Monday, January 27, 2014

Starting A Little Jewelry Family

I've been talking about it and talking about it, and now I think maybe it's actually going to happen..

I recently met with two women, one whom I'm guessing is reasonably close to my own age, the other a mere twenty-one  And if all goes well, they both will be involved with Blue Piranha this year. I'm simultaneously excited and nervous, which I think is a very good thing. I haven't felt that slight flutter of nerves in my stomach for a means that I'm doing something that scares me a little, and it's probably about time.

I'm excited, of course, because I may just get the help I need. Which would be amazingly beneficial. It's the end of January and already I'm feeling the pressure of being behind, staring down the enormous mountain of things that need to be done - simultaneously, it seems - and starting to freak out that I won't make my goals and dreams a reality. Already?? Yeesh.

Having another set of hands (or better, two more sets) to help out would be wonderful, and the older woman at least knows her way around fabrication, so I shouldn't have to train her on everything (because anyone who reads this blog knows how long it took me to train myself). The question will be whether or not she can produce to the level that I need, and produce the quality of work that I expect. We're going to do a sample "finishing run" this week to see how that aspect goes.

So that's all good. What I'm nervous about is the youngster. Because she has had some jewelry instruction, but is really probably pretty green. And having her in the studio will likely require some mentoring on my part. I don't mind that at all...but still, it's nerve-wracking. Mentor?? Some days I feel like I hardly know what *I'm* doing, much less know enough to teach someone else. But I have been thinking about having help for a while, and that has led to thinking about what that kind of help could / would do, and how to best facilitate the helper in doing it. So maybe I have more of a game plan than I think I do (which would be a pleasant surprise).  :)

We met today at 1:30, for three hours...and she left a little after 6...saying, "We talked for FIVE hours!". I told her, "Get used to it.". I am not a high talker or a low talker...ah, Seinfeld, we miss ya...but I am FAST talker. And when I'm talking about jewelry? Gemstones? Design? The biz and anything related to it? Then I'm also what you might call a long talker. :)

My goals for my young apprentice-type helper are twofold:

1. She will get some solid and consistent skills into her repertoire. I am by no means a master in my field, but I can at least give her a platform for the basics. She's kind of in the position I was about two years ago, having taken some instruction and worked on jewelry in classes, but no prolonged / physical practice in her own studio. And right now she doesn't have the means for her own studio, but she can at least have regular weekly access to the torch in mine. That alone will start growing her skills.

2. Some of the things she will work on will be her own designs, and some will be my designs. Hopefully this will free up some of my time to expand my own skills and bring new ideas to life (which I've been really itching to do). There's so much involved in creating art jewelry that has nothing to do with designing, and I would love to start handing these tasks over to her as she gets more competent.

For example, I use jump rings in my chains, bails and connector ends (the ends of earring pieces or bracelet links). Each jump ring gets soldered closed (one skill set) and then a flat space is filed on the jump ring to allow for a larger area of joining to the fabricated jewelry piece (larger join area = stronger join and less chance of breakage). Sawing a flat spot on a jump ring, or even soldering one closed, is no one's idea of a big skill. But being able to do it quickly and consistently? So that there's no solder to clean off afterwards (because you used too much solder) or so that you don't have to re-solder (because you used too little, or it flowed the wrong way, and the resulting join isn't solid)? That is a skill that's worth its weight in a production studio. And it's just one of many. It's not the most exciting part of the work. But it's necessary.

And the most fun part of having a young apprentice-of-sorts is that she's young, eager, intelligent, and has the potential for a long career ahead of her. My one (and only) regret about learning jewelry fabrication is that I didn't start it SOONER. I had opportunities when I was much younger, but I was scared, or otherwise occupied, or involved in a messy relationship...there was always something. And now I wish I had taken that leap at an earlier age, when the eyes functioned better, when my hands and wrists weren't all busted, when my aching body could recover faster, when I hadn't developed the hand tremors...etc. And mentally, I wish I'd started when I was fresher, possibly more full of ideas, more adaptable...though I guess everything works out the way it's supposed to, and I like where I am now. But for someone so young to have the opportunity and drive...I will do whatever I can to mentor and nurture it.  :) 

So wish me luck as I move forward with my ladies...I am hoping that they will help facilitate more free time for me to create more lovely designs to share with you! All for one and one for all! Together we'll hopefully make each other better. Is that kind of sappy? Maybe. Ah, who cares? I'm sort of a sap anyway.  :)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like exciting times ahead for you!! - and your new team. I hope it all goes well for you :)