I had an “AHA” moment the other day… This comes ultimately from
a recent thread, but it’s not a continuation of it, really.
Somebody wrote me off-list about that thread, and I just kept
thinking, “What is it they don’t get?” Who is unimportant, and it’s
a good thing to make public, here… And then my AHA moment - they
are stamp collecting…
Stamps… The saw is a stamp, the torch is a stamp, setting a stone
is a stamp, taking a seminar or reading a book is a stamp. And when
my stamp book is full, I’ll be a goldsmith.
But it just doesn’t work like that. There is a perfect example in an
oft-asked question here on Orchid - “How do I flush-set a square
stone (or similar)?” Obviously, there is a method to be learned in
doing that job - there are a myriad of factual things to be learned -
the formulas for alloying karat golds, many things. But jewelry is
made by craftsmanship, not facts.
On another, greater level, the answer to that question is, “You set
it just the same as you set a round stone into a four prong
setting.” Meaning that stone setting is NOT stamp collecting. A
setter doesn’t learn how toset each and every type of situation, a
setter learns How Stones Are Set (in the greater sense - of course
they learn the details, to start). He or she learns the factual
things, and little by little and over the course of thousands of jobs
it just sort of seeps into your being - Set this 4mm stone into this
6mm setting, set this 6mm stone into this 4mm setting, set this
crooked stone so it’s straight, on and on and on. You aren’t a person
who knows how to set stones, you ARE a stonesetter. It becomes
natural - a part of your being…
People like to use the jeweler’s saw as an example of a tool that
takes some effort to master, which it does. A much more difficult
tool to master, IMO, is the ball pein hammer - actually, The Hammer.
I can hear some saying, “Geez, you hold the handle and you swing
it…” I can also hear the forgers, raisers and others smiling and
saying, “Yeah…” I used to make concha belts (American Indian
form of jewelry… try Google if you need to), many of which I
stamped decoratively. I’d sit there for 6-8 hours at a time, “Stamp,
move, stamp, move, stamp, move” with about 5-10 seconds interval
between the two. You do the math… After the first 5,000 strikes I
started to get the hang of it, 5,000 more and that hammer was an
extension of my arm. Craftsmanship, not stamp collecting. After you
hammer 1,000 things 1,000 times each, you start to get the hang of
The essential point is that people need to get that sort of 2nd
nature, in your soul kind of ability on all tools in the arsenal.
And then there is the even greater ability of using them all in
tandem with each other with an equal 2nd nature. Separate things,
but they happen together.
“I know how to use a file” is stamp collecting… “I know how to
shape and finish this project, for which I will use a file, for one
thing.” is craftsmanship…