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[Review] Blaine Lewis' New Approach School

I had been repeatedly advised by trusted and respected friends that
Blaine Lewis� New Approach School for Jewelers (in Virginia Beach) is
an �absolute must� class for stone setting. Mind you, I�d been setting
stones in one form or another (nothing especially sophisticated) for
twenty years. I was also told that if, for any reason, I was unable to
attend the class in person, the video kit (including some tool
templates and practice pieces) was the next best thing.

You only have to hit me in the head with a two-by-four a couple times
before I start paying attention. I eventually decided it was a
justifiable investment in my career and professional development. I am
delighted to report I was far from being disappointed!

Quite simply, what I learned on the first day about flush setting and
burr control paid for the class. Everything else was gravy! As I told
Blaine on about the third day (of a five day class), the secret tricks
I can�t learn from a book were the reason I was here. Again, my
expectations were exceeded in every way.

Of course, these aren’t �secret� tricks, but ones Blaine has
developed and are taught by few, if any other instructors. This is
real-world stuff! The basic class includes flush setting, bezels, bead
and bright cut, channel setting and both simple and complex prongs. I
was doing stuff I had read about but never dared tackle� and I was
able to do it all, largely due to the groundwork Blaine laid on the
first day.

My classmates, whose company I truly enjoyed, journeyed from as far
away as Toronto. We all had widely different backgrounds and
careers, but shared similar hopes. As several of my classmates and I
sat in the hotel bar after the last day of class, we were all amazed
about what we had been able to accomplish during the week. We were
equally confident we could apply the newly acquired skills when we
returned to our studios, jewelry stores and schools.

Most everyone in the class took copious notes, but several of us
bought the video tapes as well, so we can have Blaine preaching at us
forever after. I suspect the narration in the video isn�t nearly as
entertaining as Blaine�s personal dialogue, though! The 3D animation
and high magnification video photography (also used in class) make a
huge difference in truly understanding what is happening� or should
be happening.

One of the other things really I appreciated about the New Approach
School was walking away from the class with a full compliment of the
tools I wanted, as opposed to walking away with a shopping list. This
includes an awesome set of gravers we made the last day. Finally
learning the proper way to grind and sharpen gravers is invaluable!
Blaine is also a dealer for GRS, Foredom, and other vendors for whose
products you may develop a fondness during the class. He teaches with
the low-cost, affordable tools, but offers (somewhat apologetically) a
vision of the �ideal unlimited budget� tools.

I could continue to go on-and-on about things that really impressed
me about the class and Blaine�s approach and philosophy, but I�ve
probably lost at least half my audience by this point! Suffice it to
say, a whole new world of realistic possibilities has opened up for
me, and I�m truly excited about the potential. My primary goal in
attending Blaine�s New Approach School was to increase my level of
comfort and my confidence in setting stones, and that goal was so
completely blown away that it was almost forgotten!

Five stars, two big, fat thumbs up, and the Good Housekeeping Seal of

All the best,


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)