It seems to me you are illustrating the point the originator of this
string was making. You worry about your solder skills going to pot,
and try to live on a $7.25 per hour job because you are afraid that
being a bench jeweler will kill your creativity. Your
creativity/commitment must be a weak reed indeed. You can learn
different skills as a bench jeweler that you can apply to your art.
Day in day out, shlock jewelry can feed your need to create more! It
will also expose you to more people (provided it's a large workshop)
who have different ways of doing things. Its a learning experience,
that should be considered post graduate work, as many shops here are
reluctant to hire art school graduates because they're lacking in
some skills and they are SLOW. The speed you learn, it helps you
make your own designs faster, unless of course you don't want to get
your hands dirty, you just want to design. In which case, you should
have minored in business. My college experience was good, but no
one wanted to hire me because it was a university art program I went
through. I was the most productive student in terms of finished
pieces, but I knew I was slow. I knew I'd sterve at the rate I
finished pieces. Because the reality is that jewelry is a craft and
does command fine art prices. I wanted the shop experience, to learn
different approaches. During my college years I had 2 instructors,
which I increased to 5 by taking workshops. Everyone out there,
working in the medium, has something to offer that you don't know!
So keeping yourself pure, and complaining about the shortcomings of
your education merely reveals you as the subject of this string.
Learning is an active process, the learner must do it, skills can't
be given to you perfect. YOU must do it, skill can only be acquired
by doing, and then doing better.