Well, I heard back from the studio at U of Missouri, and it looks
like that's my best bet! The studio is (by their report)
oxy-acetylene, and oxy-propane torches, several buffing/polishing
stations, files, rasps, saws, flex-shafts and handhelds, clamps,
burnout kilns, vacuum casting unit, and some lapidary equipment
They're open for a total of 11 hours on the weekend. While its a 3
to 3.5 hour drive, figuring I had to drive 600 miles roundtrip (12
hours a week) to get to 6 hours of classroom, not studio, time, for
which I had to pay $600 a semester, as compared to $25 a semester
and 6 or 7 hours drive time (400 miles) for up to 11 hours of
hands-on studio time and plenty of equipment to go around. That's
about half the drive time, 2/3rds the distance, and 4% the expense.
Plus, I get to see my son at least once a week!
I've been told that there are actually 5 torches in the studio where
I was before, but 2 of them are not available to "beginning"
students (eg me) and one is reallly an annealing torch (plus that
one is right next to a soldering torch, really in the same station,
and so both are virtually unusable simultaneously). So that really
wouldn't have done me any good.
But this is looking pretty good, plus I have on at least
two places that offer affordable seminars/workshops and one place in
St. Louis that I might be able to pick up some workshops as well
(though the one they have currently listed is frankly beyond my
current level of ability). The two places that offer affordable
workshops are (in case anybody else is interested):
Appalachian Center for Crafts
William Holland School of Lapidary Arts
One is 6 or 7 hours and the other about 9 or 10 hours away from me,
but I could manage them as a sort of "working vacation".
So again I thank all the people who offered me help and advice. And
the about those two workshop centers!
And, I got the news this morning - there was a guy who does body
work who used to live down the road from me, but he moved and nobody
I know had his new number. One of my mechanic's employees had it,
but he refused to give it up because the guy was working on his
truck and he didn't want him "distracted" by another job until the
truck was done! Well, the body guy (my former neighbor) came into
the shop yesterday and my mechanic pounced on him and pulled him
over to where my poor little Geo was sitting, all crumpled and
forlorn. And he said he could fix it, probably by Friday! For
probably around $150 or so (won't be pretty, but I'll be able to
drive it again).
So yay! Things are looking up!
Thanks again for all the encouragement!