I began working for Mr. Grey the Goldsmith in the spring of 1995. I had been graduated from college for two years and was working full-time for a beaded jeweler, part-time as a waitress plus was working on building my own business, when I received the phone call from Mr. Grey the Goldsmith asking me to come work for him. I was honest and explained to him that my ultimate desire was to run my own business and I had plans on doing craft shows but I would love to work with him and learn as much as I possibly could. He understood and I was hired!
Now let me tell you that I could tell from that initial conversation on the telephone with Mr. Grey the Goldsmith that he was an...interesting if not quirky individual. There were some good and some bad facets to being Mr. Grey's assistant/apprentice but it all taught me some valuable lessons.
He was full of entertaining stories which he would tell me over and over again...
- about his amphetamine-fueled Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle riding days.
- about his studies under the renowned silversmith, Hans Christensen.
- about his affair with a professor at grad school.
- about his old co-worker, the cigarette chain smoking master platinumsmith.
- about his sailing adventures in the Caribbean.
- about meeting his wife at dance lessons and doing the jitterbug at his wedding.
- his habit of throwing trash on the studio floor, despite the fact that there was a trash can directly behind his jeweler's bench---knowing (and expecting) that I would pick up after him.
- his habit of sharing far too intimate details of his personal life as if I were his marriage councilor.
- his habit of leaving work several hours early to go to the bar, leaving me to lock up.
- and more...
Another “little” quirk was his collection of firearms. Mr. Grey the Goldsmith had a license to carry a concealed weapon and was always "packing heat." His wife and mother made him custom vests which fell lower on his hips---to cover his holster. He also had guns hidden throughout the workshop. There was a big black shotgun in the supply closet along with his ammunition stock pile, there was a handgun hidden in the bathroom sink cabinet and another handgun hidden behind the rubber molds in the casting area. I think it's safe for me to say that Mr. Grey the Goldsmith was a little paranoid. With that said, I didn't feel terribly uncomfortable or unsafe--- He was educated in gun safety and laws and he did practice safe gun habits. In fact, he wanted me to feel comfortable so he took me to the firing range one day and taught me how to shoot a gun. (Now let me take this time to tell you that this is not a pro nor an anti gun post---although I do have my own opinions on the subject, this is not the time for that debate.)
As I said, I didn't feel terribly uncomfortable working in the studio with so many hidden weapons---until the end of my days working there.
To be continued...