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had a new student start making a bezel set ring today. This girl has
patience and better fine motor skills than me when I started. It is a
real joy to teach someone who actually listens and not rush. She had
no problem being told this ring will take you 5 hours and you will
probably make a mess of it.

She has made a basic gem set ring, bezel cup soldered to a shank. It
went well but hey that is hobby land technically. This ring is a
professional piece and needs high level skills to make well. I made
500 before they were flawless and made like lightning.

What has this girl really going is the stone a really nice colour
amethyst cab 9x7 mm. Cost $6.

Ladies do love a pretty rock and what more inspiration does this kid
(she is 16) need than to set a stone she loves into a ring for

Already she has learnt to let the tools do the work and is already
using a pick to solder.

She has a long way to go but…

all the best

I have only had a couple of apprentices over the years. They were
simply too much of a drain on my time at the bench. Too often they
saw the bench as a quick way to make money, which it really is not,
and not as a love affair with craftsmanship, gems and metals.

I have happily taught several budding jewelers specific skills they
were seeking, but I have avoided taking on raw beginners since my
disappointing misadventures in the 80’s with 2 different
apprentices, who quickly decided the bench was way more work than
they had imagined, and moved on to other fields.

Recently though, my 25 year old daughter asked to apprentice. What a
joy it is to teach someone who really has the natural talent, the
eyes and the hands, and is willing to learn, and not afraid to make
mistakes alongthe way. Someone who has a love for creating beautiful
things, and carvings of animals, but is willing to sit and repair
chains if that is what Ineed done.

A natural student is a joy to work with, even when you have to help
undo some of their accidents as they learn.

I have the following posted on the wall where I teach:


  1. It will take longer than you think
  2. Solder does not fill gaps
  3. You will break saw blades
  4. You will turn the torch on and off repeatedly
  5. You can take metal off, but you can’t put it back
  6. Mistakes are simply design modifications
  7. You will achieve deep personal satisfaction
  8. You never stop learning

And remember, when soldering a flea to an elephant’s, you start at
the elephant’s feet (attributed to Julia Woodman)

What are your favorite studio maxims that I can add to this list?


Thank you for sharing. You obviously take pride in your students and
invest yourself in their progress, and that’s a marvelous thing. I’m
sure it makes you feel good when they do well, and I know for a fact
that having such a teacher can change lives. I’m sure she’ll do very
well under your tutelage!

It’s wonderful to hear the folks on here who teach talk about their
students - it most certainly shows the love they have for teaching
and it’s also most inspiring to hear of their journeys. Which I
imagine might, in some small part at least, mirror the paths some of
us were on, too.


For those in the DC area who remember Yvonne Arritt, she had a pair
of sayings calligraphed as little mini-banners up on the wall down
in her studio, where only friends and family would see them.

"Remember, only we know what it was really supposed to look like."
and “Never let the perfect be the enemy of the done.”

Classy lady, and one hell of a silversmith.

Sic Transit.


  1. When I teach a class of gem-setting students I usually say “The
    first 5,000 rings are always the hardest!!!”

  2. I can’t make a fantastic diamond setter in only a 40 hour class.
    But I’ll have you understand how much effort it takes to set a
    gemstone… correctly!

  3. There are no ‘short-cuts’ in diamond/gemstone-setting!

  4. The easiest way to set a stone is to set it correctly the first

  5. Set every diamond, as if you were buying it yourself!!!

  6. Before you set any gemstone, examine it so carefully that your
    eyes might get sore or blurred!!! Then, check it again!!!

  7. Keep your tools clean & sharp, assume they might be dull or
    needing to be touched up. Do this every-time before you put that tool
    to your project!

  8. Mistakes will happen, it’s a long process of learning.

9)* If you are tired. stop!!*! Go for a walk, or grab a coffee. Your
brain will thank you…finally!

  1. If you find you’re running late in finishing a project, tell
    your customer, mistakes WILL happen if you rush!..:>(

Gerry Lewy

I agree Richard with you. When you find the students that teach you
something that you have missed it is very special. I have been
working with the blind teaching them how to bead necklaces when one
of the students asked me toteach him how to drill the holes in the
beads. I had to rethink how I would do this task with out being able
to see. made a jig and he is drilling beads then the next week one
of the girls asked if I could teach her how to setstones. Still
working on that but think I can see a way for her to do it that I
never before thought about using… The best teachers for us old
skilled craftsman/ women to be politically correct. are sometimes
our students…

It takes a lot of our time but who better to past this knowledge
along but us old folks?

Panama Bay Jewelers

I would add “Unlearning a bad habit is much harder then trying to
learn a good habit in the first place”. That is the first thing I
tell my students. And then when they ask about when I say “do as I
say and not as I do”, I remind them of the first thing I taught
them. I want them to not have the same learning curve I had learning
on my own. I am so printing this email out and hanging it in my shop
by the way!

Gerald A. Livings
Livingston Jewelers

Here is a couple that are posted in our lab:

Perfection does not exist. There is always a step further.

Clean your mess. Your mama is not here to look after you.

Philippe Dewailly


Fritsch, your list is great. Just love it. Truth plus encouragement!


Two I learned on the first day I sat down to begin the 38 year

Your head is not only for growing hair and you cannot buy

“Mistakes are simply design modifications.”

Priscilla, what a wonderful way to put it!

Currently I have on my board (though they may be more for me than a
full fledged studio?): 1. Put quality time into design.

  1. Play.*

It’s not much, but I’ll be borrowing from yours! :slight_smile: Many thanks!


*(Note: As in, keep a playful attitude and your workday will not
only hum along, it will shine through your pieces much like any other
mood that can affect your work.)

Gerry - Such great advice.

#10. “Do you want it right, or right now.” “If you don’t have time
for us todo it right, when are you going to find the time for us to
re do it again?”

Jo Haemer

Hi All

my students well, they are thought to be the worst of the worst. By
the main stream educators.

They have been bullied, expelled, or are at school on court order.

One of my student’s parents were told that in third class he should
go to a home.

Well this young man 15 years old made a silver ring for his
girlfriend and did a quality job. He is one of the nicest kids you
could wish for in class. He can’t believe how the teachers treat him.
Like a person. When his dad came to school for the end of term meal,
we put on a BBQ for everyone, he could not believe that teachers came
up to him and shook his hand and said what a good kid he had.

We have a practicum student at the moment, I asked her to look out
the staff room window at the canteen tables and note that teachers are
sitting and talking to students. Did not happen in her school, I
actually taught her sisters at another school.

Yes give us the mad, bad and brilliant and we will give you a person
who achieves to the best of their ability. We are a family, a bit
Addams like but a really cool place to be.

That said we do not have success with all of them. There are a few
extreme failures along the way. You can’t save them all. Some do go
to jail.

But there is no greater pleasure than looking a student in the eye
at graduation and saying “We are proud of you.” Because we the
teachers know what obstacles that they have overcome.

That is why jewellery class is so magic. They never thought they
could make it but they did.

all the best


I love what you shared about students. A teacher of any topic, into
and proud of his/her subject, will find the students willing to
listen, as love of learning is being shared, also with sense of
accomplishment. We are all too ready to criticize and judge, at
times baseless. Just watch as the light in so many students eyes is
extinguished by their “teacher.”

I can read just why you are loved and appreciated.


Richard - Hats off to you for your attitude toward your students.
There needs to be a lot more teachers like you - regardless of
subject. Kudos!! Bob A. DeMarcki