance to become once again a
completely productive member of humanity. Most people would be happy
to continue collective benefits in my position but for my mind and
creativity it is a worse sentence than prison.

I’d love to be an engineer again but I know that is simply
impossible. The next thing I really want to be is a jeweler.

Thank you all,
Andrew Jonathan Fine.


What types of tools/style of work do you actually need. Are you
working in smithing? or wire work? I have some tools that are extra,
but I would like to know what you are doing so I can send things that
are appropriate for you.


Andrew I know exactly what you are going through. I am also on ssdi
for mental and physical reasons. I also am trying to train myself
with books and whatever I can get my hands on. I don’t have anything
to send but my prayers and I’m sure that someone will be able to
help. Keep your head up and I’m sure that with your go forward
attitude you will reach your goal. As I will, It might take us
alittle longer than those who are making more money than us, but
better late than never. Don’t give up. My prayers are with you.

Thanks to everyone to responded to far!

It has been suggested to me by another Ganoksin member that I should
publish my general whereabouts to help people decide whether I am too
far away to ship to.

I live in the United States, in Northern Idaho, off Highway 90, a
little east of Coeur D Alene.

I will provide my mailing address to those who wish to be respond to
my appeal.

Thanks again,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


I would be happy to donate a box full of slabbed stones. I used to do
a lot of lapidary, but don’t much anymore. I have a collection of
stuff, a lot of agates, jaspers, and the like. Let me know if you’d
be interested. I don’t have your email, but you can contact me


Hoi Andrew, Im self educated myself, I know how hard it is,fell free
to contact me offline for tips and

Good luck to you and your family. Kiffer

I am self taught, also. I started with books by Tim McCreight and
Branson. Check around and see if there is a Gem and Mineral Society.
The membership fee is usually nominal and they often have equipment
that the members may use. The members are usually a fount of
knowledge and happy to share. Some clubs offer classes. Lapidary
Journal and Rock and Gem may have club listings of their websites.

Good Luck,
Bobbie Horn
Brownfield, TX

Hi Andrew

it was almost two years ago now that some on orchid post a request
for me after reading my newly post profile. I will not say who but it
is someone who makes this site possible as i found my self in the
same well almost the same position you now find your self. lost the
use of my legs and also rely on what the government thinks of as a
adequate amount to live on what a joke that is it did not even pay my
rent. anyway i found some true angels here who sent me care packs to
get me started i had lived for a short time with my fathers family
from the Seneca rez and learned the basics. I also learned to make
some of the tools needed. if it had not been for orchid i would now
be living in government housing or a care center. I am still buying
tools myself but have been able to keep going thanks to the help i
got here and as it turns out I make more with my chasing and repouse
tools then i do with my jewelry. I did get a few thing extra which i
will pass on to you along with a offer to help if i can with your
education but most of what you need is on this sight and your own two
hands. after that guess what the government will help to its a year
or more worth of paper work you need

1 a ticket to work from ssi

2 a business plan

3 file a book worth of paper work with rehab serviced

4 include a list of equipment as well as educational classes you
wish to take to fill in the holes in what you are able to do it will
take a long time but if jump through all the hoops they will pay one
time only

i got all the way through and messed it up by my need to move from
my home in the keys to this hell hole but i am looking forward to
one last move some where south west Florida port Charlotte most

send me your address
best wishes
Jen lane
352 669 9956 if you need to talk

p.s. I am not going to say good luck because you already have whats
most important drive and desire to succeed

Dear Andrew,

If you let me know what you need, I can possibly help with spare
pliers and I have a duplicate book on starting silversmithing that I
would be happy to send you. I too have started making jewellery due
to illness, so I understand. Can you give me a mailing address to
send them to

P.S. Good luck with your venture.


consider puting a project together for the indigogo site. It is for
entrepreneurs that wish to begin all types of businesses and
non-profit org, s. You would then have a chance at getting funds for
beginning an art jewelry (or whatever) business…One thing to keep
in mind as a recipient of Social Security Disability income is that
you can make I thin $2900. 00 a month before it changes your benefits
in any way, then there is the US govt’s “ticket to work” program for
SSDI recipients- with that you try to do a job /work for up to two
years before you decide whether to keep your probably- not- enough-
to - live -on SSDI income or the job…if you were to get a job as an
apprentice bench jeweler to learn about running the business end of
making jewerly, your benefits are not affected whatsoever for
whatever period of time you keep x job, or attempt to keep it- even
if for two weeks you would stay at any job, when you leave it (for
instance lets say you just can’t handle keeping a schedule and it
becomes apparent in 2 weeks give or take a few days) you must get
that ticket back from each legitimate job you attempt…the two years
do not have to be consecutive- you can work, or try to, for 24
months. If you go into business for yourself, pay attention to your
federally issued ssdi on the max you can earn without
loosing benefits.

