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What got you into this?


#1

Hi all

My earliest jewellery memory is as a small child looking at a blue
bead necklace when out shopping for a birthday present for my mother.
Talked dad into buying it.

Mother probably hated it LOL. To me it was just amazing.

Next I remember being fascinated by my mother’s button collection so
many shapes, colours and patterns.

Then as a teenager I used to every Saturday go to a particular
jewellery store in Sydney and look and look and look. The old man who
owned the store once asked me " Why do you come here every Saturday
and not buy?" “Saving up.” Was my reply. And I did and bought a lot
from that shop. I bought a birthday present for a friend a black onyx
and silver bracelet she opened the box and cried. I thought I have to
learn how to make this.

I would go into my dad’s shed and cut up copper and lead solder it
together. Then I learnt how to make bead jewellery.

I saw this amazing lady in my wholesaler one day. A tall red head.

Years later we married and now she makes bead jewellery and I make
the silver and we have 2 kids who can do both.

Then I went to work for my bead wholesaler as designer and
wholesaler of fabricated jewellery. Left there and went into fashion
jewellery had my stuff in all the fashion mags. Self taught how to
make resin jewellery. Still not good enough for me. Even though I
sold to 100 stores Australia wide and America and Europe.

Then went to the school for silversmiths, a dream come true. Made
and sold silver jewellery at Paddington markets for 10 years. Moved to
the country, I live in a forrest. Have my workshop in town over
looking a river. Every day I spend on the bench is a joy, even when I
stuff up and have to re-make.

An added joy is that I teach kids at high school how to make silver
jewellery. One said to me the other day about a silver and black onyx
ring she made "I haven’t taken it off since the day I finished it."
Had my new student sit there and cut ring shanks for 50 minutes,
wanted to see if she had what it takes to be a trade jeweller. Not a
problem for her.

She has made a few rings before and of good quality, but there is a
difference between trade and hobby.

It just gets better every bench day, a new range of earrings
tomorrow simple and elegant.

Vivianna Torun Bulow-Hube is my inspiration

all the best
Richard


#2

I was in a geology class in college, and we were handling fossilized
Trilobites. One stone in particular was a perfectly formed, white
calcium fossil, and I made the comment that this would look good on
a leather cord.

The reaction I got from the other students and the professor was
universally negative, as if no one had any idea how i could say such
a thing. At that moment I looked around the lab and realized that I
was not like all of the other students, and I did not particularly
care what period that animal had lived in. I suddenly realized that
did not belong in that class.

At that point I had only had one half of a year of art in High
School, asa filler class, so I was really not art or craft oriented
at all, but from that day I began looking for a school that offered
jewelry making. I changed schools, and learned that I already had
enough credits in math, science and languages, that I could devote 2
1/2 years completely to studio art, and quickly discovered that I
loved every facet of jewelry makingfrom stone cutting to casting to
fabrication.

After earning my BA I enrolled in Bowman Tech to really learn the
technical part of jewelry making, stone setting, etc, and have as of
this month now worked steadily at the bench, making and repairing
jewelry for 40 years. Ours is a field with no limits to your
creativity, beyond those you apply to yourself, and there is never
not something new to learn, some new tool or technique to try,
something I have never seen or done before, which all work together
to keep me from ever thinking of “retirement”.


#3

I was living in Washington DC, and I kept looking in shops and
galleries for the kind of jewelry designs I was envisioning. Nobody
seemed to be making anything like what I wanted to see, and I
realized that I already knew what this work looks like; all I had to
do was learn how to make it. The Smithsonian Institution offers all
kinds of classes for members who live in DC, and I started taking
jewelry classes there.

The first time I tried piercing, I looked at the saw in my hand and
said to myself, “Where have YOU been all my life?” I loved
everything I learned, and the ideas kept flowing. I had obviously
found my bliss.

