Physical challenges and jewelry making

Thank you, everyone for your kind replies. You confirmed my own
ideas on the subject, that there are not that many handicaps
which would keep a person from finding some kind of jewelry or
metal craft related training. And since this is a big list, I
would suppose that you all are a fair sample of pros from all
over the world. It is good to know that the consensus is that
teachers are open to working with students who have problems.

I am merely a hobbyist, and work around my own tremor as best I
can, taking my difficult stone setting to my trade school night
course teacher. But in my day job part of the work involves
helping people with depression, chronic pain, brain injury and
epilepsy (among other problems) find meaningful training. So
through the years I have referred several of them to that same
trade school and more than one has completed the two year
course. I also know several jewelers who retrained after serious
back injuries and one jeweler/watchmaker who has no legs.

If I can generalize is it true that many people can succeed in
this if they have the emotional maturity and willingness to try
even when the work gets difficult?

Thanks again,

hi i feel equipped to answer this post, 17 years ago i was a
corporate loan officer for a biggie bank on the west coast. the
head on collision was 2 blocks from my branch. after the
surgeries were done there were 2 knee’s, 4 backs, 2 wrist and a
gall bladder thrown in for good measure. i use a wheelchair for
going out, but a cane around the house. the cancer was a nasty
surprise, almost 2 years ago. (no, this isn’t a pity party)

we attended a gem show and i met Mr. Kelly, a wonderful man from
Ireland, who worked with wire. i guess i sighed when i looked at
his work, and he said, “well for heavens sake, you could do this,
there is nothing wrong with your hands, is there???” he sent
me over to a vendor who sold silver square wire. the next time
the show cycled around, i had quite a bit to show him, he would
grin, then say, “you can do better than that.” so i did. i
truly think jewelry making saved my sanity, (ok, my husband just
fell in a fit of choking after reading that one, i may have
overstated that) but it gave me an outlet that i truly needed.
i added cabs and faceted stones, then gemstone beads…and when
i embraced wire crochet jon sighed and said “of course we have a
fortune in gems around, so now you only want to work in
wire…cool…” but i still do both.

working in jewelry is more than just a hobby, or something my
teenager loves, cause she can dip into a direct source for gifts
when she needs them, it gave me direction and a challenge I am
in awe of true jewelers, who do lost wax, who solder, who create
the most beautiful tangible dreams… and i thank them for
letting me hang with them here.

but considering all my work is done mostly from my hospital bed
in my family room…and i take my work with me to the
hospital, i feel i do pretty good. i am still in shock that
Lapidary Journal let’s me play and write workshops.

and besides, i called my husband from the hospital after the
last back surgery and said," honey i just made $75. laying flat
on my back, aren’t you proud of me???" my sweetie the cop
just said “and soooo soon after surgery, very good!” hell,
i had dr. nurses and patients shuffle in to buy my stuff. it
was one of my best shows.

pat moses-caudel

For my special sis that often takes a licken’ and keeps on

The Orchid List I speak of so often has indeed a good amount of
humor mixed in with truckloads of excellent
education, knowledge, and wisdom. And it has heart.

Wouldn’t you absolutely love to meet this lady? ! I think we
might leave such a meeting with tears of laughter in our eyes
and tears of sympathy mixed with a little empathy in our hearts.

Hanuman, I’m copyinging you on this one because its one more
example of why this list is so very good.

Love You, Carolyn,

Geo., In August of 1986, the vehicle I was driving, was hit head
on by a drunk teenager. I was told when I finally became totally
concious, that I had “died” twice on the operating table… I
spent a month and a half in intensive care. I was given more
morphine than any patient in the entire history of the hospital,
just to keep me in the bed!

Altogether, I spent about a year and a half in hospitals, and
(worse) “convalescent” hospitals… I was told from the very
beginning that I would probably never walk again, and that even
if I could - I would never ride a bike again. (I was on my way
to a 100 mile bicycle ride in Healdsburg, Ca., when I was hit.)
I was also told that I would never use my right hand again.

Seven surgeries later - I proved them all wrong. Two years
exactly, from the date of the accident - I did the same 100
mile bicycle ride I had been going to do in Healdsburg. Took me
two hours longer - but I did it. I still do a couple every year.

My hand was another matter… I was extremely depressed about
it. I decided to get away from my shop before my frustration
caused some real damage. I went to Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico. I
learned to speak Spanish after a year or so. Little by little,
surrounded by artists and craftsmen, I found myself getting
involved in their projects and helping to solve some of their

I forgot about my supposed “limitations” or “disabilities”… I
didn’t notice them when I got into that fanatic state that we
all get into when we’ve got something in front of us that just
won’t quite come together for some reason - and we absolutely
have to find that reason! My new friends provided that on a
daily (& nightly) basis…

Next thing I knew, six years had passed! I came home and kind of
wandered in various directions. I knew that I didn’t want the
stress of running a trade shop again, so I decided to see if I
could go back to hand engraving… Hit the wall again… more

Then someone came along who wanted to learn to hand engrave.
Bingo! It all came back! I don’t know how or why - only that
teaching seemed to make me forget that I wasn’t supposed to be
able to do these things…

Now, I’ve been working on opening a school for almost a year and
a half. I found a partner who has similar goals, and hopefully
we will be open to full time students this Spring…

Just goes to show you… if you want it bad enough… what you
can do…

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
704 W. Swain Rd.
Stockton, CA 95207
209-477-6535 Shop/Classrooms

P.S. Someone once told me that Evel Kneivel had broken 33 bones
at last count… they told me that they counted 27 fractures in
what was left of me after the wreck. This does not count the
parts of me that were removed or moved to different places.

One of the operations I had, was to rebuild my hand from pieces
of bone taken from my hip… I am now the only person you’ll
ever know who is really scratching his ass in public - when it
only looks like I’m only scratching my hand!

That is truly beautiful work, Pat. I especially like the angel.
I see that you’re already an author so I’ll throw this idea out
for you (and whoever else wants to think of it) but the world
needs more possibly a book on ways to overcome
handicaps to make jewelry.

It looks like there may be many ways to approach even the
uncommon problems of manuel dexterity like Brian Marshall’s use
of the pin vise and Norman Kimes’ use of the thumb pick. (Which
immediately led me to wonder if there might be someone who is
having trouble crocheting wire who could adapt the pin vise idea
or modify it using a needle file handle for their crochet hook ?
Then I started to wonder if I could fashion a suitable thumb
ring which I could use to secure a pair of locking tweezers? )