Beginning a business is not cheap. Being self-taught is equally as
valid as attending any school (though it may make those "ah-ha"
moments come to you far faster than if you go it on your own). The
cost of precious metals is so high right now that even with a net 30
day account from a vendor like Hoover & Strong, you shouldn’t get in
over your head ordering gold supplies or more to the point, casting
grain (the best way to go as long as you have a rolling mill and
can fabricate and karat exactly what you need for x piece or x
commission) and then be conservative, watch the market (Thursdays
are generally the lowest day of the week if you watch the market
prices this week it came down a bit more Friday - but the point is
pay attention as you have chosen a very expensive passion and
potential career choice given the volatile metals market and it is a
major part of your bottom line between profitability as a business
and just making jewelry as a hobby).

Also consider Vocational Rehab- they may, depending on your situation
retrain you so that you can adapt your newly identified referred
profession to your disabilities…they pay your housing, most bills,
special equipment necessary to do the job / tools costs and from
state to state offer other benefits as well…it’s definitely worth
checking out…Whe one first applies for disbility in most sates they
ask if you will consider V.R. as an option…when going for total and
permanent disability most answer “no” believing it inhibits your
chances of getting disability insurance…It is actually a great
program and while being retrained you may be able to keep receiving
your benefits…but may have to pay some taxes that you would not
ordinarily have to pay as a disabled person since they (VR) pays
some of your subsistence costs (right down to travel and auto
expenses and clothing if specialised for a trade) in some cases…
There are also journeyman trade progrmmes many in the USA don’t know
exist that you may be able to apply to through VR that would get you
specific training in a particular trade within the industry that you
could then become employable or begin your own business…All things
to consider…but Indiegogo shouldn’t be ruled out as a possibility
to get you started whilst sorting out the ins and outs of dealing
with the disability system… A government programme that hasn’t given
the disabled a cost of living increase in 3 years now!..feel free to
contact me off line if you have any questions about any of this…rer

Dear R.E. Rourke,

I very much appreciate your sentiments and advice.

I think, however, that other reasons might be a little confused
about how the SSDI system works. I have some experience with this
which may help other people either receiving Social Security
Disabilty Insurance, or who might want to apply.

SSDI is similar to receiving regular Social Security benefits,
except that instead of becoming eligible due to age, you become
eligible due to having a disability which is sufficiently severe
enough to prevent you from working in either a conventional wage
employment or self-employment situation.

Both SSDI and regular Social Security yield the exact same benefits:
a pension based on previous work credits, if any, plus Medicare and
Medicaid. Disabled people who have no work credits are deemed to have
some minimal amount.

SSDI is not to be confused with SSI. SSDI eligibility is based on
disability but SSI is based on poverty, in other words, SSI is a
government welfare program that provides some minimal amount of

To receive SSDI a person has to be examined by medical care
professionals and other personnel contracted by the Social Security
Administration who will verify that the disability is severe enough
to render a person unemployable. In the event of physical
disabilities the application process can be easy enough.

Disabilities caused by developmental disabilities or severe mental
illnesses can sometimes provide sufficient proof to SSA and sometimes
not, and we have a whole tangled mess of case law to show for that.
It took a recent Act Of Congress to cut through some of the mess by
declaring that severe mental illnesses having a physical cause of
origin were to be considered physical disabilities for the purpose of
SSDI evaluations.

To keep the benefits the recipient must remain incapable of
performing conventional wage employment or self employment. This is
typically shown by income, but in can also happen as the result of a
periodic medical review where the recipient’s capabilities are

For practical purposes while receiving benefits, the recipient must
not gross more from wage income or self-employment any amount of money
more than the threshold amount which triggers the Trial Work Month
regulation, presently $740.

If the recipient grosses more than a higher threshold amount,
currently about $900, the recipient is deemed capable of performing
Signficant Gainful Activity, and this will trigger a medical review
that re-examines the recipient’s continued eligibility.

(NOTE: Medical reviews are also required to be performed
periodically, depending on the nature of the disability. For some, a
3 to 5 year cycle, for others a 5 to 7 year cycle, and for others
still 7 to 11 years. These are called Continuing medical reviews).

The recipient must also not perform any work or work-like
activities, such as self-employment, attempted unpaid
self-employment, training, or volunteer activities, in excess of 80
hours per month, as then the recipient would again be deemed capable
of performing Significant Gainful Activitiy.

Housework and hobbies are typically not considered work-like
activities. However, some activities are considered hobbies if
performed only on a casual basis but could be considered by SSA as
attempted unpaid self-employment if the amount of time is excessive.