When I moved to Philadelphia to marry my husband, I found a jeweler
whose brain I could pick when I came upon something I didn’t know
how to do. I’ve been making jewelry for 35 years now, and I haven’t
run out of ideas yet. My husband keeps asking when I’m going to
retire, since doing shows is beginning to be a bit more grueling for
me as I get older, but I can’t bring myself to consider it just yet.

Janet Kofoed
janetkofoedjewelry.com


#4

I got into jewelry because I love challenges, and I’m competitive.
At Zion NP back in the very early 70’s I was put in the gift shop. We
sold Indian jewelry. Out of boredom I learned all the attributes and
look of each turquoise mine. Then the competition started. For a week
who ever sold the most of one item, be it jewelry, rugs, pottery or
whatever our manager deemed for the week, we would win a half day off
with pay.

Well that summer I won 6 full days off. I can sell the hind legs off
a dead horse to a blind (insert whatever is politically correct
here).

During that time I would go into Springdale and watch a Navajo make
jewelry. It was magical to me.

After marriage and kids, I went back to college to get my third
degree. I was swayed by my family that I had to obtain a good
(worthwhile) degree leading to a prestigious job. I got a degree in
molecular bio chem. I even got straight 13’s on the MCAT. Promptly
the next day I was in the hospital with blood clots. The way I
studied was detrimental to my health. Crap and other words. I grumped
for months about life being unfair. Then we moved to TN.

At the Appalachian Craft Center, Bob Coogan influenced me greatly. I
fell in love with blow torches, and hammers, and tools, and machines,
and well you get the idea. It was also during a time my sweet little
daughter morphed into a demon child. I had a great need to smash
something. Metal was my savior. I firmly believe, A hammer, an anvil,
and a blow torch are better than Prozac when you have teenagers. She
survived to adulthood because mom smashed metal. Now she is married
and someone else’s problem.

Life took another turn, and we ended up in San Francisco Ca. There I
went to the Revere Academy. I learned a lot, but it was a foundation.
What really got me going was Alan giving a lecture and pissing me
off. It took me about 6 months of research and playing, I wanted to
prove Alan wrong.

Another turn in life, and the prospects and ability to live where
ever we wanted and hubby working from home led us back to spitting
distance from Zion NP. I know the founders and current ceo of the
Utah Shakespeare Festival. I just wanted to see if I could get my
metalwork and jewelry into their gift shops. Scott did me one better.
He put me on a small stage doing demonstrations of old Renaissance
metal working. Costumed and armed with a vast history, riddles,
jokes, and the ability to play off the crowds, I have a ball making
jewelry. It’s been over a decade, and I’m still at it. It gets me out
of the summer humidity of Florida where I currently live.

Today as I sit here typing one handed, I think of my future in
jewelry. I have a long road ahead with a whole lot of physical
therapy. It’s another challenge. BUT!!! physical therapy for me is
learning to hold small objects. I have to learn how to pick things up
again, and turn my wrist.

Well light bulbs went off when the doctor told me things. He may
have had to flay open my wrist and lower arm to put in all the metal
that has pinned, plated and screwed my arm and wrist back together,
but I know a few things that will pick up where he left off. What
better therapy than relearning jewelry? All those small tasks will
stretch those reattached ligaments and tendons or the new ones that
replaced the ones destroyed beyond saving. It’s not about what I
can’t do (can’t is a four letter word) it is learning to think around
the problem and maybe switch up a procedure. By next summer I will be
back on a new stage.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is building it’s new two block complex
with three main stages. I get a new small stage in the courtyard.
Plus with my arm I’m losing weight big time. I had been saying "Never
tell an old lady to lose weight. We needed the padding when we fall."
Just make sure you fall on that padding. Any way. Life has taken
another turn. New reconstructed arm, new stage, and a slimmer me to
fit in those dang blasted corsets. I love making jewelry.

Aggie losing the spreading chestnut tree my little currently sits
under.


