Friday, September 24, 2010


9,972 hours to go, and again I am getting progressively better, quicker, and more compfortable with what I'm doing. Yesterday, though a new project was given out, I was able to finish the first two rings. Today I will try to get as far on the 3rd ring as I can. This one, called a gypsy ring, will be a little more difficult to file & sand than the first two. By difficult, I mean it will require twice as much focus, as the ring is round throughout and I will have to closely follow the contours with the files. I am finally utilizing my ipod in class, which helps to put me in my own zone. It's been difficult with the girl to the left of me who drops her ring every 5 minutes, and the guy to my right who wants to discuss life stories while we work. Ummm, no thank you... Headphones on, work begins! Though I have made a couple of friends here, the truth of the matter is that I am here to learn, to work, to learn, to work, and to learn some more. My friends Matt & Jeff understand this and follow the same rule. I have seen them while they work, and I am sure they have seen me. We are focused on our minds, our hands, and our paths. My instructors are masters of their craft. I listen to their words and watch the movements of their hands with utmost intensity. Conversation is for the bar. Concentration is for the bench. I've managed to keep my New York side in my back pocket, but soon I may need to set some boundries. That's enough drama for this post.
Today is Friday and it doesn't much please me. If I could be at the bench Saturday I would be that much more content. Fortunately, Tuesday nights there is extra time to be had in the shop from 4pm to 7pm. If I havent finished my 3rd ring by Monday I will finish it then, or I will continue to do tool modifications. This is something I am loving about the trade - each tool that a jeweler possesses can be modified to suit his own needs. Currently we are learning how to modify our files by grinding down their tips, making it easier to file in tight/difficult areas. We will also be making our own burnishers on the grinding wheels. Yesterday I found some pitting in the silver I was working on (very small holes in the silver) and used a burnisher to essentially push the silver over the holes. Before the advent of polishing machines, hand tools were often used to polish the surface of metals. Though it was more time consuming, I found it to be more "thrilling" given the history of the technique. I also was able to learn how to use the polishing machines yesterday. They certainly can get the metal quite hot, and to my left and right I see students having to put their rings down to let them cool. I, on the other hand, haven't put mine down yet. I am too overjoyed by the mirror finish of my silver to care much for my burnt fingertips. No pain, no gain.


  1. great post, paul! i wish i could see you working at your bench. i can't wait to see some photos of your work.

  2. This morning I was hating that it was friday, but now with the day over, Im thinking a break will be good. I was able to finish those first two rings, and they were graded, though I have no idea what I got - I was too busy working on the 3rd ring to check my grade. The 3rd ring has sufficiently stressed me out. With a half hour to go in my day, I was trying to stamp the inside of the ring with my number "17." Unfortunately, my stamp was not hitting the ring well enough so that the "17" showed up legible. After failing to make my mark twice, I Had to step away from my bench...I walked outside, Mozart blasting in my ears, and smoked a cigarette. Walking back towards the building, a cool breeze swept my hair, my leather apron, and gave me a chaser of fresh air. On the sidewalk a lizard was spooked and fled to the shadey bushes. Back inside, I explained my frustration to my instructor, who then assured me that the stamp failures were not my fault, that in fact my stamp had to be modified on the grinding wheel, so that it would fit correctly inside the ring, and stamp the "17" flush with the silver. I am quickly improving and getting ahead, but am frustrated that after a week, I am not the Master I want to be. Hopefully after 25 more weeks, I'll be a bit closer. I need a beer.