This forum is attracting some good people and some great
discussions. I had a student from the mentor program 2 years ago-
she carved a frog ring as one of her self-designed projects.
I like to start with fabrication (though I do a lot of wax
carving) because I think it is more challenging and they get to
work with a "precious" metal right away. One of my helpers is up
in Boston for the spring (living on his schooner- spring
sailing!!) and at my suggestion taking a course in jewelry at
Mass Art. He has blacksmithing background, so all I had to do was
hide the hammers and the big torch tips :-) and his skills were
quickly evident. He and I have been talking knife making for
years- however the two of us are restoring a 1920 wooden catboat-
and I think it will make it into the harbor this summer.
The flex shaft seems a more difficult tool for students to encompass
than soldering with a torch.