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Must Read: Setting and Innovation


#1

Jane Armstrong and I have just returned from the Blaine Lewis
week o’ setting madness in lovely Virginia Beach. Since my head
is still spinning from the imparted (and too much
driving and waaaaay too much coffee), please bear with me as I
compose this on the fly.

This is a course that you’ll love. There’s something here for
everyone, from novice to competent experienced setter, and even
if you don’t agree with the methods, the debate is learned,
informed, eager, and challenging. Hell, I’d just listen to him
for a week and enjoy the debate, but once into the method it
becomes engrossing. While I have been known to set 3 ct. square
cut emeralds in 18K white gold (FLUSH SET!!!), I have NEVER done
so without sweating, crying, demanding absolution in advance,
and trying to decide if my career was really worth this agony. I
am so cocky now that I think I’ll laugh at the projects that
come through for me. Our salespeople’s favorite torture (until
now) has been to show me some outrageous piece and tell me it
has to be burnished with emeralds and opals. HAH! Now I just
grin.

If I sound like a late-night-Mr.
Popeill-pocket-fisherman-wait-there’s-more commercial, WAIT!
THERE’S MORE! Not only do you get a free set of Ginsu forks
(sorry, Blaine, couldn’t resist), Mr. Lewis imparts all
freely and happily. We’ve come away from this not
only with the we expected (and paid for, let’s be
real), but with so many sorts of extras that our schooling,
travel, and expenses will be paid for certainly within the year.
I’d picked Blaine to poke at about advanced setting thanks to
several helpful e-mails from the folks here at Orchid, but as
complimentary as the messages were, I feel he’s been undersold a
bit. This course can make a difference that doesn’t go away as
soon as the pressure is back on once you’ve got customers
clamoring at you again, and that is what has me completely sold
and ready to trumpet it aloud. ANYONE with setting concerns
should be in contact with this guy! Since he’s back on the list
again, look him up!

Kathy Kelly,

Graduate of the Blaine Lewis School for 400-lb. Gorillas (What
does a 400-lb. gorilla do with jewelry you ask? ANYTHING SHE
WANTS!) ]


#2

I just finished reading the posting about the Blaine Lewis
setting class… I am always interested in advancing my setting
skills as well… How can I get in touch with this person or
school…??? Thanks in advance…

Marc Williams
MarcCo. Jewelry Mfg.


#3

I’d like to add my .02 to Kathy Kelly’s. I’ve been more and more
dissatisfied with the results I’ve been getting from job shops.
I put a lot of effort into producing a product that equals or
stands above the high-line coturier pieces my store carries and
less than stellar set work just doesn’t fly. So, being me, if I
can’t get it done right elsewhere, I’ll do the damn thing myself.

Blaine Lewis at his New Approach School for Jewelers had us
doing what I would have sworn was impossible for me the very
first day. I flush set a peridot without so much as a bruise on a
facet and gypsy set a goddam pink coral cab that hasn’t a
scratch on it, both of them without a moment’s fear for the
stones. The first day alone will pay for the course in stones I
won’t destroy over the next year. The next four days covered a
huge number of techniques, from the basic to the sublime. My
first 10 stone pave piece was better than anything I’d ever
gotten out of a job shop and I can now flush set a princess cut
and understand and can manage to do some invisible setting.

It was more like a 5 day empowerment session. Blaine’s teaching
style is easy to follow and his techniques (while some might be
considered off the wall) can’t be argued with. They work! You see
every last thing that happens because he demonstrates with a
microscope camera. I think you could do micro-surgery with this
thing. Imagine seeing a 2mm stone blown up in its setting to
about 8 inches, in razor sharp detail. This completes the
awareness you need to understand how a particular stone is set
and why.

Sorry for running off at the keys. I can’t recommend this course
highly enough. From proficient setters to those who don’t know
the business end of a graver (like me), its a phenomenal boost to
your skills and confidence.

If anyone would like more info, feel free to email me off list.
Better yet, have a peek at Blaine’s page at

-Jane

Jane Armstrong/@Jane_Armstrong

Sanza riposo mai era la tresca de le misere mani.
(The dance of the wretched hands was never done)
Dante “Inferno” Canto XIV-40


#4

Marc Blaine now teaches in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I attended
class there last summer. If you’re planning on doing that, don’t
be fooled by the location. When you finally unwillingly drag
yourself away from your bench there’s no beach time left.
Sheesh, to be honest most days there’s no sun left. The classes
are intense and fantastic. You’ll work hard but if you eyes
didn’t give out you’d stay all night. Blaine’s that informative
and interesting. You can see his web page at
http://www.newapproachschool.com/, email him at newappr@exis.net
or just call the 800 number on the web page. I can promise you
won’t be disappointed with the class content or quality of
instruction. He’s terrific! I’ve never had such fantastic
instruction. BTW , I think I’m the one who got accused of being
underenthusiastic about the classes. Go figure. (PS. The beach
trade off is that there are great seafood restaurants.) (Hope
I got the links right.) Linda M


#5

hi all,

i’m curious as to how blaine lewis’s techniques differ from
traditional flush setting, pave, and gypsy setting techniques.

best regards,

goe fox


#6

Hi George, I don’t know if “different” is the word for his
technique, maybe “innovative application” comes closer. He uses
all the traditional materials and tools…and adds a few, or
alters them ever so slightly. It’s not so much that bespoke
technology plays a part in it (well, a tiny part; he’s got some
nifty new GRS stuff that makes me drool) as the use (which every
jeweler looks for) of tools and materials that are not
necessarily in the traditional jeweler’s kit. Like the average
salad fork : SALAD FORK?!?!? Yup, an invaluable setting tool. I
suggest you cruise the newapproachschool.com page and maybe
e-mail him.

Anyone else with a better description? Jane? Linda?

Kathy in a (finally) Springlike PA


#7

Kathy asked if anyone else had a better description but I think
she did a fine job of explaining. Despite that, I’ll add this.

I have to agree with Kathy about Blaine Lewis’s setting methods.
They’re not so much new methodology as they are refinements and
streamlined practices based on a wealth of personal information
and experimentation. He’ll say, " Now here are two ways to do
this. I do most of that but then also do this". At which point
he shows you something so slick that saves you time, effort and
hair loss that you catch flies with your open mouth. Or, he has
a tool adaptation that seems like a small miracle such as a
burnisher sharpened in a special way. As both Jane and Kathy wrote
before, when you leave his class you have a new approach (no
pun Intended) a set of tried and true techniques and earned
confidence. Linda M