Botticelli's Venus

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Posted by parhad ( on October 01, 2001 at 18:35:01:

This piece is two and a half inches high...cast in 18 karat gold. It took me a year to make this piece and I almost went blind my head would ache so. I did it in wax, and since I needed a strong light, had to take regular breaks or the piece would have turned to mush.

Sculpting in warm wax is like carving elephant's HARD!!

I took this piece to New York in a leather pouch round my neck. I used it as my resume when I lied myself into a job at a jewelry factory on Broadway, in Manhattan, right across from Needle Park. They needed a young guy to be trained as a "model maker". That's the guy who actually makes the prototype for each new design before they make the molds and mass produce them. The two old Jewish gentleman who'd been locked away in their own crazy studio for three hundred years were retiring at the same time, and the boss was desperate to get someone in there to be trained by them, before they left or died.

He gave me a couple of weeks in the finishing room where forty Puerto Ricans sat filing and polishing gold and platinum jewelry all day. I had no idea what I was supposed to do and didn't know what the foreman meant when he handed me a bag of fifty gold rings and told me to "chase them down". I know now that it means get rid of all the imperfections, flashing etc that's left over whenever you cast a piece in any metal. Then I thought it meant run after them or something.

I spent three sweat soaked days looking furtively around trying to figure out how to do it. I got no help either because these guys WERE all from Puerto Rico and hotly resented my getting a job which could have gone to ANOTHER cousin. Each day you had to hand back the rings AND the gold filings, for enough filings made several more rings.

The first day I was pleased to turn in more gold filings than anyone else, except the forman seemed annoyed. I realized the next day that they wanted RINGS not dust and sweated even more. Lunch on the third day and the owner came to get me...I begged for a little more time and he left. After work that day, with a moiuntain of gold filings and some extremely slender rings...could have started a trend...I was glad to throw in the towel. Mr. Becker, the owner, said I obviously didn't know what I was doing, that I'd make a fine apprentice only he needed a model maker and was loathe to toss me into that room for fear I'd be eaten alive. I didn't want to make a career out of it anyway and we both knew that.

He paid me off right then and there...and then said something that made me walk out of there as lighthearted as could be...knowing damn well that I could do what I wanted. he said..."Kid (everyone in New York calls you that)...if you ever want a recommendation for Guts...let me know." Whether he was just trying to soften the blow or not I don't know...but I felt like New York was mine.

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