#5

When I was very small I loved to play with my aunt’s armfuls of
silver bracelets - the sound, the feel, the weight of the silver.

After many years of sewing, knitting & colour in texiles I took a
class in jewellery - it was like coming home. And then I learnt about
enamelling - back to colour.

Only 25 years ago, a way to go yet…
Tamizan


#6

Agnes

Your life sung to me. Our journey may vary, and the path different,
but there are many things that seem alike. Hoping your injuries heal
up

Franz


#7

Aggie, that is the best dang description I have ever read. Enjoyed
every word of it, as I sit aching all over from landing on the floor
with a thump when I missed the stool at my workbench. Xray showed no
broken bones but some serious bruising which will take about 2 weeks
to heal, thereby keeping me out of the studio. Doctor prescribed
Tylenol 3,–loaded with codeine for the pain. Big mistake. That
stuff is deadly. One dose and I was so sick that I considered
dialing 911 for assistance. There is no way I will take another one
of those lethal concoctions.

As for how I got into jewelry making. I was genetically programmed
to workwith metals. Runs in the family. Long story which will have
to wait as currently I am dealing with considerable discomfort which
makes sitting a bit difficult.

Alma, who wishes she had more padding where it is sorely needed.


#8

where in philly?
was on south st early 70’s
had shop (ok commune)
learned craft in house
bill glickman


#9

How did I get started?

Well, it is important to know that I failed every art class in high
school. Not a bit of artistic talent.

So I join the Army and am stationed at Fort Hood TX. A friend
introduced me to a historical reenactment group called the SCA in
1985. One of the members, (Shout out to Lon Putman!) tells me that
the Arts and Crafts Center on the base has a room for making
jewelry. So we meet there and I try and make some truly horrible
stuff for the next couple of years.

For me jewelry was a way to teach myself patience as the quality was
very lacking. So fast forward a few years and I am out of the
service still doing jewelry as a hobby in my laundry room. It has
turned from a hobby to a passion and I decided to make that my
career. It took a while but I had a pretty good run until some
neurological problems turned jewelry back into a hobby.

So now I take anyone who is interested and drag them to my shop and
teach them and hope that they get that same passion I do.

Gerald A. Livings
Livingston Jewelers.


#10

I was a Camp Ranger in Texas (65 acre youth camp for boys and girls)
where I wandered with a tool belt in the Texas heat repairing
outdoor plumbing, buildings and clearing trails. I had a small
handful of what I now know to be low quality amethysts and was trying
to sell them to the local jeweler. We fell to talking where he asked
what I did, I told him and he asked if I had ever considered being a
jeweler? I asked what that would entail. He showed me a bench. I saw
small tools where I could sit down IN the air conditioning and play
with shiny objects. I was in love. Then I saw the torch! What? My
dream job PLUS pyromaniaee YES!!! I could see doing that forever!

And I’m still doing this 25 years later. Retirement? Why? I make my
living doing what I like best already!

Keep on keeping on y’all!
J. Rose


#11

when I arrived at my newly built Primary school in 1975, it had a
large area covered in Lilydale Topping (local limestone gravel).
Really poor choice for a kids play ground - lots of Gravel Rash - but
about ten minutes later I found my first rugose coral, and I was
hooked.


#12

Hi gang,

In my case, I read Lord of the Rings one too many times. Wanted to
get my own sword. Being too broke to buy one, even if I could have
figured out where, I decided to learn to make one.

And many moons later, here I am.

The real story is much longer, involving a high-school internship
program that let me spend one day a week at Ohio State’s jewelry
program, where I discovered just how much fun all of this is.

It’s still fun, which is why I’m still doing it. It’s just that my
toys are bigger now. (Much) But it did all start with wanting a
sword, and having no idea where to get one, except to make it
myself.

There have been a great many teachers and mentors along the way,
each of whom left their little mark, (or larger ones, in some cases)
and all of whom deserve thanks for helping me along the road.

