[Opinion] Good trade schools

Hi all; I have a co-worker who is a competant bench repairperson,
but would like to learn wax working, some design, and the more
advanced stone setting techniques. I don’t think she’s decided
whether she’ll want a long term program or shorter studies. I’m
suggesting she go to the Rio Grande workshops this spring, but I
think she’d like more one-on-one. I’d be glad to train her, but
I’ll never be given that chance, unless she were willing to
drive 35 miles each way to my home studio to watch me. I went
the BFA/MFA metals and jump-from-bench-job-to-bench-job-for
20someyears method. Worked for me, (but then she can see the
results. . .grizzled old cynical bench rat that I am). What
are your suggestions for both long-term schooling and short
studies. Revere? GIA’s too expensive, Bennet School? etc.?

Thanks in advance

David L. Huffman


There are a lot of schools offering degree programs, and several
centers on the East coast offering workshops. If you want
intensive, practical bench training, however, the only schools
that I would recommend would be the Revere Academy in SF and
the NewApproach school operated by Blaine Lewis in Virginia
Beach. I have taught at both schools and the facilities are
excellent. The instructors (besides me) are all topnotch
professionals. This is where I sent my son for additional
training…and where I take workshops, too.

You can get info on either school on the web.


For the advanced setting training, Blaine Lewis at The New
Approach School in Virginia Beach. My helper and one of my studio
mates went there a few months ago (Dede was there) and it was
amazing what they learned. Blaine is an excellent teacher and
takes it very seriously.

Design, on the other hand, is tough- I know very competent bench
people who have no design skills at all. It is more a process of
looking carefully at things, and deciding what works, and using
those elements. Design is the artistic side of making things, as
opposed to the technical process.

Rick Hamilton


Rick, I work with several really amazing bench jewelers who
claim they can not design. I have a design background and my
bench skills are good but I am on the same level as my studio

We have worked out a deal with each other where they help me out
from time to time with technique (I blew them all away with what I
learned at Blaine’s school!) and I help them with design.

The essence of design is finding out what you as an individual
really like- do you like colors, textures, certain shapes, organic
elements? A part of this journey of self discovery (corny but
true) is too lay your hands on tons of visual reference-
magazines- art books- spend a day in the library- surf the web
and research things you are drawn to. Design is a skill- there
is nothing magical about it. It is something you can learn and
discover within yourself- you just got to open your eyes and look
around you!

I know a handful of people who work for Aaron Barsha (the baby
shoe guy or the place that sells the baby shoe charms)- who ever
thought that expensive enameled gold baby shoes would be such a
hit! But it is. It was a great idea- they are cute and Aaron
Barsha has been able to create great sentimental value around
the pieces.

Anyone who has a problem with design - just take some time and
think and remember no idea is too silly- come on- baby shoes!