One of the things I love most about being the President of Wubbers U is that I get to know and visit with our teachers from all over the world. We are extremely honored to have a teacher from Germany who has studied, and still studies, at the Mecca of Jewelry Making, Pforzheim, Germany, historically known as the Golden City. We thought you would enjoy it if Uschi gave us a tour of what it’s like to study in Germany….where some of our most used techniques and tools have originated. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did. ~Lexi Erickson
Pforzheim – a city situated in the Black Forest in the South-West of Germany and well known as the city of gold and jewelry. In 2017 Pforzheim will celebrate its 250th anniversary of jewelry making industry location.
Since 1994 the marketing department of the municipality offers creative weeks during a year, once they started with 5 weeks during a year, now they offer 3 weeks, one in March, one in July and the last in November. Lots of people took part in these creative weeks and WSP (the today organizer) expects to welcome the 2,000th participant very soon.
Monday morning. The alarm-clock in my radio makes the first noise at 6.00 a.m. Oh my girl, so early, but breakfast in the hotel starts at 6.30 and I will have a calm and nice one as start for the day. After breakfast my friends and I, we take our bags and trolleys with gem stones, tools, silver and gold and all the nice ideas in mind and walk to the Technical Museum, which takes us about thirty minutes (I am a three-leg runner, which means I have mobility problems and walk with a crutch, so I cannot walk fast).
The creative week starts at 8.30 a.m. First we have a look for our tool-box and our name-badge among all the boxes, then we see which master will be responsible for us and the whole group of creative and inpatient people enter the museum-hall and the goldsmith-benches.
Then we check the contents of the tool-boxes, if everything is included correctly. Each tool has the box-number which is also the number of our locker for the week to keep your lunch sandwich, your bag and other personell things.
At 9.30 a.m. the responsible people of WSP – the organizers of this week – come to visit and to welcome us and wish us a successful and creative week. We have a sparkling wine and the traditional buttered pretzel, a short introduction of all group-members with their number of taken classes and then we start our work.You must know, there is one lady who had already 37 classes taken there, others have taken 10 and more, so I am so far away from these numbers with my 4th and in July my 5th class in Pforzheim.
Today I start with the bezel for an ametrin-octagon, which shall form the center of a necklace. As I am in the happy situation to have a small bench at home, I could already prepare parts of this necklace like the silver-chain-elements and the bead-elements. Dietmar – my this year master at the bench – helps me a lot with this special bezel, as it shall cover only the four straight edges of the stone but not the corners, this bezel shall not surround the complete stone. Sawing, filing, soldering, I know and master all these skills, but the delicacies of this bezel are to be in master’s hand. But I am there to learn and so I have a wide eye on all his doing.
With lots of fun, laughters and busy working the first day ran down the clock and at 5.00 p.m. we have to finish and leave the rooms. A short walk back to the hotel give a little exercise to the legs, because we have to sit on very small special goldsmith-chairs. A lovely dinner and a phonecall with my husband at home finalizes this first day and I fall into the pillows to have a relaxing sleep.
Good morning, Tuesday, 2nd day in Pforzheim, 6.00 a.m. get up, have the breakfast, take my things and walk to the museum together with my friends. Weather is nice and pretty, the sun is shining and we are in very good spirits. Let us see what the day will give to us today.
During midway through the morning there are visitors, three Chinese people, two girls and a man and the interpreter, a man, who knows the history of Pforzheim and the museum very well. He is showing the visitors around. And they come to our benches having a glance on our work. As I am not afraid talking English I immediately answered them to their questions. I earn great laughters upon my statement that we are no apprentices but hobby-jewelers and we pay for the allowance to work there. The two Chinese girls could not believe this and so they had to take photos of the funny German lady telling them, not to earn money there but to pay for her stay.
High noon and it is lunch time. We have to leave the benches to relaxe in lunch room, or in a small restaurant in the neighbourhood. Some of us go shopping, others urgently have to visit the company Robert-Schuett-Witwe (the gemstone-shop nearby) again. The remaining jewellers in the lunch-room are talking, discussing jewelry problems and ideas. On the table there are lots of different jewelry magazines to look through. This is my time, I take my smartphone and catch all the ideas for further jewelry pieces, as a basic idea or what ever else. After lunch we go on with our work, being busy in looking around, working, having fun. This afternoon Reinhold – the professional setter – is coming and taking the first finished parts to set the stones. I gave him my ametrin and its bezel, to set the stone. In the morning I soldered two jumprings to the corners of the bezel for connecting it later to the prepared silver- and bead-elements. Oh and my garnet-set is already finished.