(What, you thought I was born knowing all this crap? Oh no. Many
painful and/or hysterical learning experiences were had along the
way. Sometimes at the same time.)

A few years back, there was a thread about 'who taught you?'and I
wrote up a list of the major players in what passed as my education,
and then for some reason, I never posted it. This seems like a good
place to say thank you to all of them, in a little bit longer form
than just a list of names.

So, it started out in high school. My school was the alternative HS
in Columbus, OH. They had a program where upperclassmen spent
Wednesdays interning somewhere in the community. That was probably
the most valuable program I was part of in high school. It taught me
that I really didn’t want to be an architectural draftsman, even
though I loved drawing, and that while building things in the local
community theater’s prop shop was fun, it was no way to make a
living. On the other hand, Ohio State’s Jewelry lab…now that was
something.

Now that I think about it, I actually got started a little earlier,
at 15 or so. I read Lord of the Rings once too many times, and
decided I wanted a sword. Having no idea where to get one, and
certainly not enough money for a real one anyway, I figured the
easiest thing to do was make one. Entirely coincidentally, Ohio
State put on an annual Renessance Faire, which I stumbled across on
my way over to my father’s office one spring morning. There were a
bunch of historical reenactors there, and they had swords! So I
figured they clearly knew where to get them, and might know how to
make them. It turned out that one of the guys there was a blacksmith
who taught knifemaking workshops in his basement forge. (Coal. In
the basement. Really.) I quickly realized that swords were out of
reach, but knives were plausible, especially as there was a custom
knifemaker’s supply place in town that sold blank blades, ready to
be handled up. So I concentrated on making handles, while I worked
up the skills for making swords.

So, for being kind to a gawky, totally clueless kid, a first tip of
the hat to Mike Ely.

(As an example of the clueless level: I wanted a zweihander sword.
So I bought a bar of 440-C stainless, 2" wide by 1/4" thick by six
feet
long. With the idea in mind to use a 6" bench grinder to
grind a sword out of this block of steel. 25 years later, that bar
of steel is still leaning up against the wall in my parent’s
basement, with about a 1/4" taken off one corner. All I could manage
before the grinder smoked.) (I’ll do something with it. Eventually.)

Next on the road was Ohio State’s jewelry lab, as part of that HS
internship program, where I studied with Don Duncan, who retired a
couple of years later when the program got folded. (The first
casualty of many, sadly.) Funnily enough, his grad student was Bonny
Kubasta, who eventually became the program head at Savanna College
of Art & Design. I enjoyed that so much that I went from being a
generic liberal arts major at the colleges I applied to early, to
looking at colleges with an eye to their metals programs. Over the
summer between highschool and college, I apprenticed to a reenactor
blacksmith, Andrew Holly, who taught me much of what I know of
blacksmithing, including how to work a coal fire such that I could
crank the blower with my back to it, and have no worries about
burning the tip off of a knife he was working on.

Andy died a few years back, but I still have the anvil he sold me,
my first. Andy, many thanks.

After a summer of forging steel under a summer sky (and at the Ohio
State Fair. Imagine a shed. On blacktop, just off the midway. In
Ohio. In August. With a coal forge going full blast… Youth is
wasted on the young!)

I ended up as a metals major at Syracuse, with Michael Jerry and
Barbara Walter. Of whom I cannot say enough good things. They were,
and are both very quiet sorts of people (Michael’s since retired)
but I learned to appreciate their professionalism more once I got
out into the wider art world, and saw other instructors who were not
nearly as devoted to their kids. Michael and Barbara both bent over
backwards to give us room to grow without turning us into “mini-me”.
There were some things I couldn’t help but pick up, Michael’s love
for raising and forming, for example, but he gave me enough room
that it became my love for raising and forming metal too. Michael,
Barbara, thank you.

