Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Organizing a Lapidary-Metalsmithing School

Dear Folks,

I would appreciate input from anyone involved in setting up a
Lapidary- Metalsmithing school. We are currently in the beginnings of
such an endeavor here in rural NE Pennsylvania. There aren’t any
classes being offered in these subjects in this area. Folks from here
must travel out of the area to take a class.

We do have the privilege of having Jay Whaley as our first
instructor for a 2 day Rolling Mill Workshop this year. Lord willing,
we will be able to bring in many more instructors w/the same caliber
of expertise. Right now we don’t have our own building yet & have to
rely on local shop space.

I am looking for input from folks as to do’s & don’ts for setting up
a school. What would you do different than you did when you set up a
class or school? Any pointers for layout, management, etc etc?

I am also doing extensive research on existing schools & programs
for guidelines.

Thank you for your time & consideration. I look forward to hearing
lots of great ideas.



I run a school in Asheville, NC. You can check out the website: for an idea of what is going on now.

I would be glad to talk to you about what I have done here and how
it has developed over the last 5 1/2 years. Contact me off list

Bill Churlik

Dear Char,

I opened up a jewelry & lapidary school last April in the Asheville,
NC area.

  1. Get liability insurance

  2. Buy multiples of used tools for students to use and abuse. Make
    sure you have one more set of tools than students.

  3. Do NOT share your personal tools with students, especially the
    hard to replace (obscure-no longer made) ones.

  4. Contact Dremel for reconditioned flex shaft Dremels- they work
    great & are cheaper than foredom.


  6. Promotion is your middle name. Learn to write a press release and
    use it!

  7. Build a website. I did it, so can you. Check out mine- The Mountain Metalsmiths School of Jewelry & Lapidary

  8. Contact your local arts council or community college for possible
    space. I’m lucky, I have a sizeable studio so I can max out on 6
    students at a time.

  9. Nasty reality but necessary- Lock up materials. Hard to keep
    track if people have you jumping in 4 different directions.

I see you have been to NC on your website. If you plan on coming
this way, let us know and come on down to see what we’ve done.

Good luck- big endeavor! It took us 14 months to open, from
planning, buying equipment, building,printing brochures, yakking it
up everywhere. You will get many prank phone calls, MORE SPAM. But,
I love teaching and the reward of seeing that light bulb go off in a
student’s eyes is PRICELESS!!!

PS. We are doing this on our own shoestring budget. Takes longer but
it’s starting to pay off.

Ruthie Cohen

I am looking for input from folks as to do's & don'ts for setting
up a school. What would you do different than you did when you set
up a class or school? Any pointers for layout, management, etc etc? 

My two cents’ worth: have your layout designs looked at by someone
who is actually disabled and uses a wheelchair. I’m fortunate that I
don’t need a wheelchair; if I did, I couldn’t use the school I go
to. The aisles are too narrow, the corners are too tight, the tables
are too high.

Yes, it means you can’t pack as many students in, but it also means
that they’ll have enough room to work without bumping into each other
(not fun when soldering!).

Dear Lauren,

A big thank you for championing students who need handicapped
accessible facilities. We did take that into consideration when
setting up the school because of my personal experience of living
with someone who has mobility issues. We have tables at different
heights and all our door openings are wide enough to accept a
standard wheel-chair.

At the present, we have one student who is partially disabled. He is
able to transfer to a chair. However, he uses a table at a different
height than others for fabrication. When forging on an anvil or
stake, he sits on a high chair instead of standing.

I’ve also had to take into consideration gravitationally challenged
(short) students as well as rather tall students. We have a low
jeweler’s bench and a tall bench and one that’s standard height. The
GRS benchmate system has come in handy with the adjustable plate to
mount tools onto.

Yes, I do agree that wider spacing and fewer students may mean less
income, however, a comfortable and SAFE learning environment pays
off more in the long run.

Ruthie Cohen
Mountain Metalsmiths School of Jewelry & Lapidary