I started reading the writings of Jurgen Maerz, the subject of this week’s Teacher Feature, a number of years ago, so when he contacted me and said he was interested in teaching for Wubbers U, I couldn’t say YES fast enough.
He’s our Renaissance Man, and a man of great wit, charm and talent. If you ever get a chance to take a class from him, don’t pass it up….but you will have to be in line behind me. I am a huge fan of his work and we are extremely honored to have Jurgen on our faculty. Here’s all about a legend, in his own modest, words. –Lexi Erickson
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Lexi: How long have you been making jewelry?
Jurgen: I became a Gold and Silversmith through a formal apprenticeship in Germany in August of 1961. So that’s 52 years. It found me. Let me know if you want to hear the story sometime…
Tell us about your jewelry heroes, who do you admire and why do they inspire you?
I admire Michael Good. He has taken Anticlastic raising to a new level and made it his own. I also admire Charles Lewton-Brain for his expertise in Fold Forming. At Faberge, I admire the un-named jewelers in the workshop who made the eggs but remained anonymous.
Do you have a favorite artistic quote you can share with us?
My quote: Take the time to do it right…or take the time to do it over or the modified version. It’s amazing that people who do not have the time to do it right, have the time to do it over…
If you weren’t a jeweler, what would you be doing?
Well, I am retired (so they say), so I AM doing what I love. I sing, I travel, I teach, I write and I make jewelry. Life is good. Oh…and I am a Magician and member of the Magic Castle in California. I love card tricks.
Do you listen to music in the studio, and if so, what kind?
I listen to my home-town station in Germany on the Internet. It keeps me in touch and refreshes my language skills. Other than that I love Elvis and listen to Elvis Radio on Satellite as well.
What was your first piece?
My first piece of significance was the ring I made when I was 17 using a blow-pipe to solder it. It was a gold-on-silver ring bezel set with a Malachite. It was a ring of my design to get my Journeyman Certificate.
Do you have a favorite tool or tools?
The rolling mill and Draw Plates so I can make my own sheet and wire.
Can you share your favorite jewelry making tip with us?
A loop of dental floss. When testing the size of a bezel the floss is laid across a bezel, and it gets pushed in along with the stone. If the bezel is too tight, the stone can be easily pulled out using the floss. To learn more of Jurgen’s incredible bench tips, enroll in his class here.
Do you have one piece which is your favorite? Why is it your favorite?
The piece was a Passover plate made by me over a two year time frame. It weighed 10 pounds. Two pounds were 14K gold and eight pounds were Sterling Silver. I made it while working for a jewelry store and it was for the owner who was a very religious Jew. So whenever I was not busy, I worked on the plate. It is my favorite because it challenged me on so many levels. From engineering to soldering. And since I do not speak or write Hebrew, the lettering was a challenge as well. But it was truly fabulous after it was done.
What’s your favorite color palette?
I love the royal blue of Sapphires, the purple of Amethyst and the warm yellow of gold.
What do you do for relaxation? Is it something which inspires you?
I sing Karaoke and do magic tricks. I also like to observe nature and get a lot of inspiration from that.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received from your mentor?
Don’t ever sacrifice quality for speed. Don’t try to make it cheaper. Let the piece become a part of you.
Is that the same advice you would pass on to your student?
What gives you the greatest joy in making jewelry?
The greatest joy is that everything a jeweler makes, makes somebody happy. It’s a “feel-good” vocation.
Have any funny jewelry stories to share with us?
While working in a jewelry store as bench jeweler, I was told to re-attach a safety chain on a ladies watch bracelet. After cleaning it, I noticed that a small diamond was missing from the band. I thought perhaps during cleaning it fell out, so I took a small diamond and replaced it. My boss told her that there was no charge. The customer was very happy with the clean appearance of her watch band. “ Oh…and you replaced the missing diamond too… “
Throughout history, jewelry has been assigned a status, for example, it shows wealth, political power, employment, marriage status, spirituality power, etc. Do you feel your jewelry has any type of symbolism?
My jewelry is magical. It makes you smile as you see and wear it. It’s not a mass item. It is one-of-a-kind and is as unique as the person it was made for.
What’s in the future for you? Would you mind sharing a few of your goals?
I want to share what I learned with others by writing more books, make tutorial videos and by holding workshops. Teaching is rewarding and it gives me great pleasure to see the accomplishments of my students.
Jurgen Maerz teaches out of his studio located in Hawkins, Texas, a little less than two hours from Dallas. He offers private tutoring, and can be reached at 903-769-4763 or at email@example.com.
His upcoming classes include:
Sunday, Dec 15 – Delft Clay Casting at the Craft Guild of Dallas.
Mon-Fri, Jan 13-17 – Apprenticeship Week at Creative Side Jewelry Academy of Austin.
Saturday, Feb 15 – Gold Soldering 101 at the Craft Guild of Dallas.
Saturday, Mar 15 – Gold Soldering 201 at the Craft Guild of Dallas.