I started making jewelry when I was in high school. I didn’t have any formal instruction, but eventually I came across Alan’s first book, Professional Goldsmithing, which was the primary education for a lot of us self-taught jewelers. I had heard about the Academy in the 1980s and eventually took my first formal instruction on goldsmithing there in 1986. During that first day of a five-day class, I realized that I was going to learn more in the next five days than I had learned teaching myself in the previous five years.
I think Alan brought the Old World aesthetic and the traditional approach to the craft to North America based on his experience in Germany. Until then, no one here had encountered that type of structured professional approach to the work. He brought a whole new awakening to the industry. Thousands of students and practitioners have a strong foundation and awareness of the right ways to do things because of him.
A Revere Academy alumnus and instructor, Michael David Sturlin is the owner of Michael Sturlin Studio in Scottsdale, Arizona.
After graduating from high school, I enrolled in some jewelry classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts. Alan was one of the instructors, and he inspired me to view jewelry as an art form. It was a refreshing way to look at jewelry. He was very influential in helping me decide that I wanted to make jewelry for a living. He has such passion for jewelry, it can’t help but wear off on his students.
In addition to inspiring me to pursue the craft, he was instrumental in getting me started. When I mentioned to him that I was interested in getting my first job in the trade, he told me to call these people that he knew. I did, and got a job as a polisher. I owe my start to him. He steered me in the right direction, and that’s what he does with all his students—making suggestions to help guide people along their way.
When I think about Alan’s greatest contributions to the jewelry industry, I think about his school and all of the students he’s been able to touch. He’s brought an awareness of the power of jewelry to a lot of people…and how difficult it is to make it.
Michael Endlich is the founder and owner of Pavé Fine Jewelry Design in Oakland, California.
I had a couple of years of metalsmithing under my belt when I decided to pursue it as a full-time career. I wanted to learn a full repertoire of skills, so I jumped right in to the Revere Academy’s Jewelry Technician Intensive program. Alan was the instructor, and I instantly knew the first day that the skills he was teaching were being transmitted at the same level of precision as he learned in Germany.
One of his best qualities as a mentor is giving people the right nudge at the right time. In 2011, Alan asked me to teach an Argentium class. I immediately said yes, than panicked at the thought of putting together a curriculum. But I had learned from Alan to always say yes to opportunity—then figure out the details later. He forced me to get better as a goldsmith.
I owe him a tremendous amount of gratitude. I wouldn’t have the career I have now if it wasn’t for him. He always encouraged me to reach a little farther. I’m incredibly thankful that our paths have crossed. I can’t think of anyone else who’s had the influence and impact on the industry as him.
A Revere Academy alumna and instructor, Jenny Reeves is a jewelry designer in San Francisco.
I first met Alan back in 1978 when he was offering private lessons and small workshops out of his home. At the time, I was working as a schoolteacher, but I had taken craft classes in college and was fascinated with metalworking. I wound up taking classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts, where my instructor Cynthia Thomas introduced me to Alan.
The early classes with Alan taught me some silversmithing and goldsmithing skills, and I remember doing fire gilding in his backyard, using mercury to bond silver onto gold. His classes helped give me the skills and the confidence I needed to give up my day job as a teacher. In 1980, I decided to pursue jewelry work full time and got a job as a production polisher for a jewelry manufacturer. It doesn’t sound like a big-time job, but I was responsible for handling items that were very valuable, and I believe I was hired because of the skills I had learned.
After Alan opened the Revere Academy, I took additional classes on rendering, casting, and several specialized weekend workshops that were instrumental for my business. Because of Alan and his school, I’ve been able to build my skills and then pass them on in the same manner he passed his along to me, working as an adjunct professor at the California College of Arts and Crafts.
And beyond his teaching, Alan is one of the first people that I can remember that was able to bridge the gap between art and metalworking. He figured out how to do production of higher end designs. At that time, jewelry was still being created primarily in a classical style. Alan came in and said, “No, we can push these ideas.” He broke open the traditional idea of classical jewelry and expanded it into art jewelry.
A Revere Academy alumna, Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan is a metalsmith, bench jeweler, and owner of Maggiora Jewelry in San Francisco.
