New Year Musings

I have been quiet for a while, life can do that at times. I continue
to read Orchid and directly interact with friends made here as time
and circumstance allows. This bright sunny New Years morning, I have
a few words to share.

Orchid came into my life at a time when sharing was not usual, and
trade secrets kept close to the vest. Orchid changed that radically
and a totally new attitude amongst “smiths” appeared. We began to
exchange ideas and and even physical gatherings. First
we met in Tucson, just a handful Dave Arens arranged a place to
gather, eat, drink and socialize. This began to grow and support
grew, including Hanuman coming to the United States. That was an
“event!” Later I attended gatherings in New York and Los Angeles.

Online conversations grew into threads of wisdom, and at times
dis-agreements as well. To today Hanuman and Ton keep Orchid civil,
and threads can get large at times cumbersome. Other sites have
formed via other groups with more singular focus, some survive, and
some collapse under the disrespect of one for others. Sad but many
are calling themselves “jewelers,” that quite frankly have never
taken lesson one. Some take one lesson and claim that learned
technique their own, then feel OK copying and using the original
workshop instruction to earn money. Integrity, not really.

This morning I read Jeffrey Herman’s SAS, Society of American
Silversmith’s Forum message. There Jeff suggested reading about Jm
Miller, long an Orchid contributing member, and a man I have long
respected. I am including the link Jeff shared for those newer to
Orchid to understand the time and efforts as well as dedication it
takes to be a “Master.” Some here have sat on the bench as many
years as Jim, some have a very highly respected level of ability,
today I wish to share James Miller with those who may not yet know
of him.


Yes, Terrie. James Miller is among the finest jewelers and a master
craftsman. It would be an honor to meet him someday.

Others I admire and/or would like to meet: Hans who makes the
incredible jeweled “machinery”. Of course the list has to include
Charles Lewton-Brain, although I did meet him once. Noel Yovovich
does wonderful pieces - see her entries in Orchid’s online
exhibition. Judy Hoch, I count as a friend and another very skilled
and imaginative jeweler. I miss our old chemist friend John in New
Zealand; may he rest in peace. Cynthia Eid and her practical
responses. Jim Binnion is a wonderful resource on metallurgy.

I could go on…

Judy in Kansas, who wishes everyone an excellent 2014.


good post Terrie. Interesting link to James Miller. The idea of
sharing info is great.

In Australia we have the House of Jewellery, tool suppliers. It is
staffed by ex trade jewellers who can’t wait to share the “trade
secrets” and sell the right tool for the job. Also it has some new
graduates who keep everyone up to speed, hi Charles.

Also when I was at the “School for Silversmiths” we had trade
jewellers, engravers, hollowware makers, newbies, hobby people etc.
And the amount of trade secrets shared was great. I had been in parts
of the trade for years and was working with resin at the time and had
trouble getting a good polish. In lesson one I was told to polish
with stainless steel polish as it gives a high finish and cuts as

Saved so much time and boosted sales.

But there is the dark side too. Integrity, not really.

I was offered serious money by a customer when I worked at Beadco to
give away the suppliers list. Tough luck mate I worked for a dear

Also my apprentice was continually asked (LOL) how we made the
resin, a technique I developed. This guy did not know what big mean
friends I had. He was told to stop picking on the kid or else. He got
the point.

I also had samples, given out on the promise of orders, copied. That
ended particularly badly for that guy. He wondered where his
customers went. Sold to his shops at half the price. They were only
happy to buy from me rather than meet my barrister/lawyer.

They were my original designs.

So newbies be careful who you “play” with I learnt not to do
anything till I had cash in my hand. In the end I supplied over 100
shops in Australia and a few overseas. ALL PAID A DEPOSIT AND THE

Got so sick of all the sh*t I retired to the country. I make small
volume now. I look up from my bench over the river and my wharf,
watch the sea eagles nesting. Luck and tragedy bought me a house on
the river. Then I go back home to the house in the forest.

It would be perfect, if only the bloody cicadas would shut up. They
are big this year, think thousands.

Like many on this forum I would make for free, as jewellery is an
addiction/passion/mental illness, LOL.

So newbies be careful once the jewellery bug bites you will be
addicted for ever. This addiction is made worse by the likes of
Hanuman (LOL) who has created this wonderful resource. Which lets
all us mad ones share, argue and make the trade progress. We are a
passionate lot.

I sincerely wish all of you be you master, apprentice or newbie the
best for 2014.

Xtines Jewels