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Suggestions projects for student


Hello to all of you. I attend a jewelry school in Buenos Aires and am
searching for suggestions for projects. Let me give you a little
background. Class size is around 10 students and every student is at
a different level and is working on his/her own project. There is no
group teaching. Future jewelers are mixed in with part-time hobbyists
and the instructor goes from person to person. No state of the art
equipment. We use sulfuric acid for pickle and borax for flux. We
work with propane torches and have 2 rolling mills. Instruction is
available in wax carving (although I haven’t tried it).

In the first year I did quite a bit of sawing of metal, some filing,
polishing, and some soldering. Now starting my second year (This is
three hours per week, not a full-time program), I am starting to
apply some texture and bend metal with round nose pliers. The way
that I select projects is to look at lots of pictures of jewelry, to
print pictures of things I would like to learn how to do, and to ask
the instructor. There is no curriculum. This seems a bit
disorganized, so I am wondering if any of you would like to suggest
types of projects I should be looking at to round out my education.

Oh, and when I am in the States, I take classes when I can. For
example, I did some stone-setting at Rio Grande, worked with Jay
Whaley learning to use a rolling mill, and did a class with Munya
Upin on metal weaving techniques. When I grow up (I am 60 now) I
want to be an artisan, not a jeweler. Express my creative side in
metal. And, by the way, I can’t even draw a stick figure… but I
have a good eye for color and texture.

Can’t wait to read the responses of you wonderfully creative people.

Ronnie Hausheer


Its my own belief that whatever style one is making precision is
paramount. Even if its some oddball, glop it on free form design,
things still need to be where they NEED to be, not where they happen
to fall. Accidental jewelry is no achievement.

So if you’d like to teach yourself the nuances of precision here’s
my humble suggestion…make three stone rings, or more specifically a
baguette engagement type ring. Sounds simple and bit boring? Not once
you try it. The mere fact of it being a ring means it has ‘mirror
images’ of itself several times over that the eye is drawn to.

Looking from the top(face up) your baguettes must lie on the same
line, not slightly askew, not stepped and not off center from the
main stone. And that line must extend thru the bags and along the
shank. A tenth of a millimeter off in the wrong place sometimes is a
glaring error. Try this with straight baguettes and with tapers, they
act differently. Look now from the side. Your baguette angles must
match. Basically you’re forming two triangles in your underbezel that
face each other. Even exceedingly small differences show. Look at it
edgewise, everything must line up straight and true, you’re not
making a leaning tower. You might find that polishing in certain ways
has a definite impact on how the eye perceives edges and therefor
indirectly symmetry. Camouflage, a necessary skill. Oh, and you’ve
got to blend your center setting flawlessly.

Go to a jewelry shop that carries diamond rings and scrutinize the
symmetry of some engagement rings. Look real close and you might find
a significant number of commercial pieces are off in some respect.
The average person won’t see it because they are distracted with the
whole ‘experience’ of shopping. “So what, I don’t want to make boring
stuff” you might think. But I’ll put it to you that the control you
learn will translate to anything you want to make. Randomly soldering
design elements teaches you almost nothing other than soldering.
Teach yourself how to pursue perfection by challenging yourself. Its
OK if the first few turn out, well, shabby. That’s how you learn. CZs
and sterling are fine for now.

It's my own belief that whatever style one is making precision is
paramount... Teach yourself how to pursue perfection by
challenging yourself. 

Neil hit the nail on the head. You can learn all the techniques that
exist, but until they can be performed precisely, the result will
always look amateurish. Practice, practice, practice.


Orchid Oracles - Thank you for your inspiration. I’ve wanted to post
in regards to the -projects for students thread-. Many of you
probably don’t know that our teaching positions at Minneapolis Tech
and Community CollegeJewelry Program will be leaving for other
destinations. Presently some destinations remain to be seen.
Personally I’m brainstorming about how to take care of our local
students, but it’s a big undertaking.

My ideas for students are the same ones I used to learn bench skills
myself. Make some of your own tools in the beginning to build
hand-eye coodination. Most students are trying to get the feel of
using tools to begin with, why not use the lesson of making tools
pay off to hone bench skills?

Keep in mind that many of my ideas are for financially strapped
students or beginners who want to try some tools without investing a
lot of money on ones purchased for more experienced jewelers.

I teach them to make very individualized tools that suit them

Wax carving tools can be made very well and very quickly for such
little cost. They can customize the handles. All we use are wooden
dowels, some wood stain, wire coat hangers or perhaps steel stock
for the tool ends.

The DIY mini lathe demonstration that I have on Youtube is a budget
driven option that works very well. It has allowed me to use my
money in other directions.

Students who make their own tools and are innovative tend to
accelerate with much more ease in classes. Encourage them to try,
show them your own tools and the ‘how to’s’. It’s a blast to watch
them learn and succeed.

So many bench tricks, so little time!
Margie Mersky