Alex Rahmann ‘12
I loved the Student Workshops—and the jewelry studio in particular—not only because they provided places to build and create, but also because of the sense of community they provided. I wandered into the jewelry studio my freshman year with the hopes of being able to make a simple pair of earrings. I found that I really enjoyed working with my hands and making jewelry, and everyone there was so supportive and welcoming that I kept going back to the jewelry studio to make more pieces. The people who worked there—employees and non-employees alike—always encouraged each other to try new things, get creative with designs, and not to give up or get discouraged if something went wrong. This kind of environment was an amazing thing to have during my years at Dartmouth. I knew that no matter what was happening in other aspects of my life, I would always be able to go to the jewelry studio and see great people and make great things.
Alix Toothman, ’08
WPP Marketing Fellow
While most students probably focus on Dartmouth’s academic reputation when considering attending, I was immediately drawn to the Student Workshop Program. An ardent craft-enthusiast and amateur jeweler from a young age, I made a beeline for the Jewelry Studio as soon as my Dartmouth tour finished, convincing the staff to let me make my first silver ring even before I’d applied!
When I finally did matriculate, I was lucky to be hired as a student assistant, thereby laying the foundation for one of the most rewarding aspects of my Dartmouth experience. For me, the “j-shop” was a refuge from the demands of academic (and often esoteric) work, allowing me to become completely absorbed in the wonders of creating something physical. Even more importantly, it was a proving ground where I was able to develop and identify some of my key strengths and passions. It was in the jewelry studio that I first recognized how much I enjoyed problem-solving and strategy - figuring out just the right solution for a student, given various parameters like budgets, timelines, and occasions.
In many ways, that’s still what I do today as I rotate around the world with WPP’s Marketing Fellowship, working in three communications roles across three continents. Every day I try to find creative, insights-driven solutions, but now for businesses rather than students. And while I miss the unparalleled staff and resources of the workshops, even as I travel, their influence has stayed with me. With every small gem I buy in Sri Lanka, stoneware in Japan, or fine woodwork in Bali, I accumulate the materials and inspiration for the day when I can achieve my personal standard of success—a workshop of my own.
Dave Lindberg D’09, TH’10
Mechanical Engineer, Sherpa Design
The Student Workshops had an incredible effect on my Dartmouth experience, giving me access to opportunities that I never would have had otherwise. They were a wonderful outlet for learning and creativity, plus I had the amazing opportunity to share these passions as a Jewelry Studio employee. The facilities and instruction provide an encouraging and unintimidating environment, where anyone can take on projects of nearly any magnitude imaginable. The value of this is simply indescribable, particularly after graduating and realizing the immense cost of emulating anything like it. The metalworking and woodworking skills I learned have given me a great appreciation for the craft that is all around us—knowing how things are made, recognizing the work and talent that goes into them, and getting better inspiration for making things myself. These foundations remain important in both my hobbies and my technical career, which I someday hope to combine by creating a business of handbuilding bicycles with custom engineered components. This aspiration is a direct result of my Student Workshop experiences.
David Cole, D'90, MFA Cranbrook, ‘93
Adjunct Professor, California College of the Arts, Studio Artist
I am sincerely grateful for how the Student Workshops helped me develop as an individual and an artist. I was originally attracted to the potential for achieving some degree of perfection in the work I undertook there. Contrary to my academic studies —which only seemed to highlight the impossibility of finding certainty and truth, despite rigorous investigations—craftsmanship could lead to creating exquisite and perfect objects. I now understand that in either case, the results are elusive, but in concentrating on making things that have a physical presence, I am creating objects that have a kind of currency that extends beyond my immediate circumstance. Indeed, the most inspiring motivation I have found are my common skills and values with craftsmen throughout the ages and from around the world.
The Student Workshops connected my mind with my hands and my body. They taught me humility and sensitivity. Forcefulness has no place in coaxing materials to assume nuanced forms: and in learning to respond to subtle cues, I feel more connected and present in this world. I came to the shops with little practical skills as a maker, but the physical environment created by the nurturing instruction of deeply talented and concerned teachers set me on a lifelong path that I still find profoundly rewarding. I am now a full-time artist who has been passing on many of the lessons I learned at Dartmouth to hundreds of students over the last twenty years. It is now impossible for me to imagine doing anything else, but I know that I was extremely fortunate to be exposed to these ideas at such an important time in my development.