I first met Alan in 1983 when I had gone out to California to attend a Society of North American Goldsmiths conference. I remember riding in his VW Beetle and going to his house, where he showed me his dot matrix computer and a program he was writing for it that would adjust his prices automatically for his production line. At that time, that was really cutting edge.
We became friends over the years and I taught four or five classes at the Revere Academy. We were cut from different cloths, and I taught things that weren’t typical for the school, such as knife making. That was never more clear to me than when I was teaching a class on mechanisms. The students were gathered around me watching as I demonstrated a technique when I became aware of something, it may have been an intake of breath. I stopped and asked what was the matter. The students paused and looked around at each other before one of them said, “It’s just that you’re doing everything he told us never to do.”
We’re both self-taught, but where I was of the mindset that I would just keep trying to teach myself, Alan wanted to know how to do things the right way. You can see that in the precision of his jewelry and in the way he teaches his students. There’s a precision in terms of both measurement and sequence. But the amazing thing is that he’s coupled that precision with innovative design. He’s German trained but with a free California spirit.
A former Revere Academy instructor, Tim McCreight is a metalsmith, designer, author, and owner of Brynmorgen Press in Brunswick, Maine.
Both my mom and my grandfather were jewelers, and they encouraged me from a young age to continue in their footsteps. When I was 18, my grandfather gave me a copy of Alan’s Professional Goldsmithing and started teaching me how to solder and do other basic metal work. After about a year, I decided that I wanted to go to school for jewelry and checked into a traditional program at a local crafts college. I toured the school and found that the jewelry being made was really unconventional—things like making kitchen knives and hanging them on a chain to make a necklace. That was not for me. But then I heard about Alan’s school and took a tour. I was impressed with how technical it was, both in its teachings and in its setup. I enrolled in the Graduate Jeweler program, and in the first six weeks after I completed the program, I made six pieces of jewelry. I had the pieces photographed and submitted them for the American Craft Council show in Baltimore, and I got in. That was the beginning of my career as a jeweler.
One of the most important lessons I learned from him was to be patient. He took precision and accuracy to a whole new level than most people. I remember once he said that it you couldn’t hear a clasp snap shut from the next room, it wasn’t a good fit. He’s such a perfectionist, and he made me strive to make every piece as perfect as possible every time.
Alan’s enthusiasm is also pretty unmatched, and it’s contagious too. After I finished the graduate program, I was so enthusiastic I [went] back to attend several of the master’s symposiums, and I even got my mom to come too. She was envious when I first enrolled because when she was learning to make jewelry in the early ’70s, everything was hodge-podge. There was no place to go to learn these skills. But with the Revere Academy, you could learn it all. And there’s a ripple effect. The wealth of Alan’s knowledge continues to be shared as his students pass it on to others. Everyone is a better jeweler because of him.
A Revere Academy alumuna, Genevieve Yang is a third-generation jeweler and owner of Genevieve Yang Jewelry in Marin, California.
I first met Alan at a party back in the early ’80s. I was already producing a line of jewelry, specializing in using anticlastic raising techniques, and he invited me to come out to the Revere Academy to teach a class on the techniques. At the time, I hadn’t led a lot of workshops, and the experience helped teach me a lot about teaching. Alan took my first workshop, which was brilliant. He took it because he wanted to not only understand how I did what I did, but also to see whether or not I could teach. He didn’t just invite people to teach because they were good at what they did, they also needed to know how to teach well. It was an extremely successful approach, and he gave me a lot of good tips in his feedback. He was always very empathetic to the average student about what they could take in in a short amount of time. I learned from Alan that in a class, you can have everyone from beginners to professionals, and you need to make sure everyone gets something from it.
When Alan taught, he didn’t speak theoretically, he spoke from experience. He was extremely well trained and he had an eye to do things that were simple but very unique. His jewelry designs were very accessible, from the sophisticated to the casual. He understood the importance of offering a price range. He didn’t see a contradiction in being creative but working in a commercial world. And that was a lesson he imparted to his students. Having gone to study in Germany, Alan recognized that there was a huge need for technical training for the industry, but he also addressed the art world. It was a niche field, but a useful and unique approach.
A former Revere Academy instructor, Michael Good is the owner of Michael Good Jewelry, which specializes in using anticlastic raising techniques in Rockport, Maine.
Click here to read MJSA’s tribute to Revere.