(As an example, the amount of time I put into jewelry as a hobby is
about 3 hours per day, 4 days per week. This works out to 48 hours
per month, an amount far below what could normally be deemed a
Significant Gainful Activity.

This is because the bulk of my day is typically spent on homemaking
and childrearing chores.)

Each Trial Work Month must be reported to a Social Security
Administration agent. The recipient may only perform 9 Trial Work
Months across any 60 month period. If the recipient continues earning
money beyond this time period this will trigger a discontinuation of

There are special programs, offered by both State and private
Vocational Rehabilitation branches, involving what is known as
"Ticket to Work", which is a work incentive program by SSA that
allows the recipient to earn unlimited funds or exceed 80 hours of
work-like activity for a limited amount of time, typically 2 to 5
years, that shields the recipient from Continuing Medical Reviews. It
is intended to transition the recipient into full time work and to
replace SSDI benefits with full employment.

So that is Social Security Disability Insurance, from a lay
perspective. SSDI IS NOT WELFARE! It is the disabilty equivalent of
old age pension, and is intended to allow disabled people and thier
dependents the ability to live independent and dignified lives.


Andrew Jonathan Fine

Thank you Jen…what I know is that we all have things that make us
limp in one way or another…whether it is visible to the naked eye
or not.

All I can say is good for anyone who tries… And succeeds in
whatever measure that is meaningful to ourselves.

Blessings and goodness


I am extremely grateful to everyone who responded to my appeal for
junk and castoffs.

By my count, NO LESS than 13 people had responded to me offline with
promises of specific assistance: mostly raw stone, tools, and books,
with even a couple offering used equipment needing repair but still

I will place the names of people from whom I actually receive
packages on my Patrons List in my Facebook page.

There were some others who also approached me offline who were in
worse shape than I was and so could offer only moral support. To
those people I will do my best to consider passing the favor forward
and sending on any duplicate tools or books which I might happen to
discover between now and the end of the year.

I now have a pretty good idea of what’s about to happen assuming
people follow through.

I won’t presume to ask for free training from masters, since no such
offers were forthcoming. But the good news is that a master cabber
has already provided me with Lesson One on cabbing last Thursday. A
local jeweler has promised to visit me in the next couple weeks to
examine my crafting area and make suggestions.

In lieu of training berths, any DVDs or magazines that would gather
dust or wind up in the circular file would be most appreciated.

And so, I want to narrow the focus to training DVDs and back issues
of jewelers’ magazines that included step-by-step projects, such as:
Art Jewelry Magazine, and Jewelry Artist Magazine.

And of course, I hope the rest of the Ganoksin universe doesn’t
remain shy: I’ll be happy to add more people to my Patrons List.

I do hope I’m still remaining polite in my attitude as far as my
appeal is concerned. If you’d rather help someone else, I certainly
know the email addresses of a couple of other people who are also
disabled and in more dire shape regarding thier setup.

Thank you all for your support, emotional and otherwise. Those who
wish to respond further are advised to do so offline for obvious

God bless you all,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


I wanted to let you know that I am extremely grateful for the
overwhemingly positive reponse I received from my appeal for materiel
to get started on being serious.

Between everyone’s contributions of tools, books, DVDs, and lapidary
material, plus my existing collection, I believe I now have acheived
an entry level bench jeweler’s setup.

18 people responded so far on private email. I received 8 packages
from 6 people already, with promises of others to follow by the end
of the year.

I do hope the others who have not yet sent boxes but have contacted
me with an intent to do so, will follow through in due course, as
they may fill holes in certain tools categories, but I won’t know
till it happens.

I also want to thank the representatives at MJSA for being extremely
kind in sending gratis more than $300 worth of books from
contemporary authors, including the Jeweler’s Bench Handbook by
jewelry master Lewiston-Brain.

I had read that book as soon as I got it, and it gave me inspiration
for devising a very comfortable body rest in lieu of cutting a half
moon out of my table.

I read about a dozen other books, new and old, from basic to advance
skills, and my brain is still dizzy from trying to absorb it all!
Some topics I will be able to use immediately however.

I hope nobody will mind if I refrain from mentioning other donors by
name on the Orchid forum, but I have mentioned them on my own
Facebook notes.

Although I would not wish to dissuade anyone from continuing to send
forth thier studio sweepings to my mailing address -

I do wish to modify my appeal to back issues of popular jewelry
magazines, especially those containing construction projects.

I also would humbly request from any of the heavy hitters in this
group, a year’s sponsorship in the American Society of Silversmiths,
the MJSA, and Art Jewelry Magazine, so as to further my retraining.

Thank you all very much for your time and kind consideration thus

Andrew Jonathan Fine