I’m new to this forum but far from new to the jewelry trade. I’ve
come to a time in my life where networking has become more important
than ever. I’ve read Ganoksin for years and know there are many here
with much hard earned wisdom, I only hope I have something to add.
At 52 years old, this being 2011, I am a 21 year veteran of the
bench. Most of my time, the past 15+ years, has been as the solitary
bench jeweler for a small “mom & pop” jewelry store. I started at a
local “job shop” that did contract work for Sterling, Inc., cutting
my teeth performing repairs on low-end mall jewelry. It turned out to
be a valuable experience, kind of an informal apprenticeship, as I
got my introduction to all phases of the manufacturing process (we
did large scales production runs for QVC and the like also) as well
as getting started in the design and wax carving/fabrication end.
Learning repair skills on poorly made jewelry did a lot for honing my
torch technique. The guy who taught me stone setting was a master and
I’ll always value the many important lessons I learned from him.
After those first four years I helped run a small shop in a local
inner city mall that had a focus on the arts. It was a fun couple of
years and it’s where I first learned to deal directly with the
public. I ran the place almost single-handedly in the final four
months of the business. It ended messily for the two partners but I
transitioned straight from there to the place of my last 15 years
employment. That was not a very good mix of personalities between the
"mom & pop" who are the owners - literally a married couple - and
myself. I won’t go into particulars but it’s enough to say that if
employment in my area wasn’t such a shaky proposition and I wasn’t so
afraid of rocking the financial boat of our barely floating family I
would have quit many years ago. Going to work every day with a knot
in your stomach gets pretty miserable eventually and the stress
definitely took it’s toll.
So, as of last week, things finally came to their inevitable
conclusion and I am finally striking out on my own to try to make it
as an independent craftsman. I hope to network with as many others
in the field as possible and finally get my career going in the
direction which I am confident I am more than ready for it to head.
I’m not as young as I once was but I’m energized by my new found
freedom and I’ve learned a lot that will help me avoid pitfalls.
I’m looking forward to getting to know as many of you as are
interested in getting to know me. I feel it is in all our interest
to network with each other and be a cohesive community as fellow
artisans with similar ideas, goals and dreams. From what I’ve
gathered, that seems to be the nature of the Ganoksin forums so I
think I might have found the right place.