Emi Weed ‘13
Working with my hands has always been important to me, and when I first got to Dartmouth, I knew I needed to find something that would allow me to be creative and experience the catharsis of just taking a couple hours and making something new and unique. Working in the basement of the HOP freshman year, I stumbled on the J-Shop, and immediately fell in love with it. Since then, I’ve worked in the Woodshop as well, and there is nothing better after working at school all day than to have someplace to go where the work will never be graded, where it’s all about the craft. As my family is fond of saying, you can always taste the love in handmade pie and homegrown tomatoes, and you can always feel the love that goes into a person’s own handiwork. The student workshops have given me the greatest opportunity to express myself and to put all my love into making special gifts that last.
Jamie McCoy ‘10
My favorite thing to make at the jewelry studio is a virgin margarita. Which isn’t to say that I don’t love working in metal—the thrill of the torch, the shine of polished silver, they are exquisite. But what I appreciated most as a student was the kind of environment that exists there. The jewelry studio was my social AND creative outlet. It was where I made everything from pendants to small talk, gold rings to lifelong friends. And that moment when the hush of hard work is suddenly overtaken by an outbreak of laughter or a swell of conversation—those were the moments I wish I had savored longer. Because within the student workshops, strangers didn’t stay strangers for long. Students came in to work on projects and connected with one another over a shared vision—watching, challenging, and supporting each other in the creation of physical objects. The workshops and the relationships formed therein left a profound mark on me during my time at Dartmouth that, if I am lucky, I will carry with me forever.
Jennifer Lopez ’08 BA, Dartmouth, ’11 MFA Stanford
When I think of the pivotal moments that have shaped my career, it is very clear. I got into Dartmouth and I started working in the Donald Claflin Jewelry studio. Now it isn't quite as simple as that, but it was from working in the studio that I realized I could have a creative career unlike anything I had previously imagined.
The Hop served as my home during my time at Dartmouth. It was the beginning of my career as a design and maker. My training in the studio making rings, and bracelets didn’t just give me the skills to make jewelry, it taught me how to be a teacher, how to build things and create experiences, it made me understand that I could imagine something then actually bring it to life.
After I graduated I worked as an artist, designer, got my masters degree in design and started a cooking company. I didn’t become a jeweler, but know I will always have a creative career in the arts, and I thank the studio for that.
Michelle Berlinger ‘13,
2012-2013 Dartmouth Senior Fellow
Not only has the Claflin Jewelry studio played an integral role in my experience at Dartmouth, but it has also been the single most defining and influential part of my life in college. Upon discovering the studio during orientation freshman year, I was incredibly excited by all of the different learning opportunities I could get from the studio. I had experience making jewelry before, but on a very small scale, and with the jewelry studio’s help, I felt like the entire metalsmithing world was at my fingertips. I have spent almost every single day at Dartmouth in the studio, using it as both a center for creative inspiration and support and a vehicle to propel my interest in the jewelry world. The vibrant and close-knit community in the studio provides me with a family on campus, one I feel incredibly attached too and proud to be apart of. Without this support system I would not have been able to achieve any of the artistic and academic endeavors I have sought after in school. The programming, events, and visiting artists that are brought to the studio as well have provided me with a breadth and depth of knowledge about jewelry making that I could not have attained anywhere else. Because of these resources I was also able to combine my creative and intellectual passions into a Senior Fellowship project about feminism in the jewelry industry, and am incredibly excited to see my combined passions come to fruition during my senior year. I could not stress enough the importance of the studio both to me personally and to the community at Dartmouth, as it provides a unique opportunity that shapes the experience of many Dartmouth students in an irreplaceable way.
Nicole Landaw '92
Professional Jewelry Designer
The Claflin Jewelry Studio came to my attention during my first week at Dartmouth and immediately I became a regular. I wanted to learn how to move metal.
So much of my experience at that time was about expectation and achievement. To find myself in a place that was open-ended and supportive was a huge and wonderful contrast. It allowed me to explore freely the joy of making: it wasn’t about finishing or winning but enjoying the process.