Syracuse being Syracuse, they had a study abroad program, so I spent
my Junior year in London, in the Extended Studies Programme at City
of London Polytechnic. (Better known as Sir John Cass.) (London Poly
has since morphed into Guildhall University, but the Cass is still
going strong, much has it has since about 1760.) So I took courses
in Silversmithing, Diamond Setting, Jewellery fabrication, and I
can’t remember what all else. The tutors I remember were John
(?Norgate?) for Silversmithing, Bob and someone who’s name I’ve
sadly forgotten for diamond setting, and Ralph Hargate for Jewellery
fabrication. These men were all outstanding tutors. I was having so
much fun, I ended up spending the summer term there on my own hook,
soaking up as much knowledge as I could.

I came home with a suitcase full of silver scrap and tools, as well
as a Special Award for Silversmithing from the British Jeweller’s
Association So, John, Ralph, Bob (and Bob’s co-tutor whose name I
can’t remember, but whose pave parrot paperweight will stick with me
until I die.) Many thanks for giving me more techniques in 9 months
than I’d ever imagined possible. (As well as Nick & the Cockney guy
who were the techs. Thanks guys.)

After Syracuse, I moved on to Cranbrook Academy of Art, outside
Detroit, as a metals major, under Gary Griffin. All of the
instructors at all of the other programs I applied to came from
Cranbrook, so I figured I’d cut out the middleman.

I learned a lot while I was there, some good, some bad. From Gary I
learned welding and the gearhead mindset. From the other grad
students, I learned a great many things. From Klaus Berner (and his
brother Rick) I learned both that I wasn’t half the machinist that I
thought I was, as well as the beginnings of the path to become at
least half as good as I thought I was. (My stuff moves. His glides.)
David Cole was there at the same time, and from him, I learned to
appreciate the finer aspects of antique scientific instruments, and
the ability to read the minds of their makers, made manifest in the
nature and fabric of their creations.

My room-mate Hyung Kyu-Lee taught me the meaning of friendship, as
well as the Korean damascene technique I wrote my MFA thesis on. From
Deb Uhls, NickMonster, and Liz Fall & Christina Kozak, I learned to
be a bit more human, even if it took me a few years.

Afte graduating from Cranbrook with my MFA, I moved to Rockville,
MD, (outside Washington DC) to teach at Montgomery College. What was
originally supposed to be a sebattical replacement position morphed
into 6 part-timers filling in for one full timer out on a
Fullbright. (in an omen of academic trends to come…) But the
important part of that was that I spent a year teaching next to Jan
Maddox, who’s one of the best jewelry teachers I know. Much of
what I know of teaching I learned by watching Jan. Jan, many, many
thanks. (And all of the years of my students have a debt to her as
well. I wouldn’t be half the teacher I am now without having had a
chance to watch her do it.) Jan introduced me to Yvonne Arritt, who
taught me about moving metal with a hydraulic press, and designing
for production, as well as how much fun it can be to work in a
studio with a friend. Yvonne introduced me to Betty-Helen Longhi,
who it turns out had known my parents in grad-school. Betty’s been a
friend, mentor, and occasional instructor for 15 years now. Betty,
thanks.

While I was part-timing at Montgomery, I also had a couple of trade
jewelry jobs. The first one for Michael Schwartz at Creative
Metalworks, from whom I learned a great deal about casting, and a
bit about business management. I then spent some time working as a
bench guy for Doug Zaruba, up in Frederick, who taught me a lot
about hi-karat gold fabrication, and a lot more about business
management.

By 1995, Komelia Okim, who was the person who’d been out on a
fullbright, came back, and Jan Maddox retired. I taught a few more
semesters at MCC, and then moved back to Ohio in the summer of 1996
to work for a sculpture studio that appeared promising. Not so much.
So after about 6 months of that, I quit to focus more on my own
line.

In that period, I did a semester as a sebattical replacement for Tom
Muir at Bowling Green State, just up the road in Bowling Green,
Ohio.

