July 18, 2002
Bench Jeweler Boot Camp to Debut in September
The New Approach School for Jewelers, Virginia Beach, VA, is extending its visually intensive, hands-on educational programming by adding an eight-week course to teach students new to the bench essential mechanical skills needed to get through a jeweler's job box, including sizing, retipping, chain and general repairs and various stone setting styles. The new Commercial Bench Jeweler program is slated to begin Sept. 8, with three courses scheduled annually.
NASJ's Commercial Bench Jeweler program focuses on basic skills. "We teach and practice, in a sensible way, the fundamental skills a bench jeweler needs," says Blaine Lewis, NASJ founder and president. "The course is designed so that students see improvements in their core skills through repetition, while learning new things. The end result is a graduate ready to hit the bench running."
By the end of the first week students fabricate their own rings, which Lewis, a master diamond-setter and metalsmith, says energizes and encourages them on. The project is a reference point for teaching other techniques, trade practices, and bench tricks that are shared while jobs likely to cross a jeweler's bench are completed.
The school's boot camp for bench jewelers uses innovative visual methods to help students quickly grasp and implement techniques. Live demonstrations are magnified on video screens in the classroom so students can zero in on what's happening. "Teaching is about communication," says Lewis. "We use as many visual tools as possible to help solidify the spoken word, from graphics to QuickTime movies to animations."
That has been one of the keys to the school's success, says Kevin Wood, owner of The Ringer in Salt Lake City, UT. Wood, an award winning Jewelers of America Certified Master Bench jeweler, joins NASJ staff instructor John Polensky, a 20-year veteran commercial jeweler, in running the new program.
The school plans to promote the Commercial Bench Jeweler program to the jewelry trade, as well as to vocational schools nationwide to attract new young talent to the field. The Commercial Bench Jeweler program joins the school's five-day courses in beginner and advanced levels geared to students who already have some retail counter and bench repair experience.
For more information about the new Commercial Bench Jeweler program or the New Approach School for Jewelers contact Blaine Lewis at (800) 529-4763 and (757) 486-0082.