When I walked through the studio’s doors, I would never have imagined that I would become a jewelry designer and goldsmith.
Today—twenty years later—as a maker, with friends and a husband who make a living from making things with their hands, I live in a more connected world than where I had been heading. I can’t imagine my life or the career that would have been. I will always be grateful to this incredibly special place that supported and nurtured me and allowed me to discover a world of possibility within myself that I might not have otherwise found.
Orli P. Kleiner ‘12
As a member of the class of 2012, my Dartmouth experience would not have been as fulfilling, wonderful, and complete without my constant intellectual and creative engagement in the Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio. It provided a simultaneously meditative and dynamic outlet in which to be creative, patient, and innovative; it afforded opportunities for brainstorming and energetic relaxation, during which I socialized and expressed myself artistically in a comfortable, constructive space. By virtue of such an atmosphere, I was able to balance perseverance, commitment, strategic thinking, and aesthetics. The students I encountered in the studio are some of my closest and truest friends, the works I created are some of my most compelling and colorful accomplishments, and the unwavering guidance of Jeff Georgantes will remain with me as I continue making jewelry. The nurturing, embracing, and educational environment of the studio, the people that fostered such an environment, and the deep sense of gratification upon completing work within that environment have given me an activity truly integral to my mind, body, and soul.
Paul Gross ‘73
Owner, Designer Gold, Hanover, NH
The Hopkins Center Student Workshops changed my life. I wandered into the Jewelry Shop early freshman year in 1969, never having taken an art course or having made anything with my hands beyond a few crude woodworking projects. I became a student assistant in the Jewelry Shop, and spent most of my free time in the shops as well. By graduation in 1973, I was a skilled goldsmith, competent woodworker, and was comfortable in a forge and machine shop. Most amazing to me was discovering that I could design beautiful objects, especially in precious metals. By 1975, I turned my back on graduate school to try making jewelry full time, and have been a professional goldsmith ever since.
My professors at Dartmouth were excellent, but my best teachers were the instructors at the Student Workshops: Erling Heistad, Walker Weed, Ralph Rogers and Snip LaFountain. Among them, they could make anything. They taught me to approach problem solving with the confidence that one could solve any problem. That skill has served me well in all facets of my life, every day. I owe the success of my 37 year career to them.
Hector (Sequoyah) Reynoso ‘12
The Claflin Jewelry Studio, and Jeff Georgantes in particular, have thoroughly enriched my Dartmouth experience. The studio provided me an artistic outlet which was missing in the academic and athletic avenues of my daily life. I originally set out to make myself a class ring, a memorabilia that would be a unique creation symbolizing my time at the College. I was able to complete this dream during my sophomore summer because of the tutelage offered by Jeff Georgantes and his greater one-on-one availability. When the final product turned out as well as it did, I realized I now had a skill which I could utilize to present tokens of gratitude to those close to me. I undertook a series of other projects, including pieces for my family, friends, and fraternity (Beta Alpha Omega). Finding a way to show others my appreciation is important to me, and I owe this skill to Jeff and the Jewelry Studio.
The last project I undertook was another gold ring, an undertaking which I did not give myself adequate time to complete. With graduation looming, Jeff again exemplified his graciousness by offering me the favor of helping me complete the ring post-graduation. This final display, after previously devoting as many hours as he did, is a lesson in kindness that I will remember long after graduation, brought to mind every time I glance at my fourth finger.
Sophie Hood ‘09
MFA Candidate, Costume Technology, Carnegie Mellon University
Working at the jewelry workshop is one of the first things I think about when I recall my time at Dartmouth. I started working at the J-shop my first year at Dartmouth and continued to do so for the next five years—it was an integral part of my life and a constant that never wavered. I could relax as well as explore a different creative outlet. It is part of what inspired me to pursue costume technology at Carnegie Mellon, where I am currently studying as a graduate student and adding depth to my passion for wearable art. More than just technical skills, I learned how to listen and teach effectively at the jewelry workshop. I discovered how much I really, truly enjoy teaching...I know I will come back to it throughout my life. I made lasting friendships and I was a part of a community that I will always look for in other places. My J-shop experience in a few words: camaraderie, professionalism, creativity, and good times.