I moved to Santa Barbara in the fall of 1997, and started teaching
part time for Santa Barbara City College’s Adult-Ed jewelry program,
which was just being revived. The prime mover behind the
resurrection of the jewelry program was Janice Lorber, another on my
short list of outstanding teachers. Jan Maddox taught me how to
teach college. Janice Lorber had spent 30 years teaching high
school
jewelry. Janice taught me to prepare. She taught me to think
things through, step by step, and plot them all out, to the point
where anyone smarter than broccoli can follow them. Without having a
chance to watch Janice in action for 12 years, I wouldn’t be the
other half of the teacher I am today. Janice, my humble thanks.

After 12 years in Santa Barbara, I got married and moved up to the
Bay Area. I’d known Lee Marshall for a goodly number of years
semi-socially because of the Bonny Doon presses. He mentioned that
he needed some help for a few days putting these new saws he’d come
up with together. I figured 'sure, why not? I’ll do that while I’m
job hunting…" Yeah. 5 years later, here I sit, programming 7 axis
CNC lathes in my head, and being probably about as good a machinist
now as I thought I was back in grad school. Lee has taught me a lot
about how to design for serious production, and how to look outside
the box. He’s also taught me how much fun it can be to design things
with a partner you don’t have to slow down for, or explain. And
that’s lots of fun. Thanks Lee.

And that’s it, my road in a nutshell. A road filled with people who
shared what they knew, and helped me remember the fun that got me
started in this in the first place.

Regards,
Brian


#13

It was a pretty girl who knew I loved art metals. She convinced me
to apply for a job as a goldsmith when I was still in high school.
She told me to offer to work for free if they would train me. I did
just that. I also married her. The two best decisions of my life.

Mark


#14

I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where I was exposed to the
art of silversmithing at the tender age of 4 years. I grew up across
the street from well-known Arizona silversmith Gran Minor. It was
just after WW2. At that time, Mr. Minor was contracted to teach the
fading art of silversmithing to the young men of the Navajo Tribe.
Every six months a young Navajo apprentice would move into the Minor
home and study with Gran. Gran’s wife and my mother were very good
friends. Mrs. Minor went to Juilliard and my mother was an opera
major in college. They had tea every afternoon at the Minor home and
discussed music. As a very small child, I would tag along every day
to try to talk with the Navajos and watch what was going on in the
studio. They were very tolerant of me. I could barely see over
theside of thebench but I could see enough!

When I returned home from these visits, I would sit at my little
table in my roomand, instead of having tea parties with my dolls, I
would hammer out little bracelets and rings from the wind off strips
of metal that once came off of cans of Planters Peanuts. I used atiny
handmade metal hammer that had been made for my father when he was
a child. I kept my “tools” in afruit-cake tin on my little table.

The name of my company honors Gran and I still use that tiny antique
hammer.


#15

Hello Alma, and condolences on your bruises, You mentioned the
prescription for Tylenol 3 (loaded with codeine) causing you to be
sick. My experience also. It’s apparently a sort of allergy to
codeine. Be sure to discuss with your Dr. and have a note made for
your records. There are other drug formulations that contain
codeine. No sense ‘paying homage at the throne of O’Roark’ if it can
be avoided!

Judy in Kansas, where yellow squash continue to produce, but oddly
enough, the zucchini have died. I thought it was immortal!


#16

Thanks Judy for your recommendation that I have my doctor make a note
about my being allergic to any medicine containing codeine. I
certainly don’t want to go through that again–

I am impatiently waiting for my hip to heal enough for me to get
back into the studio. no broken bones, but bad bruising. Advice for
all. Be sure there is a chair firmly under you before you sit down.

