Last Friday evening, local jeweler Michael Fitzgerald celebrated his new space by showcasing the work of some of his old students.
Fitzgerald Jewelry, located at 174 North 11th Street, hosted a show entitled 4 Views, showcasing the works of three of his former students: Holly Luttrell (Edward Owl), Erika Dray and Melissa Cohen (Metal Sugar), as well as an installation. The show kicked off Fitzgerald Jewelry’s new 1,000 square foot gallery, which is also home to a workshop and school.
“We started upstairs ten years ago, but were so removed that no one knew about us,” said Fitzgerald. “Gradually, we’ve built the business up and this is the culmination of that.”
The school that Fitzgerald offers at his new space allows jewelry admirers of all levels to learn how to create their own custom-made pieces. The classes, which typically run for six weeks, cover individual crafts ranging from wax carving to goldsmithing.
Fitzgerald said the classes are a good way to turn an interest in jewelry into a side business, and possibly even a lucrative venture.
“We don’t offer the classes from an academic point of view, but from personal experience,” said Fitzgerald. “All of the people teaching the classes are jewelers themselves, and we also have workshops on how to start your own business.”
Luttrell is one of the people who have gone on to start their own jewelry line through Fitzgerald’s classes. Originally an architect from Chelsea, she quit her job soon after taking her first class in January 2009, and moved to Washington Heights to focus on her own jewelry line, Edward Owl Design and Ornament.
“I had zero experience when I first started,” said Luttrell.
Luttrell said the courses allow future jewelers to learn basic techniques like cutting, piercing and what fire can do to metal. At the end of the six weeks, students will have made their own custom piece.
“I went out and bought a torch after the first class,” said Luttrell. “It was just an immediate love.”
Fitzgerald said the school is a reflection of the business model which he has tried to implement with Fitzgerald Jewelry.
“The space and the business have grown for me, but I think it’s also grown for the community,” said Fitzgerald. “We’re not trying to sell huge quantities of items, but rather focus on limited production work that allows for unique and one-of-a kind pieces to be created.”
To learn more about Fitzgerald Jewelry or sign up for classes, visit www.fitzgeraldjewelry.com.
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