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Trying to learn


#1

Thanks Sharon and Rob. Sometimes I seem to forget even the
simple things. Unfortunately, I missed my calling by about 15
years. At the age of 32 it is tough to find the time and will
to learn a new trade. After taking classes at the one of the
only schools in the area (Baltimore) that teaches jewelry I
came very discouraged. The classes moved slow , were very art
oriented ( not that art is bad) and very expensive I am more
interested in learning technique and concepts. Now I rent
videos, buy books , practice on friends and family’s jewelry
between making my own jewelry and of course this wonderful
forum. I have just a couple of questions Sharon, Rob or anyone
else. When you decided to go for a GG did you make the BIG
commitment for the discounted price or did you sign on one
course at a time? How much time did it take to complete a GG and
at what level of devotion ? Do you think a weekend or 5 day
course is a good route to go ( time and money verses return).
Or could I get as much or more volunteering my time say one day
a week to a local jeweler (if one would have me) . I have come
a long way in the last 2 years ,but as always I want more.
Thanks , Steve D.


#2

Dear Steve,

Being an ex-“Baltimoron” (grin), I know exactly where you went
for classes. There is a baltimore area Gem and Lapidary Guild
which holds classes–they might be more hand-on and
technique-oriented rather than the ethereal "find your muse"
approach.

Email me if you would like to compare notes. I started soldering
for the first time last night, and I am, to put it mildly,
intimidated! I think you will find this group to be wonderfully
helpful. Good luck.


#3

I started soldering for the first time last night, and I am,
to put it mildly, intimidated! I think you will find this group
to be wonderfully helpful. Good luck.

What are you soldering? Each metal has different techniques that
are helpful to know. Sterling silver is highly conductive- you
need to preheat the whole piece and then focus the flame at the
joint. Solder flows towards the hottest area. Gold alloys are
less conductive so you just heat the joint area (actually once
you “master” silver soldering, gold is pretty easy).

From personal experience, it doesn’t always go well, even for
those of us with decades of experience. I melted a prong just the
other day. At least the repronging went well…

Rick
Richard D. Hamilton

Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography

http://www.rick-hamilton.com
@rick_hamilton


#4

Steve,

Since my husband was supporting me (both mentally and
monitarily) I went for the whole ball of wax. I’m not sure if I
saved any money, since I’m paying for the courses over 5 years
but it was an incentive to keep going. Of course, I haven’t taken
my diamond final yet though I’ve been ready since November
(something about opening a store about that same time has me a
little busy). I did take the three weeks of hands-on this past
summer, and that was great! I can’t wait to start the colored
stones program. Depending on what your planning on doing, you may
find that the extension courses on Diamond Grading and Gem ID are
sufficient. Besides the knowledge for buying and selling both
diamonds and colored stones, I need the credentials to give me an
edge over my competitors.

Even if you do just 2 or 3 chapters a week, you should complete
the GG in under two years. If you do one a day, you can complete
in about six months. It all depends on how motivated you are,
what kind of job you have, how many kids you have, whether you
spouse nags you, whether the dog chews up you assignments…
Sorry, I’m digressing, I only got 3 hrs sleep last night trying
to finish off a Mother’s ring for a customer.

I would only recommend the local jeweler if you are sure of
their knowledge base and their business ethics. Due to cash flow
restraints, many jewelers don’t invest any money in staying up
with the latest gemological some just see no need to
do so. They’re getting along fine just the way they are. I’m
lucky, my competition feels that way. As far as I’m concerned, I
hope to take the diamond grading workshop every few years just to
keep my skills sharp. As far as bench skills, practice,
practice, practice and remember there is no such thing as a
stupid question. We’re all here to help each other. I have
learned more in the last three months on Orchid then I have in
the last 7 years of asking local jewelers. One thing I learned
is that my local jewelers don’t keep learning. I thank God for
Orchid!

Good luck in your decisions.

Sharon


#5

I started soldering for the first time last night, and I am, to
put it mildly, intimidated! I think you will find this group to
be wonderfully helpful. Good luck.

I had to laugh when I read your statement about soldering.
Gosh, so many have been intimidated - some even quit class!
Depending on what type of torch one is using, the noise can make
one’s hair stand on end . . . propane torches make a LOT of
noise, other kinds are much quieter. I finally conquered my
fears when I decided to make a chain. After soldering for nearly
three days the fear was gone! Then I got over the fear of
melting SILVER . . . sheesh, now all this is merely a memory!
<G!>


#6

…I started soldering for the first time last night, and I am,
to put it mildly, intimidated!

Sandy,

I can remember years of being scared to pick up my torch,
because there was a 50-50 chance I was going to melt whatever I
was working on. I was using straight propane with a “jewelers
torch” attached to the canister. Then a miracle occurred. I
spent two weeks taking the GIA Repair & stone setting I & II and
the torch became my best friend. (I also fell in love with the
mini-torch system) Two things made the difference, one was the
constant use of the torch (practice makes perfect) and the other
was the eternal optimist of a teacher walking around for 8 days
saying “You can do it”. You actually start believing it. Before
those classes, I had never even bought, let alone used hard
solder. You can imagine how limiting that was to design. Now I
use it everywhere I possibly can. I’ve even begun fusing with
karat gold in some applications.

Take heart. You CAN do it! It takes practice. If possible, find
someone who knows and have them watch you, or watch them. Notice
how and where they heat the object, flame size, and what part of
the flame is aimed at the piece. Tim McCreight’s book (The
Complete Metalsmith) might be helpful as well as other, more
expensive, publications.

Hope this helps.

Sharon


#7

Thanks, Rick! Actually, I think the first thing I need is a
better soldering torch. I am using a butane type "pencil flame"
that someone recommended to me. I find it unreliable and
annoyingly ineffective and uneven in its performance. Thank you
about the tip regarding silver–that is what I am doing right
now. I will be tapping you all for more info, so brace
yourselves!


#8

For silver the torch to use is the smith torch- an air acetylene
torch. I have to get one ready for this week’s lesson with my
student- she is making a story bracelet- far too much metal for
the little torch to handle well.

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton

Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography

http://www.rick-hamilton.com
@rick_hamilton


#9

YUK, you’d be better off using a plumbers torch (found at most
hardware stores) . . . you can adjust the flame size by turning
the knob - although it’s not as good as other torches it is
relatively inexpensive and can be used in a bind.

My thoughts regarding (propane) pencil flame . . . those which
I’ve used haven’t been able to make large parts hot enough for
the solder to flow . . . for things like chains and tiny soldered
parts, those work well.


#10

I started soldering for the first time last night, and I am, to
put it mildly, intimidated!

I remember my first attempts at soldering, I was in a begining
fabrication class at Highline here in Seattle. I had never even
touched a torch before and I wasn’t just intimidated, I was
terrified. I did the best I could but the next quarter I took a
repair class with my now favorite all round good guy Jeweller
George Bennett. He taught me to adjust my flame, warm the piece
and the charcoal and take my time and relax. (We used brass as
practice pieces and I understand that is because it works closer
to gold.) He also told me to use low light because you could see
what the metal was doing better. WE used Oxy/Propane at school
and after I got my set for home, I used Oxy/Acet. because my
brother the welder, gave me his small set. But George teaching
me to relax was probably the key. It’s only metal! If you go to
Tucson and take any classes, make sure that you get at least one
from George Bennett, he’s the best instructor most of us will
ever have!

Stella Samson
Tara Smithcraft - Seattle,WA
e-mail @MOIRAG2112


#11

Yes, I keep telling myself: so what if you scorch some silver?
It’s only scrap stuff that I saved up.