The Jewelry Problem

I received some comments on my previous post to the effect than since my passion is for jewelry, I should focus my energies to making it happen. As I said, the problem with that is that I have neither the tools nor the resources to do so. I feel this deserves some explication.

First the tools. I do own basic bench and hand tools: the saw, the files, the mandrels, the benchpin, etc…

But these are the things I need: the most important item is the TORCH system. This includes the torch heads, hose, gas canisters, and the oxy-acetylene gas. Cost? Approx. $200-300.

The second crucial item is the FLEX-SHAFT system. A jeweler’s rotory engine and a long flexible shaft hand tool. Cost: approx. $150-200. Could be subsituted with a Dremel flex shaft hand held tool, approx. $85.

Third: the SMITHING tools. Items include a horn anvil, planishing stakes, dapping blocks, a planishing hammer, a rawhide mallet, and a forming hammer. (And those are just the basic hammers, not the specialized forging tools!) Approx. cost $300.

And finally, the CAUSTIC CHEMICALS: sulfuric acid, nitric acid, polishing compounds, patination compounds, and ammonia. Plus the proper vats to store such liquids. Approx. cost $100-200.

Then there’s the “luxury items” I crave: a rolling pin, a beadblaster, and a enammeling kiln (Cost of all combined? Upwards of $3000! I don’t plan on acquiring these items until my practice is well established, of course).

Now for my resources: STUDIO SPACE and MONEY.

I currently live in a small one-bedroom apartment. Even if I could afford all those tools, I still need a space that’s big enough to hold a work bench, a smithing post, and a sink. It also needs an air vent to suck out acid fumes, polishing pollutants, and gas vapors. It only needs to be the size a large walk-in closet, but it must be separated from main living areas, well ventilated and well-lit. I could wear a gas-and-particle safety mask, (approx. $50), but I live with other creatures, and I cannot pollute their air!

As for money; well, suffice to say, I don’t have any. And credit is not an option. I had hoped to sell paintings, drawings, prints, and manuscripts to finance my way towards a jewelry studio, but due to many reasons (some of which I recounted in Tuesday’s litany of woe), it isn’t working.

And to my knowlegable readers: yes, I could use cold joining techniques and bead stringing designs, but that’s not the kind of jewelry I create. I use fire to join and a hammer to shape. I love soldering and reticulation, and combining unrelated metals into a whole. I desire to
experiment with mokume gane and granulation, of forging and doming gold into waves and spheres. Setting gems also requires a torchand flexshaft in order to make seamless bezels and crowns.

I’ve got three, four sketchbooks full of designs for rings, pendants,and hollowware, and I don’t have the resources to make any of them. I know I could, and should, at least do some beading and cold-joining. At least it’d be something. At the very least I should stop complaining. Bah.

So, now you see why I am fustrated, why I must keep my passion for jewelry at bay. I can’t do what I want to do. I need tools, space, and money. I need an apprenticeship or assistantship or a co-op where I can “rent” the use of a studio. I just don’t know where to go to find any of it.


7 thoughts on “The Jewelry Problem

  1. I hope I didn’t imply that I think is just a matter of you just deciding to do it. I completely understand not being able to afford your dreams. We lived from paycheck to paycheck, deciding who would & wouldn’t get paid this month to just get by.

    I was under the impression you were wavering between two directions and offered my observations from what I read here.

    I also take the point that I don’t really know your situation or what the details of what it would take for you to attempt your dream. It is easy to armchair quarterback, for me to “simply” say that you should make jewelry.

    Dreams wouldn’t be dreams if they were easily attainable. they would be realities and this world would be a happier place for all of us. I hope you figure out a way to attain yours. I wish you a pleasant journey to that destination.

  2. Bob–thanks for your kind words, both here and in the previous post. Honestly, your impression is right: in a sense I am wavering–not just between two paths, but also between hope and futility. Its very fustrating.

    I thank you, and everyone else, for commenting, because it encourages me to write my feelings down and clear my mind. It doesn’t resolve any problems, of course, but at least it enables me to think clearly and accept my feelings for what they are. Otherwise I’d just condemn myself for feeling them at all.


  3. Rachel
    Your blog came up on a Google Alert for the phrase mokume gane.

    Check out MetalWerx it is only 2 hours away you could get some weekend studio time. Contact Karen Christians there she may know of studio resources closer to your location.
    Join the Orchid online jewelry community ask about resources there some one will be knowledgeable of things nearby.

    Jim B.

  4. Jim: thank you so much for visiting and giving me such great resources. It gives me some hope. I looked at your website: your rings are beautiful. In my sketchbook, I have a design for a wedding band that looks exactly like your Titanium Channel Band, except I visualized yellow and rose gold. Your version is every bit as beautiful as I had imagined such a ring would be.

    Again, thank your for the advice!

    Bob: Yeah…who’da thunk it? 🙂

  5. I also love to make jewelry. It is incredibly zen to sit and have the organic, sometimes odd pieces I use tell me what to do with them.

    I own a Dremel drill, but nothing else including diamond drill bits, nor do I presently have room for a large table with tools. I would also love to take a class and/or apprentice myself to a jewelry maker.

    Keep the thought active in your mind and eventually, the things you need will manifest. I do know this works.

    Good luck, Rachel!

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