Alma


#17

Hello Judy, Alma and others having troubles with pain killers,

While I certainly second the idea of staying away from opiates and
their cousins if you can, I discovered while researching pain
killers I might need after a projected surgery that the nausea and
slowdown of the gastro-colic reflex (which causes the nausea and the
trouble getting your bowels moving again after surgery, which can be
a serious side effect) caused by opiates can be blocked by other
drugs given with them. So if your pain is not alleviated by other
medicines, get with a good pain clinic and they should be able to
prescribe something that makes it possible for you to tolerate the
opiates. The game plan is to let the pain relieving power of the
opiates work while blocking the side effects. Digestive system is
meant to move forward in muscular waves, but when it stops moving,
that is nausea, and when it moves in reverse, that is vomiting…

You should beware of getting dependent on opiates, but should not be
without them if they are needed, and the meds to block the side
effects are part of that equation. I don’t remember the particular
meds used, but if you can’t find an expert, let me know and I will
look them up again…

A little off topic, but not really, if you hurt so much you can’t
work on beautiful metals…

HTH,
Roy


#18

Here’s what got me into this:

  1. Aunt Vi’s mother lode of costume jewelry
  2. Craft sessions for 10 years at summer camp
  3. Ancient History in college
  4. The 60’s
  5. Loving to make stuff

Not necessarily in order of priority or chronology…

Linda Kaye-Moses


#19

Alberic’s story (which was great!) mentioned the “Cass” - Sir John
Cass Faculty in London. The great silversmith tutor John Norgate now
teaches courses at West Dean College near Chichester.

If you are contemplating a holiday in England, I suggest you see
what’s on offer at West Dean’s metalwork short course programme. It’s
a good studio, well-equipped, with some really good tutors.

Not cheap, but a wonderful place, staying in an eccentric mansion
with great food. And short courses all year, not just summer school.

Best wishes
Tamizan


#20

My father worked for a while during WWll on the Chilocco Indian
Agricultural School in Oklahoma. Dad was teaching sheet metal work to
the students to develop job skills and to be an asset in Air Craft
plants for the war effort. At the school teaching was a Cherokee
artist named Cecil Dick. Cecil taught my Dad the beginnings of silver
smithing as a craft. Dad learned the way Cecil learned with the same
type of tools. Many of them hand made by Dad and Cecil. (Some of
which my brother and I still use.) This alone isa story.

I grew up with silver smithing going on in the house. Not so much
when I was little in the early to mid- 1950s. But once we moved to a
larger house in 1958 or there abouts Dad set up shop again. From that
point on I was aware of the shop and the work right on through high
school. When I needed some money or Dad needed a hand he put me to
work doing some polishing for him off and on. I did this off and on
for the next ten years.

I was primarily a wood worker and a ships carpenter from 1978 on
until 1985when the yard closed. But in those years I did a lot of
polishing and I made a few pieces for my wife. Dad was at his peak
as a craftsman at this point. He was always ahead of his finishes
and he paid me to polish and bend bracelets but he never failed to
make each day polishing a lesson of somesort or another. While I was
helping Dad and getting paid, I wasn’t aware I was apprenticing. I
made a few pieces on my own now and then and sold a few now and then
as well. By this time my brother was well established as a fine
silversmith in the Southern Tier of New York State.

I really wasn’t paying attention as I finished up the work Dad hadon
the bench and filling the orders he had waiting that it I was by
accident becoming silver smith in my own right. There are times at
night when I work at the bench we shared for too short a time I can
still feel his presence.

Dad’s health began to decline quickly and I took on more of the
heavy work for him. Rob and I did a show in Skaneateles together
that was supposed to be Dad, Rob, and me but Dad’s health was so
poor that he couldn’t do the show and sadly he passed away just a
few weeks later. This was my first real show and because of the
success of the show I went out the following week and filed my DBA,
Old Erie Crafters, so as not to be confused with my Dad’s DBA.

I count my years as a silver crafter from the day I got my DBA. In
those 25 or more years my sons and my daughter have all worked in
the shop in one capacity or another. I am confident another
generation of silver crafters is waiting in the wings.

Don Meixner