Suzie Luft, DMS IV
For me, the jewelry studio is a sanctuary. Through grade school and college, art was a major focus in my life, and the jewelry studio has given me the invaluable chance to preserve this part of myself in medical school. I truly believe this has made me a better and happier student. Not only do I get to solve problems and work with my hands on creative projects, but also I do so in the company of wonderful friends with diverse interests and at various stages of their education at Dartmouth.
I remember timidly learning to solder with a torch during my first year of medical school. I was petrified of destroying my project and burning myself. Now I think there is nothing more refreshing than to leave my computer and textbooks, don my safety glasses and turn on the torch. The people at the jewelry studio have greatly enriched my life by teaching me their art, and empowering me to me to make useful things by hand.
Tasha Bock, ‘15
I recently made a sterling silver bangle on to which I stamped the words, “Be Happy.” For me, time spent in the jewelry studio is happiness. The Claflin Jewelry Studio offers the amazing opportunity to be able to go to a place where all are welcome and given the tools to create. The staff is always welcoming and ready to enthusiastically help tackle any project. Having access to such an exceptional facility is truly a rare gift that Dartmouth has to offer. For me, the studio provides the perfect sanctuary from the stresses and pressures of academic life while simultaneously serving as a social space. I’ve made fantastic friends while hanging out and creating. Prior to coming to college, I had never dabbled in jewelry design; it is now one of my central interests and led to a summer internship in New York City with the jewelry line Lulu Frost. This company was founded by a Dartmouth alum who also had the opportunity to explore and design while at school. The jewelry studio has profoundly shaped my passions and my college experience—it’s just about my favorite part of Dartmouth.
Vicky Stein ‘14
Since my freshman fall, I’ve been a student teaching assistant at the Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio, spending a few glorious hours every week covered in stone dust, wielding torches, and bending wire in the pursuit of art and knowledge. Not only has the Jshop (as we denizens of the Hopkins Center basement fondly call it) encouraged me to pursue the design and execution of my own inspirations in metal and stone, but it has also pushed me further into collaborative art, teaching other students how to realize their designs while we create take-home symbols of their own creativity and craftsmanship. In short, the Jshop is my escape from schoolwork (I’m a bio major with a lot of homework), my place of focus, and my place of creativity and fun. I rarely feel more accomplished than I do leaving the shop each week, dusty, tired, and full of exciting ideas for the next time I’m there.
Yoonki Park D'09 TH'10
Mechanical Engineer, Logos Technologies Inc.
I was first exposed to the workshops during freshman orientation at the Jewelry Studio, and I was hooked right away. What immediately drew me to the workshops was the ease with which one could enter with a loosely formed idea and leave with a finished product. No matter how strange or ambitious the idea, the instructors rarely told me that something could not be done. This was particularly important to me as an engineering student because it meant that the workshops were an outlet through which I could create nearly anything. While I made my share of jewelry, my obsession was to mate engineering with aesthetics, and the workshops were the perfect places to do that. Using resources across the workshops, I've built things from speakers and amplifiers, to skateboards and soapbox cars. In embarking on these projects, I've become a better designer, prototyper, and fabricator. I have broadened the scope of my skills, and as a Mechanical Engineer, I am able to use these skills to transform a loosely formed idea into a finished product every day.
Ziye Lin ‘09
Dartmouth offers numerous opportunities to satisfy an appetite for powerful experiences. The Hopkins Center’s metals studio was home to that opportunity for me. At no other place on campus could I freely explore my creativity and see endless possibilities of the imagination materialize in the form of metal, stone, and glass. Within a thin sheet of copper was the potential to become the speckled shell of a chambered nautilus. Hidden in a solid block of sculpting wax was the fierce visage of a prowling tiger. The metals studio offers a rare kind of opportunity: the opportunity to pursue an endeavor whose scope is limited only by how big one can dream. My experiences there have had a profound impact on my post-college life. A few years ago, I took up archery and quickly developed an insatiable hunger to master the sport. I am now one of the few people in Los Angeles who practice a rare form of archery originally developed by 15th century Eurasian nomads. Professionally, that same spirit has led me to build a business in the social and casual games space. At the metals studio, one dreams big and is ambitious.